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 (Merḥavya, 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).