Friday, 24 May 2019


LOUIS ROMAN (1864-1918)
            He came from southern Russia.  In the 1880s he moved to the United States.  He was one of the principal founders on “Pioneers of freedom.”  He co-edited the anarchist weekly newspaper Di varhayt (The truth).  From July 4, 1890, he was for four months the editor of Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor) in New York.  He authored the pamphlet: Der gezetslikher mord in shikago fun november 1887 (Legal murder in Chicago of November 1887)[1] (New York, 1889).  He died in New York.

Source: B. Raynus (Berl Cohen), in Fraye arbeter shtime (New York) (February 1, 1971).

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 500.

[1] Translator’s note—referring to the hanging of those legally held responsible for the Haymarket Riots. (JAF)


MENUKHE (MENUHA) RAM (March 21, 1916-March 23, 2000)
            The author of stories, she was born Rivke Valdman in Zhetl (Zdzięcioł), Poland.  She studied at the Vilna teacher’s seminary.  She spent WWII in the Soviet Union.  After two years in Lodz, she settled in Paris.  She taught Yiddish at the Institute of Oriental Languages, Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, University of Paris.  She published poetry and mostly stories in: Unzer vort (Our word), Unzer shtime (Our voice), and Unzer kiem (Our existence)—in Paris; Letste nayes (Latest news) and Di goldene keyt (The golden chain)—in Tel Aviv; and Tsukunft (Future) and Svive (Environs) in New York; among other serials.  In book form: Vayter fun trakt, dertseylung (Further from the highway, a story) (Paris: Minatur-biblyotek, 1961), 77 pp.; Vintn (Winds) (Buenos Aires: Yidbukh, 1964), 176 pp., Hebrew translation as Ruḥot by Mordekhai Amitai (Tel Aviv: Sifriyat poalim, 1977), 182 pp., French translation as Le vent qui passe by Rachel Ertel (Paris: Julliard, 1974), 234 pp.; Arum der verbe, dertseylungen (Around the willow, stories) (Tel Aviv: Yisroel-bukh, 1970), 282 pp., Hebrew translation as Betsel ets haarava by Moshe Yungman (Tel Aviv, 1983), 159 pp.; Shteyner, 18 dertseylungen (Stones, eighteen stories) (Tel Aviv: Yisroel-bukh, 1981), 188 pp.  In 1984 she received the Manger Prize.  “Ram is an authentic prose writer,” opined Yitskhok Yanasovitsh, “and possesses an observational capacity and an eye for the spiritual condition of her protagonists.”  She died in Aubervilliers, France.

Sources: Y. Rapoport, in Di yidishe post (Melbourne) (July 4, 1961); Shloyme Bikl, Shrayber fun mayn dor (Writers of my generation), vol. 3 (Tel Aviv, 1970), pp. 85-88; Froym Oyerbakh, Af der vogshol, esey (In the balance, essay), vol. 2 (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1975), pp. 272-76; Yitskhok Yanasovitsh, Penemer un nemen (Faces and names), vol. 2: Yidishe prozayikers nokh der tsveyter velt-milkhome (Yiddish prose writers after WWII) (Buenos Aires-Tel Aviv, 1977), pp. 304-13.
Dr. Noyekh Gris

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 500.]


MATVEY ROMM (b. ca. 1858)
            A poet, he was born in Vilna.  He was a descendant of the well-known Romm publishing family in Vilna.  He was orphaned at age two.  He wandered a great deal, living in Moscow, London, and New York, but further details remain unknown, even concerning his death.  He began publishing Russian-language poetry in 1893, and the following year Yiddish poetry in the New York press.  He was the author (using the pen name Matmor) of Dos leben, gedikhte un lieder (The life, poetry) (Vilna: Widow and Brothers Romm, 1903), 66 pp.  The motifs in his poems were mostly love, joy, suffering, and vanities of vanities.  Nokhum-Borekh Minkov includes him among the pioneers of Yiddish poetry in America and writes: “Matvey Romm was among the rare two or three poets who took up individualistic poems….  They were melodic, full of feeling and authentic….  [He was a] precursor of ‘Di yunge’ [The young ones].”

