Friday, 1 June 2018


SHLOYME EDELHAYT (b. December 14, 1882)
            He was born in Rimanov, eastern Galicia.  His father Shmuel-Leyb Edelhayt, the son of a rabbi, a Talmud scholar, and a fiery Hassid, was a ritual slaughterer and cantor in the town.  Shloyme Edelhayt received an ardently Hassidic education, studying with the greatest rabbis in Galicia, gaining a reputation as a zealot and prodigy, and at age fourteen he was already familiar with Kabbala and proficient in Talmud, its commentators, and Hassidism.  At age seventeen he received ordination into the rabbinate, but he “mischievously” began to read Jewish Enlightenment works and speculative writings and to study foreign languages.  In 1900 he published in Hamagid (The preacher), using the pen name Ben-Shmuel, his first piece under the title “Yeled shenikhrat” (A boy cut off), in which he describes the separation of Galician Hassidic children from life.  This led to a disaster within his family, and this “heretic” was then forced into a marriage.  Edelhayt proceeded to publish (under the pseudonym Shakhar) a booklet of stories in Yiddish with the title Der shreklikher kholem oder fun gehenem in gan-eden (The frightening dream, or from hell to paradise) (Lemberg), ca. 70 pp., written in the style of Shomer [N. M. Shaykevitsh].  Over a quarrel he had with D. Shtern, he left home and wandered through Western Europe, reaching Egypt, starving and suffering, and he wrote correspondence pieces for the Galician periodicals Maazike hadat (Upholders of the faith) and Hamitspe (The watchtower); he went on to spend four years in the United States where he published sketches and stories in various serials in New York.  In 1906 he returned to Galicia, and he contributed to the local press as well as to foreign publications.  He later left Galicia again and lived for two years in Germany and after that in Antwerp.  In 1913 he came to New York for the second time, and there he worked with the Yiddish theater.  From 1902 he published over 300 sketches and stories in: Idishe velt (Jewish world), edited by Tsvi Hirsh Maslyanski, Forverts (Forward), Tsayt-gayst (Spirit of the times), Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor), Der herald (The herald), Der arbayter (The worker), edited by Dovid Pinski, Di tsukunft (The future), Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter), edited by Kalmen Marmor, Dos idishe folk (The Jewish people), Nyu yorker vokhnblat (New York weekly newspaper), Dos naye leben (The new life), Di varhayt (The truth), Der tog (The day), Di tsayt (The times), and Der amerikaner (The American)—in New York; the Lemberg newspapers, Der yudisher arbayter (The Jewish worker) and Togblat (Daily newspaper); Di yudishe ilustrirte tsaytung (The Jewish illustrated newspaper), edited by Yoyne Krepl, in Cracow; and the story “Kvores libe” (Graveyard love) in the jubilee publication of Fraynd (Friend); among others.  Together with Ruvn Ayzland and Sh. Margoshes, he published a biweekly paper entitled Di shtime (The voice) around 1906, edited a journal called Di fraye muze (The free muse) of which only two issues appeared, and he was among the first to popularize Hassidic tales in the Yiddish press in America—see the series “Mayn zeydns mayselekh” (My grandfather’s tales) in Tsayt-gayst.  He also wrote (using the pen name Gur-Arye) journalistic articles for Kopenhagener vokhnblat (Copenhagen weekly newspaper), as well as poems and one-act plays, such as: Der eybiker shmerts (The eternal pain) (Copenhagen: Vokhnblat, 1913), 24 pp.; Di yerushe (The inheritance), in Idishe vokhnblat (Jewish weekly newspaper) in New York; and Fartog, noyme un rus (Daybreak, Naomi and Ruth), in Idisher kemfer; among others.  He composed dramas which were staged: Ir sod (Your secret) and Ver? (Who?); and he translated the German operetta Alt-haydelberg (Old Heidelberg) which, under the title “The Student Prince,” was produced with great success in 1926 at the National Theater in New York.  He also translated for the publisher Max Yankevitsh (New York) Mikhail Artsybashev’s Sanin (317 pp.), Libe un laydenshaft (Love and suffering) (36 pp.), and Di fargeterte (The adored one) (32 pp.); Hot zi gezint? (Is she healthy?); and August Strindberg’s Dos royte tsimer (The red room [original: Röda rummet]) (309 pp.).  His Hassidic tales were translated in Frankfurter Wochenblatt (Frankfurt weekly news) in 1902, and his series “Gefunene brif” (Letters found), initially published in Der yudisher arbayter and translated into Polish in the socialist Glos (Voice), edited by Ignaz Daszyński, and in Vienna’s Arbeiter Zeitung (Workers’ newspaper).  He also wrote under such pen names as: Ben Hadasa, Der Navenadnik, Oysvurf, and Pres-agent.  He died in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934); L. Flamshteyn, in Tog (New York) (October 24, 1947).
Yankev Kahan

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