MONTREAL (Aug. 23)
Funeral services for Melech Ravitch, the dean of Yiddish poets, will be held here tomorrow. He died Saturday night at the age of 83. The author of more than 20 volumes of poetry, memoirs and cultural history studies, his first volume was published in 1912. He edited many important Yiddish journals and contributed to scores of Jewish publications throughout the world.
Born as Zacharia Chona Bergner in Radymno, Poland, Nov. 7, 1893, Ravitch went to work at an early age as a bank clerk. He served in the Austrian Army during World War I.
Deciding to devote his life to the culture and literature of Yiddish, Ravich became secretary of the Jewish Writers Society and leader of the “Haliastra” (gang), a group devoted to experimental offbeat poetry. He founded several prestigious literary journals and was the author of a volume of expressionist poems.
In the period between the two world wars, Ravitch travelled widely throughout the world warning that the Jews of Poland and Eastern Europe must flee to avoid the coming conflict that he foresaw. He came to Montreal in 1934 and for many years was the editor of the literary pages of the Jewish Daily Eagle. He also wrote a three-volume autobiography.
Ravitch long proposed canonization of a new bible which would contain the 2000-year spiritual history of the Jewish people just as the Old Testament and the Talmud were anthologies of the earlier Jewish experience.