Sunday, 14 July 2019


            He was born in Malyat (Molėtai), Lithuania.  In 1889 he moved with his parents to Vilna.  He was one of the founders of the Jewish Democratic Party in Vilna, and 1919-1927 he was a representative on the Vilna city administration.  He was a cofounder of Vilner tog (Vilna day), for which he wrote articles on economic and social issues, as well as feature pieces on Jewish ways of life in Poland.  He contributed to Zalmen Reyzen’s Pinkes (Records) with articles on the Jewish economic position in central Lithuania.

Source: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4.
Berl Cohen


KHAYIM-NAKHMEN SHAPIRO (1895-December 8, 1943)
            He was a Hebrew literary historian, born in Minsk.  He was the son of the last Kovno rabbi, R. Avrom-Duber Shapiro.  He attended religious elementary school and yeshivas.  He studied philosophy and Semitic philology in Berlin and Vienna, where in 1925 he received his doctoral degree.  He was lecturer (1925-1930) and from 1931 a professor of Semitic languages at Kovno University.  He was also a leading Zionist in Lithuania.  During WWII he was in charge of illegal cultural and educational work in the Kovno ghetto.  He wrote mainly in Hebrew.  He wrote stories, journalistic articles, and research pieces—mainly in Gilyonot (Tablets), Haolam (The world) and Moznaim (Scales)—but he was principally concerned with his comprehensive book, Toldot hasifrut haivrit haadasha (History of modern Hebrew literature), planned to be 12 volumes but only volume 1 appeared (Tel Aviv, 1939), 582 pp.  The second volume was prepared for the published but was lost in the ghetto.  In Yiddish he wrote mainly for the Kovno daily newspaper Idishe shtime (Jewish voice)—on literary and Zionist topics.  A longer work, entitled “Der vezentlekher untersheyd tsvishn der alter and nayer literatur” (The essential difference between ancient and modern literature), published in the collection Gedanken un lebn (Ideas and life) (Kovno, 1935), pp. 27-47.  In book form in Yiddish: Der algemeyner tsienist (The general Zionist) (Kovno, 1936), 171 pp.  He died in the Kovno ghetto.

Sources: Getzel Kressel, Leksikon hasifrut haivrit (Handbook of Hebrew literature), vol. 2 (Merḥavya, 1967); Z. Shuster, in Litvisher yid (New York) (March 1945); Shenaton davar tsh”h (Davar yearbook for 1944/1945) (Tel Aviv, 1945/1946), pp. 557-58; Leib Garfunkel, Kovna hayehudit beurbana (Jewish Kovno in the Holocaust) (Jerusalem, 1959), see index; Lite (Lithuania) (New York, 1951), see index; Yahadut lita (Jewish Lithuania), 3 vols. (Tel Aviv, 1959-1972), see index; Genazim (Tel Aviv) (Nisan [= April-May] 1973), pp. 745-51.
Ruvn Goldberg

(Translator's note. For more information on his life and work, see:


KHAVE SHAPIRO (January 10, 1879-February 28, 1943)
            She was [primarily] a Hebrew writer, born in Slavuta, Volhynia.  She graduated from university in Berne in 1901.  She lived in Berlin, Russia, and Prague (from 1919).  She wrote stories, sketches, and literary articles for numerous Hebrew serial publications.  Her journalistic activities in Yiddish began with Unzer leben (Our life) in Odessa, and she later wrote for Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal.  She died in Theresienstadt.

Source: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4.

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 515.


            He wrote for: Folks-tsaytung (People’s newspaper) and Vokhnshrift far literatur un kunst (Weekly writings for literature and art) in Warsaw.  In book form: Siluetn, bilder fun gefangen-lager (Silhouettes, images from a POW camp) (Warsaw: Gitlin, 1920), 155 pp.

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 515.


GERSHON SHAPIRO (1886-January 5, 1962)
            He was born in Shklov (Szkłów), Byelorussia.  From the 1920s he was living in Berlin and from 1933 in Paris.  He was a territorialist.  He was editor and publisher of the quarterly Frayland (Freeland) (1952-1961).  He also wrote sketches about life in Szkłów from times past.  He died in Paris.

Source: Mikhl Astur, in Afn shvel (New York) (March 2, 1962).
Beyle Gottesman


ALEKSANDER SHAPIRO (August 15, 1884-July 12, 1972)
            He was born and grew up in Rovno, Volhynia.  In 1905 he emigrated to the United States.  He was active in Histadruth.  His books include: A khoydesh in yisroel, mit der ershter histadrut folk-delegatsye (A month in Israel, with the first people’s delegation from Histadruth) (New York, 1950), 139 pp.; A folk vert banayt (A people are renewed) (New York, 1952), 330 pp.; Yisroel, der eybiker khidesh, mit der finfter histadrut folks-delegatsye (Israel, the eternal marvel, with the fifth people’s delegation from Histadruth) (New York, 1963), 203 pp., with 56 images.  He died in Newton.

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 515.


