SHMUEL LESHTSINSKI (1887-December 29, 1952)
He was born in Rozishtsh (Rozhyshche), Volhynia. He attended religious primary school and privately studied Hebrew and modern Hebrew literature (one of his teachers was his fellow townsman, Lamed Shapiro), and he later graduated from a senior high school in Kiev. Around 1905 he moved to Belgium, studied technology at the University of Liège, and received an engineer’s diploma. In 1915 he immigrated to the United States. In New York he studied for a time at Columbia University. He later was employed as an engineer, working initially for the federal government and later for the municipality of New York. In 1922 he debuted in print with an article—entitled “Der gezelshaftlekher un folks-kolektiv” (The social and popular collective)—in the weekly newspaper Dos vort (The word) in New York. He went on to contribute to: Di tsukunft (The future), Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor), and Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter)—in New York; and Di idishe velt (The Jewish world) in Philadelphia; among others. In the main he published literary critical essays and articles on general topics. In book form: Literarishe eseyen (Literary essays), vol. 1 (New York: Gershuni, 1938), 227 pp., vol. 2 (New York: Gershuni, 1955), 247 pp. He also wrote in Hebrew, contributing to the collection Metsuda (Citadel), edited by Dr. Sh. Ravidovitsh. He died in New York in an automobile accident. “Having withdrawn from the literary turmoil,” wrote Yankev Glatshteyn, “he began nonetheless to note down his thoughts on Jewish life and Jewish work…. Standing aloof, he displayed great love for Yiddish literature and its creators. Characteristic of his literary essays is actually the warmth, the fondness, and the solemn tone which provided the atmosphere of his criticism…. Everywhere one can encounter in his work fine, sensible sentences which bring forth the author being analyzed…without ready-made banalities or expedient prejudices, even when he was right on the mark with those very authors of modern Yiddish literature.”
Sources: A. Glants-Leyeles, in Tog (New York) (January 5, 1953); Sh. Ts. Zetser, introduction to vol. 2 of Leshtsinski’s Literarishe eseyen (New York, 1955); Yankev Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (December 7, 1956); Sh. Slutski, Avrom Reyzen-biblyografye (Avrom Reyzen’s bibliography) (New York, 1956), nos. 5037.