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Nokhum-Borekh Minkov, Pyonern fun der yidisher poezye in amerike, dos sotsyale lid (Pioneers of Yiddish poetry in America, the social poem) (New York, 1956), pp. 83-116; Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Berl Cohen


DOVID ROM (DAVID ROME) (August 10, 1910-January 16, 1996)
            He was born in Vilna, and from 1921 he was living in Canada.  He studied literature and philosophy in Vancouver, later in Seattle in the United States.  From 1938 he was living in Montreal where for eighteen years he served as director of the “Jewish Public Library” (1953-1971), and he put together the Bronfman Collection of Canadiana—the largest collection on Jews in Canada.  From 1964 he was professor of Judaica at McGill University and from 1971 professor of religious studies at the Université de Montréal.  His literary and bibliographic work began in Der idisher mayrev-byuletin (The Western Jewish bulletin) in Vancouver (1934-1936).  He contributed articles to: Der idisher zhurnal (The Jewish journal) in Toronto, Dos idishe vort (The Jewish word) in Winnipeg, and Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal, and Forverts (Forward) and Der amerikaner (The American) in New York, among other serials.  He edited: the anthology Lekoved yisroel rabinovitsh (In honor of Yisroel Rabinovitsh) (Montreal, 1954); with Yankev Grosman, Dos biblyotek-bukh (The library book) (Montreal, 1957), 166 pp. (Yiddish) and 114 pp. (English); Dos yoyvl-bukh tsum 200 yerikn yoyvl fun yidishn yishev in kanade (The jubilee volume for the 200th anniversary of the Jewish community in Canada) (Montreal, 1959); Dos yoyvl-bukh fun der yidisher biblyotek, 1914-1964 (The jubilee volume for the Jewish library, 1914-1964) (Montreal, 1964), 87 pp. (Yiddish) and 12 pp. (English).  In the last of these he published a long bibliographic piece on Yiddish books in Canada.  He wrote about Yiddish literature and Jewish history for Anglophone Jewish periodicals in Montreal and brought out several volumes in English on the same topic, among them: The First Two Hundred Years (Montreal, 1962); and Jewish Canadian Literature (1962).  From 1974 he served as editor of the periodical, Canadian Jewish Archives in Montreal.  He died in Montreal.

Sources: Yisroel Rabinovitsh, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (November 2, 1959); Meylekh Ravitsh, in Pinkes far der forshung fun der yidisher literatur un prese (New York) (1965); Benyomen-Gutel Zak, in Lite (Lithuania), vol. 2 (Tel Aviv, 1965).
Khayim Leyb Fuks


            He was the author of: Di kluge maydil un nokh tsvey sheyne ertsehlungen, dem khodeds nes, der tsvuak (The smart girl and two other lovely stories, the Hassid’s miracle [and] the hypocrite) (1878/1879), 16 pp.; Der eyngilsher general, zeyer asheyne und avunderlekhe ertseylung velkhe hot geṭrofn in dem yor 5307 leyetsire in prag bimedines bihm in der alt nayer zinagoge (The English general, a very beautiful and wonderful story which took place in the 5307th year of creation in Prague in the country of Bohemia in the old-new synagogue) (Vilna: 1878/1879), 48 pp., and (Warsaw: 1884/1885), 42 pp.
Berl Cohen

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 500.]


MOYSHE-KHAYIM ROLNIK (October 10, 1912-December 1977)
            He was born in Opole, near Lublin.  He studied in yeshiva.  In 1931 he emigrated to Paris and in 1941 to New York.  He was a teacher in Workmen’s Circle schools.  From 1954 he was living in Rio de Janeiro.  From 1932 he published poetry and articles in the Parisian Yiddish press, as well as in: Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves) in Warsaw, Vokhnshrift far literatur (Weeklywritingfor literature), Shtern (Star) in Minsk, Hamer (Hammer) in New York, Di prese (The press) in Buenos Aires, and Belgishe bleter (Belgian sheets) in Brussels.  In book form: Iber grenitsn (Across borders), poetry (Paris: Yidishe shrayber-farband, 1937), 66 pp.