IZO SHAPIRO (February 24, 1903-April 4, 1981)
            He was born in Shots (?), Bukovina.  He received a traditional education.  In the mid-1930s he left for Paris where he was active in PYAT (Parizer Yidisher Arbeter-teater, Parisian Yiddish workers’ theater).  He took part in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and in 1944 amidst the Romanian partisans against the Nazis.  After the war he was again active in Yiddish theater.  Earlier in Bucharest and from 1949 in Jassy (Iași), he was for thirteen years director of the local Yiddish state theater.  He wrote reviews of theatrical performances and books in the trilingual Tsaytshrift (Periodical) in Bucharest and elsewhere.  He was the author of: Alef iz an odler, roman (Alef is an eagle, a novel) (Bucharest: Kriteryon, 1979), 177 pp.; and Masoes benyomen harevie (Travels of Benjamin IV), a poem (Bucharest: Kriteryon, 1983), 145 pp.  He co-edited Bukareshter shriftn (Bucharest writings), vol. 3 (Bucharest, 1980).  He died in Bucharest.

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 515.]


            He was the author of: Der nayer sort khsides (The new variety of Hassidism) (1921), 8 pp.; Far vos veren iden geshtroft? (Why are Jews punished?) (1925), 3 pp.; Farshteht zikh zelbst, 50 lektsyes vegen menshlikher psikhologye in ale ire shatirungen un farben (Understand yourself, fifty lessons on human psychology in all of its hue and colors) (1926), 8 pp.; Der idisher gayst, a plan vegen dos shafen a idishe akademye in erets-yisroel (The Jewish spirit, a plan for the creation of a Jewish academy in the land of Israel) (1926), 8 pp.; Untervegens shas (Ways of the Talmud) (1927), 32 pp.; Der program fun dem nayem bez-dn (The program for a new rabbinical court) (1926), 10 pp.; Oys ekonomisher krizis (Out of the economic crisis) (1928), 8 pp.; Dos eybige likht (The eternal light)—all in London.  He edited: inukh hadat vehadaat (Education in religion and general knowledge) (Hebrew-Yiddish) (Berlin, 1912/1913); Patshegen ktav hadat (Digest of writing on religion) (Hebrew-Yiddish) (London, 1918); Gut morgen (Good morning) (London: 2 issues, May 1928 and February 1933); Der yom hadin (The day of judgment) (London, 1930); Der velt doktor (The world doctor) (Yiddish-English) (London, 1933); Di londoner fraye prese (The London free press) (London, 1933); Der folks tsaytung (The people’s newspaper) (London, 1937?).  He translated into Yiddish tractate Berakhot (Creation) of the Talmud (London, 1922).  He died in London

Source: Leonard Prager, A Bibliography of Yiddish Periodicals in Great Britain (1867-1967) (Cincinnati, 1969), nos. 16, 101, 125, 163ff.
Berl Cohen

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 514.]


            He was the author of Meylits yoysher fun dem heyligen tsadik leyvi yitskhok fun barditshov (Messenger of justice, from the holy sage Leyvi-Yitskhok of Berdichev), part 1 (Israel, 1940s), 48 pp.

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 514.


MIRIAM SHOMER-TSUNZER (November 25, 1882-October 11, 1951)
            She was born in Odessa, the daughter of Shomer (Nokhum-Meyer Shaykevitsh).  She graduated from university in New York.  She was a lecturer on art.  She was a delegate to the first Jewish congress in the United States, and she was an active Zionist.  In 1903 she debuted in print in the English section of Di idishe velt (The Jewish world).  She wrote prose poetry and miniatures in Tog (Day), Avrom Reyzen’s Dos naye land (The new land), and a chapter of memoirs in Yivo-bleter (Pages from YIVO) (XXXIII) concerning Jewish literary New York at the beginning of the twentieth century.  She authored: the plays Der alef-beys (The ABCs) and Man un vayb (Man and wife), which were not staged; and the two one-act dramas Der farkishefter kval (The enchanted spring), a fantasy (19 pp.) and Dem tatens matone (The father’s gift), a children’s play (14 pp.)—both undated.  Her English-language book Yesterday (New York, 1939) depicts three generations of her family.  For other bio-bibliographical details, see entry for her sister Riza Shomer-Batshelis:  She died in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, leksikon, vol. 4; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 3 (New York, 1959).
Beyle Gottesman

Friday, 12 July 2019


ROZA SHOMER-BATSHELIS (February 12, 1882-February 26, 1966)
            The daughter of Shomer (Nokhum-Meyer Shaykevitsh), she was born in Odessa.  In 1891 she joined her father in New York.  She graduated from high school and completed Eastman Business College.  She worked in commercial and philanthropic associations, and she was an active Zionist.  In 1929 she settled in Los Angeles.  From time to time, she wrote for Tog (Day), Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture), and Kalifornyer yontef bleter (California holiday sheets) on her father, her brother Avrom Shomer (Abraham Schomer), and other well-known Jewish personalities.  In book form: Unzer foter shomer (Our father Shomer), with her sister Miriam (New York: IKUF, 1950), 251 pp., in Hebrew translation by Aharon Vaysman as Avinu shomer (Jerusalem: Aḥiasaf, 1953), 200 pp.; Vi ikh hob zey gekent, portretn fun bavuste idishe perzenlekhkeytn (How I knew them, portraits of well-known Jewish personalities) (Los Angeles, 1955), 154 pp.  She published poetry by her father in Hebrew: Shire shomer vezikhronotav (Poems of Shomer and memoirs) (Jerusalem: Aḥiasaf, 1952), 232 pp.  She authored a drama entitled Vayb oder mame (Wife or mother) and completed Shomer’s play Der zindiker rov (The sinner rabbi) under the title Dos kol fun gevisn (The voice of conscience).  Together with her sister Miriam Shomer-Tsunzer, she composed several plays which were staged: Eyne fun folk (One of the people), Di makht fun gezets (The power of the law) which was initially dubbed Di hent fun gezets (The hands of the law), Di tsirkus meydl (The circus girl) which was initially called Ver iz di meydl (Where is the girl), Der zingendiker ganef (The singing thief), and Der apashe-tants, oder libes-tants (The apache dance or the dance of love).  She also wrote for English-language periodicals.  She died in Los Angeles.

