Monday, 20 May 2019


            He wrote articles on current affairs, writers, and books in the Vilna daily newspaper Di Tsayt (The times) (1926-1939).  He published there dozens of poems (under the pen name Shmuelski).  In 1940 he contributed to Vilner emes (Vilna truth).  He was murdered in Ponar.

Source: Shmerke Katsherginski, Khurbn vilne (The Holocaust in Vilna) (New York, 1957), p. 212.
Leyzer Ran


            He wrote articles for Vilna’s Tsayt (Time) and Emes (Truth) (1940-1941).  He published in Bialystok an afternoon Yiddish newspaper.  He translated from English Mikrobnyeger, di geshikhte fun di pyonern in der kamf fun der mentshheyt kegn ire ergeste sonim (Microbe hunters, the history of the pioneers in the fight of mankind against its worst enemies) by Paul de Kruif (Warsaw-New York: Yatshkovski, 1930), 373 pp.[1]

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 499.]

[1] According to Shmerke Katsherginski in Khurbn vilne (The destruction of Vilna), he was murdered in Ponar; so, too, claimed the Vilna engineer Azarye Dobrushkes, now in Brussels.  Another source states that he was mobilized into the Red Army and in 1943 fell in battle at Saratov, Russia.


SHMUEL ROZENSHTEYN (1895-August 1944)
            He was a journalist, born in Lodz.  For many years he served as the Lodz correspondent for Haynt (Today) in Warsaw.  He survived the Lodz ghetto.  He was editor of the Litsmanshtater geto-tsaytung (Litzmannstadt ghetto newspaper) and kept the official Getobukh (Ghetto book).  In the ghetto he wrote children’s songs which were sung in Jewish schools.  He died at Auschwitz.

Sources: B. Mark, Umgekumene shrayber fun di getos un lagern (Murders writers from the ghettos and camps) (Warsaw, 1954), pp. 165-67; 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), pp. 150-51.
Berl Cohen


            The son of Khayim-Dovid Rozenshteyn, he was born in Minsk.  His Hebraized surname was Even-Shoshan.  He studied in Minsk, Kharkov, and Warsaw.  He was active in “Tseire Tsiyon” (Young Zionists) and Zionist socialists, as well as Haaluts (Pioneer).  From 1926 he was living in the land of Israel.  He published in Erd un arbet (Land and work) in Kharkov (later, Kiev), Bafrayung-shtime (Voice of liberation) in Warsaw, and other Zionist socialist periodicals.  He was co-editor of Bafrayung (Liberation) in Warsaw, edited twelve issues of Farn hakholets (For the pioneer), as well as B. Katsenelson’s Oysgeveylte shriftn (Selected writings) in Tel Aviv.  His work appeared in: Leyb Shpizman, Khalutsim in poyln (Pioneers in Poland), vol. 1 (New York, 1959).  His pamphlets include: Di sotsyale diferentsirung funem yidishn folk (The social differentiation of the Jewish people) (Warsaw: Bafrayung, 1921), 24 pp.; Vos iz azoyns di histadrut? (What is up with the Labor Federation?) (Tel Aviv, 1947), 63 pp.  He wrote mostly in Hebrew, among other items: Toldot tenuat hapoalim (History of the movement of laborers) in three volumes.  He died in Tel Aviv.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Getzel Kressel, Leksikon hasifrut haivrit (Handbook of Hebrew literature), vol. 2 (Meravya, 1967).
Ruvn Goldberg


            He was born in Balbirishok (Balbieriškis), Lithuania.  In his youth he lived in Slonim.  He was a master of the Talmud.  He lived for twenty years in London, where in 1886 he published one of the first Yiddish serials in England, Bashitser des yudenthums (Protector of Judaism): “This is a new newspaper, which the times deem to be necessary….  Mainly, for those who are interested in Judaism.”  Only two issues appeared in print.  He left for the United States, and that is where he died.

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


            He was the author of Dos liebshaft, tsvey vahre und vinderbare geshikhten, iber-zetst fun loshn koydesh (Love, two true and wonderful stories, translated from Hebrew) (Pyotrków: Sh. Belkhatovski, 1906/1907) 60 pp.
Berl Cohen


            He was born in Radoshkevitsh (Radaškovičy), the father of the writer Tsvi-Hirsh Rozenshteyn, Avraham Evan-Shoshan, and Shelomo Evan-Shoshan.  He studied in yeshivas and later became a follower of the Jewish Enlightenment.  From 1885 he was living in Minsk where he founded the first “cheder metukan” (improved religious elementary school).  He wrote mainly in Hebrew.  In Yiddish he published articles in: Farn folk (For the people) and Der yud (The Jew).  According to Rozenshteyn’s list in Hamelits (The advocate) of May 29, 1901, he wrote a pamphlet a pamphlet in Yiddish and Hebrew about the improved religious elementary school.  In 1973 a collection of his works was published under the title Kevutim (Writings) in Hebrew.  He died in Minsk.

Sources: Getzel Kressel, Leksikon hasifrut haivrit (Handbook of Hebrew literature), vol. 2 (Meravya, 1967); D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah lealutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 6 (Tel Aviv, 1955); Rozenshteyn, Ketuvim (Writings), pp. 9-26.
Ruvn Goldberg


KHAYIM ROZENSHTEYN (CHAIM ROZENSZTEIN) (July 22, 1898-November 16, 1966)
            A playwright, translator, and journalist, he was born in Novidvor (Nowy Dwor), near Warsaw, the husband of actress Rokhl Holtser.  After graduating from public school, he lived for several years in St. Petersburg, Khzhanov (Chrzanow) in Galicia, Danzig, and Warsaw where he settled in 1929.  From he left for Melbourne in 1939.  He debuted in print in 1930 with an article in Warsaw’s Naye folkstsaytung (New people’s newspaper).  He went on to write for: Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), Der kritiker (The critic), Kegn shtrom (Against the current), Yedies fun yidishn artistn-farayn in poyln (News of the Jewish artists’ association in Poland), Belgishe bleter (Belgian leaves), Di oystralishe yidishe nayes (Australian Jewish news), Di yidishe post (The Jewish mail), Oyfboy (Construction), and Unzer tsayt (Our time) in New York.  He placed two long pieces on Yiddish theater in Australia in Tsveyter oystralish-yidisher almanakh (Second Australian-Jewish almanac) (Melbourne, 1942) and Drite oystralish-yidisher almanakh (Third Australian-Jewish almanac) (Melbourne, 1967).  In book form: Di katastrofe, a drame in fir aktn akht bilder (The catastrophe, a drama in four acts [and] eight scenes) (Warsaw: Kultur-lige, 1931), 110 pp.; Drite zayt medal, a komedye in dray aktn (Three-sided medal, a comedy in three acts) (Melbourne, 1943), 80 pp.; Megile borekh trask, a burlesk in 5 bilder (The scroll of Borekh Trask, a burlesque in five scenes) (Melbourne, 1945), 83 pp.  He translated (some staged but none published): P. Renal (?), Keyver fun umbakantn zelner (Grave of the unknown soldier); Louis Verneuil, Froy advokat (Lady lawyer); A. Dvidzhinski (?), Froyds khaloymes teorye (Freud’s theory of dreams); Karel Čapek, Muter (Mother [original: Matka); V. A. Somin (?), Atentat (Assassination); Vasilii Vasil’evich Shkvarkin, A fremd kind (Someone else’s child [original: Chuzhoi rebenok]); Dario Niccodemi, Der shotn (The shadow [original: L’ombra]); Anton Chekhov, Yubiley (The festivities [original: Yubilei]); Gabriela Zapolska, Di moral fun madam dulska (The morals of Madame Dulska [(bilingual) original]: La morale de Madame Dulska, or Moralność pani Dulskiej); Alexandre Dumas, Kamelyan dame (Lady of the Camellias [original: La Dame aux Camélias]); Noël Coward, Vikend (Weekend [original: Hay Fever]); Robert Emmet Sherwood, Dos meydl fun vaterlo (The girl from Waterloo [original: Waterloo Bridge]).  He authored the pamphlets: Af di umvegn fun sotsyalistishn bavustzayn (On the byways of socialist consciousness) (Melbourne, 1941), 16 pp.; Der arbeter-klas un di itsike milkhome (The working class and the present war) (Melbourne, 1941), 24 pp.; and In likht fun faktn (In light of facts) (Melbourne, 1942), 30 pp.  He died in Melbourne.

