AVROM-LEYZER TVERSKI (February 19, 1905-Shevat [January-February] 1969)
He was born in Loyev (Loyew), Byelorussia, the son of the Loyev-Chernobyl rabbi, R. Brokhl Ben-Tsien, the fifth generation of Chernobyl preachers and a direct descendant of the Baal-Shem-Tov. He studied in religious primary school; later in the Sadegurer circle, he studied Mishna with commentaries, and after his bar mitzvah he studied at the Shumsk yeshiva in Volhynia. After returning home, he secretly began reading Hebrew and Yiddish books. An older sister of his covertly studied Russian with him. He subsequently graduated from the “First High School” in Cherkassy, Ukraine. He went on to study philosophy at Odessa University. Under the influence of Yankev Dinezon, Mortkhe Spektor, and other writers of the time, he drew closer to the treasures of modern Jewish literature. In 1931 he was on a trip to the United States. He came a second time in 1937 and remained. Over the course of a number of years, he was a Hebrew teacher in Detroit and other cities in America. In 1955 he made a trip to Israel. He returned and lived in Chicago. He worked as a teacher at the high school Tikkun Ivri and offered a course on modern literature in the local college for Jewish studies. He began writing when quite young in Hebrew and in Yiddish. His first Hebrew poem, “Hapegisha” (The encounter), appeared in Hashiloaḥ (The shiloah) in Odessa (1918). After that a great number of his poems and short stories were published in Tog (Day) in Kishinev in the 1920s. He also contributed to: Unzer tsayt (Our time) in Kishinev; Ost jüdische Zeitung (Eastern Jewish newspaper) in Czernowitz; Zuntog tsaytung (Sunday newspaper) in Czernowitz; and Tshernovitser bleter (Czernowitz leaves). After coming to the United States, he published in: Tog, Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor), Hemshekh (Continuation), Svive (Environs), and Hadoar (The mail)—all in New York; and Gilyonot (Tablets) in Israel. Together with Sh. Hillels and A. Huberman, he edited the monthly journal Funk (Spark) in Czernowitz. In book form: Meshiekhn antkegn (Against the messiah), poetry (New York, 1946), 155 pp. His poems were highly original, both in their form and their innovative mixture of old and new in content.
My father is an old farmer,
He plows the earth with Grandfather’s mysticism.
He shackles himself to the plow’s shares
With Tam’s and Rashi’s two sets of phylacteries,
“His rabbinical Yiddish is the language of his thoughts,” wrote Yankev Glatshetyn. “He thinks in the language of his great-grandfathers. This is not a way of writing but a genuine treasure. He…carried out a great assignment. He redressed the formless poetry of Hasidic rabbis.” He died in Israel.
Sources: B. Shnobl, in Oyfgang (Sighet-Marmației) (June 1934); Moyshe Shtarkman, Hemshekh-antologye fun der amerikaner-yidisher dikhtung (Hemshekh anthology of American Yiddish poetry) (New York, 1945), pp. 75-87, 432 (including Tverski’s biography and critical notes by Shmuel Niger and H. Leivick); Yankev Glatshteyn, In tokh genumen (In essence) (New York, 1947), pp. 258-66; Avrom Reyzen, in Di feder (New York) (1949), pp. 237-78; Melekh Ravitsh, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (December 14, 1953); Y. Y. Sigal, in Keneder odler (May 30, 1954); A. Indelman, in Hadoar (New York) (Sivan [= June-July] 1954); Y. Glants, in Der veg (Mexico City) (July 22, 1961).