Sources: Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 3 (New York, 1959); B. Grin, in Morgn frayhayt (New York) (June 12, 1955); Yankev Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (November 4, 1955); Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York)
Beyle Gottesman


AVROM SHOMER (ABRAHAM S. SCHOMER) (August 2, 1876-August 16, 1946)
            He was a playwright and a journalist, born in Pinsk, the son of Shomer (Nokhum-Meyer Shaykevitsh).  He was raised in Pinsk, Odessa, and Vilna, where he studied in religious elementary schools, municipal schools, and with private tutors.  In 1890 he emigrated with his parents to the United States.  He graduated in 1900 from New York University as a lawyer.  In 1934 he settled in Los Angeles.
            He was very active in Jewish community life, such as: a cofounder of HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) and of the committee to aid victims of the Kishinev pogrom, a member of the American Zionist Executive, active as well in general liberal political life in America.  He was the father of the idea of a democratically-elected world Jewish congress which years later came into existence.  He wrote pamphlets to propagandize this idea: Vi mir kenen zikh helfen, an oyflezung fun der idisher frage, adresirt tsu ale iden (How we can help ourselves, a solution of the Jewish question, addressed to all Jews)[1] (New York, 1906), 30 pp.; A plan far der grindung fun a permanenten internatsyonalen idishen kongres (A plan for the establishment of a permanent international Jewish congress) (1909); and a series of articles with such titles as: “Vos iz der kampf fun idishen folk?” (What is the struggle of the Jewish people?), “”Di idishe frage in likht fun yurisprudents” (The Jewish question in light of jurisprudence), “Di idishe frage in dem likht fun psikhologye” (The Jewish question in the light of psychology), “Idishe natsyonale organizatsyes un dos idishe folk” (Jewish national organizations and the Jewish people), “Di idishe heymland un di idishe frage” (The Jewish homeland and the Jewish question).  Also, [in English]: The Primary Cause of Antisemitism: An Answer to the Jewish Question (New York: Israel Pub. Co., 1909), 162 pp.; The Jewish National Homeland and the Jewish Question: An Inquiry and a Warning Addressed to Jewish Leaders (1920), 4 pp.; and other writings.
            More than fifteen years before he was publishing anything on the Jewish question, Shomer began (in 1893) his literary activities with humorous stories and articles about American citizenship and its governmental system.  His work appeared in: Der idisher pok (The Jewish Puck), Abend-post (Evening mail), Dos naye lebn (The new life), Dos naye land (The new land), Literatur un leben (Literature and life), Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper), and Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal); among other serials.  In English: American Hebrew (New York); and Jewish Tribune.  He wrote a great number of plays for the Yiddish theater and a number for the American stage: Der bal-tshuve (The penitent); Afn yam, oder in elis ayland (On the sea or at Ellis Island), also known as The Yellow Passport on stage and in a 1916 silent movie; Di alraytnikes (The upstarts); Der yunger dor (The young generation), adapted from H. Heierman’s Keten-glieder (?); Borekh dayen haemes (Blessed is the judge of truth [said upon learning of someone’s death]), adapted from Traumulus (Dreamer) by Arno Holz and Oskar Jerschke; Klore meshugoim (Downright crazies); Der sod (The secret); Stayl (Style), made into a film years later entitled “Today”; Dos gayster hoyz (The house of spirits [A Doll’s House]); Hatekufe (The era); Der kamf (The struggle); Point of Order.  His greatest success came with: Aykele mazik (Mischievous little Ike), which was also included in world’s Yiddish theatrical repertoire; and the comedy Der groyser milyoner (The great millionaire).  He also wrote four scenarios for his “The Schomer-Ross Motion Picture Company” (which existed for two years, 1919-1920): The Sacred Flame, Ruling Passions, The Hidden Light, and The Chamber Mystery.