Sources: Y. Kahan, in Der landsman (Melbourne) 8 (1966); H. Bergner, in Folk un land (New York) (October 1967); Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Berl Cohen


AVROM ROZENSHTEYN (December 31, 1881-December 31, 1950)
            He was born in Novidvor (Nowy Dwor), Poland.  His Hebraized name was Avraham Barukh.  He was the author of: Literatur-ṿisenshaft, lehrbukh far di yidishe un algemeyne literatur-teorye mit a groyse zamlung mustern fun di beste yidishe poeten un prozoiker (Literature science, textbook for Yiddish and general literature and theory with a large collection of samples of the best Yiddish poets and prose writers) (Warsaw, 1899), 2 parts (68 pp., 150 pp.), second edition (1908); Teoretishe un praktishe arifmetik, a folshtendiger kurs tsum oyslernen (Theoretical and practical arithmetic, a complete course to master) (Warsaw, 1909); Fremd-verter-bukh (Dictionary of foreign words) (Warsaw: Bikher-far-ale, 1914), 496 pp., later edition (1919).  He also authored numerous Hebrew textbooks.  He died in Tel Aviv.

Sources: Leben un visenshaft (Vilna) 5 (1909); D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah lealutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 2 (Tel Aviv, 1947).
Berl Cohen


            He was the author of An emese mayse far kinder un far groyse (A true story for children and for grown-ups) (Paris, 1945), 23 pp.; Dos oreme yankele, nokh di mikhomedike dertseylungen (Poor Yankele, stories from after the war) (Paris, 1948), 4 pp.; Un di zun hot unz oygeshaynt! (And the sun shined on us!) (Paris, 1949), 23 pp.
Berl Cohen


AVROM-TSVI ROZENKRANTS (October 27, 1815-December 8, 1901)
            He was a publisher, born in Kletsk (Klieck), Minsk Province.  He changed his surname of Feder to Rozenkrants, and his brother Mendl change his own surname to Shriftzetser.  Together with Shmuel-Yoysef Fin, he founded a publishing house and a print shop which was—after Fin’s death in 1890—known as the firm of “Rozenkrants and Shriftzetser.”  In addition to one hundred Hebrew-language books, they published roughly one hundred novels and storybooks in Yiddish which were later reprinted many times.  The first Yiddish publication was Di yudishe geshikhte (Jewish history) by Shmuel Resser.  He died in Vilna.  MENDL SHRIFTZETSER was born on December 18, 1819 and died on November 29, 1906.

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


LEO ROZENTSVAYG (1869-December 20, 1916)
            He was born in Botoșani, Romania, descended from a poor family.  He received a traditional education.  In 1891 he made his way to the United States.  He engaged in a variety of difficult labors, eventually attaining the professor of lawyer, and through great industriousness acquired a great breadth of learning in natural science, especially in physics.  He took up socialist work, and over the years 1902-1903 he was general secretary of the Workmen’s Circle.  He published scientific and socialist articles in Tsukunft (Future) and Forverts (Forward) in New York, among other serials.  In New York he brought out a series of books and pamphlets opposing religion: Sotsyalizmus in beys hamedresh (Socialism in the house of prayer) (1902), 59 pp.; Der alef-beys fun sotsyalizmus (The ABCs of socialism); Mayse breyshes (The story of creation); Bris mile (Circumcision) (1916), 141 pp.  The booklet Eyn ershter may (One May First) (Tarnopol, 1896) may be his work.  He died in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Berl Cohen


GERSHON ROZENTSVAYG (Nisan [= March-April] 1861-February 13, 1914)
            He was born in either Bialystok or Korotshin (Korczyn?), Grodno district.  He penned Hebrew-language satires and parodies, and he edited Hebrew periodicals in the United States, whence he came in 1888.  Especially well known among his books of parodies was Masekhet amerika min talmud yankai im perush katsar umaspik (Treatise on America, from the Talmud Yankee with a short and sufficient commentary) (New York, 1892).  He wrote poetry and epigrams in Yiddish as well.  For many years he was a contributor and co-editor of Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper), Yidishe gazetten (Jewish gazette), and Di idishe velt (The Jewish world).  He published a few items in: Getsl Zelikovitsh’s Yudisher herald (Jewish herald) (1890), Der folks vekhter (The people’s watchman) in Philadelphia (1893), Abend-post (Evening mail) (1899), Tsukunft (Future) (1902), Zhurnal (Journal) (1902), and Minikes yontef bleter (Minikes’s holiday sheets).  He died in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Getzel Kressel, Leksikon hasifrut haivrit (Handbook of Hebrew literature), vol. 2 (Meravya, 1967); Kalmen Marmor, Der onhoyb fun der yidisher literatur in amerike, 1870-1890 (The start of Yiddish literature in America, 1870-1890) (New York: Writers’ Section of IKUF, 1944), p. 36; Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Yekhezkl Lidshuts


BEN-TSIEN ROZENTSVAYG (b. March 26, 1902)
            He was born in Podvolotshisk (Pidvolochys’k), Galicia.  He completed his baccalaureate degree in Lemberg and studied law and philosophy there.  He graduated from the Lemberg Hebrew pedagogical institute.  In 1922 he debuted in print in Polish and wrote for the Polish Jewish press.  From 1923 he was writing almost weekly literary feature pieces in Lemberg’s Togblat (Daily newspaper)—concerning Opatoshu, An-Ski, Moyshe Broderson, Yoyel Mastboym, and others—and reviews of Yiddish, Hebrew, German, and Polish books, as well as in Folk un land (People and country) and Lemberg’s Morgn (Morning).  His stories and poetry in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Polish were not published.  In the non-Jewish press, he wrote under the name Benedikt Rozentsvayg,

