Friday, 20 July 2018


SHLOYME PIKER (August 20, 1885)
            He was born in Yedinets (Edineţ), Bessarabia.  At age four he moved with his parents to Novoselits (Novoseltsa), near the Austrian border.  He attended religious elementary school until age fourteen, later studying on his own in Sadagura, in the rebbe’s small synagogue.  In 1907 he settled in Vienna.  From 1904 he was writing from time to time for Yiddish and Hebrew newspapers, such as: Meḥazike hadat (Strengthening the faith), Togblat (Daily newspaper) in Lemberg, Folksfraynd (People’s friend) in Sanok, and Morgntsaytung (Morning newspaper) in Vilna, among others.  From 1919 he was the Vienna correspondent for: Dos yudishe folkstsaytung (The Jewish people’s newspaper) in Czernowitz; Hadoar (The mail) in New York; Haynt (Today) and Dos yidishe folk (The Jewish people) in Warsaw; and Unzer tsayt (Our times) in Kishinev; among others.  He also placed articles in: Mizrekh-yud (Eastern Jew) in Belgium, Unzer ruf (Our call), and Hatsfira (The siren), among others.  He published one issue of Vokhnshrift far folk, land un shprakh (Weekly writing for people, land, and language) in February 1919.  Together with Leybl Toybish, he edited the celebratory volume Zikhroynes fun leybl toybish (Memoirs of Leybl Toybish) (Vienna, 1920).  Further information remains unknown.

Source: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2
Leyb Vaserman


BORIS PIK (b. July 13, 1905)
            He was born in Zdunske-Volye (Zduńska Wola), near Lodz, Poland.  He studied in yeshivas and public school.  He graduated from an elite textile school in Germany.  He survived WWII in the Lodz ghetto.  For a time he was vice-chairman of the Lodz Jewish Committee.  After the war he lived in Czechoslovakia, Paris, and Bolivia.  From 1947 he was in Argentina.  He was active in the Bund, “Yidbukh” (Jewish book [a publisher of Yiddish books in Buenos Aires]), and other community institutions.  He wrote essays on literature for Unzer gedank (Our idea) in Buenos Aires (later serving as editor).  He contributed work as well to: Foroys (Onward) in Mexico City; Unzer shtime (Our voice) in Paris; and elsewhere.  From 1962 he was a member of the editorial board of the daily Di prese (The press) in Buenos Aires.  Aside from political articles and reviews (mainly on topics related to the Holocaust), he published there translations from Czech, German, Polish, and Spanish.  He also wrote under the pen name: V. Polonski.  He was last living in Buenos Aires.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


SHMUEL ZAYNVL PIPE (1907-February 1943)
            He was born in the town of Sonik (Sanok), Galicia.  Until 1929 he worked in the tailoring business.  At the same time, he was an active correspondent to the folklore commission of YIVO in Vilna and a committed Labor Zionist.  In 1930 he was brought to Vilna by YIVO, and there he took a lecture course on folklore by Y. L. Cohen.  He was in the Tsemakh Shabad research program at YIVO (1935-1937).  He was among the most diligent collectors of Jewish folklore in Galicia and published a number of works on Jewish folklore, children’s songs, children’s plays, aphorisms, tales, curses, and jokes from Jewish Galicia in Yivo-bleter (Pages from YIVO) in Vilna (1930-1939).  He also published reviews of books about folklore.  In book form and separate offprints: Yidishe folklor in galitsye (Jewish folklore in Galicia) (Vilna, 1937), 18 pp., which he penned with his brother Oyzer.  His introduction to the immense anthology Yidishe kindershpiln (Jewish children’s play), with 805 entries, was initially read at the research program’s celebration in Vilna in the summer of 1937; it was also published in Dos tsveyte yor aspirantur (The second year of the research program) (Vilna, 1938), pp. 39-47 (the entire collection was lost during the Nazi domination of Vilna.  In the summer of 1939 he returned home to Sanok, but because of the war he was unable to return to Vilna.  He lived for a time in Cracow, and from there he corresponded with YIVO in New York.  He was later confined in the Sanok ghetto.  In the winter of 1942 he was taken to the Zasław concentration camp, and there he was murdered by the Nazis.

Sources: Yivo-bleter (Vilna) 10.1-2 (1936); Yedies fun yivo (Vilna) 5-6 (1037); Dr. Yankev Shatski, in Tsukunft (New York) (July 1942); Yivo-bleter (New York) 26 (1945), pp. 14-15.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


OYZER PIPE (b. 1908)
            He was born in the town of Sonik (Sanok), Galicia.  He was a leader of the left Labor Zionists.  From 1930 he was a contributor to the folklore commission of YIVO in Vilna.  Together with his brother Shmuel Zaynvl Pipe, he published a variety of materials concerned with Jewish folklore in Galicia in Yivo-bleter (Pages from YIVO) in Vilna (1930-1939).  He was last living in Kibbutz Gat in the state of Israel.

Source: Yivo-bleter (Vilna) 11.1-2 (1937)
Khayim Leyb Fuks


PEYSEKH PYEKARZH (b. May 24, 1907)
            He was born in Pinsk, Polesia, Poland.  He studied in the Vilna and Lemberg technicums, and later directed the “Central Council of Jews in Germany.”  He helped in the illegal and legal aliya of Holocaust survivors to the state of Israel.  He contributed work to: Dos vort (The word) and Frayhayt (Freedom), among others, in Warsaw; Pinsker shtime (Voice of Pinsk), Pinsker vokh (Pinsk week), and Poleser shtime (Voice of Polesia), among other serials, in Pinsk; and Unzer veg (Our way), Bafrayung (Liberation), and Der morgn (The morning) in Munich.  He was co-editor of the Mapai (Workers’ Party in the Land of Israel) newspaper, Tog eyn, tog oys (Day in, day out), in Tel Aviv.  He also wrote for Heymish (Familiar), Davar (Word), and other publications in Tel Aviv.  He was living in Israel from 1951.

Sources: Heymish (Tel Aviv) (April 24, 1958); D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah lealutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 6 (Tel Aviv, 1955), pp. 2646-47.
Khayim Leyb Fuks

Thursday, 19 July 2018


MENDL PYEKAZH (May 23, 1922-2011)
            He was born in Pultusk (Pułtusk), Warsaw district, Poland.  He studied in religious elementary school and in the Pułtusk and Novoredok yeshivas, and he graduated from a middle school.  He spent the years of WWII in Russia.  Over the years 1945-1948, he was in Poland and in Holocaust survivors’ camps, and then he made aliya “illegally” aboard the clandestine Jewish immigrant vessel Exodus.  From 1948 he was living in the state of Israel.  He spent one year in the army, and then until 1954 he lived on Kibbutz Gal-On.  He studied (1954-1958) Hebrew literature in the Hebrew University, and he was a pupil of Professor Dov Sadan in Yiddish.  From 1958 he was active with Yad Vashem and editor of the four-volume bibliography, Khurbn un gvure in shpigl fun der hebreisher prese (Destruction and redemption as refracted in the Hebrew press) (Jerusalem, 1966-1967).  He was an important researcher in the field of Yiddish and Hebrew bibliography and Old Yiddish literature, among other realms.  He presented a portion of his Master’s thesis on R. Nakhmen of Bratslov’s Sipure maasiyot (Tales) at the fourth world congress of Jewish scholarship in Jerusalem.  From 1957 he published a number of pieces of research in important Yiddish and Hebrew publications.  He contributed: “Yidishizm in sof 17tn un ershter helft fun 18tn yorhundert” (Yiddishism at the end of the seventeenth and first half of the eighteenth century), Di goldene keyt (The golden chain) (Tel Aviv, 1964), pp. 168-80.  He wrote the biographies of writers who were included in Shmuel Niger’s Hebrew-language work, Habikoret uveayoteha (Inquiry and its problems) (Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1957); compiled the literary-historical supplements to the Hebrew edition of Dr. Yisroel Tsinberg’s Di geshikhte fun literatur bay yidn (The history of Jewish literature), vol. 4 (Tel Aviv, 1968), vol. 6 (Tel Aviv, 1960); was a contributor to the great bibliography of Yiddish and Hebrew publications in the Soviet Union, Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961); and wrote the biographical and bibliographical details for writers who were included in the anthology, A shpigl af a shteyn, antologye, poezye un proze fun tsvelf farshnitene yidishe shraybers in ratn-farband (A mirror on a star, anthology, poetry and prose from twelve murdered Jewish writers in the Soviet Union).  His work on “Yiddishism” is included in the second volume of the Entsiklopediya lemadae haevra (Encyclopedia of the social sciences) (Meravya, 1964).

