Chaim Leib Fuks
Chaim Leib Fuks (Fox) was born 1896 in Lodz, Poland into a Hassidic family of prominent rabbis.
He was an author, poet, activist and lexicographer. Originally intended for a life of rabbinic study,
Fuks gave up his studies due in part to the influence of the socialist Zionist movement. Fuks started
work as a sign painter but continued to write poetry, which he had started composing, first in Hebrew
and then Yiddish, while still studying. In 1920, Fuks, following his activism in Labour Zionism,
was with others travelling illegally to then British-mandate Palestine. There he worked in railroad
construction and continued to compose Yiddish poetry.
Chaim Leib Fuks
Fuks as drawn by Lou Seligson, Canadian Jewish News
|His activism led Fuks back to Poland in 1938 where he participated in the Haloutsim movement
encouraging Jews to move to Palestine. By 1939, however, Fuks was trapped in the Soviet Union
because of Hitler's invading army. Fuks continued his global wanderings after World War II,
moving first to Paris, New York and finally settling in Montreal in 1973. Over his lifetime,
Fuks contributed innumerable articles and pieces to Yiddish periodicals in Europe, Israel and
North America. His poetry was also well received by audiences and was translated from Yiddish
to English, French, Hebrew, Polish and Russian. His arrival in Montreal heralded the documentation
of Canada's rich and diverse community of Yiddish and Hebrew poets and authors. In 1980, Fuks
published Hundert yor Yidishe un Hebreyshe literature in Kanade [100 Years of Yiddish and Hebrew
Literature in Canada]. Tracking down sources across Canada and researching through the holdings
of the Montreal Jewish Public Library Archives and the Canadian Jewish Congress National Archives,
Fuks compiled the biographies of 429 authors and poets, 227 of whom called Montreal home.
The biographical dictionary took eight years to complete. Fuks's work even gathered its own
following, the Chaim Leib Fuks Book Committee led by Yiddish author and educator Yaakov Zipper.
The volume of the work speaks to the importance of Montreal to Yiddish culture and language. Fuks' masterpiece
was recently translated into French by Dr. Pierre Anctil and is available under the title
Cent ans de littérature yiddish et hébraïque au Canada. Contact the Jewish Public Library, Montreal for more information.
Hundert Yor Yidishe un Hebreyshe literature in Kanade