YOYSEF HERTS (HERTZ) (May 4, 1776-May 23, 1828)
He was born in Fürth, near Nuremberg, Germany. His father was Herts Eshvegl. He was by trade an engraver and draftsman, and he was a teacher of calligraphy in the local Talmud-Torah. He excelled with his vignettes for the five-volumes of the Zirndorf Tanakh edition, “Kirya neemana” (Faithful city), published in Fürth in 1805, for David Ottensoser’s Targum sheni al Megilat Ester, ins daytshe iberzetsṭ tsinekhsṭ fir froyentsimmer (Second translation of the Scroll of Esther, in German translation for use in the women’s chamber) (Sulzbach, 1820), and for Geschichte der Juden (History of the Jews) (Fürth, 1824-1826), as well as for the 1826 translation of the Sulzbach High Holiday prayer book. Herts was the author of the rhymed Purim play, entitled Ester oder di belonte tugend, ayne posse in fir abshniten yidish-daytsh mundart als baylage tsum shalakhmones an purim (Esther or the rewarded virtue, a farce in four parts, Judeo-German dialect as supplement to Purim treats) (Fürth, 1828), second edition (Fürth, 1854), 22 pp., one of the rare sources of Bavarian Yiddish. In the German “Preface from the Publisher,” the author admitted that “this small work is utterly trifling,” and that he thought of it “as only an amusing entertainment for my consideration, only through this I urge my dear friends to determine for me if I should hand it over to the printer.” This bit, though, is characteristic as a remnant of bygone Yiddish literature in Germany and of Bavarian Yiddish, mainly of the specific dialect of the old respected Jewish community of Fürth (southern Germany). Herts was also the author of the parodies: Der esreg und di tsitrone (The etrog and the citron), Di yoʺk kerts und dos khanike kertsele (The Yom Kippur candle and the little Hanukkah candle), Das lid far der matse (The matzo song)—after F. Schiller’s “Song of the Bell”—and the parody in prose, Dekret dos kenigs der beyde seyder nekht (Decree of the king on both Passover seder nights).
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1 (with a bibliography); Z. Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of Yiddish theater), vol.1 (with a bibliography); Israel Davidson, Parody in Jewish Literature (New York, 1907); Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 7; Robert M. Copeland and Nathan Suskind, eds., The Language of Herz’s Esther University of Alabama Press, 1976), xiv, 439 pp.
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), cols. 223-24.]