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Mikhalevich, Beinish


MIKHALEVICH, BEINISH (pseudonym of Joseph Izbitski ; 1876–1928), leader of the *Bund in Russia and Poland. Mikhalevich was born at Brest-Litovsk into a working-class family and at the age of 18 he joined a socialist circle. On the establishment of the Bund, he was active in Bialystok and Warsaw, set up its local organs there, and also wrote in its central newspaper Arbeter Shtime. After a period of arrest by the czarist police, he took part in the establishment of the Garber Bund and edited its organ Der Kemfer. In the following years – between repeated arrests, exile, and flight – he was an organizer, speaker, publicist, and propagandist of the Bund. In the internal struggles he belonged to the "soft" group that supported the Bund's return to the Russian Social Democratic party (1906), and during the period of reaction, after the shortlived constitutional aftermath of the revolution, he belonged to the "anti-liquidators," who demanded to continue illegal activities. Mikhalevich was the first to discuss the problem of the relationship between the Bund and the Jewish kehillah (the organized Jewish community) (1907). In 1912 he became a member of the central committee of the Bund and edited its weekly Tsayt in St. Petersburg. During World War i he was active in welfare and educational institutions in Vilna until his imprisonment by the German occupation forces for a leaflet he wrote against forced labor.

The leftward turn of the Bund in independent Poland decreased Mikhalevich's political standing and he devoted himself mainly to writing and to social and cultural work. He wrote in the Bund organ Folkstsaytung, and gave a historical-biographical description of the Jewish workers' movement in three volumes: Zikhroynes fun a Yidishn Sotsialist (1921–23). He took part in the founding of the Central Yiddish School Organization (cysho) and until his death served as its chairman, visiting the U.S. in 1923–24 as its emissary and promoting the establishment of the Society for Helping Children's Institutions Overseas. He was also a member of the Jewish community council in Warsaw (1925–28). One of the outstanding polemicists against Zionism, Mikhalevich was popular even among his opponents because of his honesty and attachment to Jewish values.


lnyl, 5 (1963), 608–12; I. Cohen, War's Tribulations and Aftermath (1943), 361; idem, in: Beinush Mikhalevich Gedenk Bukh (1951), incl. bibl.; A. Litvak, Mah she-Hayah (1945), 237–45; A.S. Stein, Haver Artur (1953), index; J.S. Hertz et al. (eds.), Geshikhte fun Bund, 3 vols. (1960–66), indexes.

[Moshe Mishkinsky]

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