AVROM LEV (December 15, 1910-February 22, 1970)
He was born in Pyesk (Peski, Piaski), near Volkovisk (Wołkowysk), Russian Poland, the son of a merchant. When he was still young, he moved with his parents to Shants (Šančiai), a suburb of Kovno. At the time of the expulsion of Lithuanian Jews during WWII, he moved with his parents to Melitopol and Kharkov. He studied with his father and later, until 1917, at the Wołkowysk yeshiva. From 1921 he attended Rameyle’s yeshiva in Vilna; in 1928 he joined the Haḥaluts (The pioneer) movement; over the years 1929-1932, he took part in preparatory training for agricultural settlement at Kibbutz “Klosov”; and in 1932 he made aliya to the land of Israel and there joined Kibbutz Givat Hashlosha. He began his writing career with the booklet Megiles ester (The scroll of Esther), a free translation into Yiddish (Vilna, 1925), 16 pp., and shortly afterward he published his first poems in Kleyne folktsaytung (Little people’s newspaper) (Warsaw, 1926), edited by Meylekh Ravitsh. From 1926 he published poems and articles, as well as chapters from “Mayn togbukh fun kibuts” (My kibbutz diary), in: Velt-shpigl (World mirror), Yugnt-veker (Youth alarm), Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper), Arbeter-tsaytung (Workers’ newspaper), Fraye yugnt (Free youth), Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), Dos vort (The word), Yugnt-frayhayt (Youth freedom), Vokhnshrift far literatur (Weekly writing for literature), Foroys (Onward), Shriftn (Writings), Folk un land (People and nation), Inzer hofening (Our hope), Haynt (Today), Unzer ekspres (Our express), and Shprotsungen (Young sprouts), among others—in Warsaw; Di tsukunft (The future) and In zikh (Introspective)—in New York; Vilner tog (Vilna day) and Di tsayt (The times), among others—in Vilna; Lodzer tageblat (Lodz daily newspaper); Naye folkblat (New people’s newspaper), and Oyfkum (Arise)—in Lodz; Gut morgn (Good morning) and Dos naye leben (The new life)—in Bialystok; Nayvelt (New world), Erets-yisroel-shriftn (Writings from the land of Israel), Davar (Word), and Haarets (The land)—in Tel Aviv; among others. After WWII he placed work in: Di goldene keyt (The golden chain), Letste nayes (Latest news), Folksblat (People’s newspaper), Lebns-fragn (Life issues), Yisroel-shtime (Voice of Israel), Fray yisroel (Free Israel), Folk un tsien (People and Zion), and other serials in the state of Israel; Yidishe shriftn (Yiddish writings), Dos naye lebn (The new life), and Folks-shtime (Voice of the people), among others in Lodz-Warsaw; Kiem (Existence), Unzer vort (Our voice), Parizer shriftn (Parisian writings), Unzer shtime (Our voice), and Literatur un visnshaft (Literature and science), among others—in Paris; Di tsukunft, Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture), Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter), Unzer veg (Our pathway), Oyfsnay (Afresh), and the almanac Yidish (Yiddish), among others—in New York; Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal; Der shpigl (The mirror), Di prese (The press), and Idishe tsaytung (Yiddish newspaper), among others—in Buenos Aires; the monthly Dorem-afrike (South Africa) in Johannesburg; Foroys and Der veg (The way) in Mexico City; among others. In addition to Megiles ester, he published the following books: Bay klesover feldzn (At the Klesov rocks), poems from his first period (Rovne, 1932), 32 pp.; Unter bloye himlen, a bintl lider (Under blue skies, a batch of poems) (Tel Aviv, 1935), 61 pp.; In dayn tir, lider (In your doorway, poetry), poems from the land of Israel (Tel Aviv, 1937), 61 pp.; Baladn (Ballads) (Warsaw, 1939), 64 pp.; Heym un feld, lider un poemes (Home and field, poetry) (Tel Aviv, 1953), 192 pp.