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


AYZIK ROZENTSVAYG (1888-January 12, 1934)
            A literary scholar, journalist, and teacher, he was born in Zabludove (Zabłudów), Grodno district, Byelorussia.  He was the son of a religious judge.  Until age eighteen he was raised in the Hassidic religious spirit.  In 1905 he joined the Zionist socialist party.  From 1910 he was studying pedagogy in Grodno.  He was a cofounder with other enthusiasts of the first Jewish middle school and the first Jewish pedagogical technical school in the Soviet Union—in Vitebsk (1920, 1921).  He worked as a teacher of Yiddish language and literature.  In 1920 he appeared as an expert on behalf of the accusation in the well-known Vitebsk “Mishpet ibern kheyder” (Trial of the religious elementary school).  In the 1920s he moved to Odessa, where he worked as a teacher of Yiddish literature in the pedagogical institute.  He was killed in a car crash in Kharkov, where he had traveled on assignment.  He debuted in print in 1913 with an article in Fraynd (Friend).  From 1917 he wrote numerous journalistic, pedagogical, and literary-critical works for: Royte shtern (Red star), the daily and weekly newspaper, Veker (Alarm), Oktyabr (October), Emes (Truth), Af di vegn fun der nayer shul (En route to the new school), Di yidishe shprakh (The Yiddish language), Proletarishe fon (Proletarian banner), and Kultur un bildung (Culture and education) in Minsk.  He edited: Iber vegn un vaytn, a zamlung dertseylungen vegn transport (Along roads and faraway, a collection of stories about transportation) (Minsk: State Publ., 1928), 86 pp.; Fun kinder-veltl, a zamlung dertseylungen (The little world of children, a collection of stories) (Minsk: State Publ., 1928), 74 pp.  His books include: Arbet un shaf, leyenbukh farn tsveytn klas (Work and workshop, textbook for the second class), with Moyshe Yudovin, M. Mogilnitski, and Nokhum Solovey (Minsk: State Publ., 1928), 234 pp.; Der radikaler peryod fun peretses shafn (The radical period in Perets’s creative work) (Kharkov-Kiev: State Publ., 1934), 186 pp.; Sotsyale diferentsyatse inem yidishn folklor-lid (Social differentiation in the Yiddish folklore poetry) (Kiev, 1934), 60 pp.; Di yidishe literatur in XIX yorhundert, ershte bukh (1800-1881) (Yiddish literature in the nineteenth century, first volume, 1800-1881), with Maks Erik (Kiev-Kharkov, 1935), 259 pp., second edition, 299 pp.; Mendele moykher-sforim (1836-1936) (Mendele Moykher-Sforim, 1836-1936) (Kiev, 1936), 47 pp.  He wrote a long introduction to Geklibene verk in eyn band (Selected work in one volume) by Mendele (Kiev-Kharkov, 1936), 491 pp.; and in Emes (June 18, 1936), he sent out a call (under the pen name A. R. Tsvayg) to collect Jewish folklore materials.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index; Sovetish heymland (Moscow) 4 (1963), p. 148; Moyshe Notovitsh, in Sovetish heymland 5 (1963); V. Shapin, in Yidishe kultur (New York) 1 (1972); D. Koyfman, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 77 (1972); Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Dr. Avrom Grinboym

[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. 353.]


SHMUEL ROZENFELD (April 7, 1869-1943)
            He was a Yiddish and Hebrew journalist and biographer, born in the village of Khruzkoye (?), Kherson Province.  Until age fifteen he studied with his father who was a ritual slaughterer and a religious judge.  At eighteen he was living as a recluse in Kovno, but at the same time devoted to the Jewish Enlightenment.  From 1899 he was studying philosophy, history, and political economy in Berne, Leipzig, and Vienna.  He went on to live in St. Petersburg, Warsaw, Vilna, and a short time in Bobruisk.  In 1923 he came to the United States, where his militant Zionism was revived as in his younger days.  His journalistic activities in Hebrew began in 1889 for Hamelits (The advocate), and he frequently contributed to Hebrew-language periodicals.  He debuted in print in Yiddish with the first issue of Der yud (The Jew), and he contributed to it until it ceased publication in 1903.  In 1900 he edited for three months an official Zionist publication, the weekly Di velt (The world).  In 1903 he was close contributor to the St. Petersburg daily Der fraynd (The friend).  From May 1904 he was its main journalist and co-editor, and from 1908 he was serving as editor-in-chief.  In 1909 he moved with the newspaper to Warsaw where it closed down in the middle of 1914.  From May 1917 he was on the editorial board of Petrograder togblat (Petrograd daily newspaper).  In 1919 he settled in Warsaw as a writer for Haynt (Today), and at the start of 1921 he was editing the journal Der khodesh (The month)—three volumes came out.  With his arrival in the United States, he was one of the main contributors to Tog (Day).  He wrote journalistic and literary critical articles, feature pieces, and historical essays, as well as for other Yiddish newspapers and periodicals: Dos idishe folk (The Jewish people), Tsayt (Time), Varhayt (Truth), Tsukunft (Future), and Teolit (Theater-literature) in New York; Idishe tsaytung (Jewish newspaper) in Buenos Aires; Idishe velt (Jewish world) (St. Petersburg and Vilna); Vuhin (Whence) in Kiev; and Bikher-velt (Book world) and Unzer leben (Our life) in Odessa; among others.  He also wrote for Russian Jewish journals.
            Books by him in Yiddish include: Der natsyonal-fond (The national fund) (Vilna, 1903), 23 pp.; Rabi yisroel salanter, zayn tetigkeyt un zayne nokhfolger (Rabbi Yisroel Salanter, his activities and his successors) (Warsaw: B. Shimin, 1911), 55 pp.; Dos plet-tsetl (The raffle ticket), a pamphlet against the Yiddish yellow press (Warsaw, 1913?); M. l. lilyenblum, zayn leben un oyfthun (1844-1910) (M[oyshe]-L[eyb] Lilienblum, his life and accomplishments, 1844-1910) (Petrograd: Khevre mefitse haskole, 1919), 67 pp.; Di haskole-bavegung ba yuden, fun moyshe mendelson biz yitskhoḳ-ber levinson (The Jewish Enlightenment movement, from Moses Mendelssohn to Isaac Ber Levinson) (Petrograd: Khevre mefitse haskole, 1919), 72 pp., second edition (Warsaw: Nayer farlag, 1920), 108 pp.; Idishe geshikhte, in monografyes (Jewish history, in monographs) (New York: Der tog, 1927), 2 vols.; Geklibene shriftn (R’ menashe ilyer, Moyshe-leyb lilyenblum, Azriel-nosn frank, Yankev mazo) (Selected writings—R. Menashe Ilyer, Moshe-Leib Lilienblum, Azriel Nathan Frank, Yaakov Mazo) (New York: Bukh-komitet, 1947), 255 pp.  His translations include: Leonid Andreyev, Dos royte gelekhter (The red laugh [original: Kraznyi Smekh]) (Minsk: Kultur, 1905), 88 pp., also (New York: Max Jankovitz, ca. 1920), 91 pp.; Alexander Serafimovich Popov, In der tsayt fun a pogrom (At the time of a pogrom [original: “Pogrom”]) (Vilna: Di velt, 1907), 24 pp.; A. Wojnicz, Di bihn, a roman fun italyenishen leben (The bee, a novel of Italian life) (Vilna: Di velt, 1907), 155 pp.; Rudolf Kittel, Tanakh-visnshaft (Hebrew Bible scholarship [original: Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft in ihren wichtigsten Ergebnissen (Old Testament scholarship in its main findings)]) (Warsaw: Kultur-lige, 1923), 275 pp.  He revised (with M. Kamenetski and Y. Rozenberg) Di velt geshikhte (World history) (Warsaw: Akhiasef, 1901-1902), 4 vols.  Among his pen names: Daniyel, Ban-Yankev, Sh. Haleyvi, A. Shimshi, Logos, Gitelson, A. Ben-Zev, and R. Agrin.  “Rozenfeld belonged to a pioneering generation,” wrote Shmuel Niger, “in the world of Yiddish journalism….  Very often—and very industriously—he built…[and was] one of those who helped form and fortify the daily Yiddish press in Russia.”  “One of the finest Yiddish journalists,” noted Zalmen Reyzen, “with a sharp pen, full of temperament and happy to join the struggle, with an eye specifically on the negative phenomena in political and social life.”  He died in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Getzel Kressel, Leksikon hasifrut haivrit (Handbook of Hebrew literature), vol. 2 (Meravya, 1967); B. Ts. Goldberg and Mortkhe Dantsis, in Tog (New York) (December 12, 14, 19, 1943); Shloyme Grodzenski, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (December 17, 1943); A. Mukdoni, a biographical study included in Rozenfeld’s Geklibene shriftn (Selected writings) (New York, 1947); Moyshe kats bukh (Volume for Moyshe Kats) (New York, 1963), pp. 311-13; Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Yekhezkl Lifshits

