Monday, 6 May 2019

LEON RABINOVITSH


LEON RABINOVITSH (June 2, 1862-March 11, 1938)
            He was a Hebrew and Yiddish journalist and editor, born in Brestovits (Berestovitsa), Byelorussia.  His Jewish given name was Yude-Leyb, and he was popularly known as Ish Yudi.  He studied in the yeshivas of Mir and Volozhin.  In 1882 he was studying medicine in Königsberg, and 1884 it was physics at the Sorbonne in Paris.  He was an active Ḥovev-tsiyon (Lover of Zion).  He published Hebrew-language periodicals and placed his own work in them, was co-editor of Hamagid (The preacher) (1888-1889), and was co-editor in 1890 and editor-in-chief from 1893 of Hamelits (The advocate).  In Yiddish he wrote popular science articles, stories, plays, and literary works in the biweekly he published (1900-1902): Bleter fun a tog-bukh (Pages from a diary)—each issue was 32 pp. with another sub-title, such as “Der oystser” (The treasure), “Di blumen” (The flowers), and “Der yardn” (The Jordan River).  Such works included: “A mayse mit a vaysen hon” (A tale of a white hen), “A mayse mit a shnayder” (A tale of a tailor), “A mayse mit a halber rubl” (A tale of a half ruble), “Rabeynu gershom meor hagole” (Rabeinu Gershom, light of the Diaspora), and “Afn veg keyn lyeva” (On the road to Leova).  His dramas include: Shimshn un delile (Samson and Delilah); and Der umgerikhter glik, oder kharote afen shidekh (The unexpected happiness, or regret for a wedding match).  Translations include: John Milton’s Paradise Lost as Der sotn un zayn erster sekretar velzevul (The devil and his first secretary Beezlebub); Y. L. Katsenelson, Feygele zing (Sing little bird); and Y. L. Perets, Venus un shulames (Venus and Shulamith), from Hebrew.  Literary essays: “Y. l. perets, unzer fayner literatur” (Y. L. Perets, our great writer) and “Di idishe prese” (The Yiddish press), among others.  His story “Izabella’s neshome” (Isabella’s soul) was published in 1909 by the Hebrew Publishing Company in New York (30 pp., also a second edition in 1919).  In 1901 he published Tsien un london (Zion and London) (St. Petersburg), 72 pp., concerning the fourth Zionist congress, and from January-June 30, 1904 the daily Der tog (The day) in St. Petersburg, to which important Yiddish and Hebrew writer contributed.  In late 1905, using the same name, he published in Vilna an informational leaflet of 32 pp., which did not last long.  Thereafter for several years he wrote scholarly articles for Fraynd (Friend), edited by Dr. Alyenist.  After a lengthy interruption in his journalistic work, he published letters from Leningrad in Moment (Moment) in Warsaw and Tog (Day) in New York.  He lived his last years in need as a beadle in a Leningrad synagogue.  He died in Leningrad.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Getzel Kressel, Leksikon hasifrut haivrit (Handbook of Hebrew literature), vol. 2 (Meravya, 1967); Avrom Reyzen, Epizodn fun mayn lebn (Episodes from my life), vol. 2 (Vilna, 1929), pp. 186-88; Avrom Kirzhnits, Di yidishe prese in der gevezener ruslendisher imperye, 1823-1916 (The Yiddish press in the former Russian empire, 1823-1916) (Moscow: Central Publ., 1930), see index; Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) 3 (1938), obituary; Shmuel Niger, Bleter geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur (Pages of history from Yiddish literature) (New York, 1959), p. 307; Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Ruvn Goldberg


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