Iakov Yakir

Iakov Yakir

Bessarabian Jewish writer.
Country: Israel

  1. Biography of Yakov Yakir
  2. Early Life and Education
  3. Writing Career
  4. War Years and Imprisonment
  5. Later Life and Writing
  6. Later Years and Legacy

Biography of Yakov Yakir

Early Life and Education

Yakov Yakir, a Bessarabian Jewish writer, was born in the village of Perlitsa (now Pyrlitsa in the Ungeni District of Moldova). He grew up in the border town of Skulyany, located 25 versts away from Perlitsa. Yakir completed his education at the Hebrew Gymnasium "Mogen-Dovid" Cirelson in Kishinev.

Writing Career

Yakov Yakir made his debut as a writer in the joint collection "Onzog" (Announcement), published in 1931 in Kishinev, along with Gersh-Leib Kazhber and Hertsel Gaysiner-Rivkin. The collection was intended to be a periodic publication of a group of young Bessarabian writers who later joined the organization "Yung-Rumene" (Young Romania) in Bucharest. Yakir's works were published in the Kishinev daily newspaper "Undzer Tsayt" (Our Time) under the editorship of Zolmen Rozental, as well as various periodicals in Bucharest, particularly in the magazine "Shoybm" (Windows) edited by Yankev Shternberg and Shloyme Bikl.

War Years and Imprisonment

In the mid-1930s, Yakov Yakir returned to Kishinev and worked as a Yiddish teacher in a Jewish school from 1940 to 1941. During the Great Patriotic War, he was evacuated to Uzbekistan, where he collaborated with the newspaper "Eynikayt" (Unity), the organ of the Jewish Antifascist Committee. In 1945, he returned to Kishinev and worked as a correspondent for the newspaper "Eynikayt" in Moldova until 1948.

On February 16, 1949, Yakir was arrested as the first accused in the so-called case number 5390, which targeted a "Trotskyist-nationalist" group of Bessarabian Jewish writers. In late September of the same year, he was sentenced to 10 years in strict regime labor camps and was sent to Kuybyshev, before being transferred to Kolyma. During his time in Kotsgan, Magadan Oblast, he served his sentence alongside Odessa writer Note Lurye and poet Anatoly Zhiguliny.

Later Life and Writing

After his release and rehabilitation in 1955, Yakov Yakir returned to Kishinev, where he worked in the editorial offices of various Moldavian newspapers and as an editor at the Kartya Moldovenyaske publishing house during the 1950s and 1960s. He engaged in journalism in both Moldavian and Russian languages and published Yiddish fiction in newspapers such as "Folkstimé" (People's Voice) in Warsaw and "Di Nay Presse" (New Press) in Paris. In 1961, he began regular collaboration with the magazine "Sovetish Geimland" (Soviet Homeland) in Moscow, where he published a number of stories and novellas throughout the 1960s.

Later Years and Legacy

Following the premature death of his daughter, writer Svetlana Yakir (1936-1971), Yakov Yakir immigrated to Israel in 1972. In Israel, he published his works in "Yerushalaymer Almanakh" (Jerusalem Almanac), edited by Y. Kerler, and "Di Golden Keyt" (The Silver Chain), edited by A. Sutskever. He also had publications in American magazines such as "Ba Zikh" (At Home) and "Undzer Eign Vort" (Our Own Word), both based in New York. In Israel, Yakir released books of stories and novellas in Yiddish, including "A Shlitn mit Ishevnikes" (Sleighs with Villagers) and "Geshhtes un Portretn" (Stories and Portraits), as well as the Yiddish translation of his daughter Svetlana's stories from Russian, titled "Di Vayse Tsigele mIt di Zilberne Glekkelekh" (The White Goat with the Silver Bells) in 1976.

Yakov Yakir, the laureate of the Y. Fichman Literary Prize, had a talented granddaughter named Eynat Yakir (born in 1977), who became an Israeli writer and translator of Korney Chukovsky's works into Hebrew. Another granddaughter, Victoria Munblit, is a journalist and the host of "Radio Davidson" and "Vse" as well as an editor for the newspaper "Vecherniy New York".