FRADL SHTOK (1888-1952)
She was the author of poetry and stories, born in Skale (Skała), Galicia. Her father was extraordinarily strong physically. People called him “Shimshn hagiber” (Samson the strong man), but he did not necessarily use his prowess for good deeds, and he died in prison. Very little is known about her personally. She was a genuine beauty, the best pupil in her school, played the violin, and declaimed Schiller and Goethe. In her youth she was orphaned on both sides. She came to the United States in 1907. Her poems appeared in 1910, and they “were elegant and original,” wrote Yankev Glatshteyn, “…masterful and disciplined…. [Her] poetry demonstrated that she was able to inscribe a wonderful chapter in Yiddish poetry.” She also wrote stories. Because of a bad review by a Yiddish critic of her volume of stories, she abandoned Yiddish and published a book of short stories in English which did not prove successful. With time she became melancholy and may have died in a sanatorium for the mentally ill. This appears to have transpired in Hollywood, California.
Her poetry appeared in: Dos naye land (The new country) (1911-1912); Di naye heym (The new home) in New York (1914); Fun mensh tsu mensh (From person to person) (1916); Inzel (Island) (1918); Tsukunft (Future); and Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor); among others. He poetry also appeared in such collections as: Morris Basin, 500 yor yidishe poezye (500 years of Yiddish poetry), 2 vols. (New York, 1917, 1922); Shimshon Meltser, Al naharot, tisha maḥazore shira misifrut yidish (By the rivers, nine cycles of poetry from Yiddish literature) (Jerusalem, 1956); Zishe Landau, Antologye, di yidishe dikhtung in amerike biz yor 1919 (Anthology, Yiddish poetry in America until 1919) (New York: Idish, 1919); Shmuel Rozhanski, Di froy in der yidisher poezye (Women in Yiddish poetry) (Buenos Aires, 1966); Isaac Goldberg, Great Yiddish Poetry (Girard, Kansas: Haldeman-Julius Company, 1923); S. J. Imber, Modern Yiddish Poetry: An Anthology (New York, 1927); Joseph Leftwich, The Golden Peacock (New York, 1961). She was among the first to introduce the sonnet form into Yiddish poetry. Her works include: Gezamelte ertsehlungen (Collected stories) (New York: Nay-tsayt, 1919), 281 pp.
According to Avrom-Ber Tabatshnik, Shtok was “the first Yiddish poetess who stood artistically at the same height as the male poets of her era…. [Solely because of her] five sonnets in Basin’s anthology…would her place in Yiddish poetry be this certain.”
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Shmuel Niger, in Tsukunft (New York) 10 (1920); Avrom-Moyshe Fuks, in Kritik (Vienna) 6 (1920); Rokhl Korn, in Tsushteyer (Lemberg) II; Khone Gotesfeld, in Forverts (New York) (March 13, 1958); Yankev Glatshteyn, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (September 19, 1965); Avrom-Ber Tabatshnik, Dikhter un dikhtung (Poets and poetry) (New York, 1965), pp. 205-7; Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York.