            “His dramas,” noted Sholem Perlmuter, “has tense, difficult material, although he created many of them with lovely effects and simple means….  The success of his plays consisted of their theatricality.”  He died in Los Angeles.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, leksikon, vol. 4; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 3 (New York, 1959); Sholem Perlmuter, Idishe dramaturgn un teater kompozitors (Yiddish playwrights and composers) (New York, 1952); Roza Shomer-Batshelis, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (July 19, 1956).
Berl Cohen

[1] Translator’s note.  It was published the following years in English as: How We Can Help Ourselves: A Logical Solution of the Jewish Question Addressed to All Israel (New York, 1907), 16 pp. (JAF)


FUME (FAYVL) SHAMES (1901-1971)
            He was born in Zhitomir and lived there in the 1920s, while also active in Kiev Yiddish literary circles.  In 1924 he graduated from the socio-economic faculty of the Volhynian institute for people’s education in his hometown.  He was a teacher in various school in Zhitomir: 1921-1923, a teacher in the technical school, 1924-1928 in a pedagogical technical school, and 1928-1941 in the pedagogical institute.  He was also (1932-1940) a guest lecturer in the Kiev pedagogical institute.  In 1940 he defended a dissertation and became a candidate in philological science.  At the start of WWII, he was evacuated to Uzbekistan and lectured (1941-1944) in the department of the theory and history of Russian literature in the Andijan teachers’ institute.  He lived in Moscow (1944-1946) and was a senior scholarly contributor and administrator in a sector of the state’s literary museum.  In 1946 he moved to Ivanova, where until 1965 he worked in the Ivanova pedagogical institute.  Together with Dovid Hofshteyn, he wrote and carried out jointly literary projects, and he published books and literary critical articles in: Royte velt (Red world) 9 (1926), 8-9 (1927); Shtern (Star) 7-10 (1926); Di yidishe shprakh (The Yiddish language) 7 (1927); and Prolit (Proletarian literature); among other serials.  He co-authored a series of textbooks on literature: Literatur-kentenish, poetik (Knowledge of literature, poetics), with Dovid Hofshteyn (Moscow: Central Publ., 1928), part 1; Teorye fun literatur, poetik (Theory of literature, poetics), with Hofshteyn (Kharkov: Ukrainian State Publ., 1930), 222 pp.; Hantbukh far yidisher literatur (Handbook for Yiddish literature), with Oyzer Holdes (Kharkov: Central Publ., 1931), 320 pp.; Shprakh un literatur (Language and literature), with Yitskhok Rodak, Khayim Loytsker, M. Gelbman, and Oyzer Holdes (Kharkov: Central Publ., 1931), unpaginated; Literatur khrestomatye farn 7tn lernyor fun der politekhnisher shul (Literature reader for the seventh school year in the polytechnical school), with Holdes (Kharkov-Kiev: USSR state publishers for national minorities, 1933), 343 pp., second printing (1934); Literatur, lernbukh farn 7tn klas (Literature, textbook for the seventh class), with Holdes (Kharkov-Kiev: USSR state publishers for national minorities, 1935), 122 pp., second printing (1936); Lernbukh af literatur farn 7tn klas (Textbook for literature for the seventh class) (Kharkov-Kiev: USSR state publishers for national minorities, 1935), 322 pp.; Literatur lernbukh farn VII klas (Literature textbook for the seventh class), with Avrom Abtshuk and Holdes (Kharkov-Kiev: USSR state publishers for national minorities, 1934), 232 pp.

Source: Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1962), see index.
Dovid-Noyekh Miller

[Additional information from: Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), pp. 372-73.]


            He was the author of Mayne finf un tsvantsig yor mit di idishe beker, 1914-1939 (My twenty-five years with Jewish bakers, 1914-1939) (New York: Specialty bakery owners of America, 1939), 283 pp.

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 514.


            He was born (first name: Sholem) in Kretshme (?), near Zvihil (Novohrad-Volynskyy), Volhynia.  He was raised in Kaminebrod (Kam’yanyi Brid).  For a short time, he worked as a teacher in the community.  He worked for many years in factories in Odessa and other cities.  From 1909 he was publishing impressions in: Naye velt (New world) in Warsaw; Gut-morgen (Good morning), Unzer leben (Our life), and Odeser arbeter (Odessa laborer) in Odessa; and in the Soviet Yiddish press.  He published the booklet: Frihlingsfunken (Sparks of spring), poetry (Odessa: Yugend, 1912), 16 pp.

Source: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4.
Berl Cohen


            He was a translator of classical and Soviet Yiddish literature into Russian.  His first publications appeared in the 1930s.  He was particularly successful translating Sholem-Aleichem.  He died in Moscow.

Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), p. 372.


            He was the author of Der rakhmones, oder di erbaremung (Sympathy or pity), poetry (Vilna: M. Sh.” Sh, 1881), 96 pp.
Berl Cohen


ARN SHALMAN (March 5, 1875-June 17, 1952)
            He was a journalist, born in Kherson.  He attended religious elementary school and synagogue study hall until age fourteen.  Later, he settled in Novo-Vorontsovke (Novo-Vorontsovka) and in 1909 made his way to Rosario, Argentina.  He was active in the Zionist movement and in other Jewish associations.  He began writing correspondence pieces and articles for Argentiner vokhenblat (Argentinian weekly newspaper), later contributing mainly to Yiddish publications in Argentina, especially to the dailies Idishe tsaytung (Jewish newspaper) and Di prese (The press) in Buenos Aires.  At the beginning of 1921, he founded and edited Unzer shpigl (Our mirror) (six issues), and in February 1924 the weekly Der veker (The alarm) which from issue 15 changed editors and title to Rozaryer volhenblat (Rosario weekly newspaper), later still to Rozaryer lebn (Rosaio life).  In 1930 he purchased the newspaper and edited it for eleven years.  He died in Rosario, Argentina.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Baehrungs broshur lekoved h’ arn shalman, far zayn langyoriker gezelshaftlikher un zhurnalistisher tetikayṭ in rozaryo (Brochure honoring Mr. Arn. Shalman, for his many years of community and journalistic activities in Rosario) (Buenos Aires, 1942); Idishe tsaytung (Buenos Aires) (June 25, 1972).
Beyle Gottesman


