Tuesday, 23 July 2019

YITSKHOK SHAPIRO (ICCHAK SZAPIRO)


YITSKHOK SHAPIRO (ICCHAK SZAPIRO) (October 28, 1863-1935)
            He was a journalist, author of stories, and a translator, born in Lutsin (Ludza), Latvia.  He attended religious elementary school and yeshiva.  On his own he learned German, French, Russian, and mathematics.  In 1881 he moved to Warsaw and the following year received a diploma from a Russian high school.  He supported himself by giving lessons in an assortment of subjects.  His journalistic work began with the Orthodox Hakol (The voice), but he quickly switched to Yiddish by contributing to the one-kopek Warshaver tsaytung (Warsaw newspaper), which he wrote almost single-handedly.  He wrote political articles, popular science essays, stories, feature pieces, and translations, and over the course of time he was thought of as a “yedele hakl” (an omniscient one) in the context of themes in a Yiddish newspaper.  Until 1910 he contributed work to Mortkhe Spektor’s daily newspaper Di naye velt (The new world), Unzer leben (Our life) which Spektor revived in Odessa, Shoyel Hokhberg’s Nayes (News), as well as Moment (Moment) and Haynt (Today).  In 1916 he became the actual editor of the Orthodox daily Dos yudishe vort (The Jewish word), and he later wrote for the Aguda daily Der yud (The Jew) in which he published numerous translated novels and stories by Marcus Lehmann, Ludwig Philippson, and others.  Shapiro’s fictional work Yonosn eybshits (Jonathan Eybeschutz) which appeared in Der yud was discontinued before completion due to a decision laid down Warsaw rabbis.  He later switched again to Moment, in which, among other things, he took charge of the division “Politishe brivelekh” (Political notes) from B. Yushzon.  He also wrote for the afternoon edition of Moment which was called Varshaver radyo (Warsaw radio).  Over the course of a year, he translated Heinrich Graetz’s Yidishe folks-geshikhte (History of the Jewish people) in twelve volumes (published in Warsaw, 1914-1932 [original: Volkstümliche Geschichte der Juden]), adding three of his own volumes on contemporary Jewish history.  He produced a string of further translations, among them: Y. Johansen, Fun nakht un shney (Of night and snow), 92 pp.; P. Koenig, Afn grunt fun yam (At the bottom of the sea) (Warsaw: B. Shimin, 1921), 83 pp.; Sven Hedin, In heysn midber (In the hot desert [original: I den het öknen]) (Warsaw: B. Shimin, 1922), 165 pp.; Hedin, Durkh barg un tot (Through mountain and valley) (Warsaw: B. Shimin, 1922), 182 pp.; Hedin, Fun pol tsu pol (From pole to pole [original: Från pol till pol] (Warsaw: B. Shimin, 1921), 123 pp.; a series of folktales by Dr. Marcus Lehmann, Fun sultans hoyf (From the sultan’s court) (Warsaw: Alt-yudish, 1921), 66 pp.; Lehmann, Af kidesh hashem, historishe geshikhte fun a yudishen minister zusya opnheym (Martyrdom, the history tale of a Jewish minister, Zusya Oppenheim) (Warsaw: Alt-yudish, 1921), 83 pp.; Lehmann, Der yudisher minister (The Jewish minister) (Warsaw: Alt-yudish, 1921), 175 pp.; and others by Lehmann, altogether twelve volumes (new edition: Warsaw: Y. A. Tsuker, 1927); Naftoli Hertz Ehrmann, Baron korf (Baron Korf [original: Der Findling (The foundling)]) (Warsaw: Yeshurun, 1926), 159 pp.; Ludwig Philippsohn, Yankev tirado, historishe ertsehlung (Jacob Tirado, a historical story [original: Jakob Tirado, Geschichtlicher Roman aus der zweiten Hälfte des sechszehnten Jahrhunderts (Jacob Tirado, a historical story from the second half of the sixteenth century)]) (Warsaw: Y. A. Tsuker, 1927), 190 pp.; Isaac Breuer, Du shpuren fun meshiekh (The tracks of the Messiah [original: Messiasspuren]) (Warsaw: Yeshurun, 1927), 108 pp.; and a story of Jewish life in Germany, Der voter un zun (The father and son) (Warsaw: Alt-yung), 32 pp.; among others.  He also composed a major work in Hebrew entitled Haarets (The land), which was published in an abridged form as Tekhunat haarets (The character of the land) (Warsaw, 1891/1892).  Among his pen names: Bal-Kheshbn, B. Shmuel, Yitskhaki, aim Beharav, Dr. A. Forsher, A. B., and A. T.  He died in Warsaw.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Yubiley-oysgabe fun moment 1910-1935 (Jubilee publication of Moment, 1910-1935) (Warsaw); Elkhonen Tsaytlin, In a literarisher shtub, bilder, bagegenishn, epizodn (In a literary home, images, meetings, episodes), vol. 2 (Buenos Aires, 1946), pp. 173-74; Zusman Segalovitsh, Tlomatske 13, fun farbrente nekhtn (13 Tłomackie St., of zealous nights) (Buenos Aires: Central Association of Polish Jews in Argentina, 1946), p. 84; Fun noentn over (New York) 2 (1956), p. 452; Itonut yehudit shehayta (Jewish press that was) (Tel Aviv, 1973), see index; Khayim Finkelshteyn, Haynt, a tsaytung bay yidn, 1908-1939 (Haynt [Today], a newspaper for Jews, 1908-1939) (Tel Aviv, 1978), pp. 161-63.
Berl Cohen


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