Sunday, 19 May 2019


SHOLEM ROZENFELD (b. December 13, 1914)
            He was a Hebrew-language journalist and editor, born in Targovitse (Targowica), Poland.  He arrived in the land of Israel in 1934 and began his journalistic work at that point.  With Yiddish he was mainly connected through correspondence pieces to: Moment (Moment) in Warsaw (1938-1939); Forverts (Forward) in New York; and Idishe tsaytung (Jewish newspaper) in Buenos Aires.  He was co-editor of Di yidishe prese vos iz geven (The Yiddish press that was) (Tel Aviv, 1975), 688 pp.

Sources: Getzel Kressel, Leksikon hasifrut haivrit (Handbook of Hebrew literature), vol. 2 (Meravya, 1967); Mortkhe Tsanin, in Letste nayes (Tel Aviv) (July 20, 1972); Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Berl Cohen


            He was a journalist who published in the Soviet Yiddish press articles on political and socio-economic topics.  He authored books on the economy and culture of the Jewish shtetl in the first half of the 1930s.  His works include the books: Dos yidishe shtetl in peryod fun industryalizatsye un drukhoysiker kolektivizatsye (The Jewish shtetl in the period of industrialization and thorough collectivization) (Moscow-Kharkov-Minsk: Central Publ., 1931), 91 pp.; Kadren far der kultur-revolutsye in der yidisher svive (Cells for cultural revolution in the Jewish environment) (Moscow: Central Publ., 1931), 56 pp.; and Tsvey kulturn, tsvey sakhaklen (Two cultures, two accountings) (Moscow: Emes, 1932), 88 pp.

Source: Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), 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. 353.]


