AVROM-YANKEV PAPYERNA (AVRAHAM-YAAKOV PAPIERNA) (August 31, 1840-1919)
He was born in Kapulye (Kopyl, Kapyl), Minsk district, Byelorussia. He studied in the Zhitomir rabbinical school and graduated from the Vilna rabbinical school in 1867. In 1868 he was appointed to be a teacher in the Russian Jewish school in Zakrotshin (Zakroczyn). In 1870 he settled in Plotsk (Płock), and he became there the manager of the Russian Jewish school and a teacher of Jewish religion in the local high schools. In Płock he undertook his pedagogical and Russification activities. In 1915 when the Russian army left Poland, he settled in the city of Odessa. At this time he was writing in both Russian and Hebrew. In 1867 he published in Hakarmel (The Carmel) in Vilna a series of articles “Kankan ḥadash male yashan” (A new jar full of old wine), in which he strongly criticized contemporary Hebrew literature. The series came out in book form in Vilna, and in 1868 his second collection “Hadrama bikhlal vehaivrit befrat” (Drama in general and Hebrew in particular) appeared in Odessa. In that same collection he sharply criticized Adam Hakohen [Levenzon]. Both collections were fiercely attacked, and Papierna withdrew from Hebrew literature. He returned in 1888 but this time with poetry, and in 1893 he published a satirical poem entitled “Mishle hazeman” (Proverbs for our time). He went on to write a pamphlet in Russian on religious elementary school (ḥeder) in general and those in Płock in particular. His memoirs in Russian were published in Perezhitoie (The past), issues 2 and 3. They appeared in a Yiddish translation by P. Rogovski (Warsaw, 1923), 214 pp. A portion of these memoirs were published in Hebrew in Naḥum Sokolov’s Sefer hashana (Year book) 1 and Reshumot (Gazette) 1 (pp. 148-64). In Yiddish Papierna published several Russian-Yiddish textbooks. According to Sokolov’s Sefer hazikaron (Remembrance volume), he brought out in Yiddish: Lehrbukh der russisher shprakhe nokh alendorfs metode (Textbook of the Russian language according to Allendorf’s method) (Warsaw, 1876); and Follshtendiker rusish-yidisher briefenshteller (Complete Russian-Yiddish letter-writing manual) (Warsaw, 1876). In the New York City Library may be found a copy of his Praktishes lehrbukh um grindlikh tsu erlernen di rusishe shprakhe nokh alendorfs metode (Practical textbook for basic mastery of the Russian language according to Allendorf’s method) (Warsaw, 1890). His article “Di ershte yidishe drame un der ershter yidisher spektakl, mayne erinerungen vegn a. goldfaden” (The first Yiddish drama and the first Yiddish spectacle, my experiences concerning A. Goldfaden) was published in Pinkes (Records) in Vilna (1913). He died in Odessa.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; M. Elkin, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (April 15, 1927); Max Weinreich, Bilder fun der yidisher literatur geshikhte (Studies in the history of Yiddish literature) (Vilna, 1928), see index; Y. Shatski, Yidishe bildungs-politik in poyln fun 1806 biz 1866 (Jewish educational politics in Poland from 1806 to 1866) (New York, 1943), pp. 191-92; Shatski, Geshikhte fun yidn in varshe (History of Jews in Warsaw), vol. 3 (New York: YIVO, 1953), see index; Yosef Klausner, Historiya shel hasifrut haivrit haḥadasha (History of modern Hebrew literature) (Jerusalem, 1940/1941), vol. 4, part 1, chapter 10; Y. Grinboym, Fun mayn dor (Of my generation) (Tel Aviv, 1959), pp. 386-90; Sh. Grinshpan, Yidn in plotsk (Jews in Płock) (New York, 1960), pp. 55-58; Yisroel Tsinberg, Di bli-tkufe fun der haskole (The flourishing period of the Jewish Enlightenment) (New York, 1966), see index.
Elye (Elias) Shulman