MOYSHE SHALIT (December 22, 1885-July 29, 1941)
            He came from a well-to-do family.  He attended a religious elementary school and graduated from a Russian public school.  For a short time, he studied in Königsberg.  He acquired his main education and knowledge through self-education.  He was active as a Sejmist, later as a Labor Zionist.  He was arrested on several occasions for his political work.  He worked as a teacher of Yiddish literature in the Vilna Perets school (1909-1912).  As a representative of “Khevre mefitse haskole” (Society for the promotion of Enlightenment), he was a cofounder of Jewish schools in Vilna, a teacher at the first such school with Yiddish as the language of instruction (1915), a lecturer in the pedagogical and technical courses of study (1915-1917), and as a Labor Zionist representative on the Vilna Jewish city council.  As secretary-general of Yekopo (Yevreyskiy komitet pomoshchi zhertvam voyny—“Jewish Relief Committee for War Victims”), from 1918 he directed broad societal work for the construction of over one hundred ruined Jewish communities in the Vilna region.  He was an active member of the boards of ORT (Association for the Promotion of Skilled Trades) and OZE (Obschestvo zdravookhraneniia evreev—Society for the Protection of the Health of the Jewish Population), chairman of the association of Jewish cooperatives in Poland and of HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) central in Poland, a member of the executive of “Emigdirekt” (emigration directorate) in Berlin, of the council of the joint Jewish Emigrant Aid Society-Jewish Cultural Association-Emigdirekt in Paris, and of the main council for the welfare of Jewish orphans in Poland, as well as on the administration of Jewish Historical-Ethnographic Society (1919-1939), the Yiddish PEN Club, the association of journalists and writers, and other central and local Jewish organizations.
            Shalit’s written work was mostly tied up with his social activities.  He began in 1906 with a monograph in Russian on Bilu (Palestine pioneers, a movement to settle Jews in the land of Israel): Biluitsy, stranitsa iz istorii natsional’nogo probuzhdeniia evreev (Biluists, a page from the history of the national awakening of the Jews) (Vilna), 28 pp.; a shortened Yiddish version appeared under the title Biluitses (Biluists) (Ekaterinoslav: Zionist Organization, 1917).  He also reviewed books (mainly on the nationality question) in the journal Kniga (Book) in St. Petersburg.  At that time he began writing journalistic and literary criticism in Dr. Lurye’s Dos yudishe folk (The Jewish people) (1906-1908), and in 1909 he contributed to Yidishe tsaytung (Jewish newspaper) in Vilna.  He edited or co-edited a string of Yiddish newspapers and journals in Vilna: the collection Folk un land (People and land) (1910), 102 pp.; Folks-blat (People’s newspaper) (1911), with Dovid Eynhorn; the collection Luekh kadime (Advancement calendar) (1911/1912), with B. A. Goldberg; Dos yudishe vort, a literarishe khrestomatye tsum lezen in di eltere grupen fun obend-shulen un in der heym (The Jewish word, a literary reader to read with the older groups in evening schools and in the home), with Moyshe Olgin (1912), 467 pp., seven editions through 1919 and one in Kiev (1919)—actually edited by Shalit and Y. Tsipkin.  In 1914 he was in New York, editing Zhitlovsky’s Dos naye leben (The new life).  After returning to Vilna, he served as editor of the local daily newspaper Der fraynd (The friend) (July 1914-March 1915), Letste nayes (Latest news) (1916, 1918), Yidishe tsaytung (1919), Vilner zamlbukh (Vilna anthology) (1916, 1918, 2 vols., under general editor Tsemekh Shabad), and the weekly Unzer osed (Our future), published by Tseire-tsiyon (Zionist youth) of Lithuania (1918), with Shmuel-Leyb Tsitron.  He additionally edited the following publications out of Vilna: Leben, heften far literatur, kunst un publitsidtik (Life, notebooks for literature, art, and journalism) (1920-1922, 10 issues); Unzer hilf (Our relief), organ of YEKOPO committee (1921-1932); Populerer folks-luekhl, far gmiles-khsodim kases un andere gezelshaftlekhe institutsyes (Popular people’s calendar, offices for interest-free loans and other community institutions); Fun yor tsu yor, ilustrirter gezelshaftlekher luekh (From year to year, illustrated community calendar) (1926-1929); Di ekonomishe lage fun di yidn in poyln un di yidishe kooperatsye, artiklen un materyaln (The economic situation of Jews in Poland and Jewish cooperatives, articles and materials) (1926), 160 pp.; Af di hurves fun milhomes un mehumes, pinkes fun gegnt-komitet “yekopo” 1919-1931 (On the ruins of wars and turmoil, records of the regional committee YEKOPO, 1919-1931), reports, articles, research pieces, materials, and documents (1931), 1146 columns; Almanakh fun yidishn literatur- un zhurnalistn-farayn (Almanac of the Jewish writers’ and journalists’ association) (1938), 160 pp.  He also edited: Fun noentn over, kultur-historisher dray-khadoshim zhurnal (From the recent past, cultural-historical quarterly journal) (Warsaw, 1937-1939); and Danyel tsharni bukh (Volume for Daniel Charney) (Paris, 1939), 284 pp.  In addition he placed work in: Razsvet (Dawn) in St. Petersburg (1911); Di idishe velt (The Jewish world) in St. Petersburg (1912) and Vilna (1913); the daily newspaper Dos folk (The people) in Vilna (1915); Dos naye leben in New York (1908-1914); Bikher-velt (Book world) in Warsaw (1928-1929); Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves) in Warsaw (1925-1939); the anthology Vilne (Vilna) (New York, 1935); Vilner almanakh (Vilna almanac) (1939); and Kovno’s Idishe shtime (Jewish voice) (1940), in which he published his final articles (February 4, April 11, June 7); among others.  Other books include: Vilner kulturele anshtalten, biblyoteken, shulen (Vilna’s cultural institutions, libraries [and] schools) (Vilna, 1916), 56 pp.; Literarishe etyudn (Literary studies), ed. Sh. Shreberk (Vilna, 1920), 82 pp.; Lukhes in unzer literatur (Calendars in our literature) (Vilna: Altnay, 1929), 47 pp.  His pen names include: M., Sh., M. Sh., M. Zalmenson, and Jew.  Under the Nazi occupation, Shalit was asked to be a member of the first Jewish Council in Vilna.  He refused, stating that given his anti-Nazi articles, he could not assume such a position.  His assessment was accurate; on July 29, 1941 the Gestapo arrested him in his home.  He was murdered in Ponar.