Sources: B. Ts. Goldberg, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (April 8, 1962); G. Kressel, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 41 (1961); Dr. Elye (Elias) Shulman, in Afn shvel (New York) (November-December 1964); Dr. K. A. Bartini, in Di goldene keyt 52 (1964); Y. Yeshurin, 100 yor moderne yidishe literatur, bibliografisher tsushteyer (100 years of modern Yiddish literature, bibliographical contribution) (New York, 1966), p. 190.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


GERSHON PYESTUN (b. January 27, 1856)
            He was born in Shklov (Szkłów), Byelorussia.  Orphaned at age seven, he was raised in an orphanage.  He was a brilliant Talmudist and preacher in Lithuania.  For a time he was a rabbi in Shavlan (Siaulenai) and Mohilev (Mogilev), later settling in Vilna.  He was a friend of Ben Tsion Alfes and worked with him on a number of Yiddish and Hebrew-Aramaic texts.  He was the author of: Avodat hagershoni (The work of Gershon) (Vilna, 1885); Hamatif, der redner, sheyne raykhzinike droshes fir fersheydene tsaytn in yor mit tsugegebene onmerkungen in a brief fun ben tsien alfes (The preacher, lovely, rich sermons for various times of the year with additional remarks in a letter from Ben Tsion Alfes) (Vilna, 1903), 72 pp., which appeared in a great many editions in Vilna and Warsaw, “sermons which bring the reader great pleasure, educating his character and implanting in him good morals”; Peyre hagefen oder gedankenfrukht (Fruit of the vine or fruit for thought), sermons on the first five orders [of the Mishnah] (Warsaw, 1892), 80 pp.; Mayse alfes ufri hagefen oder tsuker-gebeks un vayn (Alfes’s tale and the fruit of the vine or pastry and wine), part 1 (Vilna, 1906), 110 pp., part 2 (Vilna, 1907), 80 pp.  Pyestun was also the author of a number of pamphlets which he signed “Hagefen” (The vine) and “Gefen” (Vine).

Sources: Ben-Tsien Ayzenshtadt, Dor rabanav vesofrav (A generations of rabbis and authors), vol. 3 (Vilna, 1902), p. 27; Leksikon fun der nayer yidisher literatur (Biographical dictionary of modern Yiddish literature), vol. 1, col. 119, under the biography Ben Tsion Alfes (see:
Khayim Leyb Fuks


            He was born in Praga, near Warsaw, Poland.  Until age sixteen he studied in yeshivas and gained a reputation as “the Praga prodigy.”  He acquired secular knowledge and foreign languages with private tutors and on his own.  In 1917 he graduated from Sh. A. Poznanski’s rabbinical seminary.  For a time he worked as an educator and librarian in the institutions of Warsaw’s Great Synagogue and revised for Warsaw University library its immense bio-bibliographic catalogue.  He spent 1926-1927 in the land of Israel.  He visited the United States for a short time in 1927 and then returned to Poland.  He lived there until the summer of 1939, several weeks before the outbreak of WWII.  From July 1939 until the summer of 1940, he resided in New York, later settling in Montreal where he continued his studies.  In 1945 he received his doctoral degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.  His journalistic activities began with the daily newspaper Nayes (News) in Warsaw in 1912 (published by the assimilationists during the elections for the fourth Duma).  Aside from editorial articles on politics, as well as community and contemporary Jewish topics, he also published there translations from Polish literature and a series of popular science essays (some of which were included without his name in Familyen-biblyotek [Family library], published by “Yehuda”).  In 1916 he was among the main contributors to the Aguda’s Dos yudishe vort (The Jewish word) and later to Der yud (The Jew) in Warsaw.  Although his entire life he was a Zionist in spirit, in 1922 he came out in opposition to the “Zionist bloc with the ethnic minorities” and published with Hillel Tsaytlin the political weekly newspaper Der blits (The flash) in Warsaw.  From 1923 he was connected to Haynt (Today) in Warsaw.  At the time of the fourth aliya and rising Jewish destitution in Poland, he made a name for himself with his letters from the land of Israel which exposed the prevailing conditions and brought help to thousands of Jews emigrating from Poland.  Petrushka contributed to and co-edited a number of publications for Haynt, among them Velt-shpigl (World mirror), Altnayland (Old-new land), Handels-tsaytung (Business newspaper), and Hayntike nayes (Today’s news).  Over the years 1926-1939, he served as the Warsaw correspondent for: Tog (Day) in New York; Di tsayt (The times) in London; and other serials.  He published essays on historical and scientific topics, mainly concerned with Jewish learning.  He translated and elucidated in a traditional manner all six orders of the Mishnah.  His books include: Erets-yisroel, algemeyne beshraybung fun heyligen land in historisher belaykhtung (The land of Israel, a general description of the Holy Land in a historical light) (Warsaw, 1921), 64 pp.; Yudishe geshikhte (Jewish history), adapted from a German publication by Dr. A. Kotek (Warsaw, 1921), 390 pp., which appeared in a number of editions, the last in Warsaw (1935); Yudishe entsiklopedye, far yudishe geshikhte, kultur, religye, filozofye, literatur, biografye, bibliografye un andere yudishe inyonim (Jewish encyclopedia, for Jewish history, culture, religion, philosophy, literature, biography, bibliography, and other Jewish matters) (Warsaw, 1932-1935), four volumes, later published in two volumes as Yidishe folks-entsiklopedye (Jewish people’s encyclopedia) (Montreal, 1943), each volume 968 pp., revised edition (1949); Mishnayes, mit iberzetsung un peyrush in yidish (The Mishnah, with translation and commentary in Yiddish), six volumes (Montreal, 1945-1949), the most basic and most popular explanation of the six orders of the Mishnah in Yiddish.  For this last work, he was awarded the Y. Lamed Prize for 1950 (when the second edition appeared).  He was editor of: Der emigrant (The emigrant), a weekly newspaper dedicated to issues of Jewish emigration (Warsaw, 1920-1921); and Tevuna (Wisdom), a Jewish studies journal (Warsaw, 1920-1922).  He translated into Yiddish: Dr. Lehman, Rabi yozelman (Rabbi Yozelman), a novel (Warsaw, 1924); V. Soloviev, Dertseylungen (Stories) (Warsaw, 1925); Dr. Kotek’s history of the Jews (see above).  He also wrote under such pen names as: Plony-Almony, Sh. Prager, Petrushkin, Ish Yehudi, Yurist, Bankovyets, and Kalif.  He died in Montreal, Canada.
            “In Montreal,” wrote Moyshe Shtarkman, “Petrushka realized his dream of publishing a ‘Jewish People’s Encyclopedia,’ a handbook that would give the Jewish people in a short and popular form the most important information concerning everything connected to Jewish life and creations of the past and present.  The two volumes…are a magnificent feat, and one can only marvel at how one man under the most difficult of circumstances accomplished something which in other instances only an entire staff of writers and researchers could have time for….  His own mastery of Jewish history, culture, and scholarship withstood the test.  His journalistic experience carried him further to the point that he might relay all of this in less difficult language….  Petrushka undertook to provide not only the Yiddish translation of the Mishnaic text, but also to accompany it both with the original and the translation with a comprehensive commentary, just as exacting as a scholar, such that intelligent people can not only read the translation but also study the Mishnah itself.  Petrushka’s commentary is itself an independent scholarly accomplishment….  Many of the Jewish laws…may be clear to contemporary readers and students only when placed in their historical setting; that meant making historical and social excursions, and describing the living situation, the customs, and folklore of the past in ancient Israel and in neighboring countries.  And, this is just what Petrushka has done.  For each individual tractate Petrushka provides an appropriate preface which introduces the reader to the main matters under consideration….  Where there is more than one version of the Mishnaic text, he mentions this in the commentary….  Petrushka provides the source text in the most exacting translation possible.”

