Sunday, 21 January 2018


DOVID NAYMARK (DAVID NEUMARK) (1866-December 20, 1942)
            He was born in Shchezhets (Shcherets), near Lemberg, Galicia, into a poor family.  His father died suddenly at age twenty-four while praying by the synagogue lecturn, and Dovid was raised under the supervision of his mother, a woman who knew Hebrew and supported the family by hauling chickens to homes.  At age six he was already studying Talmud and at eight he was studying on his own in a small synagogue.  He later began studying German, stealthily, and against the desires of his mother he traveled to Lemberg to pursue his studies, supported himself giving Hebrew lessons, and he receiving support from the Lemberg Jewish community.  In 1893 he passed the examinations for entrance for the eighth class in high school, left thereafter for Berlin, and studied there at the institute for Jewish studies and the university.  After completely his doctoral degree in philosophy, he was accepted as a rabbi in Rakovník, Bohemia.  In 1908 he was invited to be a professor of Jewish philosophy at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, and he remained at this post until his death.  He published a series of works in Hebrew, German, and English on Judaism, Jewish culture, ethics, and the history of religion.  His main work Geschichte der jüdischen Philosophie des Mittelalters (History of Jewish philosophy in the Middle Ages) (Berlin, 1907-1910) appeared in German, Hebrew, and English.  In his youth he belonged to a circle of pioneers of the Zionist movement in Lemberg (Adolf Shtand, Sh. Shiler, Yehoshua Thon, Mortkhe Ehrenpreis, Shmuel Gutman, Avrom Korkis, M. Berkovitsh, and Y. L. Landau, among others) and wrote articles for Yiddish publications in Galicia.  One of the publications of this circle was also on the reform of the Yiddish theater, and it was decided that that Dr. Thon, Gutman, and Naymark should compose three plays.  Naymark wrote a drama entitle Rus (Ruth).  Goldfaden was said to have refused to stage it, because in the Yiddish theater only melodramas could achieve success.  Naymark never returned to writing in Yiddish.  He died in Cincinnati.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2, with a bibliography; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934); Gershon A. Ḥurgin, in Bitsaron (New York) (Tevet [December-January] 1947-1948).
Yankev Kahan


            He was born in Yuzefov (Józefów), Lublin district, Poland.  He was raised in Zavikhost (Zawichost), Radom district, Poland, by his grandfather, Hershke Naymanovits, a follower of the Jewish Enlightenment from Zamość.  He studied Talmud, Hebrew, and foreign languages, preparing himself to enter the Breslau rabbinical seminary, but his maternal grandfather, Dovid Davidzon, a religious fanatic, would not allow it.  At age eighteen he settled in Lublin, where for a time he was manager of a business concern.  He contributed to local Polish newspapers, as well as to Izraelita (Israelite) in Warsaw.  In 1867 he began writing in Yiddish in Varshoyer yudishe tsaytung (The Warsaw Jewish newspaper).  According to Zalmen Reyzen, Naymanovits was “one of the first followers of the Jewish Enlightenment in Crown Poland who wrote in a vibrant, juicy folk language, contrary to Germanicized Yiddish which predominated in Varshoyer yudishe tsaytung.”  In 1886 he settled in Warsaw where he was a bookseller and a teacher.  He wrote for Hatsfira (The times) and was very popular with his weekly feature pieces entitled “Berosh homiyot” (At the head of the noisy streets) under the pen name “Hanets.”  He also wrote stories and articles and contributed to M. Spektor’s Hoyzfraynd (House friend) and Haasif (The harvest), among other serials.  He published a collection in Hebrew entitled Hanetsarim (The descendants); published a series of textbooks under the title Der hoyz-lehrer (The home teacher)—to study Hebrew, Russian, German, and Polish (first edition: Warsaw, 1889); reworked into Yiddish and Hebrew Dr. Zamenhof’s work Di velt-shprakhe (The international language [Esperanto]) (first edition: Warsaw, 1888), 64 pp.; and he was said also to have published a periodical, to which contributors paid to have their works published (according to Dr. A. Mukdoni).  From his writings in Yiddish, we have the following in book form: Shulamis oder dos vizele und der brunen, a vundershehner und vahrer yudishe roman, iberzets by hanets (Shulamit or the weasel and the well, a beautiful and true Jewish novel, translated by Hanets) (Lublin, 1875), 72 pp.; Di beyde hershels un andere ertseylungen (The two Hershels and other stories) (Warsaw, 1898), 47 pp.—including a two-act play, Di beyde hershels oder keyn genayte zakhn (The two Hershels or no urgent items); Shabes in dorf (Sabbath in the village), from Varshoyer yudishe tsaytung; Take shoyn, a lebens bashraybung fun a poylishn yungerman (You don’t say! A life story of a young Polish man), from Hoyzfraynd; An alt geshrey mit der naye verter (An ancient scream with new words), on the non-normal quality of Jewish education; and Di yudishe tsdoke (Jewish charity), from Hoyzfraynd.  He died in Warsaw.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2, with a bibliography; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934); Dr. A. Mukdoni, In varshe un in lodzh (In Warsaw and in Lodz), vol. 1 (Buenos Aires, 1955), p. 268; Dov Sadan, in Moled (Tel Aviv) (October 1957), pp. 472-74; D. Perski, in Hadoar (New York) (Shevat 10 [= January 27], 1961).
Yankev Kahan


