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Khashchevatski, Moyshe

(1897–1943), Yiddish poet. Born in Buki, near Uman, Ukraine, into the family of a Talmud Torah teacher, Moyshe Khashchevatski studied at a heder and later at a commerce school in Uman, which he finished in 1916. He wrote poems in Russian and Yiddish, but initially had only one outlet to showcase his works—a handwritten Yiddish journal that he produced in Uman with his friends Leyb Kvitko and Ezra Fininberg. In 1916, Yekhezkl Dobrushin, already a central figure among the Kiev Yiddish literati, wrote to him, criticizing his poems for lack of “color scale and new cultural achievements.”

After the Bolshevik Revolution, Khashchevatski was a university student in Petrograd and Ekaterinburg. His first publication appeared in 1918 in the Kiev daily Di naye tsayt (The New Times). He settled permanently in Kiev in 1921, where he devoted himself to Yiddish literature. Initially he was a symbolist and, with other Ukrainian Yiddish writers such as Kvitko and Fininberg, was not involved with proletarian literary organizations. By the mid-1920s, however, he had become a realist poet and joined the proletarian mainstream. He wrote for the Moscow daily Der emes (The Truth) from 1923 to 1926.

Khashchevatski’s first collection, Dorsht (Thirst), was issued in 1922 by the Kiev literary group Vidervuks (New Growth), a circle for young writers with Dovid Hofshteyn as their mentor. His second collection, Harte vor (Hard Reality), appeared under the imprint of the Moscow journal Der shtrom (The Stream) in 1924. The names of Khashchevatski’s later books underscore his aesthetic and ideological transformation: Raportn (Reports; 1931), Trot fun toyznter (March of Thousands; 1932), Letster shlakht (Last Fight; 1932), Lenin (1934), and similar titles, including a few children’s books.

One of the recurring subjects in Khashchevatski’s writing was the Red Army operation in November 1920 at Perekop, a town on the isthmus connecting Crimea with mainland Ukraine, which marked the final stage of the civil war. In 1931, Khashchevatski edited a collection called Perekop, marking the tenth anniversary of the event. Letster shlakht, a year later, was also devoted to Perekop. Another recurring topic was the life and work Osher Shvartsman, the Kiev poet revered as the founder of Soviet Yiddish poetry. Khashchevatski’s poem “Osher Shvartsman” appeared in 1939, and next year he published a literary biography of Shvartsman.

Khashchevatski and Itsik Fefer edited the 1934 collection Lenin in der kinstlerisher literatur (Lenin in Belles Lettres), published on the tenth anniversary of Lenin’s death. In 1937, Khashchevatski joined Hofshteyn, Fefer, Kvitko, Perets Markish, and Shmuel Rosin as a contributor to Lider vegn Stalin (Poems about Stalin). The same year, he reworked his travel notes into the book A rayze keyn Birobidzhan (A Trip to Birobidzhan). He also translated works by Mikhail Lermontov, Heinrich Heine, Byron, Taras Shevchenko, and other poets. In 1940, he and Der Nister published the folklorist collection Yidishe folkslider (Yiddish Folk Songs). Shmuel Niger regarded Khashchevatski as “perhaps the most sincere Yiddish poet in Ukraine.”

During World War II, Khashchevatski volunteered for the Red Army and was killed in action in December 1943. That year, his poetic collection Fun amol un haynt (Past and Today) was published in Moscow. In several poems he addressed his only son, who also died in battle during the war.

Suggested Reading

Boris Mogilner, ed., Di lire (Moscow, 1985); Shmuel Niger, Yidishe shrayber in Sovet-Rusland (New York, 1958); Alexander Pomerantz, Di sovetishe haruge-malkhes (Buenos Aires, 1962).