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Kh. M. Kayzerman, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (May 24, 1942); Y. Y. Segal, in Keneder odler (November 22, 1943); Moyshe Shtarkman, in Der tog (New York) (February 20, 1944; May 12, 1946; October 12, 1947; January 8, 1948; December 12, 1948; May 8, 1949); Shtarkman, in Congress Weekly (New York) (May 27, 1946); Rabbi F. Hirshprung, in Der tog (December 3, 1945); Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 2 (Montreal, 1947); Ravitsh, in Keneder odler (April 17, 1950); M. Ginzburg, in Keneder odler (December 3, 1945; April 12, 1950; October 17, 1955); Shimshn Dunski, in Keneder odler (February 3, 1947); Sh. Miler, in Keneder odler (April 16, 1947); Y. L. Volman, in Hadoar (New York) (March 26, 1948); Dr. Shloyme Bikl, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (September 16, 1949); B. Y. Byalostotski, in Yorbukh (New York, 1948/1949); Yisroel Rabinovitsh, in Keneder odler (April 13, 1950; November 5, 1959); G. Shtutsiger, in Der shpigl (Buenos Aires) (May 1950); B. Kutsher, Geven amol varshe (As Warsaw once was) (Paris, 1955), see index; Yankev Glatshteyn, Glatshteyn, In tokh genumen (In essence), vol. 1 (New York, 1956), pp. 220-30; Kh. Finkelshteyn, in Fun noentn over (New York) 2 (1956), pp. 207, 213.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


OSHER PYETRUSHKA (1916-summer 1942)
            He was born in Brisk (Brest), Lithuania.  He studied in yeshivas.  From 1936 until 1942, he lived in Warsaw.  He worked as a Yiddish and Hebrew proofreader.  He was a much talented storyteller in both languages.  He contributed stories to: Idisher togblat (Jewish daily newspaper) in Warsaw; Beys yankev zhurnal (Beys Yankev journal) in Lodz; and in Hebrew to Darkhenu (Our way) and Deglanu (Our banner), among others, in Warsaw.  His sketch “Habor” (The pit) was republished in the Hebrew-language anthology Udim (Firebrands) 1 (Jerusalem, 1960), pp. 365-69.  He was deported to Treblinka and murdered there.

Source: Udim (Jerusalem) 1 (1960), p. 365.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


            He was born in the Lithuanian town of Lyubitsh (Lyubichy), Novogrodok Province, to devout, well-off parents.  He attended religious elementary school and yeshiva in the town, and later Rameyle’s yeshiva in Vilna.  Later still, he traveled to Grodno, where he received ordination into the rabbinate.  He then moved to New York and worked in the tailoring business, had an unsuccessful factory making mattresses, and peddled fruit.  He then returned to Vilna from America.  Because of war in 1914, he made his way to Berlin.  After the Bolshevik Revolution, he left for Kiev.  He lived for the most part in Rovno, as well as in Praga and Warsaw.  His published books include: Bleter zikhroynes (Pages of memoirs), in five separate volumes (Warsaw: Aisefer, n.d.): (1) Tsvishn eygene un fremde (Between one’s own and others), 259 pp.; (2) Arbet un lebn (Work and life), 287 pp.; (3) Veltkrig un revolutsye (World war and revolution), 281 pp.; (4) Afn shvel fun toyt (At the threshold of death), 276 pp.; and (5) Ayngeshlosene flamen (Consuming flames), 231 pp.

Source: Shmuel Niger, in Tsukunft (New York) (November 1933).
Leyb Vaserman

Wednesday, 18 July 2018


YANKEV PISTINER (December 29, 1881-August 30, 1930)
            He was born in the village of Fundu Moldovei, Bukovina [now, Romania].  He was orphaned on his father’s side when still young.  He studied to be a lawyer at the Universities of Vienna and Czernowitz.  From his student years, he was active in the general and Jewish socialist movement, initially in Austria and until his death in Romania.  Over the years 1920-1926, he was a Bundist deputy to the Romanian parliament.  He stood up strongly for the rights of the Yiddish language, literature, and schools.  His literary and journalistic activities began in the German-language Volkspresse (People’s press) in Czernowitz (1899), of which from 1903 he served as editor.  From 1907 he contributed to: the Yiddish weekly Der sotsyal-demokrat (The social democrat) in Cracow; the Vilna Bundist Folks-tsaytung (People’s newspaper), Di hofnung (The hope), Dos naye lebn (The new life), Der shtrahl (The beam [of light]) of which he was also editor, and Di naye tsaytung (The new newspaper) in Czernowitz; as well as Polish-language Bundist publications which appeared in print in Poland.  He died in Bonn, on his way back to Czernowitz from an election gathering.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO) (Warsaw, 1928), see index; Khayim Vayntroyb, in Tsukunft (New York) (December 1930); Dr. Y. and Leye Kisman, in Doyres bundistn (Generations of Bundists), vol. 2 (New York, 1956), pp. 222-24.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


            He was born in Petrikov (Pietrykaŭ), Poland [now, Belarus].  He studied medicine.  He was a representative of the Bund in the city council and on the Jewish community council.  He was a cofounder of the Jewish school curriculum in Pietrykaŭ.  From 1916 he contributed work to: Lebns-fragn (Life issues), Naye folkstsaytung (New people’s newspaper), and Lodzher veker (Lodz alarm); and he served as co-editor of Pyetrikover veker (Pietrykaŭ alarm), among others.  He also published poetry.  His translation of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey from the Greek originals (prepared for publication in 1939) was lost during the war years.  When the Nazis invaded and occupied Poland, he fled to Russian terrain, and during the war he served as a military doctor on the front against the Nazis.  He died of typhus in Moscow.

Sources: Doyres bundistn (Generations of Bundists), vol. 2 (New York, 1956), p. 273, with a bibliography; Khayim Leyb Fuks, in Fun noentn over (New York) 3 (1957), p. 259.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


LOUIS PINKUSOF (1894-April 3, 1956)
           He was born in a town near Minsk, Byelorussia.  In 1906 he came to Canada.  He was a theater director and writer.  He published humorous sketches and feature pieces in: Keneder odler (Canadian eagle), Der idisher zhurnal (The Jewish journal), and other serials.  A number of his plays, one act dramas, and sketches, were performed on the Yiddish stage.  He died in Montreal.

