KHARIK, IZI (Yitskhok ; 1898–1937), Soviet Yiddish poet. Born in Zembin, Belorussia, he began publishing Yiddish poetry in 1920. His talent and dedication to building socialism earned him an invitation to Moscow to study the arts. His literary career skyrocketed after he published his s htetl poems in the literary magazine Shtrom and his epic poem, " Minsker Blotes" ("Minsk Swamps"), which appeared in Nayerd (1925) and portrays the transformation of a shtetl during the Revolution. It was heralded as one of the first Yiddish works to depict Jewish life, as opposed to death, during the Civil War. After returning to Belorussia, Kharik published his first major collection of poems, Af der erd ("On the Land," 1926), marking him as the Yiddish poet who best expressed the ambiguous relationship between Jewish tradition and modernity, between memory and imagination. He also began editing for the Minsk newspaper, Oktober. His most important contribution to Soviet Jewish literature, the pessimistic narrative poem " Mit Layb un Lebn" ("With Body and Soul," 1928), portrays the life of the Soviet Jewish intelligentsia through the eyes of a young Jewish teacher whose grand hopes for rebuilding the shtetl are ultimately dashed. Reviewers nonetheless lauded Kharik for portraying "real Soviet life" and showing the remaking of Soviet society. In the 1930s, he became a member of the prestigious Belorussian Academy of Sciences, and his colleagues celebrated him in poetry readings, special book dedications, and other rites that conferred importance on Soviet writers. He became editor of the Minsk literary journal Shtern and, in 1932, put out his third important collection of poetry, Kaylekh-dike Vokhn ("Week After Week"). In June 1937, at the peak of his career, he was arrested, and killed later that year, as part of the Great Purges that decimated the Soviet cultural elite. His work was not republished until the late 1950s after his rehabilitation following Stalin's death.
lnyl, 4 (1961), 382–6; E.H. Jeshurin, Dovid Hofshteyn, Izi Kharik, Itsik Fefer: Bibliografye (1962). add. bibliography: I. Howe and E. Greenberg (eds.), Ashes Out of Hope: Fiction by Soviet-Yiddish Writers (1977); Sh. Rozhansky (ed.), Dovid Hofshteyn, Izi Kharik, Itsik Fefer: Oysgeklibene Shriftn (1962); D. Shneer, Yiddish and the Creation of Soviet Jewish Culture, 1918 – 1930 (2004).
[Elias Schulman /
David Shneer (2nd ed.)]