DOVID-MOYSHE (MOSES DAVID) HERMALIN (May 12, 1865-June 19, 1921)
He was born in Vaslui, Romania, into a commercial family. Until age twelve he studied in a religious elementary school, thereafter devoting himself to secular education, with a private tutor for Hebrew, Romanian, German, and French. At age sixteen he left for Bucharest, and in 1885 he moved to the United States where he began writing for Nyu yorker yudishe folkstsaytung (New York Jewish people’s newspaper), founded in June 1886. He spent a year working as a teacher of Hebrew in Montreal, Canada, and after returning to New York, he turned his attention completely to journalism and was one of the most important contributors, at times co-editor, of various Yiddish-language newspapers, such as: Folks advokat (People’s advocate), Idishe herald (Jewish herald), Varhayt (Truth), and later also Tog (Day). He wrote novels and treatises on popular philosophy (signing many of these with the initial “H”), and he made quite a number of not so high quality translations and free adaptations of European literature. From his translations, a series of book were published (almost all from the Hebrew Publishing Co.) of works by Lev Tolstoy (translated or adapted not from the original, as Hermalin knew no Russian), Émile Zola, Guy de Maupassant, Boccaccio, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Jonathan Swift, among others. For many translated or “reworked” texts, Hermalin changed the titles, following the fashion of the time with popular literature in America, adding to them a more sensational, often as well vulgar, character—Maupassant’s “La Petite Roque” (Little Roque [Little Louise Roque]), for example, he dubbed “Di frukht fun zind” (The fruit of sin). A few of his original novels and stories were included in Romanen album (Fiction album), comprised of eight novels and stories by Hermalin, A. Tanenboym, Shomer, and A.-D. Fridman, and many others were published separately in book form. In 1895 he reworked into Yiddish Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and MacBeth, which were then staged, and from that point he himself wrote and adapted from other writers melodramas and romans à clef for the theater—according to the spirit of the time. Aside from the abovementioned two dramas by Shakespeare, he also reworked Coriolanus, Goethe’s Faust, Strindberg’s The Father (1904), and Hauptmann’s Elga (“Elga order di geheymnise fun kloyster” [Elga, or the one hidden in the church]) (1907). He alone wrote the following plays for the stage: Dos kind fun der midber (The child of the wilderness) (1899), Feygele, oder noyt brekht ayzen (Feygele, or hardship can break iron) (1899, in book form 1900), Der idisher gambler (The Jewish gambler) (1900), Der gelt-zak oder libe un gold (The money bag or love and gold) (1900), and Di idn in brazilye oder prints roderigo (The Jews of Brazil or Prince Roderigo) (1901), among others. His writings in book form include: Der shpanish-amerikanisher krig, a historisher roman (The Spanish-American war, a historical novel) (New York, 1898), 475 pp.; Der terkisher meshiekh, a historisher romantisher shilderung (The Turkish Messiah, a historical romantic depiction), on the life of Shabatai Tsvi (New York, 1898), 64 pp.; Makhmed, a shtudyum fun der ershaynen, lebn un tetigkeyt fun dem musulmenishn gezets-geber un di resultatn fun zayn religyon (Mohammed, a study of the emergence, life, and activity of the Islamic law-giver and the outcome of his religion) (New York, 1898), 64 pp. Yitskhok ber levinzon, zayn byografye, zayne sforim, lebn, shterbn un virkung af zayn dor un zayne nokhfolger (Isaac Baer Levinsohn, his biography, his religious works, life, death, and impact on his generation and those that followed) (New York, 1904), 92 pp.; Yosefus oder der idisher gladiator (Josephus or the Jewish gladiator), a reworking of a novel, Spartacus (New York, 1900); Di rumenishe idn in amerike (Romanian Jews in America) (New York, 1909), 14 pp.; Zhurnalistishe shriftn (Journalistic writings) (New York, 1911), 511 pp.; Der letster blutshturts (The last hemorrhage) (New York), 91 pp.; Di libe, a filozofishe batrakhtung (Love, a philosophical examination) (New York), 61 pp.; Di gotheyt, a filosozofishe ophandlung (The Godhead, a philosophical treatise) (New York), 62 pp.; Fraye libe (Free love) (New York), 122 pp.; Hipnotzmus (Hypnotism) (New York, 1921), 16 pp.; Di heyrate, a realistishes bild fun idishn lebn (The marriage, a realistic image of Jewish life) (New York, 1927), 190 pp.; Yeshua hanotsri, zayn ershaynen, lebn un toyt, algemeyne iberblik vegn der entshteung fun kristentum (Jesus Christ, his emergence, life, and death, a general overview of the rise of Christianity) (New York, 1931), 64 pp.; and many more. His translations include: Shekspirs oysgeveylte verk mit byografye (Shakespeare’s selected works with biography) (New York, 1908), 160 pp. second edition (1909), 333 pp., third edition (1912), 358 pp.; Émile Zola, Di libes nakht (A night of love [original: Pour une nuit d’amour]) (New York), 92 pp.; Zola, Froyen-libe (Women’s love [original: La Joie de vivre]) (New York, 1902), 91 pp.; Zola, Di menshlekhe bestie (The human beast [original: La Bête humaine]) (New York), 121 pp.; Zola, Lebn un toyt (Life and death) (New York), 88 pp.; Zola, Nantas (Nantas) (New York), 91 pp.; Zola, A galekhs zind (A priest’s sin [original: La Faute de l’Abbé Mouret (The sin of Father Mouret)]) (New York), 99 pp.; Zola, Di parizer damen (The Parisian women) (New York, 1906), 90 pp.; Zola, Di blutige khasene (The bloody wedding) (New York, 1911), 90 pp.; Maupassant, Di frukht fun zind (1911), 86 pp.; Wilhelm Henckel, Tolstoys byografye (Tolstoy’s biography) (1899), 29 pp.; Tolstoy, Ivan der nar (Ivan the fool [original Ivan durak]) (New York), 35 pp.; Tolstoy, Ana Karenina (Anna Karenina) (New York), 189 pp.; Tolstoy, Di kraytser sonata (The Kreutzer Sonata [original: Kreitserova sonata]), 95 pp.; Boccaccio, Madam babeta (Madame Babetta), 90 pp.; Boccaccio, Paskarela (Pasquerella), 88 pp.; Boccaccio, Di tsvey poorlekh (The two pairs), 93 pp.; Boccaccio, Printsesin tsuleyka (Princess Zuleika), 58 pp.; A. Bernshteyn, A rayze in himl (A trip in heaven), “a popular astronomical treatise upon our sun-system” (New York), 95 pp.; and many more. He died in New York.
Sources: Zalmen Reyze, Leksikon, vol. 1 (with a bibliography); Z. Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 1 (with a bibliography); Shmuel Niger, in Tog (New York) (July 10, 1932); K. Marmor, in Tsen yoriker yubiley fun arbeter-ordn (Ten-year jubilee of the Workers’ Order) (New York, 1940); Elye Shulman, Geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur in amerike (History of Yiddish literature in America) (New York, 1943); M. Dantsis, in Tog (May 10, 1948); Sh. Perlmuter, Yidishe dramaturgn un teater-kompozitorn (Yiddish playwrights and theatrical composers) (New York, 1952), pp. 154-57; Y. Mestl, 70 yor teater-repertuar (Seventy years of theater repertoire) (New York, 1954), see index.