Source: M. N., in Keneder odler (Montreal) (April 22, 1956).
Khayim Leyb Fuks


MEYER (MEIR) PINES (1881/1882-1942?)
            He was born in Mohilev (Mogilev), by the Dnieper River, in Russia, into a well-to-do family.  In 1890 the family settled in Rozinoy (Ruzhany), Grodno district.  He studied in religious elementary school and yeshiva, and secular subject matter with private tutors.  In 1890 he entered the University of Berne, Switzerland, where he studied law and philosophy.  In 1902 he moved to Paris to study at the Sorbonne.  At the time of the first Russian Revolution, he returned to Russia, where he became active in the Jewish socialist workers’ party, and using the name Briskman, he excelled in the role of agitator.  He represented the party at the seventh Zionist congress.  He helped Israel Zangwill establish the Jewish territorialist party.  With the elections to the second Russian Duma, he was a candidate from the territorialist party.  At the same time he wrote about literature and Jewish community issues in Fraynd (Friend) and in his party journals Der nayer veg (The new way) and Dos vort (The word).  He helped found a daily Yiddish newspaper Di yidishe shtime (The Jewish voice) in Riga, which appeared under the editorship of Bal-Makhshoves.  In 1910 he received his doctoral degree from the Sorbonne for his dissertation on the history of Yiddish literature which appeared in French in 1911 with the title Histoire de la Littérature Judeo-Allemande (Paris, 582 pp.), with a preface by Professor Charles Andler.  It was translated into Yiddish as Di geshikhte fun der yudisher literatur (History of Yiddish literature) under the editorship of and with an introduction by Bal-Makhshoves (Warsaw: B. Shimin, 1911), 2 vols., 420 pp.  It contains chapters on: the Yiddish language, old literature, folksongs, literature of the Jewish Enlightenment, folk poetry, popular novels, and the founders of modern Yiddish literature.  The book appeared in various editions and was translated into Russian and German.  His history aroused great interest, many wrote about it, including: Nokhum Shtif, Shmuel Niger, Dr. A. Mukdoni, Yankev Milkh, Dr. Yisroel Tsinberg, and Khayim Graft.  As A. Mukdoni wrote, “[it] remains the only history of Yiddish literature.  People have written partial histories, better and more competent, but for a full history…we have not had such until now.”  Ber Borokhov had the following to say: “All the reviewers have taken a more often than not negative stance toward Pines’s book.  Of the purely negative critiques, Mr. Tsinberg’s is the most precise and sweeping.  Mr. Milkh and Mr. Niger are not satisfied with the purely negative critique and also point out positively that we have a history of Yiddish literature here.”  As a pioneering work (not counting Leo Wiener’s English-language The History of Yiddish Literature in the Nineteenth Century [New York, 1899]), Pines’s work suffers from many errors.  There were not at that time many monographs and previous works concerned with the specific periods or individual authors—he had to do all the preparatory work himself.  If he was not successful in providing a competent history of Yiddish literature, he still received recognition as a pioneer in the field.  When WWII broke out, Pines was living in Riga, where he managed a large business.  In 1915 he settled in Archangel.  In 1920 he moved to London and from there to Berlin where he took part in the work of ORT (Association for the Promotion of Skilled Trades) and in the Jewish emigration association.  He was a close friend of Shimon Dubnov, Yankev Leshtsinski, and the ORT leaders Lvovitsh and Singalovski.  When the territorialists’ Frayland Lige (Freeland League) was founded, he became a member and thus renewed his territorialist activities.  In 1941 the Turkish Embassy in Berlin organized an exchange of Russian citizens who were living in Germany for German citizens in Russia.  Pines and his wife were among the Russian citizens in Germany, who were taken to Istanbul where the exchange was to take place.  When the echelon of Russians arrived in Russia, Pines and his wife were arrested and exiled to a concentration camp.  His wife died in the Gulag in 1942 and he a little later.  His history was published in Hebrew translation by Shlomo Tsuker (Zucker), with a preface by Dov Sadan (Tel Aviv, 1981), 232 pp.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; A. Gurshteyn, in Tsaytshrift (Minsk) 2-3 (1928); A. Mukdoni, Oysland, mayne bagegenishn (Abroad, my encounters) (Buenos Aires, 1951), pp. 251-59; Ber Borokhov, Shprakh-forshung un literatur-geshikhte (Language research and literary history) (Tel Aviv: Peretz Publ., 1966), pp. 96-97; information from Leyzer Pines in Tel Aviv.
Elye (Elias) Shulman

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 431.]


DAN PINES (March 15, 1900-October 14, 1961)
            He was born in Warsaw.  He attended the yeshivas of Slonim and Rozhinov (Ruzhany?), Kahan’s Hebrew high school in Vilna, and universities in Moscow and Kharkov.  At the time of the revolution, he directed self-defense in Potshep (Pochep), Ekaterinoslav, and Oryol (Orel).  He was among the young generation of Zionists, the “Tseire Tsiyon,” who became “Asire Tsiyon” (Prisoners of Zion).  From 1921 to 1930 he was secretary-general of the legal and illegal pioneers in Russia and Ukraine.  He organized numerous training events for prospective agricultural emigrants to Palestine in Ukraine and Byelorussia.  He edited the publications of Haaluts (The pioneer) and was the soul of the movement.  Because of his activity, the Cheka and GPU [successive agencies of the Soviet secret police] arrested him on many occasions, such as in: Briansk (Brańsk), Kharkov, Vinitse (Vinnytsa), Homel (Gomel), Vitebsk, Smolensk, Crimea, Moscow, Ekaterinoslav, and Tomsk.  In 1926 the Yevsektsye (Jewish section) in Rostov-on-Don put him on trial by the community.  With his logical and courageous argumentation, Pines emerged there not as an accused but as an accuser.  He was nonetheless sentenced to three years exile in Narim, Siberia.  After intercession, Smidovitsh, standing in for the Soviet president, replaced Pines’s exile in Narim to Tomsk (the main city of Siberia).  Nor did he cease his Zionist organizational and Zionist journalistic activities there.  He had audiences with Stalin (when Haaluts was still semi-legal), and he told him frequently about the status and the publications of Haaluts in Soviet reality.  After strenuous efforts, the GPU allowed Pines to leave the Soviet Union for the land of Israel with conditions: he had to sign a statement that he would never return to the Soviet Union, even with a legal visa; and if he so much as placed a foot on Russian soil, he would be arrested without any investigation or court trial.  In this way, in April 1930 he made aliya to Israel with his wife and son.
            Already in 1916, when he was sixteen years of age, he published his first story in Hebrew in a hectographically-produced journal Shevarim (Pieces) in Ekaterinoslav.  In subsequent years, he wrote correspondence pieces for Davar (Word) in Tel Aviv, and other serials.  Over the years 1925-1928, he served as editor of Haaluts in Moscow.  He also placed work in such Russian newspapers as: Trud (Labor), Izvestia (News), and Krasnoie znamya (Red banner).  In Israel he assumed high-level societal and journalistic positions.  He was managerial editor of Davar (1945-1953), editor-in-chief of Omer (Speech) (1954), and founder and editor of Mada vetekhnika (Science and technology) (until 1945).  He was president of Agudat Haitonaim (Journalists’ organization) in Israel and was active in many other community and party (Mapai [Workers’ Party in the Land of Israel]) institutions.  In addition to journalism, he was also a passionate and solid researcher in Hebrew.
            On several occasions over the years 1945-1949, he went on assignment from the Israeli Histadruth (Federation of labor) to the United States and held countless meetings on all manner of Jewish issues.  In 1948 day after day he appeared on the radio show “Kol-erets-yisrael” (Voice of the land of Israel).  In 1949 he lectured at a number of universities and institutions of higher learning throughout the United States primarily on modern Hebrew literature.  He published a great number of articles in such serials as: Forverts (Forward) and Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter) in New York; Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal; Der veg (The way) and Idishe shtime (Jewish voice) in Mexico City; and other Yiddish newspapers around the globe.  In book form (in Soviet Russia): Hahityashvut hayehudit besss”r (The Jewish settlement in the USSR) (1924); Sheelat haleshonot (The question of languages) (1925); Lean holekhet erets-yisrael (Where is the land of Israel going) (1928).  These writings by Pines in Soviet Russia appeared in print under semi-legal and entirely illegal conditions.  The brought an end to a rich era in the published Hebrew word in that country.  They were self-sacrificing resistance on behalf of the existence of the people and the language.
            In Israel he published the volumes: Healuts bekur hamapekha (Pioneer in the crucible of revolution) (Tel Aviv, 1938); Ma vemi (What and who) (Tel Aviv, 1941, 1952), 371 pp.; and biographies of Arn Liberman, Moses Hess, and Nakhman Sirkin.  He died in Reovot.

Sources: D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah lealutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 4 (Tel Aviv, 1950), pp. 1616-19; Sefer haishim (Biographical dictionary) (Tel Aviv, 1948); Who’s Who (1953); World’s Biography (1948); The Middle East (1953); Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 3 (Montreal, 1958), p. 482; Shloyme Bikl, in Tog (New York) (October 28, 1961); D. Pinski, in Hadoar (New York) (eshvan 18 [= October 28], 1961); Sefer hashana shel haitonaim (Yearbook for journalists) (Tel Aviv, 1961/1962), pp. 249-51.
Yankev Kahan


