Wednesday, 23 January 2019


AHARON-AVRAHAM KABAK (December 28, 1883[1]-November 19, 1944)
            He was a Hebrew novelist, born in Smorgon, Vilna district.  Over the years 1911-1914, he lived in the land of Israel, and in 1921 he finally decided to settle there.  He authored numerous works in Hebrew, such as: the trilogy Shelomo molkho, roman (Solomon Molkho, a novel); Bamishol hatsar (In the narrow path); and Toldot mishpaḥa aḥat (History of one family); among others.  Around 1905 he began writing in Yiddish.  He published a series of stories in St Petersburg’s Fraynd (Friend) and Vilna’s Dos yudishe folk (The Jewish people).  He prepared two volumes of his writings in Yiddish.  After settling in Israel, he withdrew completely from Yiddish literature.  He died in Jerusalem.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; Getzel Kressel, Leksikon hasifrut haivrit (Handbook of Hebrew literature), vol. 2 (Meravya, 1967); Avraham Shaanan, Milon hasifrut haḥadasha haivrit vehakelalit (Dictionary of modern Hebrew and general literature) (Tel Aviv, 1959), pp. 680-82.
Berl Cohen

[1] Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3, incorrectly give the year as 1882.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019


RUVN TSARFAS (ca. 1894-1944)
            He came from Lithuania.  He was living in Kovno, and in 1926 he was a teacher there in the Jewish teachers’ seminary.  He published poetry, articles, theater criticism, and feature pieces for: Folksblat (People’s newspaper), Nayes (News), and other newspapers.  He also published features and verse under the pen name Rufani.  From Russian he translated: D. M. Shvarts, Zikhroynes un iberlebungen fun der velt-milkhome 1914-1918 (Memoirs and experiences from the world war, 1914-1918) (Kaunus [Kovno], 1935), 236 pp.  He served as editor of Funken, vekhntlekher familyen-zhurnal (Sparks, a weekly family magazine) (Kovno) 1 (1931).  He was confined in the Kovno ghetto and was the author of the popular ghetto song “Yidish-tango” (Jewish tango).  He was murdered in a Nazi concentration camp in Munich.

Sources: N. Y. Gotlib, in Keneder older (Montreal) (April 10, 1944); Yoysef Gar, Umkum fun der yidisher kovne (The destruction of Jewish Kovno) (Munich, 1948), pp. 412-13; Sh. Grinhoyz, in Lite (Lithuania), anthology, vol. 1 (New York, 1951), pp. 1753, 1756; Y. Kaplan, in Lite, vol. 2 (Tel Aviv, 1965), pp. 345, 422, 423, 601.
Benyomen Elis

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 466.]


SIMKHE TSFAS (May 21, 1907-February 16, 1968)
            The adopted name of Sh. Poznyak, he was born in Bialystok, Poland.  He attended religious elementary school and later graduated from a secular Jewish school.  Until 1926 he lived in Bialystok, where he was active in the Jewish labor movement.  He was secretary of the youth organization “Tsukunft” (Future).  Later he lived for a time in Germany, from whence he emigrated to Mexico in 1928.  He worked for awhile as a Yiddish typesetter.  He was active in the Bund, Relief Association (Hilfs-farayn), Jewish Labor Committee, and secretary of the “Culture Society.”  He began writing with articles in Meksikaner yidish lebn (Mexican Jewish life) in 1935 (which he edited with Solomon Kahan).  Later, he published articles and features in Unzer lebn (Our life) in Mexico City.  From 1940 he was a regular contributor and secretary of the editorial board of the monthly journal Foroys (Onward) in Mexico City.  He also placed work in Unzer tsayt (Our time) and other serials in New York.  He also wrote under the pen name Sh. Poznyak.  He died in Mexico City.