MORRIS ROZENFELD (ROSENFELD) (December 28, 1862-June 22, 1923)
            He was a poet, born with the given name of Moyshe-Yankev-Alter in the village of Stare Boksze, Suvalk (Suwałki) district.  His father Froym-Leyb was a military tailor.  In his childhood he moved with his parents to Warsaw, and later to Suwałki where he studied for many years in religious elementary school.  After marrying, he was supported by his in-laws and spent every day in synagogue study hall with a page of Talmud.  He familiarized himself a little with German and Polish and read numerous books in Hebrew.  He knew by heart poems by Elyokim Tsunzer, Mikhl Gordon, Avrom Goldfaden, and others, and at age fifteen he also wrote some Yiddish poetry and florid prose.  In 1882 he departed for the United States but soon returned.  At that time, his parents had made their way to London, and Rozenfeld traveled there, later fetching his wife to join them from Suwałki.  There he took up tailoring and lived in bitter want.  He grew close to the anarchist “Berner Street Club” and wrote labor poetry, but London’s Arbayter-fraynd (Workers’ friend) did not publish it.  In the late summer of 1886, he again traveled to the United States and worked in a tailor’s shop in New York, initially as a baster and later as a presser.  Rozenfeld’s first published poem, entitled “Dos yohr 1886” (The year 1886), appeared in Nyu-yorker yudishe folkstsaytung (New York Jewish people’s newspaper) (December 17, 1886).  He would only published two more poems there (January 14, 1887; nos. 28 and 30).  These poems were very poor, merely rhymed agitation.  He published (1888-1889) propagandistic socialist poems which were big hits with the laboring Jewish populace.  The poems in Rozenfeld’s first book, Di glokke (The bell), according to Zalmen Reyzen, “excelled in their thorough tendentiousness and their defects in form, their Germanisms, and their inept rhyming, often with a spirited, heartfelt tone and with genuine poetic carriage.”  In his second book of poems, Di blumenkette (The chain of flowers), he showed distinct signs of the later poet and marked the beginning of a new period in his creative work.  Neither book, however, had any success—Rozenfeld later bought up the remaining copies of Di glokke and burned them.  In the late 1880s and 1890s, he published work in the anarchist Vahrhayt (Truth), Der morgen-steren (The morning star), and Yudishes folksblat (Jewish people’s newspaper) in St. Petersburg.  With the emergence of Arbayter tsaytung (Workers’ newspaper), Rozenfeld became a regular contributor and published in it many of his best labor poems.  His poetry was sung in the sweatshops and at meetings and concerts of laborers.  He was a great speaker, and he would appear at socialist and union events.  He sought to make a living with his appearances and thus left the sweatshop; but he was unable to earn a living in this way and had no choice but to return to the sweatshop.  The work of a presser was beyond his strength, and he became ill; he thus had to quit working there and take up peddling his books in New York and across the country.  He had a fine tenor’s voice, and he would sing his poems at events and meetings.  He became very popular, although neither from peddling his books, nor from his concerts, nor from his writings for the Yiddish press was he able to make a living.  All of the bitterness that accumulated in his heart, especially against the Yiddish publishers and writers, he emptied into the satirical weekly Der ashmeday (Asmodeus) in New York (1894) which he published together with Avrom-Mikhl Sharkanski.  The motto of the newspaper was: “Smack the chin so that the teeth rattle!”  In June-July 1892 he co-edited Di zun (The sun) in New York.  With his third collection, Dos lieder bukh (The volume of poems), of 1897, there was an upheaval in his work and poetic recognition.  This was thanks to Leo Wiener, professor of Slavic languages at Harvard University, who had early on written several good pieces in Boston’s Transcript about Rozenfeld and his poetry, translated some of the poems, and published them with a major American publishing house: Songs from the Ghetto (Boston: Copeland and Day, 1898), 115 pp.  This gave him an international reputation.  Soon, Rozenfeld’s poems were being translated into other European languages.  In 1900 he went as a delegate to the Zionist congress.  He left the steambath-tailor’s business, and thanks to his renown now reached the press as a professional journalist.  Around 1901 he became a contributor to Der teglikher herald (The daily herald); he wrote (1902-1904) for the daily Di idishe velt (The Jewish world), as well as published in the European serials Der yud (The Jew), Der fraynd (The friend), and Dos leben (The life), among others.  With Sharkanski he edited Der pinkes (The record), “a magazine for literature, history, and contemporary issues” (New York, 1900); he edited Morgen blat (Morning newspaper) in New York (1905) which appeared for several months and Nyu-yorker tageblat (New York daily newspaper) (1905).  Suddenly, however, a great tragedy befell Rozenfeld—his fifteen-year-old, only son Yoysef died.  Rozenfeld became paralyzed over half his body and faced the danger of going blind (H. Leivick later used this theme for his play Der dikhter vert blind [The poet goes blind]).  With time his health improved, and he became a contributor to the Forverts (Forward) in New York, for which he regularly wrote twice each week and revealed himself as a prose writer and feuilletonist.  In 1908 he made a tour of Western Europe and Galicia and was welcomed everywhere with great honor.  Happy times did not last for long.  In 1913 he was ejected from the Forverts, and he began writing for the Orthodox Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper) which was not close to his heart.  Rozenfeld became highly embittered, lived in constant feuds with Yiddish writers and editors, and wrote little—and this was far from Rozenfeld’s earlier poetic vigor.  In 1921 he was dismissed in a very vulgar manner from Yidishes tageblat, and he was further isolated now from the literary environment.  From time to time, he published a poem in Morgen zhurnal (Morning journal) or Der amerikaner (The American), to which he was linked over the last years of his life, and on the whole these were poems of resignation, bitterness, and terrible loneliness.  He died in New York, and thousands attended his funeral, but the working masses were absent, and it was for them that he had written his best poems.  He was buried near Sholem-Aleichem’s grave.
            His work appeared in a number of anthologies, readers, and songbooks: Nakhmen Mayzil, Amerike in yidishn vort (America in the Yiddish word) (New York, 1955); Yitskhok-Elkhonen Rontsh, Amerike in der yidisher literatur (America in Yiddish literature) (New York, 1945); Moshe Basok, Mivḥar shirat yidish (Selection of Yiddish poetry) (Tel Aviv, 1963); Shimshon Meltser, Al naharot, tisha maḥazore shira misifrut yidish (By the rivers, nine cycles of poetry from Yiddish literature) (Jerusalem, 1956); Avraham Tsvi Halevy’s Mehashira haidit baamerika (From the Yiddish poetry in America) (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1967); Morris Basin, 500 yor yidishe poezye (500 years of Yiddish poetry) (New York, 1917); Amerikaner yidishe poezye (American Yiddish poetry) (New York, 1940); Lidskis familyen almanakh (Lidski’s family almanac) (Warsaw, 1908-1909); Yankev Fikhman, Di yudishe muze (The Yiddish muse) (Vilna: B. Shimin, 1911); Leyb Yofe, Lieder farn folk, a zamlung fun natsyonal-yidishe poezye (Poems for the people, a collection of national Jewish poetry) (Odessa, 1908); Dovid Kasel, Gezang un deklamatsye, lider zamlung (Songs and recitations, song collection), vol. 1 (Warsaw: A. Gitlin, 1913); Yoyel Entin, Fun idishen kval, a yidish lehr-bukh un khrestomatye, tsveytes un drites yor far shul un hoyz (From Jewish springs, a Yiddish textbook and reader, second and third year for school and home) (New York: M. N. Mayzel, 1916); Entin, Yidishe poetn, hantbukh fun yidisher dikhtung (Yiddish poets, a handbook of Yiddish poetry) (New York: Jewish National Labor Alliance and Labor Zionist Party, 1927); Zishe Landau, Antologye, di yidishe dikhtung in amerike biz yor 1919 (Anthology, Yiddish poetry in America until 1919) (New York: Idish, 1919); Mut (Courage) (Moscow, 1920); Mortkhe Birnboym and Dovid Kasel, Mayn bukh, lernbukh farn tsveytn lernyor (My book, textbook for the second school year) (Warsaw, 1921); Shloyme Bastomski and Zalmen Reyzen, Dos lebedike vort (The living word) (Vilna: Kultur-lige, 1928); Antireligyezer literarishe leyenbukh (Anti-religious literary textbook) (Moscow-Minsk: Central Publ., 1930); Yisroel Rabinovitsh, Der arbeter in der yidisher literatur (The worker in Yiddish literature) (Moscow-Minsk: Central Publ., 1931); Y. Dovid Kurland, Di ershte yidishe arbeter-dikhter (The first Yiddish labor poet) (Minsk: Central Publ., 1931); Aḥisefer (New York, 1943); Y. Kisin, Lider fun der milkhome, antologye (Poetry from the war, anthology) (New York: Biblyotek fun poezye un eseyen, 1943); Moyshe Shtarkman, Hamshekh-antologye (Hamshekh anthology) (New York, 1945); Mikhl Gelbart, Zingt mit mir, lider far heym, shul, yontoyvim un fayerungen (Sing with me, songs for home, school, holidays, and celebrations) (New York, 1945); Ḥol veruaḥ (Sand and wind) (Ḥolon, 1964); Yoysef and Khane Mlotek, Perl fun der yidisher poezye (Pearls of Yiddish poetry) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1974); Joseph Milbauer, Poètes yiddish d’aujourhui (Contemporary Yiddish poets) (Paris, 1936); The Golden Peacock: An Anthology of Yiddish Poetry (London, 1939); Charles Dobzynski, Anthologie de la poésie Yiddish, le miroir d’un people (Anthology of Yiddish poetry, the mirror of a people) (Paris: Gallimard, 1971); Irving Howe and Eliezer Greenberg, A Treasury of Yiddish Poetry (New York, 1969); Philip M. Raskin, Anthology of Modern Jewish Poetry (New York, 1927); and many, many more.
