Hymn of the Jewish Partisans

I found this Leyzer Ran brochure in the British Library in London 


Leyzer Ran

Leyzer Ran was an historian, scholar, and archivist who took a passionate and humanistic interest in the many environments he inhabited over the course of his life. Born in Jewish Vilna (aka Vilnius, Lithuania) in 1912, Ran was a linguistic and literary prodigy. He wrote his masterwork, a three volume history, about Vilna which informed so much of his early intellectual development. The resulting work, published in 1975 under the title Yerushalyim deLite (The Jerusalem of Lithuania, an affectionate nickname for Vilna, which was renowned as the home of many Jewish scholars) went on to win the National Jewish Book of the Year Award in the United States in 1976 and the Manger Prize for History in Israel the following year. Ran was also the award recipient Lecturer and gave the fourth annual Avrom-Nokhem Stencl Lecture in Yiddish Studies at the Oxford Summer Program in Yiddish Language and Literature in 1986.

Ran lived in Vilna, Lithuania until 1936, when he received a fellowship from Moscow University to pursue a doctorate in political science. This fortuitously timed fellowship allowed him to escape the deteriorating situation for Jews in Lithuania. However, in Moscow, he encountered a society in the grip of political purges and mass arrests. He himself, always politically active, was falsely accused of espionage and sentenced to ten years in the Gulag. His last work Der Internationale fun Carbones stems from this period, in which he met dissident intellectuals from all areas of the Soviet Union, which at that time spanned a hemisphere.

The Jewish underground located Ran and his wife and helped them escape. In 1947, Ran was able to emigrate from Russia to Havana, Cuba, where he worked as the principal of an ORT school. This environment also piqued his interest, and he went on to gather research materials on the history of the Cuban Jewish community and to edit scholarly anthologies on the topic creating the only archive of the history of Jews in Cuba.

In 1953, the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research was finally able to bring this exceptional scholar to the United States. This institute was originally founded in Vilna in 1925, and Ran had studied there in its graduate program from 1928-1935 receiving a Masters degree. After the Holocaust, the YIVO Institute moved its center of operations to New York, and it was the New York branch of YIVO that arranged for Ran to leave Cuba. In America, Ran worked for YIVO as an archivist, where he collaborated on such important projects as a Yiddish dictionary, an encyclopedia, a bibliography of Soviet Jewish literature, and reference works on Yiddish literature and the Yiddish theater. He then worked for the Jewish Daily Forward (newspaper) as a printer and editor, where he edited Nobel Prize winner I. B. Singer’s Yiddish stories, while continuing to write his memoirs and articles on Jewish history, culture, linguistics, and literary criticism, and assemble an extraordinary archive of materials on 1000 years of Jewish Life in Europe.

Leyzer Ran’s library and papers, including the aforementioned archive on the History of the Jews in Cuba, were donated to Harvard University which opened and dedicated a seminar library in his honor. The plaque reads:

Leyzer Ran passed away in New York in 1995.