Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Leivik Chanukoff

Born on 3 February 1892 in Gut Olchova, Pskover region, Russia. His father was a merchant of flax and had maintained a tenant farm. He studied with a private teacher at home, then in the city in a Russian elementary school. At the age of eleven or twelve, he left home for Odessa, then went to Vitebsk. For a time he was a teacher in Nevel. In 1913 he served in the military. At the end of 1914 he fled to America. He settled down in Philadelphia. He peddled lamps, worked in a shop, in the fabrication for building ships and locomotives.

At the age of fifteen he began his literary activity in Russia; he participated with songs and stories in the Russian newspaper, "Odesskie Novosti" and "Birzhevya vedomosti," also in the journal  "Solntse rossiya" et al. At the end of 1916 he began to publish in Yidish in the Philadelphia "Yiddish World," later participating in the daily and weekly Yiddish press. His first book was "Shvere himlen (1923).

By himself, C., and later his wife, issued eight books, from them the book "Submarine," which was also published in Russian and in English.

After his passing, his wife Florence issued three of his books, among them the book, "Letste shriftn" (Tel Aviv, 1966), in which there was published C.'s "Fun dos nay," a play of Jewish life in America in five acts.

In the introduction N.M. (Meyzil) writes:


"In his first home city Philadelphia he did not go to any special Jewish creations, but in non-Jewish factories of ship- building and locomotives. From here--the other non-Jewish and non-Jewish-like manner and style of his themes, and from creative motives. ...Besides his cultural pedagogic work (for many years a teacher in the New York schools of the 'Sholem Aleichem Institute'), he wrote and published stories, important papers, assessments about writers and books, published publicity and informative articles about Yiddish and general culture and questions about art, during the week commenting on the actual events in world creativity. ...the last years he had, with a special zeal began to carve from wood, and to mold figures from clay. He replaced the pen with the chisel. The album (that his wife had issued of his work) was issued with English text, which was translated from his essay, "Cosmos and Art" through Fr. Chanukoff."

C.'s last years was very difficult and he was seriously ill, and he had to undergo several operations. On 25 September 1958 he passed away in New York.

  • "Lexicon of the New Yiddish Literature," New York, 1961, Vol. 4, pp. 371-72.

  • N.M. -- A Word About L. Chanukoff in "L. Chanukoff 'Last Writings,'" Tel Aviv, 1966.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 6, page 4933.

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