Sources: Autobiographical notes left by Shalit; Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Morgn zhurnal (New York) (April 10, 1927); Shmerke Katsherginski, Khurbn vilne (The Holocaust in Vilna) (New York, 1947), pp. 215-16; Hirsh Abramovitsh, in Tsukunft (New York) (March 1954); Abramovitsh, Farshvundene geshtaltn (Disappearing images) (Buenos Aires: Farband fun poylishe yidn, 1958), pp. 186-92; Yahadut lita (Jews of Lithuania), 3 vols. (Tel Aviv, 1966/1967), p. 246; Leyzer Ran, Yerusholaim delite, ilustrirt un dokumentirt (Jerusalem of Lithuania, illustrated and documented), vol. 3 (New York, 1975), see index.
Leyzer Ran

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 514.]


LEYVI SHALIT (August 2, 1918-1994)
            He was a journalist, born in Samara (Kuibyshev), Russia.  He studied at the Telz and Slabodka yeshivas, later in a German school in Memel.  He went on to study law at Munich University.  He was active Zionist.  He survived the Shavel (Šiauliai) ghetto, where he was among the founders of the underground organization “Masada,” and the Dachau Concentration Camp.  He spent several years with survivors in Germany, and from 1952 he was living in Johannesburg.  He began writing for the Yiddish newspapers in Kovno.  He founded and edited Unzer veg (Our way) in Munich (August 1945), organ of Holocaust survivors in Germany (later edited by Ruvn Rubinshteyn).  He published in various Yiddish newspapers and journals.  He also wrote poetry and stories.  In book form: Meshiekh-troymen in leyviks dramatishe poemes (Messianic dreams in Leivick’s dramatic poems) (Munich: Eynzam, 1947), 62 pp.; Azoy zaynen mir geshorbn (So we died) (Munich, 1949), 332 pp.; A yid in der velt (A Jew in the world) (Johannesburg: Afrikaner yidisher tsaytung, 1972), 275 pp., which also appeared in Hebrew; Tsaytn dertseyln (The times recount), essays (Johannesburg: Afrikaner yidisher tsaytung, 1974), 260 pp., also in Russian (1972) and English (1975).  Among his pen names: Sh. Leyvi, Ben-Elkhonen, Ekhad, and Bar Bar Khone.

Sources: H. Leivick, Mit der sheyres-hapleyte (With the survivors) (New York, 1947); Khayim Liberman, in Forverts (New York) (September 16, 1955); Dovid Volpe, in Afirkaner yidishe tsaytung (Joahnnesburg) (Rosh Hashana, 1972).
Dovid Volpe

Thursday, 11 July 2019


NOSN SHAKHNOVSKI (ca. 1877-October 16, 1964)[1]
            He was born in Kremenchug, Ukraine, descended from poor Hassidic parents.  After WWI he moved to Berlin and in 1935 settled in Paris.  For fifteen years he collected everywhere Yiddish folksongs and their melodies.  During the Nazi occupation of Paris, he was freed from Gestapo arrest by a miracle.  In 1958 a portion of his collected materials were published in book form under the title Lider gezungen fun folk (Songs sung by the people) (Paris: Natan), 78 pp.  He died in New York.

