AVROM FRUMKIN (April 1873-April 29, 1940)
The son of Yisroel-Dov Frumkin and the brother of Gad Frumkin, he was born in Jerusalem. In 1889 he became a teacher of Arabic in Yisroel Belkind’s school in Jaffa. Around 1890 he left for Constantinople to study Turkish and law. He began writing for his father’s Haḥavatselet (The daffodil), as well as for Hamelits (The advocate) and Hatsfira (The siren). He debuted in print in Yiddish in 1896 in the anarchist serial Der arbayter fraynd (The worker’s friend) and was for a short time editor as well. In 1897 he published in London an anarchist serial, Der propagandist (The propagandist), of which roughly eleven numbers appeared. Between 1899 and 1904, he lived in New York and was a regular contributor to Forverts (Forward) and Di idishe velt (The Jewish world), as well as Chicago’s Hapisga (The summit). He later settled in Paris and was an active correspondent and writer (using the pen name Aviv) for Fraynd (Friend) in St. Petersburg. A few years later, he moved to London and took an active part there in the anarchist serials, Der arbayter fraynd and Der zherminal (Germinal), edited by Rudolf Rocker. In these he published numerous translations from modern European and Russian literature (as a rule, probably not from the original). Among his translations, the following books appeared in London, mostly from the presses of L. Fridman or “Arbayter fraynd”: Anton Chekhov’s comedies, Der ber (The bear [original: Medved’) and Der shidekh (The match [original: Predlozhenie]), published together (1905), 36 pp.; Henrik Ibsen’s drama, Di shtitsen fun der gezelshaft (The pillars of society [original: Samfundets støtter]) (1906), 109 pp., Di vilde ente (The wild duck [original: Vildanden]) (1910), Yohn gabriel berkman (John Gabriel Borkman), and Ven mir toyte ervakhen (When we dead awaken [original: Når vi døde vågner] (1906); Leonid Andreyev’s story, Azoy es iz geven (How it was); Maxim Gorky’s Dray menshen (Three men [original: Troe]), “Malva” (Malva [original: Mal’va]), “Der royter vaksa” (The red polish), Der khan un zayn son (The khan and his son [original: Khan i ego syn]), Di herren fun lebn (The masters of life [original: Khoziaeva zhizni]), and Di shtunden (The hours); Knut Hamsun’s novels, Hunger (Hunger [original: Sult]), Pan (Pan), and Misteryen (Mysteries [original: Mysterier]), and a collection of his short stories; Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson’s Ertsehlungen (Stories) (1909), 163 pp.; Gerhart Hauptmann’s drama, Eynzame menschen (Lonely people [original: Einsame Menschen]); Multatuli [pseud. Eduard Douwes Dekker], Liebes brief (Love letters) (1911), 194 pp.; Luize mishels lebens-beshaybung, geshriben fun ir aleyn (Louise Michel’s life story, written by herself [original: Mémoires de Louise Michel écrits par elle-même]) (1906); Israel Zangwill, Der eynzamer filozof, borekh shpinoza (The lonely philosopher, Baruch Spinoza), offprint from his series “Dreams of the Ghetto” (1907); Zangwill, Troymer fun ghetto (Dreamers of the Ghetto), 9 booklets (1909); John Henry Mackay, Di anarkhistn, kultur bilder fun 19-ten yorhundert (The Anarchists: A Picture of Civilization at the Close of the Nineteenth Century), 2 vols. (1908-1910); Octave Mirbeau’s drama, Gesheft iz gesheft (Business is business [original: Les Affaires sont les affaires] (1908), 162 pp.; Maurice Maeterlinck’s Der umgebetener gast (The uninvited guest [original: L’intruse (The intruder)]) (1906), Di blinde (The blind [original: Les aveugles]), and Mona vana (Mona Vana) (1909); Robert Louis Stevenson’s Mayselekh (Stories) and D”r dzhekel un m”r hayd (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), with B. Rouz (1911), 155 pp.; a volume of stories by Anatole France; Perets’s Di akhte opteylung in genehem un andere ertsehlungen (The eighth section of hell and other stories [original: Mador hashemini shebagehenom]), from Hebrew (1907), 103 