Source: Joseph Leftwich, The Golden Peacock (London, 1939).
Berl Cohen


YOYSEF ROLNIK (JOSEPH ROLNICK) (1879-August 18, 1955)
            He was a poet, born in Zhukhovitsh (Zhukhovtsy), Minsk Province.  He father ran a large watermill as a lessee.  His parents’ home was located at a solitary site far off in a field.  He studied at home with an itinerant teacher brought from afar, later in Mir and a year’s time in the yeshiva there.  Avraham Mapu’s Ayit tsavua (The hypocrite) made him less devout.  He threw himself into poetry and wrote Hebrew, Russian, and Yiddish poems.  Over the years 1895-1898, he lived in Minsk and from there sent Y. L. Perets three poems in the three languages.  Perets answered that he liked the Yiddish one more than the others.  In the summer of 1899 he made his way to the United States.  On December 14, 1900 he published in Forverts (Forward) in New York a translation of Dovid Frishman’s Hebrew-language “Hailui” (The prodigy) under the title “Nedove” (Alms), and before his departure from America (November 1901)—another twenty-five poems.  The first four years following his return to his hometown, he wrote nothing (Zalmen Reyzen adds that Rolnik spent some time studying in London, but there is no hint of this in his memoirs).  He was in Minsk, 1905-1906, began again to write poetry, and was a frequent visitor to the home of Avrom Reyzen.  In 1906 he returned to the United States, this time for good.  He lived off his own work and was often quite ill, on several occasions spending time in sanatoriums.  From 1915 he was for many years a proofreader for Tog (Day) in New York.  In the first year after his return to America, he published seventy-five poems in Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor) in New York.  He also published in: Di yugend (The youth) in 1907; Avrom Reyzen’s Dos naye land (The new country), Yankev Marinov’s Der kundes (The prankster), Dos idishe folk (The Jewish people), Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter), Dos naye leben (The new life), Di naye heym (The new home), Tsukunft (Future), the anthology Literatur (Literature), Getseltn (Tents), Studyo (Studio), and Inzel (Island), among other serials.  In 1915 Literatur un leben (Literature and life) brought a special Rolnik issue.  His work also appeared in: Morris Basin, Antologye, 500 yor yidishe poezye (Anthology, 500 years of Yiddish poetry) (New York, 1917); Basin, Amerikaner yidishe poezye (American Yiddish poetry) (New York, 1940); Moshe Basok, Mivar shirat yidish (Selection of Yiddish poetry) (Tel Aviv, 1963); Shimshon Meltser, Al naharot, tisha maḥazore shira misifrut yidish (By the rivers, nine cycles of poetry from Yiddish literature) (Jerusalem, 1956); Moyshe Fridman, Hayehudiya, a naye metode tsu oyslernen in a gikher tsayt un zehr gring leyenen un shrayben yudesh (Yiddish, a new method to master quickly and very easily reading and writing Yiddish) (Odessa, 1912); Blumen af shvues (Flowers on Shavuot) (Warsaw, 1912/1913); Dovid Kasel, Gezang un deklamatsye, lider zamlung (Songs and recitations, song collection), vol. 1 (Warsaw: A. Gitlin, 1913); Zishe Landau, Antologye, di yidishe dikhtung in amerike biz yor 1919 (Anthology, Yiddish poetry in America until 1919) (New York: Idish, 1919); Aḥisefer (New York, 1943/1944); Avraham Tsvi Halevy, Mehashira haidit baamerika (From the Yiddish poetry in America) (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1967); Joseph Leftwich, The Golden Peacock (New York, 1961); Irving Howe and Eliezer Greenberg, A Treasury of Yiddish Poetry (New York, 1969).
