Rivkin, Boruch

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RIVKIN, BORUCH (pseudonym of Boruch Abraham Weinrebe /Weinryb ; 1883–1945), Yiddish literary critic and essayist. Born in Jakobstadt, Courland (Jekabpils, Latvia), the son of a wagon driver, Rivkin became involved in the revolutionary activities of the *Bund, although he was more inclined toward philosophical anarchism. He suffered a year's imprisonment in 1904 and fled to Switzerland, where he was active in anarchist circles and published in Russian. Only after reaching London (1911) did he begin to write in Yiddish. A year later he settled in New York and was invited by the poet A. *Reisen to write for his newly-founded literary weekly Dos Naye Land. Rivkin became coeditor of its successor, Di Literarishe Velt, and also assisted A. *Liessin in editing Tsukunft. He was on the staff of the New York daily Tog (1917–19 and 1940–45). In the U.S., Rivkin was associated with Po'alei Zion. He suffered poverty and published only one booklet during his life. After his death, his second wife, Yiddish poet Mina Bordo-Rivkin, collected and published his essays in six volumes, which included: A Gloybn far Umgloybike ("A Religion for the Irreligious," 1947); Yidishe Dikhter in Amerike ("American Yiddish Poets," 1947); Grunt-Tendentsn fun der Yidisher Literatur in Amerike ("Main Trends in American Yiddish Literature," 1948); and Undzere Prozaiker ("Our Prose Writers," 1951). Rivkin is primarily a literary critic, who holds that religion and art are identical and that divine truth emanates from imaginative creation. Hence, Torah is art and Jewish holidays are theatrical embodiments of a drama of redemption. The Jewish man of letters can ennoble the Jewish people and direct its energies to messianic goals. Rivkin propagated the idea that Yiddish literature could serve as a spiritual territory for the Jewish people in the Diaspora. Messianism and spiritualism were two of Rivkin's main concerns. He was not a disciplined thinker but rather a passionate, dynamic critic who probed deeply into literary works, occasionally emerging with flashes of original insight.


Rejzen, Leksikon, 4 (1929), 330–3; M. Bordo-Rivkin, B. Rivkin: Lebn un Shafn (1953), incl. bibl.; S.D. Singer, Dikhterun Prozaiker (1959), 291–4; A. Tabachnik, Dikhter un Dikhtung (1965), 455–73. add. bibliography: lnyl, 8 (1981), 448–51.

[Sol Liptzin /

Eugene V. Orenstein (2nd ed.)]