            His own works would include: Di glokke, folks lieder und revolutsyonere gedikhte (The bell, folksongs and revolutionary poetry), “written by M[oyshe] Y[ankev] Rozenfeld with help from Y. M[erison], one of whose poems is his” (New York: H. R. Gordon, 1888), 68 pp.; Di blumenkette, a zammlung fon fershidene folks lieder und poezyen (The chain of flowers, a collection of various folksongs and poems) (New York: Folksadvokat, 1890), 48 pp.; Dos lieder bukh, part 1 (New York: Grover Broders, 1897), 88 pp.; Gezamelte lieder (Collected poems), with a biographical-critical introduction by Alexander Harkavy (New York: International Library, 1904), 320 pp., later edition (1906); Geklibene lieder (Selected poems) (Warsaw: Progres, 1905), 30 pp.; Haynrikh hayne, daytshlands grester liriker, zayn leben un zayne shriften (Heinrich Heine, Germany’s greatest lyrical poet, his life and his writings), freely adapted from various sources (New York: International Library, 1906), 85 pp.; Yude haleyvi, der grester hebreisher dikhter, zayn leben un zayne shriften (Yehuda Halevi, the greatest Hebrew poet, his life and his writings), freely adapted from various sources (New York: International Library, 1907), 71 pp.; Shriften (Writings) (New York: A. M. Evalenko, 1908), 3 vols.; Shriften (New York-Warsaw: International Library, 1908-1910), 6 vols.—1. Labor and freedom poems, national and folk poems, lyrical poetry, satirical poems; 2. Love and life, Yiddish songs, from poverty street, various motifs, humorous and satirical pieces; 3. Prose poems, Berl the blabbermouth, articles and features, various items; 4. Heaven and earth, labor melodies, national harp, God with love, miscellaneous items, tailor-related satire, humor and polemic, sparks, loose sheaves of grain; 5. Special writings, literature, beliefs, family, articles and feuilletons; and 6. Travel images, thoughts and occurrences, on sea and land, America—Gevehlte shriften (Selected writings) (New York: Forverts, 1912), 3 vols.; Fuftsig yohr  (Fifty years), a poem (New York, 1913), 3 pp.; Dos bukh fun liebe (The book of love), 2 parts (New York: M. Gurevitsh, 1914), 285 pp.—1. Original poems: love passion, and sin; 2. Song of Songs, lyrical poetry—Grine tsores, un andere shriften, humoristish-satirisher bukh (Fresh troubles and other writings, humorous-satirical volume) (New York: Literatur, 1919), 256 pp.; Lider (Poems) (Warsaw: Kultur-lige, 1924), 38 pp.; Oysgeklibene shriftn (Selected writings) (Buenos Aires: Yoysef Lifshits-fond, 1962), 237 pp.; Gezeyres rusland (Russian edicts) (New York, n.d.), 2 pp.  Rozenfeld also composed a historical operetta entitled Der letster koyen godl oder religyon un liebe (The last High Priest or religion and love) (1896); it was produced in New York but without success.  And, he wrote several one-act plays: “Elend un noyt” (Wretched and in need), in Arbayter tsaytung (February 6, 1891); “Bankrot fun tsedoke” (Bankrupt from charity), in Forverts (December 1, 1903); and Rent strayk (Rent strike), in Forverts (January 12, 1908).  The Folksbiene in New York dramatized and staged his Shap (Sweatshop) and Kantonistn (The recruits).  Rozenfeld also wrote theater reviews for Folks advokat (People’s advocate) of 1890 and mainly for Forverts.  He left in manuscript a four-act drama, satirical stories, and English-language poetry.  A handful of translations of his work into English have been done, such as: Leo Wiener, Songs from the Ghetto; Rose Pastor Stokes and Helena Frank, trans., Songs of Labor and Other Poems (Boston: R. G. Badger, 1914), 75 pp.; Aaron Kramer, trans., The Teardrop Millionaire and Other Poems (New York: Manhattan Emma Lazarus Clubs, 1955), 32 pp.; Itshe Goldberg and Max Rosenfeld, trans., Morris Rosenfeld: Selections from His Poetry and Prose (New York: Yiddisher Kultur Farband, 1964), 144 pp.; Mortimer Theodore Cohen, trans., Poems of Morris Rosenfeld (New York: Retriever Books, 1979), 128 pp.  Into German: Friedrich Thieberger, trans., Gedichter von Morris Rosenfeld (People of Morris Rosenfeld) (Prague: R. Brandeis, 1909), 64 pp.; Berthold Feiwel, trans., Lieder des Ghetto (Poems of the ghetto) (Berlin: Seeman, 1907), 144 pp.
            “Rozenfeld occupies,” noted Zalmen Reyzen, “one of the first places in the history of Yiddish poetry, and beside him sit Shimen Frug along with Yehoash and Avrom Reyzen.”  “While Frug softened and overly protected his language,” wrote M. Olgin, “…Rozenfeld delivered iron in his verses; while Frug was more concerned about the silvery quality of the ring of his verse, Rozenfeld moved ahead with wide, rough wheels or whistled with whips.”  Shmuel Niger added: “He made an international name for himself with his social poetry, and he also often wrote on ethnic Jewish motifs.  He was, though, in the first instance a lyrical poet of his own personal experience, and the most authentic of his poems were those in which he disclosed the living, immediate feelings of the ‘I’-poet….  Rozenfeld is the noisiest, most enthusiastic of all Yiddish lyrical poets, for there is something in his poems of the dramatic….  He enriched Yiddish poetry with the widest range of verse forms, with original and strenuous rhyming, and with a broad assortment of rhythms.”  “The form of Rozenfeld’s poems,” wrote B. Rivkin, “was direct speech, declamation—delivered to the audience from the stage on a literary evening….  This stage derivation left its imprint on Rozenfeld’s poetry….  This oughtn’t be his style.  It should come with voice or with tears.  Outshouting, outcrying is no defect.  On the contrary, it has to be violent or melodramatic….  It must have a melody, but it matters not that the words are so fastidiously chosen.” “Rozenfeld outgrew,” noted Avrom-Ber Tabatshnik, “in so many ways other Yiddish poets of his time, because no one beside him evinced such a tempestuous rupture with the popular-primitive and generationally static and such an organic expression of this dynamic and new rebelliousness in Jewish life of that epoch.  His ‘worth and rank’ lay in the first tier, thanks to his ‘tempestuous songs.’…  The great change in Jewish life, the social break and struggles in the new world demanded of him these ‘tempestuous songs.”…  Furthermore, he was involved in the new world, and he extended his personality by absorbing in himself the tendencies and inclinations of the community at large; and he took as his personal destiny to see a reflection of his people and class—and all the more this strengthen the dynamic cast of his verse, the ring and sound of his poetry, as he approached all the more an independent style, his own poetic.”  “He was able to pay close attention,” wrote Yankev Glatshteyn, “to the music of a mood and find just the most appropriate words.  He possessed a world with individual rhythms, which were deployed by him in the right places….  Rozenfeld the lyrical poet was not slovenly with his poetry, but intellectual, for he approached his personal poem with his own language and his own enduring feeling….  His most beautiful poems were the quiet lyrical ones….  With his ethnic, social, and satirical poems, Rozenfeld earned a thick chapter in the history of Jewish America, but in the history of American Yiddish poetry, which crowned him as its father, he purchased an entire special empire with his lyrical poems—for his new expressiveness, for his profound musicality and warmth of his own experiential sensibility with sad majesty….  The times selected Rozenfeld’s poetic wealth, no great legacy, but a legacy of a great poet.”