LEYZER (ELIEZER) PINES (November 10, 1886-December 30, 1984)
            He was born in Shklov (Szkłów), Byelorussia.  He studied in the Mir yeshiva and as an external student passed the examinations for high school.  In 1908 he received a teacher’s degree.  Over the years 1919-1921, he attended the pedagogical institute in Warsaw.  For many years he worked as a teacher in Jewish schools and earned great merit for work with the secular Jewish school curriculum as a leader and as a speaker.  In 1902 he was active in the Jewish labor movement, initially in the Bund and later with the Zionist Territorialist workers’ party and the Fareynikte (United socialist parties).  Together with H. D. Nomberg, in 1921 he traveled around on assignment for the Jewish emigration association of Poland through the Jewish colonies in Argentina and directed undertakings with the Argentinian government and with YIKO (Jewish Cultural Organization) concerned with settling homeless Jews from Ukraine (who were at the time in Poland) on the land.  He published his first correspondence pieces in the Russian press, later publishing children’s stories in Hashaar (The dawn), in the children’s magazine Ben-shaar (Son of dawn), and elsewhere.  From 1905 he was placing work in the Territorialist-Fareynikte press in Russia and Poland.  He also wrote for: Der veg (The way), Unzer veg (Our way), and Unzer shtime (Our voice) in Warsaw; and Arbeter tsaytung (Workers’ newspaper) in Częstochowa; among others.  He published articles, essays, and book reviews in: Yudishe tsaytung (Jewish newspaper) in Buenos Aires; and Letste nayes (Latest news) in Tel Aviv.  From 1952 he was co-editor of Di goldene keyt (The golden chain) in Tel Aviv.  Over the years 1943-1948, he edited Folklor (Folklore) in London.  When the Nazis occupied Poland, he fled to Vilna, and from there he traveled to Japan and Shanghai.  He spent 1942-1948 in London and from 1949 he was living in the state of Israel.  He died in Tel Aviv.

Sources: Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 3 (Montreal, 1958), p. 320; Y. Varshavski (Bashevis), in Forverts (New York) (June 5, 1965).
Khayim Leyb Fuks


SHMUEL-YESHAYAHU PINELES (1904-March 21, 1965)
            His Hebraized surname was Penueli, born in Majdan, Galicia.  He graduated from a Hebrew teachers’ seminary in Vilna.  In 1935 he made aliya to the land of Israel.  He taught in a number of high schools.  He debuted in print in the journal Klangen (Sounds) in Cracow (1925).  He went on to publish essays in: Baderekh (On the road) in Warsaw; and Davar (Word), Haarets (The land), Gilyonot (Tablets), and Moznaim (Balance), among others, in Tel Aviv.  He was the author of two volumes of critical essays on modern Hebrew literature.  Over the years he also contributed to: Lemberger togblat (Lemberg daily newspaper), Der morgen (The morning), and Dos vort (The word) in Warsaw; and Vilner tog (Vilna day) and Di tsayt (The times) in Vilna; among others.  He was a lecturer in modern Hebrew literature at Tel Aviv University.  He died in olon, Israel.

Source: Avraham Shaanan, Milon hasifrut haadasha haivrit vehakelalit (Dictionary of modern Hebrew and general literature) (Tel Aviv, 1959), p. 222.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


SHAME PINSKI (1882-August 23, 1941)
            He was born in Hornostaypol (Hornostaipil), Kiev district, Ukraine.  Until age eighteen he attended the Zhitomir Yeshiva and then left for Berlin, where he studied at the university.  Between 1903 and 1939, with interruptions, he lived in London and later, until his death, in the land of Israel.  He began publishing poetry in Yosef aim Brenner’s Hameorer (The awakening) in London.  He also contributed to the Yiddish press in London: Der londoner id (The London Jew), Di idishe tsukunft (The Jewish future), Unzer shtime (Our voice), and Idisher tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper).  Aside from poetry, he also published articles on the Jewish settlement in the land of Israel and on Zionist issues.  He authored the pamphlets: Der mayser (The tithe) (London: Jewish National Fund, 1908), 22 pp.; and Khalutsim (Pioneers) (London: Jewish National Fund, 1922), 32 pp.  He also placed work in: Davar (Word) and Hapoel hatsair (The young laborer) in Tel Aviv, among others.  In his memory was published a selected of his poetry: I hazahav, shirim (The island of gold, poems) (Tel Aviv, 1946), 121 pp., with appreciations by Osher Beylin and Y. Zmora.

Sources: Kitve r’ benyamin (The writings of Rabbi Benjamin) (Jerusalem, 1960), see index; Sefer hashana shel haitonaim (Yearbook for journalists) (Tel Aviv, 1941/1942), p. 162; Yosef Likhtenboym, in Shiratenu mibialik ad yamenu (Our poetry from Bialik to our own time) (Tel Aviv, 1962), p. 159.
Khaim Leyb Fuks.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018


HERSHL PINSKI (1900-1934)
            He was born in Pinsk.  He attended religious elementary school and public school, and later he was active in the right Labor Zionist movement and in Haaluts (The pioneer).  In 1925 he made aliya to the land of Israel, and until late 1929 he worked on the land.  Over the years 1930-1932, he went on assignment for Mapai (Workers’ Party in the Land of Israel) to Poland, before returning to Israel.  From 1933 until his death, he served as secretary of Mapai in Haifa.  He published articles on Zionist and youth issues in: Folk un land (People and nation), Bafrayung (Liberation), Bafrayung-arbeter shtime (Liberation-Voice of labor), Hakhaluts (in Yiddish), and Dos vort (The word), as well as other Labor Zionist publications in Poland.  In addition, he placed work in Davar (Word) and Hapoel hatsair (Young laborer), among other serials, in Tel Aviv.  He died in Haifa.

Sources: Toyzent yor pinsk (1000 years of Pinsk), ed. Tzvien (New York, 1941), see index; aim Gvati, Gvat, mekorot vekorot (Gvat, sources and history) (1955).
Khayim Leyb Fuks