Source: Sh. Shmulevitsh, in Forverts (New York) (December 10, 1955).
Berl Cohen

[1] Translator’s note. WorldCat give his first name as Nokhum (Naum, etc,). (JAF)


            He received his doctoral degree in philosophy from Columbia University in New York and a doctoral degree in Hebrew literature from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.  He was a rabbi in Columbus (Ohio), Dorchester and Boston (Massachusetts), and Yonkers, New York.  In book form: Redner un denker, droshes far ale idishe yamim-toyvim un andere gelegnheytn (Preacher and thinker, sermons for all Jewish holidays and other occasions), part 1 (New York: Pardes, 1933), 160 pp.  He also published scholarly books in English.

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), cols. 513-14.


FABIUS SHAKH (February 5, 1868-1930)
            He was born in Vekshne (Viekšniai), Lithuania.  He attended religious elementary school and yeshivas.  He passed his high school subjects in Riga.  In 1893 he completed his studies at the University of Berlin, before settling in Köln and later Karlsruhe.  He began his literary work in German.  As a journalist and critic, he contributed to Yud (Jew) in Warsaw, several articles in Fraynd (Friend) in St. Petersburg-Warsaw, and Avrom Reyzen’s Yorbukh progres (Yearbook for Progres [Progress]).  After a break of twenty years, he returned to journalistic work in Yiddish in Zalmen Reyzen’s Vilner tog (Vilna day).  He died in Berlin.

Source: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4.

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 513.


            The author of poetry and stories, he was born in Lentshits (Łęczyca), Poland.  He came from a poor and devout family.  He moved to Lodz, and there he learned to make gloves.  He was confined in the Lodz ghetto, where both his father and mother died.  His wife and small daughter were led to their deaths in 1942, and in 1944 he was deported to Auschwitz, then to Kaufering Concentration Camp where he died of typhus shortly before the camp was liberated.  He debuted in print with three poems in Lodzher veker (Lodz alarm) on May 30, 1933.  That same year he published more poems in the same outlet, expressions of a revolutionary spirit.  He also placed stories there, as well as in: Nayer folksblat (New people’s newspaper), Foroys (Onward) in Warsaw, Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper), and Vokhnblat far literatur (Weekly paper for literature), among other serials.  His work also appeared in: Binem Heler, Dos lid iz geblibn, lider fun yidishe dikhter in poyln, umgekumene beys der hitlerisher okupatsye, antologye (The poem remains, poems by Jewish poets in Poland, murdered during the Hitler occupation, anthology) (Warsaw, 1951); Joseph Leftwich, The Golden Peacock (London, 1961); and Hubert Witt, Der Fiedler vom Getto: Jiddische Dichtung aus Polen (The fiddler of the ghetto, Yiddish poetry from Poland) (Leipzig, 1966, 1978).  Shortly before the outbreak of war, Shayevitsh was supposed to have published a book of stories entitled Blenkitne (there was a notice to this effect in the June 1939 issue of Literarishe bleter [Literary leaves]).  The book has already gone to press, but it was not distributed due to the war’s eruption.  Right in the ghetto, where he lived in terrible need and in the shadow of the greatest calamity to his family, there blossomed forth his poetic talent.  Shayevitsh’s poems about the Lodz ghetto—Lekh-lekha (Be gone) and Friling tsh”b (Spring 1942) (Lodz: Tsentrale yidishe historishe komisye baym tsentral-komitet fun poylishe yidn, 1946), 71 pp.—were discovered in January 1945 in the Lodz ghetto (Lekh-lekha in two variants, both signed “S. Shayev,” and under this name all of his earlier published poems).  Witnesses (Khave Rozenfarb, Mrs. Itsinger-Shnur) recount that in the ghetto Shayevitsh wrote another long poem, entitled Srol nobel (Israel Nobel), on the mass murder of Jews, which made a deep impact on listeners.  It was not published.  Also, his diary from the ghetto was lost.  In Khave Rozenfarb’s trilogy, Der boym fun lebn (The tree of life) (Tel Aviv, 1972), Shayevitsh is represented by the figure of Sh. B. Berkovitsh.  Concerning Lekh-lekha, H. Leivick wrote: “It is a poem of high caliber, that could only have been written in the ghetto and at the threshold of the sentence of death.”  “Both rescued poems,” noted Ber Mark, “…belong to the best of creative works, the Yiddish poetry produced from the dark era of ghetto and death.”

Sources: H. Leivick, in Zamlbikher (New York) 7 (1948), p. 446; Yitskhok Goldkorn, Lodzher portretn, umgekumene yidishe shrayber un tipn (Portraits of Lodz. Murdered Yiddish writers and types) (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1963), pp. 104-14; Shimen-Dovid Zinger, in Unzer veg (New York) (April 1966); Khave Rozenfarb, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 81 (1973); Ber Mark, Di umgekumene shrayber fun di getos un lagern (The murdered writers from the ghettos and camps) (Warsaw: Yidish-bukh, 1954), pp. 172-76; Khayim Leyb Fuks, Lodzh shel mayle, dos yidishe gaystiḳe un derhoybene lodzh, 100 yor yidishe un oykh hebreishe literatur un kultur in lodzh un in di arumiḳe shtet un shtetlekh (Lodz on high, the Jewish spiritual and elevated Lodz, 100 years of Yiddish and also Hebrew literature and culture in Lodz and in the surrounding cities and towns) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1972), see index.
Dr. Nakhmen Blumental


