Kotik, Yekheskl

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KOTIK, YEKHESKL (Ezekiel ; 1847–1921), Yiddish author. Born in Kamieniec Litewski (Kamenets-Litovsk), near Grodno, Belorussia, of a prosperous ḥasidic family, Kotik settled in Kiev in his late twenties and fled to Warsaw after the 1881 pogroms. There he founded a kheyder (*ḥeder) and later opened a coffeehouse which became a rendezvous of Jewish writers and labor activists. A lifelong communal worker, Kotik founded numerous welfare societies. In the Haskalah tradition, he published brochures in Hebrew and Yiddish, among them a plan whereby tenants could become home owners (Di Lokatoren mit di Virtslayt ("The Tenants and the Landlords," 1909). Kotik's fame rests on his two-volume memoirs, Mayne Zikhroynes ("My Memories," Warsaw 1913–14; Berlin 1922), in which he describes numerous facets of 19th-century Russian Jewish daily life (mainly in and around Kamieniec, but in the second volume also in Kiev and Moscow). These are important not only as social history (his descriptions of ḥasidic life are especially noteworthy), but as a significant contribution to Yiddish letters. Kotik's impact on *Sholem Aleichem may be seen not only in that writer's letters to Kotik but in his use of Kotik as a character in the last series of Menakhm Mendl.


Filologishe Shriftn, 3 (1929), 152–71 [Sholem Aleykhem's letters to Kotik]; Reyzn, Leksikon, 3 (1929), 424–6; Ch. Shmeruk, in: Di Goldene Keyt, 56 (1966), 22–55. add. bibliography: lnyl, 8 (1981), 44; D. Assaf (ed.), Journey to a Nineteenth-Century Shtetl (2002) (= Mayne Zikhroynes, vol. 1); D. Assaf (ed.), Ma she-Ra'iti (1999) and Na ve-Nad (2005) [= Mayne Zikhroynes, vols. 1–2]

[Leonard Prager]