DOVID (DAVID) PINSKI (April 5, 1872-August 11, 1959)
            He was born in Mohilev (Mogilev), by the Dnieper River, in Russia.  His father Mortkhe Yitskhok was a commissioner for military clothing in Moscow.  At age seven he began studying Talmud and quickly acquired a reputation as a prodigy.  At ten he sensed within himself the inclination to write.  He recounted of himself: “Already in my letters to my father in Moscow, I knew that I was ‘writing’ and that I had to ‘write.’  In those [letters] I described—sometimes in ‘zhargon’ [Yiddish] and sometimes in the ‘language of holiness’ [Hebrew-Aramaic]—a fire, a theft, an event in the Strashler study chamber, or the pogrom moods of 1882.”  Pinski carried this awareness of a creative personality within himself from his early youth.  He read voluminously in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Russian, and he frequently attended Russian and Yiddish theatrical performances in Mohilev.  Under the influence of these performances, at age twelve he wrote his own play, which his friends “performed” for an audience of their own making.  At thirteen he moved with his parents to Moscow.  In general he studied secular subject matter.  The ambition to become a writer grew, and his notebooks filled up with the beginnings of sketches and stories, with the outlines of novels, and with the titles of novellas.  At sixteen he began writing a story in Russian, whose content was characteristic of the independent pathway he was taking in literature and the courageousness of his ideas which came to fruition in subsequent years.  In this story Pinski described his protagonist, an ethnic Jew who converts to Christianity so he can marry the daughter of a Russian general, with whom he has fallen madly in love.  Yet he remains a Jew and a “lover of Zion.”  In 1890-1891, Pinski lived in Vitebsk.  There he met the young Ruvn Brainin, and together they organized in the city a “Bene-Tsiyon” (Children of Zion) association, of which Pinski was secretary.  He wrote Zionist poems and composed melodies for them.  He wrote in Yiddish and deviated on the language question from the “lovers of Zion.”  One year later he traveled to Vienna with the idea of studying medicine.  He stopped off in Warsaw en route, primarily because he was drawn to the person of Y. L. Perets, whose book Bakante bilder (Familiar scenes) and his works in “Di yidishe biblyotek” (The Yiddish library) he had read and whom he considered the “leader of young people.”  Pinski had with him a notebook full of stories which he had, until then, written down, and he wanted from Perets literary ordination.  Perets received him with great warmth and befriended both him and Y. Dinezon and encouraged them to pursue literature.  He stayed in Vienna only a very short time.  In early 1892 Pinski returned to Warsaw (after the expulsion of Jews from Moscow, his parents had settled there), now a convinced cosmopolitan socialist.  He supported himself by teaching.  Pinski debuted in print in 1893 with a poem entitled “Leshone-toyve” (Happy New Year) in Epelberg’s Varshever yidisher kalendar (Warsaw Jewish calendar).  A second poem “Der simkhes toyre yid” (The Simhat Torah Jew) was published together with his own music in Shloyme Daymond’s journal in New York.  In 1894 Mortkhe Spektor published in his Hoyz-fraynd (House friend) a humorous, satirical feature by Pinski entitled “Af der provints” (In the provinces), a kind of introduction to his later series “Shtet un shtetlekh” (Cities and towns); and a satirical story about a liberal community leader “Der groyser mentshenfraynt” (The great philanthropist) and also a stinging critique of the textbooks by the Hebrew religious writer and historian Zev Yavets—“Af milkhome mitn hinterfislekh tants” (At war with an ensnaring dance), written under the pen name Ploni—which made quite a stir at that time and aroused a sharp polemic.  That same year he published a story entitled “Arop der yokh” (Down with the yoke) in Epelberg’s Kalendar, and street scenes and “Kleynikeytn” (Trifles) in Perets’s Yidishe biblyotek (III).  In these works Pinski taught in new tones for Yiddish literature, the call to struggle against reaction and falsehood.  He aroused the Jewish laborer to protest and revolt.  He introduced Perets to the conspiratorial circles or Jewish workers.  Together with Perets, he opened a new era in Yiddish literature.  He considered literature a weapon in the fight for a new social order.  In those years he was, in the word of Shmuel Niger, a “socialist of folkish disposition, and just as a socialist signified a socialist enlightener and often a socialist maskil [follower of the Jewish Enlightenment], Pinsk was also a socialist maskil.”  With Perets he ran a revolutionary student circle which took as its objective to enlighten and revolutionize Jewish workers through suitable literature and popular scientific writings, pamphlets, and newspapers.  They established the publisher “Y. L. Perets Publications.”  Pinski wrote up for it a programmatic introduction in the form of a story entitled “R’ Shloyme” (Reb Shloyme).  Pinski expressed in it the importance of education and science for both the individual’s and the masses’ progress.  The same publisher also brought out Pinski’s reworking of A. E. Brehm’s Di affen (Apes [original: Die Affen), using the pen name D. Puls (Warsaw, 1894), 52 pp.  At the same time, the publishing house of Yitskhok Goyde, later known as B. Gorin, brought out Pinski’s “Der groyser mentshenfraynt,” a realistic depiction of a bourgeois who oppresses his workers in their workshops and offices that he operates, but in the public view he is seen as a philanthropist with a magnanimous nature; also, in “Arop der yokh” in which he expresses the pride of a porter who challenges the town’s rich man.  When the student circle fell apart, Perets, Pinski, and Spektor, with financial assistance from Spektor’s sister-in-law Hodl Koyfman (Pinski’s wife from 1897), began to publish a collection entitled Literatur un lebn (Literature and life) and later Yontef bletlikh (Holidays sheets).  Pinsk was at the time one of the principal contributors.  His “Khayim der meshores” (Khayim the servant) was published together with Perets’s “Der shtrayml” (The fir-trimmed hat) and “Bontshe shvayg” (Bontshe the silent), and it made a huge impression on the Jewish street.  The Yontef bletlikh helped to spread socialist ideas among the Jewish masses.  Pinski’s name acquired extraordinary popularity.  When he traveled through the provinces, he came face to face with his followers, for whom he read aloud from his own writings at gatherings run by Perets, and he organized the so-called “zhargonishe komitetn” (Yiddish committees) which were charged with, among other tasks, establishing funds to publish Warsaw publications.  Because of continual deficits and the reprisals by state organs, the Yontef bletlikh had to cease publication.  Spektor had earlier to withdraw from them because of their radical tone.  This controversy drove Pinski to discontinue his work with Spektor’s Hoyz-fraynd.
            In the spring of 1896, Pinski settled in Berlin to study at the university.  In those years he wrote for the New York-based Yiddish socialist daily Abend blat (Evening newspaper), in which he published stories under the pen name D. Puls and articles using the names Doyfek and Studyonus.  He succeeded in founding a publisher “Tsaytgayst” (Spirit of the times), and he published in it his story “A farfalener” (A doomed one).  (The publisher also brought out the pamphlet Darvinizm [Darwinism] by Elye Davidzon.)  In 1897 the student association “Bildung” (Education) in Berlin published Pinski’s popularization of physiology, Di lere fun leben (The teachings of life), under the name D. Mardfin.  In Berlin he became acquainted with representatives of German literature.  Studying over the years 1890-1896 at Berlin University, he examined the spirit of German literature.  He was influenced already in his youth by Berthold Auerbach.  Now he was impressed by the work of dramatists Friedrich Hebel, Heinrich von Kleist, and Otto Ludwig among the older writers and Gerhart Hauptmann among the modern ones.  The one who influenced him more than others, however, was Henrik Ibsen.  In his volume, Di yidishe drama (Yiddish drama) (New York, 1909), he wrote that Ibsen’s Bygmester Solness (The master builder) showed the way to every playwright to build castles and palaces as well as houses for civilian dwellings.  For a certain period of time, Pinski lived in Switzerland.  Together with Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky, he assembled the famed meeting of the friends of Yiddish in Basel on the morning following the Zionist congress there.  At that time, Pinski penned his first social-psychological drama in Yiddish, Ayzik sheftl (Isaac Sheftel).  In this play he depicts the loneliness and isolation of the creative person even under conditions of rising revolutionary life.  The work was highly praised by Gerhart Hauptmann and Ludwig Fulda, mainly by the Freie Bühne (Free stage) (even though he refused to produce it on a German stage because of the Jewish theme).  At the request of student circles, Pinski composed a one-act play entitled Yesurim (Suffering) in 1899, an expression of the struggle between parents and children against the canvas of the Jewish revolutionary movement.  In December 1899, at the invitation of Herman Simpson, editor of Abend blat, Yiddish organ of the Socialist Workers’ Party, Pinski came to New York and soon began to develop an intensive range of literary and community activities.  He undertook the literary editorship of Abend blat and became co-editor of the weekly publication Di arbeter tsaytung (The workers’ newspaper) under editor-in-chief Yoysef Shlosberg.  Both papers, however, had to close down because of internal conflicts which were then going on in the socialist movement in the country.  Two years later the weekly organ was revived under the name Der arbeter (The worker) and the editorship of Yoysef Shlosberg.  Pinski would remain connected to this publication until it ceased appearing in 1911.  All three newspapers played an important role in the development of the Jewish labor movement and in no small measure aided in the formation of Yiddish literature in America.  He published many young writers here, as well as his own shorter and longer stories.  He also wrote here critical articles and essays on theater.  In this period he identified with the Bund and took over a regular section of Der arbeter entitled “In dem bunds rayon” (In the field of the Bund), which served as an important source for the American Jewish worker on the revolutionary activities of the Bund in Tsarist Russia.