—including his cycle entitled Kines (Lamentations): “Mayn tate der shoykhet” (My father the ritual slaughterer), “Mayn mame iz avek af ponar” (My mother has left for Ponar), “Kines af khurbn vilne” (Laments for the destruction of Vilna), and the poems “A vinter” (A winter) and “Leybl kholets” (Leybl the pioneer), among others; Beymer in vint, lider un poemes (Trees in the wind, poetry) (Tel Aviv, 1960), 136 pp., for which he was awarded the Zvi Kessel Prize in 1961; In klem (In a quandary) (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1967), 186 pp.; Bleter fun kibuts (Pages from a kibbutz) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1971), 330 pp. In the Hebrew translation by Binyamin Tanai of Lev’s poems: Mishire hapardas (From the poetry of paradise) (Tel Aviv, 1949), 32 pp. In a catastrophe in 1961, the poet’s son Moyshele was killed, and in his memory Lev published the booklet Moyshele lev (Moyshele Lev) (Givat Hashlosha, 1962), 58 pp., which included articles in Hebrew and pages from Lev’s diary, and also he published an elegy for his son in Yiddish. Lev’s poetry has been included in such anthologies as: Mortkhe Yofe, ed., Erets-yisroel in der yidisher literatur (Israel in Yiddish literature), vol. 1 (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1961); Shimshon Meltsar, ed., Al hanaharot (To the rivers) (Jerusalem, 1955); Joseph Leftwich, The Golden Peacock (London, 1961), pp. 594-96. At the twentieth anniversary of his life as a poet, a special supplement to Unzer vort (Our word) in Lodz was published (November 30, 1947), with his poems and with an appreciation of him by Khayim Leyb Fuks, in which he wrote: “Although for many years now a kibbutznik, he continues to write his poems in Yiddish. His pioneering work for Yiddish in Israel is always in harmony with his love for the people.” “A. Lev’s poetry,” wrote Meylekh Ravitsh, “is, first and foremost, authentically from the heart in sincerity. It breathes with love for Israeli nature…. A landscape artist of the land of Israel in words, and in the Yiddish word…. He has succeeded in implanting in himself town life in Lithuania and has transplanted it through poetry in village and town life in the land of Israel.” “It will soon be thirty years,” noted Yankev Glatshteyn, “that he has sung in Yiddish to the Jewish land…. This is certainly a holiday for the Yiddish word arisen, which for such stubborn Yiddish poets was doubly necessary: in Israel, on the land, and on a kibbutz…. Lev’s poems are acts, good deeds.” He died at kibbutz Givat Hashlosha.
Sources: Yisroel Shtern, in Haynt (Warsaw) (September 9, 1936); N. Grinblat, in Dos vort (Kovno) (October 5, 1936); Dr. L. Zhitnitski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (December 15, 1937); Daniel Leybl, in Nayvelt (Tel Aviv) (December 25, 1937); Y. Emyot, in Shriftn (Warsaw) (January 1938); Y. Volf, Kritishe minyaturn (Critical miniatures) (Cracow, 1939); Elye Shulman, Yung-vilne (Young Vilna) (New York, 1946), p. 12; Y. Horn, in Idishe tsaytung (Buenos Aires) (July 31, 1951); Meylekh Ravitsh, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (December 28, 1953); Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 3 (Montreal, 1958), pp. 233-35; Ravitsh, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 41 (1961), pp. 223-27; Avrom Shulman, in Unzer shtime (Paris) (December 19, 1953; December 20, 1953); D. Volpe, in Dorem-afrike (Johannesburg) (January 1954); A. Vogler, in Di goldene keyt 23 (1955); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Di tsukunft (New York) (March 1955); A. Lis, Heym un doyer, vegn shrayber un verk (Home and duration, on writers and work) (Tel Aviv: Y. L. Perets Library), pp. 77-81; Borvin-Frenkl, in Unzer shtime (January 7, 1961; January 8, 1961); Sh. D. Zinger, in Unzer veg (New York) (May 1961); M. Daytsh, in Di tsukunft (May-June 1961); Y. Glants, in Der veg (Mexico City) (February 3, 1962); Yankev Glatshteyn, Mit mayne fartog-bikher (With my daybreak books) (Tel Aviv, 1963).
Khayim Leyb Fuks
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 342.]