Source: Sh. Yezhor, in Foroys (Mexico City) (June 1957).
Khayim Leyb Fuks


ARN TSOFNAS (AARON TZOFNAT) (July 1, 1900-November 5, 1965)
            The pen name of Arn Fridenshteyn, he was born in Kartuz-Bereze (Kartuz-Bereza), Grodno district, Poland.  He received a traditional education.  In 1919 he graduated from the teachers’ course of study in pedagogy in Minsk and worked as a teacher in Jewish schools.  He began writing in 1921.  In 1922 he published lyrical poetry in Warsaw’s Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper).  He later had charge in the newspaper of a humor section entitled “Der royter gelekhter” (The red laughter), using the pen name Tsofnes Panekh.  He also contributed to the humor section of Moment (Moment) in Warsaw.  In 1925 he joined, as an internal contributor, the Hebrew daily newspaper Hayom (Today) and published satirical poems on political and social topics in his regular column “Perek shira leruaḥ hayom” (A section of poetry on the spirit of the day).  He also edited a weekly humor division entitled “Sefat ḥakhamim” (Language of sages), using the pen name Ben Ha Ha.  He also wrote feature pieces under the rubric “Min hayalkut” (From the satchel).  In 1928 he was writing features for Folkstsaytung in the section “Freylikher vinkl” (Joyous corner).  At the same time, he was contributing to Moment, he published a book of satirical poems entitled Leruaḥ hayom (The spirit of the day) (Warsaw, 1929), 148 pp.  After Hayom ceased publication, he wrote for a time for the daily newspaper Der varshever ekspres (The Warsaw express), in which he placed a daily poem “Gutmorgn” (Good morning) under the pen name Bal-Haturim.  He ran the humor section “Royter fefer” (Red pepper) and features entitled “Fun provints-korb” (From the province-basket).  Most recently, he was a contributor to Hatsfira (The siren), using the pseudonym “Orekh leshabat” (Sabbath editor).  He published a booklet of poems entitled On a zayt fun breytn shlyakh (No side on a broad road) (Pinsk, 1925).  Over the years 1929-1939, he worked as night editor for Haynt (Today) in Warsaw.  In 1939 he departed for Russia.  He returned to Poland in 1946 and worked for the Lodz newspaper Dos naye lebn (The new life).  In 1949 he left for Paris, where he co-edited the daily newspaper Unzer vort (Our word).  That same year he made aliya to Israel and settled in Jerusalem.  He was a co-editor there of Kol tsiyon legola (Voice of Zion to the diaspora).  He published poems and stories in the children’s magazines Davar leyeladim (Word for children) and Haarets shelanu (Our land).  He published features in: Davar (Word), Davar hashavua (Word of the week), and Hador (The generation).  He compiled an anthology of Yiddish prose for the Hebrew press “Nyuman” and translated two volumes of selected novellas—by Yoyne Rozenfeld and L. Shapiro.  He translated L. Kenig’s Shiva (Seven days of mourning) from English; and stories and essay from Hebrew to Yiddish for Di goldene keyt (The golden chain) in Tel Aviv, also Lenah Kikhler’s Mayne kinder (My children) from Polish to Yiddish (Paris, 1948), 330 pp.  He died in Jerusalem.

Sources: Daniel Tsharni (Charney), in Tsukunft (New York) (January 1943); Shmerke katsherginski-ondenk-bukh (Memorial volume for Shmerke Katsherginski) (Buenos Aires, 1955), pp. 138-39; B. Kutsher, Geven amol varshe (As Warsaw once was) (Paris, 1955); Y. Varshavski [Bashevis], in Forverts (New York) (June 25, 1965); Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 3 (Montreal, 1958), p. 485; Letste nayes (Tel Aviv) (November 7, 1955); Forverts (December 2, 1965); Getzel Kressel, Leksikon hasifrut haivrit (Handbook of Hebrew literature), vol. 2 (Meravya, 1967).
Yankev Kahan


