April 24, 2022 was exactly one month (shloyshim) since the death of Lazar Lubarsky. Some have even called him “lamed-vovnik”- one of the thirty-six righteous men on whom the world rests*. A very humble man, from whom hardly anyone ever heard a word in loud tones - he exuded kindness and light, and most importantly self-forgetful devotion to his people and his country, to Jewish culture and his native Yiddish language..
Lazar was born in 1926 in Balti, a typical Jewish town in Bessarabia (then part of Romania). At the beginning of the war, his family was evacuated to Central Asia. In 1943, at the age of 17, Lazar was drafted into the Red Army. Since by that time he had already completed eight years of school, he was sent to the Frunze Aviation School. After completing an accelerated course of navigators and radio operators in the second half of 1944, he was sent to the Moscow region, where he served in military aviation. Lazar celebrated end of the war with his nineteenth birthday, but continued to serve in the army until 1948. Then he graduated from the Odessa Institute of Communications, lived and worked in the Urals, then in the Caucasus - in Ordzhonikidze, in Rostov.
As a young man, he was addicted to everything related to the Yiddish language and culture. He read Jewish literature in Yiddish and Russian translations. He was deeply moved by the tragedy that befell the prominent Jewish cultural figures in the USSR and collected little by little information about their lives and writings.
At the same time Lazar was active in the Jewish national underground movement, became a convinced Zionist and cooperated with the prominent refuseniks and fighters for national consciousness. In 1970 he tried to leave for Israel, but was rejected and so continued his underground Zionist activities in USSR. In 1972 he was arrested and spent 4 years in prison.
Only in 1976, after his release and three rejections, Lazar and his family were allowed to leave. On December 20, 1976 he arrived to Israel, but even here he did not stop fighting for the right of Soviet Jews to leave USSR. He worked as an engineer for the Electric Company, later at the Ministry of Communications. He was accepted into the Union of Yiddish Language Writers and Journalists in Israel, published articles in various periodicals and tried to perpetuate the names of heroes who devoted themselves to Yiddish culture in the USSR, and was an active member of the Association of Zion prisoners in Israel.
Zol er hobn a likhtikn ganeydn!
May his memory be blessed!
Photo: Lazar Lubarsky
*In Jewish mystical tradition, a secret righteous man (tzadik), one of 36 present on earth at any given moment.
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