Page 83 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 21

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H. L E I V I C K
u d e l
a r k
e iv ick
passed away December 23, 1962. I t was Hanukkah
. and two days before his 74th birthday. His death came
after a long and debilitating illness.
For more than four years Leivick was confined to his bed.
Unable to speak, and cut off from our world, his wasted ascetic
physique became more and more disembodied. Yet with every
fiber of his soul he was attached to this world of his painful
quests and visions, still alert and eager for information from
the world outside the walls of his sickroom.
Leivick was born in the little White Russian town of Ihuman.
The oldest of nine children, his childhood was blighted by
abject poverty. His father was a teacher who went from house
to house teaching poor girls to write. His mother rose before
dawn to bake bagels which she peddled. In early childhood
Leivick experienced a great tragedy when one of his little sisters,
playing in the cramped, crowded home, came too close to the flame
of the bake-oven and died horribly from her burns. At ten little
Leivick left home and wandered from one little Yeshiva to an-
other, eating in another home each day and sleeping on the
hard benches of houses of study. Thus he subsisted for five
or six miserable years. “Rising” later to the position of teacher
to the children of a village Jew seemed a great improvement.
Then came the turbulent year 1905. Enthralled by the revolu-
tionary movement, Leivick joined the Jewish Labor Bund and
as soon arrested for political offenses. He was freed because he
was a minor, but in 1906 he was arrested again. This time he
pent two years in prison awaiting trial, during which time he
ent on a week-long hunger strike.
At his trial the proud young revolutionary refused to defend
imself. Instead, he boldly accused the judges of being the ruth-
less executors of a murderous policy of Tsarist oppression. As
result he received the maximum sentence: four years at hard
abor to be followed by exile for life to Siberia. The years spent
t hard labor in Siberia were his years of enlightenment. He