Friday, 23 February 2018


            He came from Russia, and after WWI moved to Philadelphia where he was a private Hebrew teacher and a religious man.  He was the author of: Tsofnes paneakh (Revealer of secrets), “this book uncovers new secrets of nature which will bring about a revolution in astronomy” (Philadelphia, 1930), 64 pp., with a preface by the author, in which he explains a bit about himself.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


KHANE (HANNAH, CHANE, ANNE) SAFRAN (b. January 4, 1902)
            She was born in Shedlets (Siedlce), Poland.  She graduated from a municipal school and attended evening Hebrew courses.  At age ten she began to learn a trade.  In 1916 she arrived in the United States, where she worked by day and studied in the evenings.  She debuted in print with a poem “Bist far mir a vunder” (You’re a wonder to me) in Nay lebn (New life) in New York (1936), and from that point her poetry appeared in: Morgn-frayhayt (Morning freedom), Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture), Yidish amerike (Jewish America), and Zamlungen (Anthologies)—in New York; Naye prese (New press) in Paris; and Yidishe shriftn (Yiddish writings) and Folks-shtime (Voice of the people) in Warsaw.  Her poems were also published in the anthology Amerike in yidishn vort (America in the Yiddish word) (New York, 1955).  In book form: Nitsokhn (Triumph), poetry (New York: Khane Safran Book Committee, 1946), 128 pp.; Haynt (Today), poetry (New York: IKUF, 1950), 144 pp.; Likhtike shtromen, lider un poemes (Bright currents, poetry) (New York: IKUF, 1960), 190 pp.; Dos lebn ruft (Life calls) (New York: IKUF, 1968), 190 pp.  In addition, Morgn-frayhayt published her novels—Di tentserin (The female dancer) (1952), Vivyen un ire fraynt (Vivian and her friend) (1954), and Eltern un kinder (Parents and children) (1971-1972)—and her memoir Ikh gedenk, fun mayne ershte zeks yor in amerike (I remember, from my first six years in America).  She also published stories and travel impressions.  She kept a diary (1914-1916), published [in Polish] in 2011 as: Dziennik Anny Kahan: Siedlce, 1914-1916 (Anna Kahan’s journal: Siedlce, 1914-1916) (Siedlce: Stowarzyszenie Tutajteraz, 2011), 410 pp.  She also wrote two dramas: Dos hekhste gezets (The highest law, 1932) and Dos fayer fun lebn (The ardor of life, 1952).  In 1957 she settled in Miami Beach.  In 1961 she received an award for her song “Eybrehem linkoln” (Abraham Lincoln) in a competition run by the Jewish music association in New York.  In 1962 she visited the state of Israel, Soviet Russia, and Poland.  Her poems were also republished in various newspapers and journals outside of the United States.  She also wrote in English: The Fireborn (New York: Vantage Press, 1963), 270 pp.  Her poems in English translation by A. Schmuller are included in her work Crossing the Borderland: Poems, Prose Poems, and Poetical Translations (London, 1959) and in Three contemporary Poets: Delina Margot-Parle, Aaron Schmuller, Grace Gilombardo Fox (New York, 1960).  She was last living in Miami Beach.

Sources: A. Pomerants, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (June 23, 1946); Sore Kindman, “Der mame-motiv bay amerikaner yidishe dikhterins” (The mother motif among American Yiddish poetesses), Yidishe kultur (New York) (1947), pp. 54-55; B. Ts. Hibel, in Undzer veg (Munich) 235 (1948); Moyshe Kats, in Morgn-frayhayt (December 3, 1950); Z. Vaynper, in Yidishe kultur (April 1957); Y. B. Beylin, in Morgn-frayhayt (August 28, 1960); Kh. Slutska-Kestin, in Fraye yisroel (Tel Aviv) (September 1, 1960); A. Shklyar, in Folks-shtime (Warsaw) (April 25, 1961); Y. Furmanski, in Naye prese (Paris) (June 10, 1962); Biblyografye fun yidishe bikher vegn khurbn un gvure (Bibliography of Yiddish books concerning the Holocaust and heroism) (New York, 1962); Sh. Almanzov, in Zamlungen (New York) 31 (1964).
Benyomen Elis

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 397.]


