AVROM-AYZIK HIRSHOVITS (1859-1928)
He was born in Kovno, Lithuania, into an observant, middle-class family. He studied in religious elementary school, later with the Karelitser rabbi in Vilna, and he received rabbinic ordination. He then left for Kovno and became a follower of the Jewish Enlightenment, returned to Vilna, and turned his attention to secular subjects of study. He mastered French, German, Latin, and other languages and drew his sustenance from giving lectures. In 1896 he moved to Warsaw, worked there as a Hebrew teacher, and gained access to Khayim-Zelik Slonimski, Nokhum Sokolov, and other writers. In 1908 he moved to the United States, settled in Pittsburgh where he worked as a teacher in a Talmud-Torah, and later was a preacher at the school “Shaare Tora” (Gates of the Torah). He began writing in his youth and contributed to Hamelits (The advocate), Hatsfira (The siren), Haboker or (Good morning), Folksblat (People’s newspaper), Hoyzfraynd (House friend), and in the American Hebrew publications: Haivri (The Jew), Haolam (The world), and others. When he was still in Vilna, Hirshovits wrote his work Otsar kol minhage yeshurun (Treasury of all customs of Israel) (Vilna, 1889), 150 pp., second edition (Vilna, 1899), 138 pp., third edition (Vilna, 1914), 280 pp. “Jewish customs. As our sources explain, the root of all Jewish customs, traditions from which they arise and the reasons for which men follow them.” In Hebrew this book appeared in Vilna in 1892, 138 pp.—second edition entitled Otsar shalem leminhage yisrael (Complete treasury of Jewish customs) (Warsaw, 1912), 306 pp., third edition (St. Louis, 1918), 306 pp., fourth edition (Lemberg, 1930), 60 and 360 pp. He wrote in Hebrew and Yiddish articles about the Hebrew language and its grammar, as well as about questions of Jewish education. He also published a pamphlet on the topic of the Hebrew language (Vilna, 1907), 48 pp. He left in manuscript: More hamorim (The teacher of teachers), Bet avraham (House of Abraham), Ohel sara (Tent of Sarah) in both Yiddish and English, and other works. He died in Pittsburgh.
Sources: Froym Daynard, Kehilat amerika (American community) (St. Louis, Missouri, 1926); B. Ts. Ayzenshtat, Ḥakhme yisrael beamerika (Wise Jewish men in the United States) (New York, 1913), pp. 35-36; Kh. Fridman, Bet eked sefarim (Library) (Tel Aviv, 1956).
Khayim Leyb Fuks
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 220.]