Heilperin, Falk

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HEILPERIN, FALK (1876–1945), educator and Yiddish writer. Born in Nieswiez, Belorussia, Heilperin began his teaching career in Minsk in 1904. He first rose to prominence during World War i as director of a Yiddish secular school for refugee children. In 1916 he helped to organize a Jewish teachers' conference at Tambov, which proclaimed Yiddish as the basic language of the Jewish child at the elementary school level, but which also recommended Hebrew as a prescribed language. The Zionists attacked him violently for giving priority to Yiddish, the struggle between the Hebraists and Yiddishists reaching a climax at the first all-Russian conference of Jewish teachers, convoked in St. Petersburg during June 1917. There Heilperin appeared as the spokesman of secular Yiddish schools, maintaining that the mother tongue of the children should be the natural, normal language of instruction, that the government should be urged to provide compulsory elementary education for all children, and that Hebrew should be included in the curriculum for all Jewish classes. In 1918 he served as educational adviser to the Jewish ministry of the short-lived government of the Ukraine. In 1921 he joined the Jewish Teachers' Seminary in Vilna as a teacher of Hebrew and Yiddish and was active in yivo during its early Vilna period. From 1900 onwards he published his writings in Hebrew and Russian and from 1906 also in Yiddish. He prepared readers, story books, and educational texts in both Hebrew and Yiddish, as well as simplified translations of world literature into Hebrew. He edited the first Yiddish magazine for children, Grininke Beymelekh ("Green Trees") and founded a publishing house for children's literature in Jekaterinoslaw. He translated the fairy tales of Andersen and the Grimm brothers into Yiddish as well as novels by Disraeli, Hamsun, Gogol, Twain, Chekhov, Schiller, and Tolstoy. With Max *Weinreich he published a widely used Yiddish grammar (1928), joined the literary circle of "Yung Vilne," and published several volumes of short stories and plays: Ertseylungen ("Tales," 1910), Yidishe Mayses ("Jewish Tales," 1917), Oyfn Shvel ("On the Threshold," 1918), Mayses fun Fartsaytn ("Ancient Tales," 1929), Fun Opgruntn ("From the Abyss," 1930). In 1938 he settled in Palestine, where the Ohel Theater produced a Hebrew version of his drama "Hordos" ("Herod," in: Fun Opgruntn).


Rejzen, Leksikon, 1 (1926), 829–32; M. Ravitch, Mayn Leksikon (1945); lnyl, 3 (1960), 128–31; Kressel, Leksikon, 1 (1965), 615–6.

[Sol Liptzin /

Tamar Lewinsky (2nd ed.)]

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