Avida (Zlotnick), Yehuda Leib

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AVIDA (Zlotnick), YEHUDA LEIB

AVIDA (Zlotnick ), YEHUDA LEIB (1887–1962), communal worker, rabbi, and writer. Born in Plock, Avida studied in the yeshivah of Volozhin. During World War i he was held hostage by the local Russian commander against possible spy activities by members of his community. He was a founder (1917) and general secretary of *Mizrachi in Poland until 1920. Ordained in 1910, he was appointed rabbi of the city of Gabin (Gombin), Poland (1911–19). In 1920 he went to Canada and successively held positions as Jewish National Fund director for Canada, director of Montreal Hebrew schools, and rabbi in Vancouver. In 1938 he immigrated to South Africa, where as director of the South African Board of Jewish Education he substantially strengthened the Hebrew educational structure by establishing a seminary for teacher training later called in his name, a model nursery school, and the beginnings of a day school. In 1949 he immigrated to Jerusalem where he spent the rest of his life. His wide-ranging personality is reflected not only by the breadth of his activities in Zionism, education, and religion but also by his prolific literary activities in Hebrew, Yiddish, and English as a Zionist publicist, philologist, folklorist, and ethnologist. His first contributions in these fields appeared in 1917, when he was still rabbi in Gabin. He wrote under the pen name Yehuda Elzet (formed from the initials of his name Leib Zlotnik), fearing that the common people, who could not appreciate the importance of such studies, would deem them unworthy of a rabbi. In his latter days he served as president of the Israel Institute of Folklore and Ethnology. Outstanding in Yiddish philology is his Vunder Oytser fun der Yudisher Shprakh (4 vols., 1918–20). His Koyheles, der Mentsh un dos Bukh (1929) is another well-known work of his Yiddish period. During his South African period he favored Hebrew. At that time he produced such works as Bereshit ba-Meliẓah ha-Ivrit (1938) and Ma'amarim mi-Sefer Midrash ha-Meliẓah ha-Ivrit (1939). He also wrote Koso shel Eliyahu ha-Navi (1958). The Hebrew periodical of Jewish folklore Edot (April–June 1947) was dedicated to him on his 60th birthday. For a complete list of Avida's works see S. Assaf, et al. (eds.), Minḥah li-Yhudah… Zlotnick (1950).

bibliography:

Rejzen, Leksikon, 1 (1928), 1090–94; Tidhar, 4 (1950), 1915–17 (portrait).

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