Tuesday, 5 November 2019

BOREKH SHEFNER (SZEFNER)


BOREKH SHEFNER (SZEFNER) (September 26, 1896-August 18, 1977)
            A journalist and feuilletonist, he was born in Tomashov-Mazovyesk (Tomaszów- Mazowiecki).  In 1897 his parents moved to Lodz.  He attended religious elementary school and yeshivas.  At seventeen years of age, he left to study in Vienna.  In mid-1914 he was back in Lodz, and from 1922 he was in Warsaw.  He fled Warsaw in 1939, reaching New York in 1941.  From his youth he was active in the Bund.  He began writing articles in 1917 for Lodzer folksblat (Lodz people’s newspaper).  He contributed to virtually of the literary journalistic publications in Lodz over the years 1917-1921, to the Bundist Lebens-fragen (Life issues) and Foroys (Arise) in Warsaw, and to Unzer tsayt (Our time) in New York, among others.  He published feature pieces, essays, humorous sketches, and travel narratives.  Shefner’s principal journalistic activity began with his becoming a regular contributor to Warsaw’s Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper) for which he served as co-editor from 1932 and later Forverts (Forward) in New York from 1941.
            His books include: Links (Left) (Warsaw: Kultur-lige, 1930), 228 pp.; Andersh (Different) (Warsaw: Kultur-lige, 1936), 284 pp.; Novolipye 7, zikhroynes un eseyen (Nowolipie 7, memoirs and essays) (Buenos Aires: Central Association of Polish Jews in Argentina, 1955), 307 pp.; A blik af yisroel un af der velt (A glimpse of Israel and the world) (Buenos Aires: Yidbukh, 1958), 334 pp.  His pen names include: Beys-Shin, B. Sh., B. Abramson.  He died in New York.
            “This feuilletonist is a very serious writer,” noted A. Mukdoni.  “Only, his seriousness is not…melancholy and not vicious.  There is wit in his essays, but this wit does not bite, does not sting, and does not rankle.”
            “The great merit of B. Shefner,” wrote Shloyme Bikl, “is how his writerly disposition is far from…partisan ideology….  When Shefner’s columns serve only political ideology, his humor will become substantially more boisterous, just as he will scream ever more forcefully to himself.”

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 2 (Montreal, 1947); Yankev Glatshteyn, in Inzikh (New York) 37 (1937); Mortkhe Yardeni, in Nyu-yorker vokhnblat (New York) (September 30, 1954); Hillel Rogof, in Forverts (New York) (December 18, 1955); A. Mukdoni, in Kultur un dertsiung (New York) (January 1956); Avrom Shulman, in Unzer shtime (Paris) (February 1956); Shloyme Bikl, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (April 15, 1956); Unzer tsayt (New York) 9 (1977); Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Beyle Gottesman


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