Y. B. TSIPOR (January 20, 1888-early 1942)
            The literary name of Yitskhok Shter(k)man, he was born in Faleshti (Fălești), Bessarabia.  At age four he moved with his parents to Paris.  He studied there in a French school, graduated from university, and received his Ph.D. degree.  In 1912 he moved to Warsaw and until WWI worked as a teacher.  He later settled in Vlotslavek (Włocławek), and from there in 1928 he left for Paris, later still for Belgium.  He was the founder of and teacher at Y. L. Perets schools in Brussels and Antwerp.  He composed children’s poems for the students.  He was active as a speaker, mainly among Labor Zionists (right) in Poland, France, and Belgium.  His activities as a writer began for the French journal Revue bleu in Paris (1908).  Under the influence of Y. L. Perets, he switched to Yiddish and debuted in print with a series of fifteen articles entitled “Psikhologishe batrakhtungen” (Psychological considerations)—a kind of introduction to universal philosophy—in Idishe vokh (Jewish week) in Warsaw (1912).  He published poems, stories, children’s plays, dramas, articles on literature and art, and translations in: Lodzher tageblat (Lodz daily newspaper), the anthology Literatur (Literature), and Folksblat (People’s newspaper), among others, in Lodz; Varshever tageblat (Warsaw daily newspaper), Dos folk (The people), Ilustrirte velt (Illustrated world), Yudishe zamelbikher (Jewish anthologies) which he edited with Y. M. Vaysenberg, and Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), among others, in Warsaw; the weekly Unzer rayon-tsaytung (Our local newspaper), Vlotslavek (Włocławek) which he also edited, Di naye prese (The new press), and Dos vort (The word) in Paris; Di yudishe prese (The Jewish press) and Belgishe bleter (Belgian leaves) which he co-edited, in Antwerp; among others.  His books included: Di shkhine in goles, a misterye in finf teylen (The divine presence in the diaspora, a mystery in five parts), concerning the legend surrounding Joseph Della Reina (Warsaw, 1913), 163 pp.; In bovl, dramatishe poeme in ferzen (In Babylonia, a dramatic poem in verse), with five parts and seven scenes (Warsaw, 1921), 189 pp.; Nakhes fun kinder, kinder-shpil in tsvey bilder (Pleasure from children, a children’s play in two scenes) (Warsaw, 1922), 49 pp.; Der ligner, kinder-shpil in tsvey bilder (The liar, a children’s play in two scenes) (Warsaw, 1922), 51 pp.—both of the last two children’s plays also appeared in Hebrew (Warsaw, 1923); Bay di toyern, dramatishe legende in fir teyln mit a prolog (At the gates, a dramatic legend in four parts with a prologue), the third part of his tragedy, Di shkhine in goles (Warsaw, 1923), 135 pp.; considerable attention was paid to his drama, Oyfshtand (Uprising) which played at the “Nayer teater” (New theater) in Warsaw in 1930, at the “Kunst-teater” (Art theater) in New York in 1933, and elsewhere.  Of his translations—among them Molière’s Tartuffe and Victor Hugo’s Lucrèce Borgia—the only one to be published was the first volume of Hippolyte Taine’s Philosophie de l’Art as Filosofye fun kunst (Warsaw, 1933).  Remaining in manuscript was: his novel Der ziveg (The match [marriage]); the dramas Der fuks (The fox), Naye doyres (New generations), and Daytshland iber ales (Germany above all others) which was in 1939 ready to be staged in Paris; the dramatic poem Hener (Roosters); a volume of critical articles Yunger yidishe dikhter in likht fun der pozitiver visnshaft (Young Yiddish poets in the light of positive science); and other works.  When the Nazis invaded Belgium in WWII, Tsipor left Brussels and lived in villages where he lived doing business; later, he lived for a time in Antwerp, from whence he was deported to the concentration camp at Malyn.  There he composed a number of poems which were popular among the Jews in the ghetto.  He was subsequently transported to Auschwitz where he was murdered.  A number of his last poems, written in the concentration camp, are included in: Shaye Zandberg, Funken in der nakht (Sparks in the night) (Tel Aviv, 1965).

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3, with a bibliography; G. Ratner, in Arbeter tsaytung (Warsaw) (January 10, 1930); B. Shefner, in Folkstsaytung (Warsaw) (January 21, 1930); Dr. L. Fogelman, in Forverts (New York) (January 20, 1933); William Edlin, in Tog (New York) (January 20, 1933); Dovid Lehrer, in Tsukunft (New York) (April 1943); Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 1 (Montreal, 1945), pp. 209-11; F. Blank, in Unzer vort (Brussels) (June 20, 1947); B. Feder, in Naye prese (Paris) (April 2, 1948); M. Valdman, in Arbeter vort (Paris) (June 15, 1953); Khayim Leyb Fuks, in Fun noentn over (New York) 3 (1957), see index; Dr. M. Vaykhert, Varshe (Warsaw) (Tel Aviv, 1961), see index; Y. D. Lemel, in Unzer vort (Paris) (November 26, 1963); A. Dorf, in Unzer vort (Paris) (April 18, 1964); Shaye Zandberg, Funken in der nakht (Sparks in the night) (Tel Aviv, 1965), pp. 17-30; Y. M. Biderman, Seyfer vlotslavek (Volume for Włocławek) (Tel Aviv, 1967), see index.
Khayim Leyb Fuks

