REYZL ZHIKHLINSKI (RAJZEL ŻYCHLIŃSKY) (July 27, 1910-June 13, 2001)
She was born in Gombin (Gąbin), Poland. Her father was a tanner, and in 1924 moved to the United States for the third time (he died in 1928 in Chicago). Her mother, who descended from a line of rabbis and was extremely devout, did not want her to accompany her father to America, where her children would work on the Sabbath, and thus she remained with her children in Gombin while her eldest son carried on the tannery. The mother and children and grandchildren all died in the gas chambers at Chełmno. Reyzl studied in a Polish public school and with private tutors. In 1935 she was the manager of the orphan home in Vlotslavek (Włocławek). She lived in Warsaw over the years 1936-1939. During WWII she and Dr. Yitskhok Kanter, who was her husband, managed to get to Russia. She returned to Poland in 1947 and lived for a time in Lodz and Lower Silesia. She spent 1948-1951 in Paris, and from 1951 she was in the United States where she worked at first in a factory, later graduating from high school and commencing her studies at City College in New York. She debuted in print with a poem in Kleyne folkstsaytung (Little people’s newspaper) in Warsaw (1928). She later published her poetry in: Haynt (Today), Moment (Moment), Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper), Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), Shriftn (Writings), and Foroys (Onward)—in Warsaw; Kiem (Existence) in Paris; Di goldene keyt (The golden chain) and Heymish (Familiar) in Tel Aviv; Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal), Tsukunft (Future), and Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter) from which she won an award in 1954—in New York; among others. Her poems were represented in the anthologies: Y. Paner, Naye yidishe dikhtung (New Yiddish poetry) (Iași, 1937); B. Vaynshteyn, Opkleyb (Selection) (New York, 1954, 1955); N. Mayzil, Amerike in yidishn vort (America in the Yiddish word) (New York, 1955). Among her books: Lider (Poetry), with jacket design by Yankl Adler, foreword by Itsik Manger (Warsaw: Yiddish Pen Club, 1936), 44 pp.; Der regn zingt (The rain sings) (Warsaw: Pen bikher, 1939), 48 pp.; Tsu loytere bregn (To fair shores) (Lodz: Yidish bukh, 1948), 94 pp.; Shvaygndike tirn, lider (Silent doorways, poetry) (New York, 1962), 191 pp.; Di november-zun (The November sun) (New York, 1977), 103 pp. Zhikhlinski was one of the most original lyrical poets in Yiddish literature, a master of the miniature poem. Her poetry has been the subject of works by: Noyekh Prilucki, in Moment; M. Shimel, in Haynt ; M. Broderzon, in Lodzer tageblat (Lodz daily newspaper); Zalmen Reyzen, in Vilner tog (Vilna day); L. Finkelshteyn, in his book, Pidyen-hashem (Redemption of the Lord) (Toronto, 1948), and in the journal Foroys; Y. Ashendorf, in Kiem; among others. She died in Concord, California.
Sources: B. Shnaper, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (July 24, 1936); M. Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 1 (Montreal, 1945); Ravitsh, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (April 18, 1949); B. Mark, in Yidishe shriftn (Lodz) (March 1949); Shmuel Niger, in Der tog (New York) (July 1, 1951); D. Tsharni (Daniel Charney), in Fraye arbeter shtime (New York) (Jly 6, 1951); Y. Y. Sigal, in Keneder odler (October 8, 1951); Y. Bronshteyn, Yo un neyn (Yes and no) (Los Angeles, 1953); Y. Y. Trunk, in Poyln (New York) 7 (1952), p. 48; Yankev Glatshteyn, In tokh genumen (In essense) (New York, 1956), pp. 335-41; Sh. Slutski, Avrom reyzen biblyografye (Avrom Reyzen’s bibliography) (New York, 1956), no. 5025; M. Grosman, in Heymish (Tel Aviv) (September 1, 1959); Folksblat (monthly, Tel Aviv) (October 16, 1959); Sh. Tenenboym, in Unzer shtime (Paris) (November 28-29, 1959); Dov Sadan, in Masa (Tel Aviv) 35 (1959); Who Is Who in World Jewry (New York, 1955).
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 270.]