            Pinski was a pioneer of Yiddish social literature.  He laid emphasis not on the sufferings of the worker, but brought forth the revolt of workers against those sufferings.  This was, though, not the revolt of a group but of an individual (in the Russia the Jewish worker still had not demonstrated how properly to organize into a conscious collective).  This was also the element separated Pinski from the poets and storytellers whom he met in the United States.  They were already speaking of a labor force and writing for a proletariat.  He was in the meantime satisfied with individual proletarians who were looking to preserve the value of their own humanity.  Pinsk was similar to many American Yiddish writers in his attachment to the feelings of love.  He depicted passionate love scenes even before he came to America.  The women whom he would depict were free, natural, active, and energetic, much less fettered by various prejudices and habits and will soon be on their own.  This theme of love is expressed especially in his dramatic writings.  In the first play that he wrote in America, Di muter (The mother), which should be seen as an answer to Strindberg’s The Father (original: Fadren), wrapped up with the theme of love—what kind of love is devoted and true, a mother’s love for her children or the opposite?  The answer is that children’s love is an expression of egoism, but the love of a mother is dictated by fidelity and devotion.  In his one-act play Glik-fargesene (Forgotten luck) of 1904, the problem of love is handled in the environs of intellectuals, and the moral of the story is that the highest degree of love lies in self-sacrifice.  The play Yankl der shmid (Jacob the blacksmith) offered Pinski the opportunity to entrust love to a simpleton, a wanton youth who is drunk with a violent temperament but unable to speak.  Pinski dedicated dozens of plays and stories to love, abstracting from them and not giving any place or time where or when the action in them takes place; he places the man and his wife in the most diverse of situations when loves speaks, chats, discusses, and philosophizes.  Pinski could, though, trot out a gallery of persons who were as if created for abstract love entanglements.  A string of plays from this crop found purchasers among the Gentile directors just as among the Jewish ones, who staged them.  A truly fierce drama which excelled in its well-formed personalities and did not float in the air of cavernous abstraction was Gabri un di froyen (Gabri and the women) of 1908.  The American “West” serves here as the backdrop.  The realistic moment of his dramaturgy is expressed in love imbroglios in numerous other creations, such as the plays: Der letser sakhakl (The bottom line) of 1924 and Opgezogt (Declined) of 1932, in which is reflected the economic crisis of the day as well as other issues.  When Pinski sensed that he had “said everything about the worker that he had to say,” he turned to historical legends and folklore, and he used them as raw material for his poetic, storytelling creations.  A series of short novellas appeared in a book.  Bruriah (Beruriah), the wife of the Tanna Rabbi Meir, was the heroine and title character of one of his short stories.  He particularly rose to the occasion in his stories and dramas taken from material of differing epochs from Jewish history.  The play Miryam fun magdala (Mary Magdalene) in three acts (1911) still breathes with issues surrounding love.  He used history and legend in it.  This play led Pinski to a series of King David plays.  Dovid hameylekh un zayn vayber (King David and his wives) is replete with erotic and all kinds of love.  Subsequent stages in Pinski’s interest in historical themes were his four one-act plays in the David series: Dovid un mikhl (David and Michal), Basheve (Batsheva), Avishag (Avishag), and Avigayl (Abigail).  Pinski’s prose was loaded with emotion and with melodiousness, and it was effective, the result of Pinski’s efforts to sublimate in his Yiddish the biblical Hebrew idiom.
            Pinsk approached in ideological disposition ever more the national stance until he became of the leaders of the Labor Zionist movement in America.  In 1916 he became editor of the journal Der idisher kemfer (The Jewish fighter).  He was chief editor of the daily newspaper Di tsayt (The times), one of the best Yiddish newspapers.  For many years he was a member of the central committee of the Labor Zionist party in the United States, taking part in 1922 in the Berlin world conference of Labor Zionism, and making a trip through a number of European countries and also going as far as the land of Israel.  He participated in all aspects of public Jewish life in America, and his voice was heard by various general Jewish and Zionist tribunes.  He was among the cofounders and leaders of the Yiddish theatrical society of New York and its organ Tealit (Theater-literature).  He published journalistic articles and helped to form Jewish public opinion among organized labor and raised the cultural level of the broad Jewish masses.  Pinski fought against literary trash in theater, in the press, and in the published word generally.  From 1933 he was elected to the high position of president of the great Jewish fraternal order, the National Jewish Labor Alliance, and he held the post with great dignity until he left the United States.  He was president of the Yiddish Cultural Society, founded in 1929.  Over the years 1941-1949, at which point he made aliya to Israel, he was co-editor of the journal Tsukunft (Future) in New York (the other co-editors: Shmuel Niger and Hillel Rogof), and he was among the initiators of Tsiko (Central Yiddish Cultural Organization) and a member of its administration.  He belonged to the initiative group (others: H. Leivick, Shmuel Niger, Yoysef Opatoshu, and Menakhem Boreysho) that established the World Jewish Culture Congress in New York (autumn 1948).  He was the first president of the Yiddish Pen Club.  Already in 1903 after the Kishinev pogrom, Pinski sensed that a revision was necessary in his ideological position until that point.  At the invitation of a committee in Warsaw that was preparing an anthology for the victims of the pogrom, he composed the first act of Di familye tsvi (The family Tsvi).  The Warsaw censor would not allow it to be published.  Later the play appeared in print from the publisher of the foreign committee of the Bund in Geneva, Switzerland, on thin cigarette paper and in a small format so that people might more easily smuggle it into Russia.  Somewhat later the play also appeared from the Bundist published “Di velt” (The world) in Vilna.  Irrespective of the negative criticism of a number of important writers at the time (Perets, Bal-Makhshoves, among others), the play was widely distributed.  It was performed mostly by amateur troupes.  It was performed in Tsarist Russia, although that threatened prison and deportation, and none of the amateurs was condemned to years of incarceration.  It was also staged in Galicia, as well as in other parts of Austria, and in Germany and Switzerland.  Pinski emphasized the tragedy of the destroyed former synagogue, and he deplored the shattering process of the Jewish family and the fateful debate among Bundists, Zionists, and assimilationists, who wanted, each from his own stance, to bring about a resolution of the Jewish question.  In this play, noted Sh. Shazar, “the section involving the great interaction among the generations begins with everyone suddenly opening their eyes all at once to see that the light of idealism and revolution is not only the ken of Bundism or Labor Zionism, but may perhaps, principally, lie in the heart of the old preacher who risks his life to save the Torah scrolls that they not be desecrated.”  “The self-defense would ascribe the influence of Bialik’s ‘Massa nemirov’ [The vision of Nemirov (also translated as: In the city of slaughter)]” which was published with Di familye tsvi, “but I imagine…[that] my tragedy…in Yiddish must have strongly influenced the moods and decisions”—as he explained about himself.  Pinski lived through many disappointments in these years and was unhappy with himself.  He carried around the thought of separating himself from the writer’s profession altogether.  He registered at Columbia University and studied German language and literature there.  The impetus to be a writer that had impelled him to complete Di familye tsvi caused him to be absent at the time of his dissertation defense which was required, and thus he let pass an opportunity to secure an academic title and profession.  The same feeling came over him when he decided to open up his own publishing house and make a living in that manner.  He sustained a better financial basis to support himself, and he became more creative in his literary work.  He supported Yiddish journals, wrote without honorariums, and published in newspapers in America and abroad, as well as in Tsukunft (he would be its co-editor in years to come), Der yud (The Jew), and Der fraynd (The friend), among other serials.  In partnership with Yoysef Shlosberg, he brought out the socialist literary Yidishe vokhnshrift (Yiddish weekly writing).