Monday, 21 January 2019


MOYSHE TSESHINSKI (October 17,1889-December 20, 1967)
            He was born in Tshenstokhov (Częstochowa), Poland.  He attended religious elementary school and graduated from a Russian-Polish public school.  He went on to become a laborer.  He was active in the Labor Zionist party in Częstochowa, in the Literary Society, and in the cultural society “Lira” there.  He spent some time in 1913 in the Częstochowa prison.  In 1914 he came to the United States.  He worked as a traveling agent for Yiddish newspapers and Yiddish book publishers.  In 1922 he settled in Chicago.  There he was cofounder of Jewish schools, of the Society for Jewish Culture, of YIVO, and of other institutions.  He owned a bookshop and publishing house well-known as the “Moyshe Tseshinski Book Publisher in Chicago,” which over the years became a meeting point for Yiddish writers, poets, Jewish intellectuals, and Jewish community leaders.  He began writing in 1905 with correspondence pieces in Der veg (The way), later in Unzer lebn (Our life) and Moment (Moment) in Warsaw, and he was a cofounder of and contributor (1912) to Reklame blat (Advertising newspaper) in Częstochowa.  He published articles on political, social, and literary matters in: Idishe velt (Jewish world) in Philadelphia; Idisher zhurnal (Jewish journal) in Toronto; Keneder older (Canadian eagle) in Montreal; Di idishe tsaytung (The Jewish newspaper) in Buenos Aires; Kultur-zhurnal (Culture magazine), Idisher kuryer (Jewish courier), Unzer lebn, and Ineynem (Altogether) in Chicago; and he contributed to the remembrance volume Tshenstokhover yidn (Częstochowa Jews) (New York, 1947).  In book form: Turme erinerungen (Prison experiences) (New York, 1915), 38 pp.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; E. Khrablovski, in Tshenstokhover yidn (Częstochowa Jews) (New York, 1947); Unzer veg (Chicago) (April 1960).
Benyomen Elis


AVROM-BER TSERATA (1900-March 4, 1963)
            He was born in Nowo Radomsko (Radomsk), Poland.  He studied in religious elementary school and later became a Yiddish typesetter.  He spent the years 1916-1918 at work in an ammunition factory in Hungary, and later until 1934 he lived in Vienna; later still, until WWII, he was in Paris.  He was an active member of the left Labor Zionists.  Although he lived in poverty, he often helped Yiddish writers and painters to publish their works.  In November 1939, at the start of WWII, he was among the first Jewish cultural leaders deported to concentration camps in Germany and Poland.  In 1945 he returned to Paris and, until he set off for Israel in 1961, he worked as a typesetter for a Yiddish newspaper.  From 1937 he published reportage pieces, articles on painting and books, as well as descriptions of the Nazi camps in: Unzer vort (Our voice), Naye prese (New press), and Arbeter vort (Workers’ word) in Paris; and Yisroel-shtime (Voice of Israel), Heymish (Familiar), and Folks-blat (People’s newspaper) in Tel Aviv; among others.  After the emergence of the state of Israel, he collected, and purchased with his own money, artworks for a Jewish publishing museum in Tsfat (Sefad).  He was the museum director until his death.  He died in Tsfat, Israel.

Sources: N. Kenig, in Yizker-bukh tsum ondenk fun 14 umgekumene parizer yidishe shrayber (Remembrance volume to the memory of fourteen murdered Parisian Yiddish writers), ed. T. Spero (Paris: Oyfsnay, 1946), p. 41; Folks-blat (Tel Aviv) (March 6, 1963); L. D., in Unzer vort (Paris) (March 8, 1963); Meylekh Ravitsh, in Keneder older (Montreal) (March 23, 1963); Biblyografye fun artiklen vegn khurbn un gvure in yidisher peryodike (Bibliography of articles on the catastrophe and heroism in Yiddish periodicals) (New York: Yad Vashem and YIVO, 1966), see index; obituary notices in the Yiddish press (March 1963).
Khayim Leyb Fuks