Wednesday, 7 September 2016

SHMUEL-TSVI ZETSER (SAMUEL H. SETZER)

SHMUEL-TSVI ZETSER (SAMUEL H. SETZER) (October 1876-October 14, 1962)
            He was born in Zvihil (Novograd Volynskiy), Volhynia.  He studied in religious elementary school and synagogue study hall.  He worked as a private tutor in Zhitomir, later moving to Warsaw.  He was an active Zionist.  In 1912 he moved to the United States.  In 1961 he settled in Ḥolon, Israel.  He debuted in print with a series of essays on Hebrew and general literature in D. Frishman’s Hador (The generation).  For many years he was a contributor to N. Sokolov’s Hatsfira (The siren).  In New York he brought out Hateḥiya (The renaissance) (1913-1914) and Ohalim (Tents) (sixteen issues, 1942-1951).  In general he wrote much in Hebrew, but even more in Yiddish in: Di yudishe tsukunft (The Jewish future) in London and New York (1904-1905); Di yudishe familye (The Jewish family) in London (1927); and Der veg (The way), Telegraf (Telegraph), Dos yudishe folk (The Jewish people), Unzer lebn (Our life), and Haynt (Today)—in Warsaw; and from the late 1920s, he wrote periodically for Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal) in New York.  In New York he brought out Dos vort (The word), “a journal with Yiddish content and a Yiddish tone.”  It ran from December 7, 1921 until early 1925, initially as a weekly newspaper and from 1922 as a monthly.  From 1934 he brought out Vort biblyotek (Word library), altogether 125 issues.  Aside from articles on Jewishness, Hebrew and Yiddish writers, and literature, he also published there chapters of his translation of the Zohar—the first attempt to bring to Yiddish a valuable translation of the foundational work of Kabala.  He wrote currents events articles and literary criticism, feature pieces, studies of Jewish history and Hassidism, biographies of prominent Jewish figures, and a string of translations into Yiddish.  In book form: Ibn ezra ([Abraham] Ibn Ezra), a biography (Warsaw: Bikher far ale); Yude halevi (Yehuda Halevi) (n.d.), 9 pp.; Rabi yude halevi (Rabbi Yehuda Halevi) (Warsaw: Bikher far ale, 1906), 18 pp.; Lasal: zayn biografye, zayn tetigkeyt un zayn vert in gezelshafṭlikhn lebn (Lassalle, his biography, his activities, and his value in community life) (Warsaw: Bikher far ale, 1907), 77 pp.; Reb yisroel bal-shem-tov: zayn lebn, lere un virkn (Reb Yisrael Baal-Shem-Tov, his life, teaching, and impact) (New York: Farlag amerika, 1919), two volumes (several printings); Tsu der entshtehung fun kristentum (On the rise of Christianity) (New York: Fayerberg, 1922), 220 pp.; Di nesiye fun rabi nakhmen braslaver keyn erets-yisroel, loyt dem shivkhe haran in hebreish un idish (The travels of Rabbi Nakhmen of Bratslav to the Land of Israel, according to Shivḥe haran [In praise of Rabbi Nakhman], in Hebrew and Yiddish) (New York: Fayerberg, 1928), 128 pp.; Mides horakhmim, fragmenten iber idisher etik loytn talmud, medresh, rambam un zohar (The quality of mercy, fragments on Jewish ethics according to the Talmud, Midrash, Rambam, and Zohar) (New York: Fayerberg, 1928), 167 pp.; Sipure mayses, vunder mayses fun rabi nakhmen braslever, a visnshaftlikhe oysgabe loyt di farsheydene tekstn in hebreish un idish (Stories: wonder tales from Rabbi Nakhmen of Bratslav, a scholarly publication according to various texts in Hebrew and Yiddish) (New York: Fayerberg, 1929), 342 pp.; Di vikhtikste figurn un momentn in der yidisher geshikhte (The most important figures and moments in Jewish history) (New York: Vort-biblyotek, 1941-1954), six volumes.  His translations include: Yehuda Shtaynberg (Judah Steinberg), Khsidishe mayselekh un ertseylungen (Hassidic tales and stories) (Warsaw: B. Shimin, 1910), 72 and 105 pp.; Oysgeveylte shriftn fun akhad hoom (Se;ected works by Aḥad Haam) (Warsaw, 1911); Miguel de Cervantes, Don kikhot (Warsaw: Bikher far ale, 1911), abridged, 165 pp.; de Maupassant, Ertseylungen (Stories); Medrash rabe, af di khamishe khumshe toyre (The great commentary on the Five Books of the Torah) (New York, 1953).  He died in Ḥolon.

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), cols. 268-69.


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