Spivak, Elye

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SPIVAK, ELYE (1890–1950), Yiddish linguist and pedagogue. Born in the Ukraine, Spivak was renowned as a Yiddish teacher before the Revolution. The author of scores of Yiddish primers and literary anthologies for schoolchildren, he trained Yiddish teachers at several institutes. After Nahum Shtif 's death in 1933, Spivak was appointed director of the linguistic section of the Institute for Jewish Proletarian Culture at the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in Kiev and editor of its journal, Afn Shprakhfront. In 1937, after the dissolution of the Institute, which had supported more than a hundred workers, a small Office for the Study of Yiddish Literature, Language, and Folklore was established, with Spivak continuing as director. The office was evacuated to the East during World War ii and closed in 1949, when Spivak, a member of the *Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, was arrested under charges of Jewish nationalism. He died in prison in 1950. The main administrator of Soviet Yiddish research in the 1930s and 1940s, Spivak was the authority on the lexicon and terminology. His crowning work was Naye Vortshafung ("Creating Neologisms," 1939), which demonstrated impressive expertise in Yiddish morphology, etymology, and language history and structure. The short-lived policy of dehebraization of Yiddish suggested by Shtif and I. Zaretski was, from 1931–1939, consistently opposed by Spivak, who argued for the componential integrity of the language.


lnyl, 6 (1965), 509–13; B. Kagan, Leksikon fun Yidish Shraybers (1986), 410–11; R. Peltz, in: J. Fishman (ed.), Readings in the Sociology of Jewish Languages (1985), 125–50; S. Redlich, War, Holocaust and Stalinism (1995), 153, 454; E. Rozental-Shnayderman, Oyf Vegn un Umvegn, 3 (1982), 163–79; J. Rubinstein and V. Naumov (eds.), Stalin's Secret Pogrom (2003), 127.

[Rakhmiel Peltz (2nd ed.)]