            Profound ethnic sensibility brought Pinski to write a cycle of messianic dramas.  Later, when his play Der oytser (The treasure) became popular through all Jewish communities across the globe and was performed in “German theaters” and in Yiddish theaters in America, Pinski picked out from the depths of Jewish history a string of heroes who served as Jewish redeemers for salvation.  None of Pinski’s “messiahs” would qualify as a “false messiah.”  He sees them as living people who operate in a living community, and they must struggle against difficulties, overcome their own weaknesses, and lead a people to mountain tops.  His six messiah plays are set in various eras: Der eybiker yid (The eternal Jew), which became a regular part of the repertoire of Habima (in Hebrew) first in Moscow and later in Tel Aviv, is set in the epoch of the destruction of the Temple; Rabi akive un bar kokhbe (Rabbi Akiva and Bar Kokhba) in the Talmudic era after the destruction; Der shturmer meshiekh (The silent messiah) in the Middle Ages; Shloyme molkho un dovid haruveyni (Shlomo Molcho and David Hareuveni) at the time of the Spanish Inquisition; Shapse tsvi un sore (Shabbatai Tsvi and Sarah) in the era of the Chmielnicki massacres of 1648-1649; and Der bal-shem-tov un der gazlen (The Baal-Shem Tov and the robber) which takes place at the time of the rise of Hassidism.  The axis around which his messiah plays are constructed is the struggle between idealism and reality, between longing for salvation and the temptations of ordinary materiality, between the blue heavens of dreams and the blood-splattered paths of uprising and war.  In all of his plays conflicts of an ideological character take place, contradictions among the leaders, between the messiah and the multitudes; Pinski used every detail of the old sources and added elements drawn from his own fantasy where the historical facts or the legends could no longer serve him well.  With the messiah dramas, one might also include his pioneer plays in which he strove to introduce the heroism of the pioneers in the land of Israel.  This group would include: Der koyekh vos boyt (The power that builds) (Tsukunft, 1934), in which the “zeyde” (grandfather) in the first act is the great teacher of Jewish labor in Israel, the creator of the  teaching of “Dat haavoda” (Religion of labor), Arn-Dovid Gordon; the one-act play Di shteyger fun libe (The manner of love) (Idisher kemfer, 1941), an ode to the heroic pioneer who brought life to the wastes of Jewish land.  Pinski also found his way to the broad canvas of the novel.  Already in his novel Der tserisener mentsh (The split personality, 1919-1925), he depicts the assimilated Jews who at the time occupied the place of honor in American Jewry: the fabulously wealthy, bankers, magnates from Wall Street, owners of immense businesses, and gigantic industrialists.  Pinski describes their outward sheen of affluence and elegance, and he penetrates to their internal world and shows the utter poverty and spiritual emptiness of their barren souls.  Against this stratum, Pinski placed the idealistic leaders of Jewish labor who erected elevated goals in life, struggling for the rights of their brothers, and finding satisfaction in working on behalf of the immigrant Jewish masses.  Another Pinski novel is devoted to the issue of estrangement: Dos hoyz fun noyekh edon (The house of Noah Edon).  The title of the novel and the biblical style in its beginning as well as in the conclusion to several chapters is an allusion to “Ele toledot noa” (These are the generations of Noah) from the Bible.  Noah was a sage in his generation, and so is the hero of this novel.  The sons, however, have not followed the path set by their father.  They have been carried away by the rush of business, and money has become their idol.  His wife’s treachery is a general phenomenon, and Noyekh’s home is destroyed.  “His chain was not the only one to be severed.  This is America,” concludes Pinski.  Noyekh sees the answer to this problem in religious discipline and explains that man must subdue the animal that resides within him and must strive to a higher level of humanity.  A bulky work was his novel Shloyme hameylekhs toyzent vayber (King Solomon’s thousand wives), in which Pinski describes across a wide basis the many-sided and colorful personality of King Solomon, his loves, his weaknesses, and the strong features of his character.  With the rise of the state of Israel, he realized his dream of many years, and in 1949 he made aliya to become a resident of the Jewish state.  He settled on Mount Carmel in Haifa, having in 1936 already purchased a plot on which to build a home.  On his eightieth birthday, Pinski was awarded honorary citizenship of Haifa, and one of the streets on Mount Carmel was named for him.  The entire settlement paid tribute to him.  He was elected honorary chairman of the Yiddish Literary Society in Israel.  Despite his advanced age, Pinski remained creatively productive in Israel.  In the drama Kekhol hagoyim (Like all the nations), written in Israel, he expressed his desire that, because of the fallen morale of peoples, which had collapsed during WWII to the precipice of inhumanity, the Jews need become the most moral of people.  The Jews were to become the most morally exalted folk.  He was pulled into weekly life in the state of Israel, and he witnessed her great virtues and also her difficulties.  In his comedy Zi hot shoyn a dire (She already has an apartment), there is genuine dramatic vitality, an abundance of luminance and refined humor which he pulled from real life.  From the young Jewish state, he regularly sent his articles and correspondence pieces to Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal) and Tog (Day) in New York.  They well up with information and vital interest in everything going on in the world around him.  He contributed work to Tel Aviv’s Dos vort (The word) and wrote a regular column entitled “Lomir, azoy tsu zogn” (Let’s, so to speak), in which he expressed his ideas and thoughts from a conscientious and thinking citizen of the state of Israel.  He sensed special esteem when there began to appear in print in Israel his writings in Hebrew translation and when a number of his works were included in anthologies and readers for young students in the country.  He placed immense hope in the Yiddish department which opened in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.  He believed that with time Yiddish would assume an honored position in the culture of the Jewish state.  In the land of the Tanakh, Pinski returned to his beloved biblical themes.  Among other works, he wrote the tragedy Moyshe un di kushis (Moses and the Negress).  “The theme of Moses,” he wrote in his preface, “has interested me since I was seventeen.  I even began writing about it…in verse in Russian….  The topic has never left me alone.”  Even in the last years of his life, he evinced an interest in mastering themes which had intrigued him over the course of decades.  In Israel he felt the clarity of Moses’ extraordinary personality.  This is also how he composed his plays about King Saul and Samson and Delilah.  Pinski struggled for three years with a difficult illness.  A particularly hard blow befell him with the illness and death of his wife Hodl on March 29, 1959.  Five months after her passing, Pinski left this world.  This was an exceptionally sad day for the settlement and for all Jewish communities throughout the entire world.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2, with a bibliography; Arbeter-ring boyer un tuer (Builders and leaders of the Workmen’s Circle), ed. Y. Yeshurin and Y. Sh. Herts (New York, 1962); Y. Gar and F. Fridman, Biblyografye fun yidishe bikher vegn khurbn un gvure (Bibliography of Yiddish books concerning the Holocaust and heroism) (New York, 1962); A. Goldberg, Undzere dramaturgn (Our playwrights) (New York, 1961); Di goldene keyt, special supplement with contents from the previously published fifty issues (Tel Aviv, 1964); Yankev Glatshteyn, In tokh genumen (In essence) (New York, 1947); Di geshikhte fun bund (The history of the Bund) (New York, 1960), vol. 1, pp. 94-96; Geshikhte fun der tsienistisher arbeter-bavegung fun tsofn-amerike (History of the Zionist labor movement in North America), vol. 2 (New York, 1955); B. Daymondshteyn, Eseyen (Essays) (Tohonga, 1958); A. Zak, In onheyb friling (In the beginning of spring) (Buenos Aires, 1962); Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Di velt fun yankev gordin (The world of Yankev Gordin) (Tel Aviv, 1964); Mendl Zinger, ed., David pinski, zikhrono liverakha, leyom hashana lifetirat david pinski (Dovid Pinski, may his memory be for a blessing, on the day of the death of Dovid Pinski) (Haifa, 1960); Yontef bleter, ed. Zerubavl, on the Dovid Pinski’s eightieth birthday (Tel Aviv: Yiddish literary and journalist association in Israel, 1952); Yankev Tikman, ed., Tsili adler dertseylt (Celia Adler recounts) (New York, 1959); Avrom-Shmuel Yuris, Kemfer un dikhter (Fighters and poets) (Riga, 1931); Y. Yeshurin, Dovid Pinski, biblyografye (Dovid Pinski, bibliography) (New York, 1961), offprint from Pinski’s Oysgeklibene shriftn (Selected writings), vol. 9 (Buenos Aires: Culture Congress of Argentina, 1961), contents on Pinski in Yiddish books, in Hebrew books, in collections, in readers, in textbooks, in Yiddish encyclopedias and biographical dictionaries, in foreign language encyclopedias and biographical dictionaries, and in foreign language books; Avrom Liessin, Zikhroynes un bilder (Memoirs and images) (New York, 1954); Avrom Lis, Heym un doyer, vegn shrayber un verk (Home and duration, on writers and work) (Tel Aviv: Y. L. Perets Library, 1960); Nakhmen Mayzil, Yitskhok-leybush perets un zayn dor shrayber (Yitskhok-Leybush Perets and his generation of writers) (New York, 1951); Mayzil, Tsurikblikn un perspektivn (Retrospectives and perspectives) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1962); Sh. Slutski, Avrom reyzen-biblyografye (Avrom Reyzen’s bibliography) (New York, 1956); Pinkex vashe (Records of Warsaw) (Buenos Aires, 1955); Yankev Fikhman, Regnboygn (Rainbow) (Buenos Aires, 1953); Shmerke katsherginski ondenk-bukh (Memorial volume for Shmerke Katsherginski) (Buenos Aires, 1955); Y. Kopilov, Amol un shpeter (Once and later) (Vilna: Altnay, 1932); L. Shpizman, Geshtaltn (Images) (Buenos Aires, 1962); Dovid pinsk tsum tsentn yortsayt (Dovid Pinski on the tenth anniversary of his death) (New York, 1969), 64 pp.; Yizkor, beasor lifetirat david pinski (Remembrance, on the tenth [year] since the death of Dovid Pinski) (Haifa, 1969), 72 pp.  Over the course of sixty-five years in Dovid Pinski’s creative pathway, numerous articles in the Yiddish daily press and periodicals—for performances of his plays, in honor of certain birthdays, and also obituaries in the Yiddish and Hebrew press as well as in foreign language Jewish newspapers throughout the world.

Y. M. Biderman