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 4 (New York, 1963); Bal-Dimyon (Nokhum Shtif), in Dos naye leben (New York) (1910); M. Olgin, In der velt fun gezangen (In the world of songs) (New York, 1919), pp. 129-49; H. Leivick, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) 10, 11 (1924); Nakhmen Mayzil, Noente un vayte (Near and far), vol. 2 (Warsaw: Kultur-lige, 1926), pp. 32-40, 147; Ab. Cahan, Bleter fun mayn leben (Pages from my life), vols. 2-5 (Vilna: B. Kletskin, 1926-1928), vol. 2, pp. 376-77, vol. 3, pp. 228-30, vol. 4, 458-61, vol. 5 (New York: Forverts, 1931), pp. 178-80; Shmuel Tsvi Zetser, Figurn (Figures) (New York, 1928), pp. 187-211; Idishe literatur (Yiddish literature) (Kiev, 1928), numerous articles; Avrom Vevyorke, in Shtern (Minsk) (April-August 1930); Benyomen-Yankev Byalostotski, Lider un eseyen (Poems and essays), vol. 2 (New York, 1932), pp. 85-96ff; Byalostotski, Moris rozenfeld, 1862-1923 (Morris Rosenfeld, 1862-1923) (New York, 1941), 48 pp.; E. Almi, Mentshn un ideyen (Men and ideas), essays (Warsaw, 1933), pp. 160-73; Almi, Momentn fun a lebn (Moments in a life), memoirs from childhood and youth (Buenos Aires, 1948), pp. 214-23; Almi, in Fraye arbeter shtime (New York) (June 15, 1962); Kalmen Marmor, Moris rozenfelds satirishe lider kegn der geler prese in amerike (Morris Rozenfeld’s satirical poetry against the yellow press in America) (Kiev, 1935); Marmor, Der onhoyb fun der yidisher literatur in amerike, 1870-1890 (The start of Yiddish literature in America, 1870-1890) (New York: Writers’ Section of IKUF, 1944), pp. 69-80ff; Borekh Vladek, B. vladek in lebn un shafn (The life and work of B. Vladek) (New York, 1936), pp. 338-47; Yankev Shatski, in Zamlbikher (Collections), ed. Yoysef Opatoshu and H. Leivick, vol. 1 (New York, 1936), pp. 339-66; Nakhmen-Borekh Minkov, Yidishe klasiker-poetn, eseyen (Classical Yiddish poets, essays) (New York, 1937), pp. 65-98; Mortkhe Yofe, Ringen in der keyt, eseyen (Links in the chain, essays) (New York: Mordekhai Yofe Book Committee, 1939), pp. 5-20; Shmuel Niger, in Tsukunft (New York) (September 1940); Elye (Elias) Shulman, Geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur in amerike, 1870-1900 (History of Yiddish literature in America, 1870-1900) (New York, 1943), pp. 206-19; Shloyme Saymon, Kinder-yorn fun idishe shrayber (Childhood years of Jewish writers), vol. 2 (New York, 1945), pp. 98-111; B. Rivkin, Yidishe dikhter in amerike (Yiddish poets in America), vol. 1 (New York, 1947), pp. 35-48; Rivkin, Grunt-tendentsn fun der yidisher literatur in ameriḳe (Basic tendencies in Yiddish literature in America) (New York, 1948), pp. 61-76; Yidishe kultur (New York) 7 (1948) (several articles), 6 (1964), 6 (1973) (letters); M. Olgin, Kultur un folk, ophandlungen un eseyen vegn kultur and shrayber (Culture and people, treatises and essays about culture and writers) (New York, 1949), pp. 191-201; Chaim Zhitlovsky, Vizye un gedank (Vision and thought) (New York, 1951), pp. 168-72; Hillel Rogof, Der gayst fun “forverts” (The spirit of the Forverts) (New York, 1954), pp. 61-67, 70-72; Leon Kusman, Amanim uvonim (Artists and builders) (Tel Aviv, 1955), pp. 57-66; Roze Shomer-Batshelis, Vi ikh hob zey gekent, portretn fun baṿuste idishe perzenlekhkeytn (As I knew them, portraits of well-known Yiddish personalities) (Los Angeles, 1955), pp. 63-69; Yekhezkl Lifshits, Moris rozenfelds briv (Morris Rosenfeld’s letters) (Buenos Aires: YIVO, 1955); Lifshits, in Fraye arbeter shtime (July 15, 1962); A. Mukdoni, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (November 18, 1956); Kadia Molodowsky, in Tsukunft 5 (1958); H. Royzenblat, in Tsukunft 1 (1959); Molodowsky, in Svive (New York) (February 1962); Tsukunft 4 (1962); Meylekh Ravitsh, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 45 (1962); Tsum hundertstn geboyrntog fun moris rozenfeld (Toward the 100th birthday of Morris Rozenfeld), ed. N. Mayzil (New York, 1962); Y. Yeshurin, Moris rozenfeld biblyografye Morris Rozenfeld bibliography) (Buenos Aires, 1962), 24 pp.; Zoza Zhaykovski, Katalog fun der [yivo-] oysshtelung, moris rozenfeld un zayn tsayt (Catalogue of YIVO exhibition, Morris Rozenfeld and his times) (New York, 1962); Arn Leyeles, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (June 10, 1962); Yankev Botoshanski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (August 5, 1962); Yankev Glatshetyn, Mit mayne fartog-bikher (With my daybreak books) (Tel Aviv, 1963), pp. 329-66; Glatshteyn, Af greyte temes (On ready themes) (New York: CYCO, 1967); B. Grin, Yidishe shrayber in amerike (Yiddish writers in America) (New York, 1963), pp. 33-52; Avrom-Ber Tabatshnik, Dikhter un dikhtung (Poets and poetry) (New York, 1965), pp. 7-32; Shmuel Ayzenshadt, Pyonerishe geshtaltn (Pioneer images) (Tel Aviv: Oyfkum, 1970); Shmuel Margoshes, In gang fun doyres (In the course of generations) (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1970), pp. 209-14; Yitskhok Yanasovitsh, Penemer un nemen (Faces and names) (Buenos Aires-Tel Aviv, 1971), pp. 339-43; Arn Alperin, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (October 31, 1971); Froym Oyerbakh, Af der vogshol, esey (In the balance, essay) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1975), pp. 61-64; Leon Goldenthal, Toil and Troumph: A Novel Based on the Life of Morris Rosenfeld (New York: Pageant, 1960); Ezekiel Lifshutz, in American Jewish Archives (1970), pp. 121-37.
Berl Cohen

