Sunday, 27 March 2016


LEON M. HERBERT (b. November 15, 1889)
           He was born in Lemberg, eastern Galicia.  He studied in religious elementary school, in a Polish public school, and later in a German high school.  In 1903 he came to the United States.  He graduated in 1908 with a medical degree from New York University and later studied literature and classical languages at Columbia University.  He was a practicing medical doctor.  He began writing when quite young and debuted in print in Lemberger togblat (Lemberg daily newspaper) in 1907.  In America he began publishing in Vokhnblat (Weekly newspaper) in New York in 1908.  From 1910 he was writing literary treatises, reviews of theater and musical performances, and articles on medical questions for Tog (Day), Varhayt (Truth), Dos idishe folk (The Jewish people), Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter), and Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor), among others—all in New York.  In Dr. Chaim Zhitlowsky’s Dos naye lebn (The new life) (New York) 3-4 (1913), he published a series of articles, “Tsu der shprakhn-frage” (On the language issue).  He also wrote for such Hebrew newspapers as: Hatoran (The duty officer), Hadoar (The mail), Hauma (The nation), Harefua (Medicine), Ḥug ivri (Sphere of Hebrew), and Harofe haivri (The Jewish doctor), among others—in New York.  He contributed poems and translations from the ancient classical poets—Homer’s Iliad, book 1; Sappho’s love poetry, and poems by Horace, Catullus, and Anacreon—in the anthology Shriftn (Writings) 3 (New York, 1914), edited by D. Ignatov.  He published an essay in Fraye arbeter shtime about Charles Baudelaire, illustrated with a number of his poems and Herbert’s translations of them.  He was also the translator of George Bernard Shaw’s play Madam varens profesye (Mrs. Warren’s profession).  Among his books: Gezamlte lider un iberzetsungen (Collected poems and translations) (Tel Aviv, 1960), pp. 191.  He wrote pieces on psychology and medicine in English, German, and Polish scientific periodicals.  He edited the second yearbook of Harofe haivri (New York, 1928) and co-edited the weekly newspaper Dos idishe folk in New York (1920-1930).  He also published under the pen name “L. Reytses.”  He was last living in Phoenix, Arizona.

Sources: Gershon bader arkhiv (Gershon Bader’s archive), YIVO (New York); Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO) (Warsaw, 1928), see index.
Khayim Leyb Fuks

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 223.]

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