MOYSHE-SHMUEL NAYMAN (MOSES SAMUEL NEUMANN) (1769-November 27 [29?], 1831)
            He was born in the village of Ban, Austria-Hungary.  He was the son of a cantor.  He was early in life orphaned and at age ten became an apprentice to his uncle, a tailor.  At age eleven he traveled to Boskovits (Boskovice) to the yeshiva of Rabbi Shmuel Kalin, and later to Prague where he studied with Borekh Jeiteles sacred subjects and foreign languages.  Under the influence of his rabbi (a follower of the Jewish Enlightenment), he translated into German his rabbi’s work, Beur milot hahigayon leharambam z.l. (Explanation of the “Words of Logic” by the Rambam [Maimonides], may his memory be for a blessing) and began on his own to write in Hebrew.  He married in 1799 and tried to become a merchant in Kittsee, but in his struggle to earn a living he departed for Vienna where he worked as a tutor.  He mastered French and Latin and, at the initiative of the grammarian Wolfsohn, in 1805 he published a Hebrew-language play, Bat yifta (Daughter of Jephthah).  The play was divided into eight scenes and depicts the history of Jephthah’s vow.  In 1835 the play was published anonymously in Yiddish.

Daughter of Jephthah of Gilead,
the author on the lengthy path of troubles
A dreadful tale taken from the Book of Judges, wherein Jephthah of Gilead, the judge from (Israel), sacrificed his own daughter Hannah, because of a vow he had made and the vow was carried out; as well as the piety of the maiden Hannah.
From this story we learned how a person must take preventive steps before words escape his mouth, and thus how it is written (guard the entrance of your mouth), meaning one should guard the doors to one’s mouth.

In the first printing of this play (Vilna: Manes un Zimel, 18 paginated leaves), it is noted that it had been censored on March 29, 1831.  (It was republished in 1939, 1841, 1844, 1848, 1850, 1851, 1852, and 1862 in the Vilna publishing house of the brothers Romm.)  After the appearance in print of Bat yifta, Nayman returned home, where he took up lecturing and writing.  He wrote Hebrew and German textbooks for language, geography, grammar, arithmetic, and letter-writing which were published in numerous editions.  He also brought out a volume of poetry, Shire musar (Poems of morality), didactic poetry in Hebrew and German with the supplement, “Note on medicine”—concerning masturbation and its consequences—and a volume of stories entitled Hayashar vehabrit (The righteous and the covenant) (1821).  Among his textbooks: Magal yashar (Circle of righteousness), an elementary Hebrew grammar (1808); Ḥinukh lashon ever (Education in the Hebrew language) (1815); Mikhtav meshulam (Perfect letter); and Rosh emuna (The beginning of faith) (1820); among others.  He died after an eleven-month illness in Budapest (according to Zalmen Reyzen, it was in Kittsee).

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934), with a bibliography.
Yankev Kahan

Saturday, 20 January 2018


            He was a medical doctor.  From time to time he wrote articles in Yiddish newspapers and periodicals on writers in German literature.  In book form: Gerangl, dovid ignatoṿ, der shriftshṭeler un kemfer (Struggle, Dovid Ignatov the writer and fighter) (New York, 1939?), 103 pp.

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 390.

Friday, 19 January 2018


            The pseudonym of Moyshe Odenberg, he was born in Tshenstokhov (Częstochowa), Poland.  He studied in religious elementary school and at the yeshiva of the Krimilov (Kromolów) rebbe until age fourteen.  In 1905, under the influence of the Russian Revolution, he left the yeshiva and became a locksmith.  He was among the first Labor Zionist leaders in Częstochowa and Lodz.  Because of police persecution, he had to flee (in 1906) from Russia; he worked in an iron factory in Köln and Dusseldorf (Germany).  In 1907 he returned to Lodz, was active in the Labor Zionist party as well as in the society “Harfe” (Harp), and cofounded the cultural association “Lira” in Częstochowa.  From 1913 he was living in the United States.  He was cofounder of the Labor Zionist party in America and Canada, as well as of many institutions in Chicago.  During WWI he was active in the People’s Relief committee, in relief actions for the Jewish schools in Poland, and the like.  With the split in the Labor Zionists, in 1921 he left with the leftist group and from that point in time was one of its more active leaders in Chicago.  He was the founder of the Borochov School in Chicago.  He was also involved with the Jewish Labor Committee, the Histadruth campaign, YIVO, and the Jewish Culture Congress.  For many years he contributed to the Labor Zionist press throughout the world.  He was co-editor of the Chicago supplement to Der idisher kemfer (The Jewish fighter) and Di proletarishe velt (The proletarian world) in New York (1921-1939).  He also placed work in: Arbeter-tsaytung (Workers’ newspaper) and Arbeter-velt (Workers’ world) in Warsaw; Naye velt (New world), Folksblat (People’s newspaper), and other serials in the state of Israel; Arbeter-vort (Workers’ word) in Paris; and Unzer veg (Our way) in New York; among others.  He also published under such pen names as: He also published under such pen names as: Yoysef Nayman, M. Bergelzon, M. N., and M. A.  From 1948 he was living in Los Angeles and was a member of the central committee of “Aḥdut haavoda, Poale Tsiyon” (Union of labor, Labor Zionists) in the United States, and of its world association.