AVROM SAFRO (1888-1965)
            A Soviet writer and journalist, he was born in Alt-Bikhov (Bychaw), Byelorussia.  From his youth he studied foreign languages.  In 1904 he became a leather worker, and later he was a teacher in his father Talmud Torah.  He debuted in print with a correspondence piece from Alt-Bikhov in Der nayer veg (The new path) in Vilna (1903).  From that point he went on to publish articles, translations, poems, and stories in a variety of venues.  In 1913 he settled in Vilna and worked for Vilner togblat (Vilna daily newspaper) as a translator, proofreader, and editorial board secretary.  After the Revolution, he lived in Vitebsk and worked in the culture and education division of the local Jewish section and as secretary to the editorial board of the weekly newspaper Der frayer arbeter (The free worker).  In 1919 he assumed the same post for the newspaper Der shtern (The star) (Minsk and Vitebsk).  In Vitebsk he established the first Yiddish-language court in the Soviet Union and served as its secretary.  He described the work of this court in an article, “Der ershter folks-gerikht af yidish” (The first people’s court in Yiddish), in Arbets kalendar afn 1924tn yor (Labor calendar for the year 1924).  That same year he moved to Moscow and served as editorial secretary for the newspaper Der emes (The truth).  He was also active as a translator.  Two of his translations were published in 1931 by the Moscow publisher “Der emes”: S. Tretiakov, Den shi khuas matone (Deng Xihua’s gift [original: Den Shi Khua]; and P. Smidovitsh, Di arbeṭer-masn in di 90er yorn, zikhroynes fun an altn bolshevik (The laboring masses in the 1890s, memoirs of an old Bolshevik), 63 pp.  His name disappeared in the early 1930s and then reappeared in 1957—his memoirs appeared in the Warsaw newspaper Folks-shtime (Voice of the people).

Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), p. 259.

Thursday, 22 February 2018


ITE SAFMAN (b. 1873)
            She hailed from Odessa.  As Y. Dobrushin recounts, this Odessan woman of the people (already over sixty years of age) began writing about her experiences during the evacuation from Odessa to Uzbekistan in Soviet Central Asia.  “The steamer, may it rest in peace, and Yiddish prayers from my old grandmother”—thus she began one of her rhymed stories about a ship packed with evacuees on the Black Sea, which was bombed by German airplanes.  In another rhymed chapter, she recounts: “When Hitler came to power, night fell on Czechoslovakia.  It became dark—a lament, and shorter was the day.  Black clouds swarmed over the sky, the wind gave its word that it would make the storm clouds move from their place, and the sun would rise again.”  She also narrated the story of her husband, the sixty-year-old partisan who stayed with the other fighters in the Odessa catacombs, and the Germans seized him and hanged him with his sister who was a writer.  “As for every folk creator,” wrote Y. Dobrushin, “there sprang up in her the poetic word, and soon side-by-side it was with a melody….  In her songs she is more a storyteller.  She thus needs a means of innovative, folkish trope, which attends to every word and line and construes and explains and underscores the sorrow and the joy of an awakened folk soul.”

Source: Y. Dobrushin, in Eynikeyt (Moscow) (June 26, 1945).
Benyomen Elis


H. SAFYAN (b. 1898)
            He was born in Chernobyl, Kiev district, Ukraine.  He attended religious elementary school.  In 1913 he moved to Kiev, worked in a beer brewery, and prepared to enter secondary school.  In 1915 he moved to Ekaterinoslav and worked there with a locksmith.  After the February Revolution of 1917, he studied at the Kiev people’s university.  He was manager of the division of extra-curricular education and library use.  He attended the pedagogical course of study in Kiev, and after graduating he became the administrator of a Jewish trade school and an evening school in Kiev.  In 1924 he graduated from the medical teaching faculty of the Institute of People’s Education and was hired as an assistant in the psychopathology department in the All-Ukrainian Institute of Hygiene.  From 1927 he was secretary of the pedagogical office of the Jewish section in Kiev, where he was in charge of translating textbooks for Jewish schools.  In 1930 he moved to scholarly work at the Kiev Institute for Jewish Proletarian Culture and turned his attention of psychological methods and experimental pedagogy.  Together with Zingerman, Faynerman, Kruglyak, and Ravinski, he compiled Lenins ruf, lernbukh far veynik-ivredike (Lenin’s call, textbook for the few Yiddish speakers) (Kiev: All-Ukrainian Committee to Eliminate Illiteracy, 1926), 227 pp.—Safyan wrote for this textbook: “Anatomye un fizyalogye fun mentsh” (Anatomy and physiology or man).  Two of his writings—“Tsu der frage vegn ratsyonalizirn di limudim-reshime in eltern kontsentr” (On the issue of rationalizing the list of subjects in the higher stage of second education) and “Vegn tsveyt-yorikeyt in shul” (On the second year in school)—were published in the Y. Reznik’s collection Di lernarbet in shul, zamlung (The work of teaching in school, anthology) (Kharkov-Kiev: Pedagogy Section, Ukrainian Academy of Science, 1933), 212 pp.  Together with Reznik and Ester Shnayderman, he collaborated on the work Heymfargebungen (Homework), issues from experience in school (Minsk: Institute for Jewish Proletarian Culture, 1935), 109 pp.  Safyan published a project of a text to measure the literacy level of readers in Ratnbildung (Soviet education) and a project to gauge intellectual accomplishments in Spivavtor (Co-author) in Ukrainian in 1943.  In 1935 he was signed to publish by the Ukrainian Labor Institute a booklet on “job profiles for locksmiths, turners, blacksmiths, and coppersmiths.”  Safyan disappeared in the 1930s during the liquidation of Yiddish writers and cultural leaders in the Soviet Union.

