LIPMAN LEVIN (1877-April 25, 1946)
He was born in Mohilev, Byelorussia, the great-grandson of the Mohilev rabbi, R. Khayim Smolyaner. While quite young he demonstrated enormous diligence in his studies, and at age ten he was holding forth from the synagogue pulpit. As he grew older, he began to consult secular books, learned a great deal of Hebrew, and turned his attention to pedagogy. At that time, he began writing in Hebrew, and under the influence of Dovid Pinski, he took to writing in Yiddish as well. He moved to Warsaw in 1900. On the first Sabbath there, he read before Perets, Nomberg, and Avrom Reyzen a monologue (“Der oytser” [The treasure]), which was a big hit. Bal-Makhshoves saw in him a major literary talent and recommended him to Dr. Yoysef Lurye, editor of Der yud (The Jew), in which Levin debuted in print with a story entitled “Dos yoseml” (The little orphan). He also contributed to Hatsfira (The siren), while publishing stories in: Der yud, Di velt (The world), and Di yudishe folks-tsaytung (The Jewish people’s newspaper) which was edited by M. Spektor and Levin’s brother-in-law Kh. D. Hurvits, as well as in the Hebrew language Hashiloaḥ (The shiloah), Luaḥ aḥiasef, and Hazman (The time), among other publications. In 1904 he moved to St. Petersburg and became a regular contributor to Fraynd (Friend), for which he took charge of the provincial division. In 1908 he settled in Vilna. For the Vilna publisher Sh. Y. Fink, he compiled the holiday magazines: Khanike-blat (Hanukkah newspaper), Lekoved peysekh (Honoring Passover), Zangen (Stalks), and Nay-yor (New year), among others. He also edited: F. Margolin’s Idishe tsaytung (Jewish newspaper); Der holtshendler (The timber merchant) (from 1909), a trade newspaper of the timber business and timber industry; and Vilner vokhenblat (Vilna weekly newspaper) (1909-1914). He also penned journalistic articles under the pen names: Antik, Dekadent, Der Eygener, A Fremder, and Even Saadya. During WWI he worked with F. Margolin’s daily Der fraynd (The friend) and with Had hazman (Echo of the times). Later, after these newspapers ceased publication, he left for St. Petersburg where he was plenipotentiary for Yekopo (Yevreyskiy komitet pomoshchi zhertvam voyny—“Jewish Relief Committee for War Victims”) for Mohilev and Smolensk districts. He was drafted in early 1916 into the Tsarist army, and until the March Revolution (1917), he was living in Smolensk, later coming to Moscow where he was hired as a secretary for the Jewish community. As a writer of the pre-revolutionary generation, for many years Lipman Levin was unable to adapt to the new conditions under the Soviet regime and wrote next to nothing. He went on to write original work, mainly is memoirs from the era of the early twentieth century through WWI, memories of Y. L. Perets and the writing environments in Warsaw and Vilna, but not all of these works were published. In book form he published: Shriftn (Writings), vol. 1 (Vilna: Shreberk, 1909), 208 pp.; vol. 2 (entitled Elende [Miserable]) (Vilna: Shreberk, 1914), 178 pp.; Or vatsel, sipurim vetsiyurim (Light and shadow, stories and paintings) (Warsaw: Tushiya, 1903), 85 pp. He also wrote (in Hebrew) a three-volume novel which he also translated into Yiddish, and it dealt with the epoch from before the first Russian Revolution, between the two revolutions of 1917, and then after October 1917. This work provided the basis for his novels: Doyres dervakhte (Generations awaken), vol. 1 (Moscow: Emes, 1934), 135 pp., vol. 2 (Vilna, 1934), 373 pp.; and Dem shturem antkegn (Into the storm) (Moscow: Emes, 1939), 310 pp. From these same novels he published the pieces: Di zorg-bank, proklamatsye (Bank of worries, proclamation) (Moscow: Emes, 1935), 45 pp.; and Der ershter shtrayk (The first strike) (1935), 36 pp. (both in the series “Masn-biblyotek” [Library for the masses], nos. 47 and 48); Merke di pyonerke (Merke, the pioneer) (Moscow, 1939), 14 pp.; Di konstitutsye oysnveynik (The constitution memorized) (Moscow: Emes, 1940), 15 pp.; Teg fargangene, noveln (Days gone by, stories) (Moscow: Emes, 1941), 198 pp. He translated among other works: Maxim Gorky, Der lezer (The reader [original: Chitatel’]) (Warsaw, 1902); Dzhuzepo garibaldi, der folks-held un befrayer fun italyen (Giuseppe Garibaldi, the folk hero and liberator of Italy) (St. Petersburg, 1905), 48 pp.; Lev Osipovich Levanda’s two novels, In shturm (In turbulent times [original: Goryachee vremya]) (Warsaw: Tsentral, 1912), 435 pp., and A groyser remiz (A huge fine [original: Bol’shoi remiz, roman iz kommercheskoi zhizni evreev (A huge fine, a novel from the commercial life of Jewry)]) (Warsaw: Tsentral, 1914), 331 pp. He also published a translation of Levanda’s Der poylisher magnat (The Polish magnate [original: Pol’skii magnat]) (Vilna), 63 pp., and other works as well. He did not write for fifteen years under the Soviets. Finally, in 1932 he surfaced and began to publish in Soviet journals. During the years of WWII, he was much weakened and out of date. In 1946 his seventieth birthday was marked with articles in the Soviet Yiddish press. He died shortly thereafter in Moscow. His body was cremated on April 26. At his funeral, L. Kvitko, Y. Dobrushin, and Y. Nusinov gave addresses.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2, with a bibliography; Avrom Reyzen, in Tsukunft (New York) (1920), pp. 506-8; A. Reyzen, Epizodn fun mayn lebn (Episodes from my life), part 2 (Vilna, 1929), pp. 13017; A. Reyzen, in Forverts (New York) (April 25, 1931); B. Orshanski, in Emes (Moscow) 144 (1935); A. Abtshuk, Etyudn un materyaln (Studies and materials) (Kharkov, 1934), p. 25; D. Tsharni (Daniel Charney), in Tsukunft (October 1935); Charney, Vilne (Vilna) (Buenos Aires, 1951), pp. 174-76; N. Mayzil, Doyres un tkufes in der yidisher literatur (Generations and epochs in Yiddish literature) (New York, 1942), pp. 17, 81, 86; Y. Nusinov, in Eynikeyt (Moscow) (April 1947); obituary notice signed by many Soviet Yiddish writers, in Eynikeyt (April 27, 1946); B. Mark, in Dos naye lebn (Warsaw) 96  (1949); Y. Likhtenboym, ed., Hasipur haivri (The Hebrew story) (Tel Aviv, 1955), p. 520; Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index.
[Additional information from: Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), pp. 216-17.]