Source: Tshenstokhover yidn (Częstochowa Jews) (New York, 1947), part 2, pp. 1-3; Tshenstokhov (Częstochowa) (New York, 1958), see index; Y. Zerubavel and F. L. Goldman, in Unzer veg (New York) (July 1960); articles on his seventieth birthday in the Labor Zionist press in Paris and the state of Israel (June-July 1960).
Khayim Leyb Fuks


MORTKHE NAYMAN (1914-1938)
            He was born in Skernyevits (Skierniewice), Poland.  He studied in religious elementary school and high school, and he was active in community and cultural life.  He was a member of the central committee of “Hanoar Hatsiyoni” (Zionist youth) in Poland and the author of its hymn, for which he also composed the music.  He published humorous sketches and feature pieces in: Haynt (Today) in Warsaw; Nayer folksblat (New people’s newspaper) and Lodzer tageblat (Lodz daily newspaper)—in Lodz; Tomashover vokhnblat (Tomaszów weekly newspaper); and other provincial newspapers in Poland.  He died tuberculosis in Skierniewice.

Source: A. Tsidkoni, Seyfer skernyevits, lezeykher der fartilikter kehile kedoyshe (Volume for Skierniewice, to the memory of the annihilated Jewish community) (Tel Aviv, 1955), pp. 147-48.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


YEKHIEL NAYMAN (February 1, 1894-July 10, 1953)
            He was born in Driltsh (Iłża), Radom region, Poland.  His father was a poor baker.  He studied in religious elementary school, and at age eleven went to live with relatives in Warsaw and there became a boot stitcher, while at the same time turning to self-education and reading socialist literature.  From 1915 he was active in the Bundist trade unions in Warsaw, especially the teachers’ union, in which he also assumed the position of general secretary.  After the Bundist conference in Danzig in 1921, he switched and joined the “Kombund” (Communist Labor Bund).  He lived in Berlin, 1923-1924, where he worked as a designer of women’s coats, while at the same time studying in the senior high school for general education.  In 1925 he settled in Paris, and there for many years he remained active on the left, primarily in the field of Yiddish culture.  In 1937 he took part in the conference of the first IKUF (Jewish Cultural Association) in Paris.  Following the Moscow Show Trials, he cut off ties to the left and returned to activity with the Bundist organization.  During WWI he participated in the underground Bundist movement.  In postwar Paris, he assumed a leading position in Jewish community life, offered considerable relief to accommodating writers, painters, and actors among the survivors who came to France with no prospects for their existence.  In 1948 he served as a delegate to the founding conference of the World Jewish Culture Congress in New York.  He was later selected to serve as European secretary to the organization.  He attended a variety of Bundist congresses and was a member of the world coordinating committee of the Bund.  He was initially co-editor and later editor of the Parisian daily Unzer shtime (Our voice), in which he published articles on social and Jewish community issues.  He was also co-editor of Parizer shriftn (Parisian writings).  In 1950 he visited the United States on a community assignment.  He died of a heart attack in Paris.  His wife Hinde was murdered by the Nazis.

Sources: Y. Pat, Di tsukunft (New York) (February 1945); Y. Yanasovitsh, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (March 18, 1953); Khayim Leyb Fuks, in Unzer shtime (Paris) (July 13, 1953; July 14, 1953); Sh. Gros, in Unzer shtime (July 13-14, 1953); L. Shtern, in Unzer shtime (July 16, 1953); H. Abramovitsh, in Unzer shtime (July 18, 1953; July 19, 1953; August 10, 1953; September 25, 1953); F. Naymark, in Unzer shtime (July 27, 1953); Y. Yakubovitsh, in Unzer kiem (Paris) (July 1953); Avrom Shulman, in Unzer shtime (August 10, 1953); D. Meyer, in Unzer tsayt (New York) (September 1953); Meyer, in Doyres bundistn (Generations of Bundists), vol. 2 (New York, 1956), see index; L. Kurland, in jubilee issue of Unzer shtime (November 1955).
Benyomen Elis