Friday, 17 May 2019


            The author of stories, novels, and plays, he was born in Tshartorisk (Staryi Chortoryis'k), Volhynia.  His father was half classroom teacher and half itinerant tutor.  He studied in religious elementary school until age twelve.  At thirteen, both of his parents died of cholera.  He had to interrupt his studies at the Pohost yeshiva and leave for Odessa, where his brothers consigned him to an apprenticeship with a turner.  For ten years he worked in this trade.  This entire time, he neither read nor wrote anything.  In 1902 he wrote his first two pieces and showed them to Perets who had come to Odessa at that time.  From 1914 he lived in Kovel (Kovle) and Kiev, and in 1921 he emigrated to the United States, and from that point lived in New York.  He was ill the last seven years of his life with cancer.  Perets brought out Rozenfeld’s first published work, “Dos lerenyungel” (The apprentice) in the St. Petersburg journal Fraynd (Friend)—according N. Mayzil, this was done by Y. Kh. Rabnitski.  From 1905 he abandoned his work as a turner and devoted himself wholly to literary pursuits.  He published stories, novels, impressions, one-act plays, and dramatic sketches in: Fraynd, Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), Moment (Moment), Yidishe velt (Jewish world), Der shtrahl (The beam [of light]), Vokhnshrift far literatur (Weekly writing for literature), and Teater-velt (Theater world), among other serials; and in America, Tsukunft (Future), Veker (Alarm), Tealit (Theater-literature), and especially Forverts (Forward) where he was for many years a regular contributor and published numerous stories and novels.  During the last six or seven years of his life, the Forverts discontinued publishing his work.  The reason had to do with a major debate between Rozenfeld and the editor Ab. Cahan who argued that Rozenfeld’s stories of life in America were not at the same level as his writings about the old country.  Rozenfeld held a different point of view on the quality of his final stories and did not want to adapt them to the demands of Ab. Cahan.  The result was that the Forverts embraced his stories all the more, paid full honoraria for them, but did not publish them.  One of Rozenfeld’s first stories, entitled “Konkurenten” (Rivals), made a great impression and was later dramatized by the author and was produced with great success by Maurice Schwartz’s Yiddish Art Theater and on other Yiddish stages as well.  His stories appeared as well in such anthologies, almanacs, and collections as: Kunst-ring, literarishe-kinstlerisher almanakh (Art ring, literary-artistic almanac) (Kharkov: Idish, 1917); Froyen, literarishe zamlung (Women, literary collection) (Moscow: Central Publ., 1928); Der arbeter in der yidisher literatur, literarishe zamlung (The worker in Yiddish literature, literary collection) (Moscow-Minsk: Central Publ., 1931); Aḥisefer (New York, 1943/1944); Hermann Hakel, Jiddische Geschichten aus aller Welt (Tübingen-Basel, 1967); Max Rosenfeld, Pushcarts and Dreamers (London, 1967).  Rozenfeld’s stories were also to be found in Yiddish-language textbooks, such as Dos yidishe vort (The Yiddish word) (Vilna, 1913), among others.
His first novel of workers’ lives was published around 1912 in Odessa’s daily newspaper, Sholem-aleykhem (How do you do).  His other works would include: Shriften (Writings) (Warsaw: Progres, 1909), 2 vols.; In di shmole geslekh, ertsehlungen (In the narrow alleys, stories) (Warsaw: Velt-biblyotek, 1909/1910), 79 pp., also (B. Shimen, 1910); Geklibene verk (Selected works) (Vilna: B. Kletskin, n.d.), 8 vols., second edition (1929); Nakht un toyt (Night and death), novellas and stories (Warsaw: Progres, 1912), 193 pp.; Gezamelte shriften (Collected writings), six vols.—1. Tsvishen tog un nakht (Between day and night); 2. In shotens fun toyt (In the shadows of death); 3. Froyen (Women); 4. Nohente un vayte (Near and far); 5. Ikh (I); 6. Af grenetsen (At the borders)—(New York: Rozenfeld-komitet, 1924); Er un zey, a togbukh fun a gevezenem shrayber (He and they, a diary of a former writer) (New York, 1927), 268 pp.; Eyner aleyn, oytobyografisher roman in tsvey teylen (All alone, autobiographical novel in two parts) (New York: N. M. Mayzil, 1940), 392 pp., translated into Hebrew by Jacob David Abramsky as Boded lenafsho (Tel Aviv: Am oved, 1964), 228 pp.; Geklibene verk, with a biographical-critical introduction by Shmuel Niger (New York: CYCO, 1955), 238 pp.  Of Rozenfeld’s dramatic works, the following were published in newspapers and journals: Der shvartser shlayer (The black mantle), Forverts in New York (April 23, 1922); Ver iz shuldik (Who is guilty), Forverts (August 26, 1923); Man un vayb a kurtse tsayt nokh der khasene (Man and wife a short time after marriage), Ilustrirte vokh (Illustrated week) in Warsaw 48 (1924); Fun liebshaft un has (Of love and hate), a drama in one act, Tsukunft in New York (July 1925); Ayz (Ice), Forverts (May 1, 1926); Di tragedye fun a farlibter man (The tragedy of a beloved husband), Forverts (June 13-14, 1926); a one-act play, Bankrot (Bankrupt) in New York, Forverts (April 24, 1927); Aropgenumen fun shtrayk (Laid off by strike), Forverts (July 31, 1927); Dos harts hot gezogt (The heart has spoken), Forverts (December 1, 1929); Vi azoy unmeglikhes is meglikh (The impossible is possible), Forverts (March 16, 1930); Haytige tsayten (Contemporary times), Forverts (April 27, 1930); A farplonterte libe (A middle love), a three-act drama, Tsukunft (January-March 1931).  Haytge tsayten and the comedy Arayngefalen (Deceived) were staged in New York and failed.  Rozenfeld’s first story, “Dos lerenyungel,” was dramatized by M. Rayzman and published in Vilna in 1938 (6 pp.). 
“One of the most prominent contributors to Yiddish literature,” wrote Zalmen Reyzen, “Rozenfeld had already in his first, often utterly clumsy, stories demonstrated the distinctive inclination of his original talent as a portrayer of the mutilated soul, and already in his first works the sharpness of his psychological analysis is evident.  He was the first to cultivate in Yiddish literature the depiction of bizarre, morbid, pathological phenomena of psychic life.”  “Intellectualism, consciousness, prudence,” noted Shmuel Niger,” —this is the keenest reason behind his writing, just as the opposite—the wild, incomprehensible, and subconscious—are his main themes….  It is rare among writers who come from the people and derive everything from themselves to find such richness of thinking life and such poignance of intellect.  He is [internally] a man of truly fine intellectual culture….  Initially, one only sensed this in content, not in the style, of his writings, and there was often a discrepancy between the finely nuanced ideas and feelings that he described, and the primitiveness and unevenness of his manner, how he depicts them.  This discrepancy becomes weaker and weaker, as his style and his language tighten with a membrane of intellectuality and thoughtfulness.”  In the words of Gershon Sapozhnikov: “Yoyne Rozenfeld is not an external describer of the surrounding reality.  He comprehends life actively, hotly, passionately.  He cries out from his artistic visions with an incisive fury against social injustice, against economic need, against the meanness of men….  His style is thus densely charged with emotional material, dynamically, dramatically taut….  Rozenfeld created no general types of characters,….only general psychological tendencies, like human loneliness which he evinced in all of his figures.  He did not model any ideas, but he did model and artistically gave form to people’s senses.  He outfitted the psychic complexes of living figures.”  As Y. Varshavski (Yitskhok Bashevis) put it: “He was always looking for the motives behind the motives, the instinct behind reason.  One more thing, Yoyne Rozenfeld’s psychology was not objective, as with Freud or Adler, but always had an ethical background.  His realm was good and bad, the evil inclination and the good inclination.  He showed man in his perpetual wrestling between unconscientious egotism and the will to rise above it….  Yoyne Rozenfeld was not appreciated by Jewish critics.  I believe that people will someday discover Rozenfeld, and it will be the work of a younger generation that will ignore earlier settling of scores and falsehoods.  They will discover that the ostensibly primitive man was a writer of refinement and one of our best.”  He died in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 4 (New York, 1963); Nakhmen Mayzil, Forgeyer un mittsaytler (Forerunner and contemporary) (New York, 1946), pp. 275-88; B. Rivkin, Undzere prozaiker (Our prose writers) (New York, 1951), pp. 140-56; Hillel Rogof, Der gayst fun “forverts”: (The spirit of the Forverts) (New York, 1954), pp. 72-73; A. Mukdoni, In varshe un in lodzh (In Warsaw and in Lodz), vol. 1 (Buenos Aires, 1955); L. Kussman, Amanim uvonim (Artists and sons) (Tel Aviv, 1955), pp. 57-60; Gershon Sapozhnikov, Fun di tifenishn, eseyen (From the depths, essays) (Buenos Aires, 1958), pp. 51-123; Zishe Vaynper, Shrayber un kinstler (Writer and artist) (New York, 1958), pp. 214-21; Shimen-Dovid Zinger, Dikhter un prozaiker, eseyen vegn shrayber un bikher (Poets and prose writers, essays on writers and books) (New York: Educational Dept. of Workmen’s Circle, 1959); Leyvik Khanukov, Literarishe eseyen (Literary essays) (New York: IKUF, 1960), pp. 47-50; Moyshe kats bukh (Volume for Moyshe Kats) (New York, 1963), pp. 228-31; Y. Varshavshi (Yitskhok Bashevis), in Forverts (New York) (July 5, 1964); B. Grin, in Morgn frayhayt (New York) (March 16, 1980); Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Berl Cohen