pp.; Peter Kropotkin, Broyt un frayhayt (Bread and freedom [original: La Conquête du Pain]), with M. Katts (1906), 344 pp., Di anarkhistishe filozofye (The anarchist philosophy) (1907), 94 pp.; Elisée Reclus, Evolutsyon, revolutsyon un der anarkhistisher ideal (Evolution, revolution, and the anarchist ideal [original: Èvolution, la révolution et l'idéal anarchique]) (1908); Georg Büchner, Dantons toyt, a tragedye in dray aktn (Danton’s death, a tragedy in three acts [original: Dantons Tod]) (1905), 80 pp.; Stepniak-Kravchinski’s Dos untererdishe rusland (The underground Russia [original: Podpolʹnaya Rossiya]) (New York, 1921), 253 pp.; Rudolf Rocker’s Hinter grates (Behind bars); and Georg Brandes, Anatol frans (Anatole France), 54 pp.; among others. In Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor), he published his translation of Felix Hollaender’s “Der adoptirter zun” (The adopted son) and Bernard Kellerman’s “Benkshaft” (Nostalgia). Frumkin’s original work in book form would include: R’ yisroel bal-shem-tov, der grinder fun khsidizmus, zayn leben, tetigkeyt un filozofye (Rabbi Israel Bal-Shem-Tov, the founder of Hassidism, his life, activities, and philosophy) (New York, 1903), 40 pp.; In friling fun yidishn sotsyalizm, zikhroynes fun a zhurnalist (In the spring of Jewish socialism, the memoirs of a journalist) (New York, 1940), 404 pp. In addition, Frumkin participated in the Yiddish edition of Bernshteyn’s “Natur-visnshaftlekhe folks-bikher” (Popular books on natural science), published by L. Fridman (London, 1908-1913), in eighteen parts, which went through several editions—most of this was reworkings of the anarchist M. Shapiro. He also published an entire series of stories concerning Jewish life in the land of Israel and Turkey in Forverts, Arbayter fraynd, and elsewhere, and he published in a variety of American Yiddish periodicals “Mayselekh fun der gmore un medresh” (Tales from the Talmud and Midrash). During WWI he left London and moved to New York, and there he worked for the anarchist weekly Fraye arbeter-shtime. In his final years he worked for a provincial Yiddish newspaper in the United States, later for Tog (Day), initially writing articles about theater, later still a regular contributor and theater reviewer for Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal). He was among the first to introduce European writers into Yiddish literature. He died in New York.
“Frumkin, who was no great theoretician,” wrote A. R. Malachi, “but primarily a capable journalist with a novelist’s talent, placed greater weight on the living written word, an artist’s depiction, elucidation, and agitational material, than on the difficult theoretical treatments that the masses at that time lacked the capacity to understand properly.”
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; Khayim Aleksandrov, in Tsukunft (New York) (June 1907); Benyomen Finkel, in Tsayt (New York) (August 1920); Avrom Reyzen, in Tsukunft (March 1930); Reyzen, Epizodn fun mayn lebn (Episodes from my life) (Vilna, 1935), pp. 48-49; A. R. Malachi, in Hadoar (New York) (May 17, 1940); Malachi, in Fraye arbeter-shtime (New York) (January 1, 1960; February 1, 1960; February 15, 1960; March 1, 1960; July 1, 1960; August 1, 1960; August 15, 1960; September 15, 1960; October 1, 1960; October 15, 1960; December 1, 1960; December 15, 1960; January 15, 1961; April 15, 1966); B. Rivkin, in Yidishe velt (Philadelphia) (June 27, 1940); Shoyel Ginzburg, in Tsukunft (June 1940); Elye (Elias) Shulman, Geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur in amerike (History of Yiddish literature in America) (New York, 1943); Rudolf Rocker, in Fraye arbeter-shtime (July 30, 1948); Kh. Gotesfeld, in Forverts (New York) (December 18, 1958); G. Kressel, Mivḥar kitve yisroel dov frumkin (Selected works of Yisrael-Dov Frumkin) (Jerusalem, 1953/1954); Moyshe Shtarkman, in Hadoar (Sivan 4 [= May 23], 1947).