YIKHEZKL HALEVI LEVIT (EZEKIEL LEAVITT) (May 20, 1878-August 25, 1945)
He was born in Tolochin (Talachyn), Mohilev (Mogilev) district, Byelorussia. He hailed from an eminent rabbinical pedigree. He attended religious elementary schools and yeshiva, later graduating from a high school in Odessa. He was subsequently a teacher of Jewish subject matter at a high school in Kishinev. He attained great proficiency in rabbinical literature, as well as in modern Jewish literature in both Hebrew and Yiddish. At about age twelve, he published his first article in Hebrew, and thereafter he published articles, poems, and stories in the following Hebrew-language serials: Hamelits (The spectator), Hatsfira (The times), Hashavua (The week), Haivri (The Jew), Hashiloaḥ (The shiloah), Luaḥ aḥiasaf, Kneset hagedola (The great assembly), Shaashuim (Entertainments), and Haleom (The nation), among others. While he was living in Kishinev, he composed in Hebrew: Ben hamitsraim (Son of Egypt), Sipurim vetsiurim (Stories and drawings), Hanerot halalu (These candles), and Kevutsot shirim (Collection of poetry). In Russian he wrote: the comedy “Den’gi, den’gi v’nikh vsya sut’” (Money, money, it’s all the essence), the story “Debora” (Deborah), and stories and poetry. In 1902 he came to the United States, practiced there as a dentist, and began to publish poems and stories in Yiddish. For over forty years, he successively published poetry, stories, articles on literature, comedies, sketches, and reviews in: Der teglekher herald (The daily herald) in New York (1902); the weekly Der yid (The Jew) in New York (1905); and Der forshteher (The representative) in St. Louis (1907-1908), in which he ran a column entitled “Humor, vits, un muser” (Humor, joking, and etiquette). He served as editor of: Di tsayt (The times) in New Haven (1908); and Bostoner idishe shtime (Boston Jewish voice) (1913-1916). He contributed as well to: Di vashingtoner idishe shtime (The Washington Jewish voice); Di idishe fohn (The Jewish banner); Der idisher zhurnal (The Jewish journal); Filadelfyer idishe prese (Philadelphia Jewish press); Der idisher kemfer (The Jewish fighter) in Philadelphia; Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper); Di idishe velt (The Jewish world) in Cleveland; Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal); Der tog (The day); Di natsyon (The nation); Unzer shtime (Our voice); Dos idishe folk (The Jewish people); Minikes yontef bleter (Minike’s holiday sheets); Der amerikaner (The American); and Tsuzamen (Together); among others. In book form he published: Le-uganda lo nelekh, shir (We shall not go to Uganda, a poem) (New York, 1908), 4 pp.; Hanerot halalu, sipur leyeladim (These candles, a story for children) (New York: Hotsaat Zerubavel, 1903), 32 pp.; Shire yeḥezkel levit (Poems of Yeḥezkel Levit) (New York, 1910), 104 pp.; Shire yeḥezkel (Poems of Yeḥezkel) (New York, 1940), 128 pp.; Tsu mayn folk (To my people) (New York: Dr. B. Kirshenboym, 1906), 8 pp.; Lieder (Poetry) (Washington, D. C.: Yisroel Friedman, 1909), 42 pp.; In elis aylend (At Ellis Island) (Boston, 1914). A poem of his was included M. Basin’s anthology. He died in a hospital in New York.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO), vol. 1 (Warsaw, 1928); D. B. Tirkel, in Pinkes fun amopteyl fun yivo (Records of the American division of YIVO), vol. 1 (New York, 1928), p. 261; B. Medof, A dikhter fun gotes gnaden (A poet in God’s graces) (Philadelphia, 1915); P. Vyernik, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (November 4, 1934); Yaakov Tsuzmer, Beikve hador (In the footprints of a generation) (New York, 1957), p. 208; B. Ts. Ayzenshtadt, Dor rabanav vesofrav (Generations, its rabbis and authors), vol. 5 (New York, 1903); materials in the YIVO archives in New York.