Sources: Autobiographical notes: M. Flakser, A. Pomerants, and Leyzer Ran, “Biblyografye fun der yidisher literatur in ratnfarband, 1918-1948” (Bibliography of Yiddish literature in the Soviet Union, 1918-1948), a manuscript held at YIVO in New York; Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index.
Leyzen Ran


YANKEV SAPIRO (February 28, 1888-September 29, 1963)
            He was born in Vilkovishki (Vilkavi┼íkis), Lithuania.  He studied in religious elementary schools and later graduated from a middle school in Kovno and the technical college at the University of Manchester (England).  He went on to work as a textile chemist in Manchester, Lodz, and Moscow.  In 1922 he moved from Russia to Germany, and from there to France, and in 1941 he arrived in the United States.  He was active in socio-political affairs of the Zionist socialist workers’ party, the Zionist socialist party, and the Bund.  In America he was involved with the Russian Social-Democratic Party (Mensheviks), Erlikh-Alter branch 313 of Workmen’s Circle, and the Algemeyne entsiklopedye (General encyclopedia) in Yiddish.  He wrote for Russian- and English-language journals on technical issues.  He first began writing in Yiddish in America and in 1947 debuted with a poem in Der amerikaner (The American) in New York.  In book form, he published: Shtile vegn, lider (Quiet lanes, poems) (Paris, 1953), 128 pp.; Shtimungen, lider (Moods, poems) (New York, 1958), 102 pp.; Siluetn, lider (Silhouettes, poems) (New York, 1963), 88 pp.  He died in New York.
            “In each poem,” wrote Shmuel Niger, “one feels a lyrical tone and something of a natural musicality.”  “To the thoroughly straightforward poets,” noted Y. Varshavski, “belongs Y. Sapiro.  One can say of his book Shtile vegn that it lives up to his name.  When readers will tire of all poetic revivals, perhaps one may return to this sort of simplicity.”  As Yankev Glatshteyn put it, “in the poems there is a truthfulness.  Even a certain dexterity and a fine tone.  Everywhere one sees Yankev Sapiro’s refined, nostalgic approach.”

Sources: H. Abramovitsh, in Unzer shtime (Paris) (November 28, 1953); Yankev Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (January 8, 1954); Kh. Sh. Kazdan, in Unzer tsayt (New York) (March 1954); A. Trotski, in Di idishe tsaytung (Buenos Aires) (April 25, 1954); A. Leyeles, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (July 7, 1963); obituary notices in the Yiddish press in New York.
Yankev Kahan


            She was a partisan in Bilak’s brigade in the woods around Deretshin (Derechin, Dziarechyn), near Slonim, Byelorussia.  Shmerke Katsherginski’s Lider fun di getos un lagern (Songs from the ghettos and camps) includes three songs of hers: “Shtey oyf” (Rise up!), “Afn postn” (In position), and “Der kemfender shvester” (The fighting sister), reported by Yitskhok Tsukerman.  Further information is unknown.

Source: Shmerke Katsherginski, Lider fun di getos un lagern (Songs from the ghettos and camps) (New York, 1948), pp. 312, 336-37.
Yankev Kahan