Tuesday, 14 May 2019

FRANK ROZENBLAT


FRANK ROZENBLAT (May 11, 1884-November 7, 1927)
            He was born with the Jewish given name of Froym in Lobin (Lubny), Volhynia.  He was known by his pen name Ben-Yakir.  He was descended from a devout family.  He attended religious elementary school until age twelve, later taking up self-education.  From Zionism he soon switched to Bundism.  He was arrested in 1903 for Bundist activities; he escaped and that same year arrived in the United States.  He worked in a sweatshop and studied.  In 1910 he completed his Ph.D. at Columbia University in New York.  He was an expert in economics, working for national and state administrative bodies, assuming high-level positions in the Joint Distribution Committee and the New York Jewish community, general-secretary of Workmen’s Circle, and one of the founders of “People’s Relief” and the Labor Committee for Palestine.  In his last years, he moved away from Jewish life and died in New York half-forgotten under mysterious circumstances.  He began publishing poetry in Russian and from 1903 in Yiddish as well.  He contributed work to: Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor), Tsayt-gayst (Spirit of the times), Idisher sotsyalist (Jewish socialist), and Der arbayter (The worker), among other serials, and especially to Tsukunft (Future) for which he served as co-editor (1905-1906).  He wrote about social, political, and economic issues, but principally about literature, both Yiddish and general.  He published a series of long essays on Yiddish authors, as well as being the most prominent Jewish critic in America at one time.  Of his literary critical works in Tsukunft, some of the more important would be: Mikhailovski’s philosophy and his polemic with Marxists (1904); Pisarev and Sholem-Aleichem (1905); Maxim Gorky (1907); Avrom Reyzen and Yitskhok-Meyer Vaysenberg (1909); Morris Winchevsky (1911); and M. Rozenfeld (1913).  In English he published an important work as well: The Chartist Movement in Its Social and Economic Aspects (New York-London, 1916), 248 pp.  He published under the pen name Tsekus as well.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; A. Vohliner, in Kalifornyer idishe shtime (November 1927); Y. Sh. Herts, Di yidishe sotsyalistishe bavegung in amerike, 70 yor sotsyalistishe tetikeyt, 30 yor yidishe sotsyalistishe farband (The Jewish socialist movement in America, seventy years of socialist activity, thirty years of the Jewish Socialist Union) (New York, 1954); Y. Yeshurin, Arbeter ring boyer un tuer (Builders and leaders of the Workmen’s Circle) (New York, 1962).
Yekhezkl Lifshits


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