Thursday, 11 July 2019

SIMKHE-BUNIM SHAYEVITSH


SIMKHE-BUNIM SHAYEVITSH (1907-1944)
            The author of poetry and stories, he was born in Lentshits (Łęczyca), Poland.  He came from a poor and devout family.  He moved to Lodz, and there he learned to make gloves.  He was confined in the Lodz ghetto, where both his father and mother died.  His wife and small daughter were led to their deaths in 1942, and in 1944 he was deported to Auschwitz, then to Kaufering Concentration Camp where he died of typhus shortly before the camp was liberated.  He debuted in print with three poems in Lodzher veker (Lodz alarm) on May 30, 1933.  That same year he published more poems in the same outlet, expressions of a revolutionary spirit.  He also placed stories there, as well as in: Nayer folksblat (New people’s newspaper), Foroys (Onward) in Warsaw, Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper), and Vokhnblat far literatur (Weekly paper for literature), among other serials.  His work also appeared in: Binem Heler, Dos lid iz geblibn, lider fun yidishe dikhter in poyln, umgekumene beys der hitlerisher okupatsye, antologye (The poem remains, poems by Jewish poets in Poland, murdered during the Hitler occupation, anthology) (Warsaw, 1951); Joseph Leftwich, The Golden Peacock (London, 1961); and Hubert Witt, Der Fiedler vom Getto: Jiddische Dichtung aus Polen (The fiddler of the ghetto, Yiddish poetry from Poland) (Leipzig, 1966, 1978).  Shortly before the outbreak of war, Shayevitsh was supposed to have published a book of stories entitled Blenkitne (there was a notice to this effect in the June 1939 issue of Literarishe bleter [Literary leaves]).  The book has already gone to press, but it was not distributed due to the war’s eruption.  Right in the ghetto, where he lived in terrible need and in the shadow of the greatest calamity to his family, there blossomed forth his poetic talent.  Shayevitsh’s poems about the Lodz ghetto—Lekh-lekha (Be gone) and Friling tsh”b (Spring 1942) (Lodz: Tsentrale yidishe historishe komisye baym tsentral-komitet fun poylishe yidn, 1946), 71 pp.—were discovered in January 1945 in the Lodz ghetto (Lekh-lekha in two variants, both signed “S. Shayev,” and under this name all of his earlier published poems).  Witnesses (Khave Rozenfarb, Mrs. Itsinger-Shnur) recount that in the ghetto Shayevitsh wrote another long poem, entitled Srol nobel (Israel Nobel), on the mass murder of Jews, which made a deep impact on listeners.  It was not published.  Also, his diary from the ghetto was lost.  In Khave Rozenfarb’s trilogy, Der boym fun lebn (The tree of life) (Tel Aviv, 1972), Shayevitsh is represented by the figure of Sh. B. Berkovitsh.  Concerning Lekh-lekha, H. Leivick wrote: “It is a poem of high caliber, that could only have been written in the ghetto and at the threshold of the sentence of death.”  “Both rescued poems,” noted Ber Mark, “…belong to the best of creative works, the Yiddish poetry produced from the dark era of ghetto and death.”

Sources: H. Leivick, in Zamlbikher (New York) 7 (1948), p. 446; Yitskhok Goldkorn, Lodzher portretn, umgekumene yidishe shrayber un tipn (Portraits of Lodz. Murdered Yiddish writers and types) (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1963), pp. 104-14; Shimen-Dovid Zinger, in Unzer veg (New York) (April 1966); Khave Rozenfarb, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 81 (1973); Ber Mark, Di umgekumene shrayber fun di getos un lagern (The murdered writers from the ghettos and camps) (Warsaw: Yidish-bukh, 1954), pp. 172-76; 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), see index.
Dr. Nakhmen Blumental


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