            His works include: Afn zamdigen veg (On a sandy road) (New York: Grayzel and Company, 1911), 64 pp.; Lieder (Poetry) (New York: Inzel, 1915), 300 pp.; Tsum shteren noyd (To my star Noyd) (New York: Idish, 1922), 30 pp.; Lider (Poems) (New York, 1926), 242 pp.; Naye lider (New poems) (New York: Astoria Press, 1935), 79 pp.; A fenster tsu dorem (A window to the south) (New York, 1941), 112 pp.; Geklibene lider (Selected poetry) (New York: IKUF, 1948), 260 pp.; Zikhroynes (Memoirs) (New York, 1954), 220 pp.; and posthumously, Geklibene lider (Tel Aviv: Karni, 1980), 503 pp., in Yiddish and Hebrew.  “People imagine that Joseph Rolnick,” noted Nokhum-Borekh Minkov, “was part of the group of wordsmiths known by the name ‘Di yunge’ (The young ones).  In fact, he was one of their predecessors.  He later joined his younger colleagues along the same poetic pathway.  And together with them, he helped create impressionism in American Yiddish literature….  Not only can one see in Rolnick’s poetry the development of impressionism, but also the bridge that was laid between realism and impressionism in American Yiddish poetry.”  “His strength lay not in original imagery or innovative rhythms,” wrote Shmuel Niger,” and “the most precious thing in him is…his capacity to speak simply about great things and his most intimate art to demonstrate to us the charm of the word in pure and quiet unadornment.”  In the words of Zalmen Reyzen, Rolnick was “a profoundly personal poet with his own tone….  The central motif of his poetry is…solitude and resignation, the feeling of loneliness…the quiet anguish of the solitary individual.”  In his later poetry, noted Avom-Ber Tabatshnik, “Rolnick remained the same lyrical poet as before, but the poetry itself was different.  There was more distance to it.  There was greater reflection and wisdom.  The resignation is no longer an expression of despair…but of deeper and sheer insight and understanding….  [He was practically] freed of the feeling of inferiority and the sense of uselessness and alienation.”  He died in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Noyekh Shteynberg, Yung amerike (Young America) (New York, 1917); M. Olgin, In der velt fun gezangen (In the world of songs) (New York, 1919), pp. 258-67; Moyshe Nadir, Mayne hent hobn fargosn dos dozike blut (My hands have shed this blood) (New York, 1927); Khayim Liberman, Bikher un shrayber (Books and writers) (New York, 1933); Borekh Rivkin, Yidishe dikhter in amerike (Yiddish poets in America), vol. 1 (New York, 1947), pp. 137-56; Nokhum-Borekh Minkov, Literarishe vegn, eseyen (Literary paths, essays) (Mexico City, 1955); Yankev Glatshteyn, In tokh genumen (In essence) (New York, 1956), pp. 136-44; Glatshteyn, In tokh genumen, vol. 2 (Buenos Aires, 1960), pp. 215-20; Benyomen-Yankev Byalostotski, Kholem in vor, eseyen (Dream in reality, essays) (New York, 1956); Mikhl Likht, Af di randn, vegn literatur (At the edges, concerning literature) (Buenos Aires: Gelye, 1956), pp. 45-48; Shloyme Bikl, Shrayber fun mayn dor (Writers of my generation), vol. 1 (New York, 1958), pp. 29-35; Zishe Vaynper, Shrayber un kinstler (Writer and artist) (New York, 1958), pp. 115-23; Leyvik Khanukov, Literarishe eseyen (Literary essays) (New York: IKUF, 1960) pp. 43-46; Y. . Biltski, Masot (Essays) (Tel Aviv, 1960), pp., 324-25; Yoysef rolnik bukh (Volume for Joseph Rolnick) (Buenos Aires, 1961), with a bibliography by Y. Yeshurin; B. Grin, Yidishe shrayber in amerike (Yiddish writers in America) (New York, 1963), pp. 105-10; Avrom-Ber Tabatshnik, Dikhter un dikhtung (Poets and poetry) (New York, 1965), pp. 101-32; Shmuel Niger, Yidishe shrayber fun tsvantsikstn yorhundert (Yiddish writers of the twentieth century) (New York, 1972).
Dr. Eugene Orenstein

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 500.]