Wednesday, 15 May 2019


LEYZER-DOVID ROZENTAL (June 23, 1856-1932)
            A prose author and translator, he was born in Khotin (Khotyn), Bessarabia.  He studied in religious elementary schools and later in synagogue study chamber on his own.  In 1861 he moved with his family to Telenesht (Telenesti), Bessarabia.  Avraham Mapu’s Ayit tsavoa (The hypocrite) brought him into the Jewish Enlightenment.  On his own he mastered Russian and German.  He lived for a lengthy period of time in Belz, Bessarabia.  He worked as a teacher, 1918-1919, in the Jewish high school in the town of Teplik (Teplyk), Podolia.  He later lived in Odessa in great want.  Rozental was mainly a Hebrew writer.  He rarely wrote in Yiddish and with long breaks between such instances.  He debuted in print with a story in Mortkhe Spektor’s Hoyz-fraynd (House friend).  He later published stories in: Yud (Jew), Dos leben (The life [= Fraynd (Friend)] and Moment (Moment) in Warsaw, and a series of feature pieces entitled “Brif fun a navenadnik” (Letter from a wanderer) in Unzer leben (Our life) in Odessa.  In 1904 under his editorship there was published a series of five books, 96 pp. each, from the library of “Dos leben,” among them: Yudish (Yiddish), eight stories by Rozental including “Alte beys-medresh” (Old study hall), “Leybke vatenmakher” (Leybke, the devil take him), and “Itshes talmid” (Itshe’s student); In der fremd (Abroad), eight stories by Maxim Gorky, Anton Chekhov, and others, translated by Rozental and Shaye Lerner; In kalifornye (In California), stories by Bret Harte, translated by Rozental.  In 1905 he published the story “Di shlekhte psure” (The bad message) in Di bihn (The bee) in Odessa.  In addition to other items, in Hebrew he published considerable material about pogroms in Ukraine and Podolia in the years 1917-1921 under the title Megilat hateva (The scroll of massacre) (Tel Aviv, 1926/1927-1929/1930), 3 vols.  The only item in Yiddish that appeared rrom his works on the pogroms was Tetyever khurbn (The destruction of Tetiyiv) (New York: Oyfboy, 1922), 56 pp.  He translated: Lenin’s Natsyonale un idishe frage (The national and Jewish question) (Moscow, 1921), 222 pp.; Nikolai Pokrovsky’s Rusishe geshikhte (Russian history) (Moscow: Central Publ., 1924 or 1925); and M. N. Nikolsky, Dos uralte folk yisroel (The ancient people Israel) (Moscow: Central Publ., 1919), 277 pp.  His work appeared in: Helena Frank, Yiddish Tales (Philadelphia, 1912).  In manuscript he left behind poetic translations of the Psalms and Ecclesiastes, a large reader, and stories.  He died in Odessa.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Getzel Kressel, Leksikon hasifrut haivrit (Handbook of Hebrew literature), vol. 2 (Meravya, 1967); Yankev Fikhman, Regnboygn, zikhroynes, eseyen un lider (Rainbow, memoirs, essays, and poems) (Buenos Aires, 1953), pp. 79-84; Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
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), pp. 351-52.]

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