            He was prose writer who lived in the 1920s in the southern city of Balta, where over the course of three years he ran the local Jewish school and published stories in the press.  He moved to Kiev in the early 1930s and became a contributor to the editorial board of the newspaper Proletarishe fon (Proletarian banner).  While still living in Balta, he published the prose volume Der poyker (The drummer).  His second book of stories appeared in 1932: Afn buksir, dertseylungen un bilder (On the tugboat, stories and images) (Kharkov-Kiev, 1932), 112 pp.  It reinforced his place in literary circles as a talented prose writer.  His stories and novellas were published in such journals as: Prolit (Proletarian literature) 8 (1931); Der shtern (The star); and Oktyabr (October).  His novel Di azyatke (The [female] Asian) (Moscow: Emes), 198 pp., was published in 1933, under the editorship of the literary scholar and novelist Meyer Viner.  The action in the novel takes place in Bessarabia in the 1920s and depicts the bitter condition of Jewish poverty under the yoke of the Romanian boyars.  His work also appeared in Shlakhtn (Battles) (Kharkov-Kiev, 1932).  In the latter half of the 1930s, Shayevitsh was accused of “Trotskyist deviationism.”  In the Yiddish press, his name was rebuked, and what happened thereafter to the writer thereafter remains publicly unknown

Source: Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1962), see index.
Berl Cohen

[Additional information from: Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), p. 372.]


YUDE-HIRSH SHAYAK (April 10, 1892-August 7, 1958)
            A journalist and author of stories, he was born in Vlotslavek (Włocławek), Poland.  He received a religious education.  At age twelve he entered public school where he studied Russian, Polish, and German.  He lost a foot in electrotechnical work.  He worked as a teacher of Yiddish and Polish.  He lived in Warsaw, Paris, London, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Berlin, and Danzig.  In 1939 he settled in Sydney, Australia.  He debuted in print in 1912 with poems and stories in the weekly newspaper Der telegraf (The telegraph) in London, as well as articles and reviews in Tsayt (Times) in London and Lodzer tageblat (Lodz daily newspaper).  He co-edited the literary monthly Yugend shtrahlen (Youth beams [of light]) in London (5 issues) and the anthology Dos naye lebn (The new life).  From 1916 he was in Copenhagen, and he began intensive journalistic work, using the pen name Sh. Pen, in: Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal, Idisher zhurnal (Jewish journal) in Toronto, Tog (Day) and Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter) in New York, Viner morgentsaytung (Vienna morning newspaper), Morgenpost (Morning mail), and Haynt (Today) and Moment (Moment) in Warsaw, among others.  In 1917 he published Di idishe velt (The Jewish world) in Stockholm (1 issue).  From 1922 he was editing the weekly Dantsiger leben (Danzig life) and later Dantsiger togblat (Danzig daily newspaper).  In 1928 he took over the editorship of the London daily newspaper Di post (The mail), earlier known as Idisher ekspres (Jewish express).  From 1953 he was writing for the Australian Jewish press.  In book form: Tsvey dertseylungen (Two stories) (Copenhagen: Di idishe velt, 1921), 63 pp.  He translated: Knut Hamsun’s Letste kapitl (Last chapter [original: Siste Kapitel]) and Vagabondn (Wayfarers [original: Landstrykere]); Peter Nansen, Maria (Maria); Henry Nathanson, Daniel Herts; and Herman Bang, Di tsvey brider (The two brothers).  He also authored two plays: Der redaktor (The editor) and Ven der friling ervakht (When spring awakens).  Both were staged in London’s Yiddish theater.  He died in Sydney, Australia.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 6 (Mexico City, 1969).
Berl Cohen


MOYSHE-YEKHIEL SHATAN (1887-June 14, 1967)
            The author of stories, he was born in Kutne (Kutno), Poland.  He attended religious elementary school and yeshiva.  He was a bookkeeper by profession.  He was an active Bundist in Poland and from 1926 in Canada.  He wrote stories as well as articles about community life and Yiddish theater.  He debuted in print in 1910 in Lodzer tageblat (Lodz daily newspaper), later publishing in: Lebens fragen (Life issues), Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper), and other Bundist publications in Poland and the United States; Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal—after his death this serial published in installments his lengthy story “Krizis” (Crisis); Montreol (Montreal); Der veker (The alarm) in New York; Foroys (Onward) in Mexico City; and memoirs in Kutner yizker bukh (Kutno memory volume) (Tel Aviv, 1968).  In book form: Likhtlekh (Candles) (Warsaw, 1913/1914); Baym vogzal (At the train station), stories (Lodz, 1920), 72 pp.; In shurm (In a storm), stories (Lodz, 1923), 80 pp.  Among his pen names: M. Tan.  He died in Montreal.

Source: Khayim Leyb Fuks, Lodzh shel mayle, dos yidishe gaystiḳe un derhoybene lodzh, 100 yor yidishe un oykh hebreishe literatur un kultur in lodzh un in di arumiḳe shtet un shtetlekh (Lodz on high, the Jewish spiritual and elevated Lodz, 100 years of Yiddish and also Hebrew literature and culture in Lodz and in the surrounding cities and towns) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1972), see index.
Khjayim Leyb Fuks