Sunday 11 May 2014


FROYM OYERBAKH (EPHRAIM AUERBACH) (October 23, 1892-May 3, 1973)
     Born in Belz (Bełz), Bessarabia.  His father, Leyzer, was a ritual slaughterer and inspector (for traces of leaven on Passover eve) and a Chabad Hassid, and he had a pedigree going back to the family of Rashi which stemmed from the Alsatian city of Auerbach.  He studied in religious school and general subjects with a private teacher until age fourteen.  In 1908 he began to publish stories in the local Russian daily press.  He also published stories in Hebrew in the children’s library, Perachim (Flowers), in Warsaw.  He published his first Yiddish poems in 1909 in Lipman Levin’s Zangen (Stalks) (Vilna).  He also published stories from Bessarabian Jewish life in Gutmorgn (Good morning) (Odessa).  He set out for Warsaw in 1911.  He published stories in Undzer lebn (Our life); together with M. Almi, he brought out a holiday paper entitled Nisn (Nissan) in which he published his poems.  In 1912 he moved to the Land of Israel and worked in various colonies in Judea.  Several months after the outbreak of WWI, he and other Russian subjects were evacuated to Alexandria, Egypt, where he joined the Jewish Legion.  After several months in the war in Gallipoli, he was sent back to Alexandria due to illness and there demobilized.  In July 1915 he emigrated to the United States.  He was a contributor to: Tageblat (Journal), Varheyt (Truth), Dos yidishe folk (The Jewish people), Haynt (Today), Literatur un lebn (Literature and life), Di yunge (Youth), Tsukunft (Future), Fun mentsh tsu mentsh (From person to person), Indzl (Island), Oyfkum (Arise), Di vokh (The week), Yidish (Yiddish), Yidisher kemfer (Jewish fighter), Opatoshu-leyvik-zamlbukh (Opatoshu-Leyvick collection), Di tsayt (The times), and Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal), among others.
     His books include: Afn shvel (At the threshold), poetry (New York, 1915), 158 pp.; Karavanen (Caravans), poems of the Land of Israel (New York, 1918), 160 pp.; Far groys un kleyn, biblishe dertseylungen (For big and small, biblical stories) (New York, 1921), 256 pp.; Der royter fodim (The red thread) (New York, 1927), 166 pp.; Odes lider-bukh (Odessa book of poems) (New York, 1934), 96 pp.; Dray rizn (Three giants), in “Kinder-ring bibliotek” (Children’s circle library) (New York, 1937), 64 pp.; Loyter iz der alter kval (The old spring is pure), poems (New York, 1940), 304 pp.; Yankevs getseltn (Jacob’s tents), poems (New York, 1945), 232 pp.; Vayse shtot (White city), poems (New York, 1952), 40 pp.; Getrakht mit ivri-taytsh (Thinking with Judeo-German), essays (awarded in 1956 the Leib-Hofer prize) (New York, 1955), 224 pp.  Gildene shkie (Golden sunset) (Buenos Aires: Kiem, 1959), 259 pp.; Kirya Levana, vayse shtot (White city) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1960), Hebrew translation by Eliahu Meitus, 134 pp.; Vakh iz der step, dos kol fun der tertltoyb (Awake is the steppe, the voice of the turtledove) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1963), 234 pp.; A lebn tsvishn tovlen (A life amidst blackboards) (New York, 1968), 426 pp.; Af der vogshol, esey (In the balance, essay) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1975), 2 volumes.  His translations include: Shulamis un andere yidishe dertseylungen (Shulamith and other Jewish stories) by A. I. Kuprin (New York, 1920), 215 pp.; Tsvelf (The twelve [original: Dvenadtsat’]) by A. Blok (New York, 1952).  As for Auerbach’s Shenot reshit (The early years), stories and poems from the second aliya, the prose portion was translated by Yochanan Twersky, the poems by Avigdor Hameiri.  Among his edited works: Undzer zhurnal (Our journal), together with B. Glazman.  Co-edited: Di vokh (The week); Yidish (Yiddish); Der vinklshteyn (The cornerstone), a collection co-edited with H. Leivick.  In 1941 he received the Louis Lamed prize for his book Loyter iz der alter kval.  Over the course of many years, he worked as a teacher in the Sholem-Aleychem schools.  He was one of the founders of the Yiddish Cultural Society (Yidish kultur gezelshaft) in 1932, president of the League for the Rights of Yiddish in Palestine (Lige far rekht fun yidish in erets-yisroel), originator of the creation of the publishing house in Palestine for publishing in Yiddish, one of the founders of CYCO (Central Yiddish Cultural Organization, Tsentrale yidishe kultur-organizatsye), a contributor to the labor union campaign and other organizations connected to Labor Zionism.  In 1948-1950 and 1954, he served as president of the Yiddish Pen Club.  He was living in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Lekison, vol. 1; Y. Botoshanski, Mama-yidish (Mother Yiddish) (Buenos Aires, 1949), pp. 9, 119, 120; B. Y. Bialostotski, Lider un eseyen (Poems and essays) (New York, 1932), pp. 79-130; Sh. Bikl, Detaln un sakhaklen (Details and sum total) (New York, 1943), p. 220; Yidisher kemfer (October 1952); Y. Berliner, in Der tog (Mexico) (July 7, 1951); Y. Glatshteyn, In tokh genumen (Essentially) (New York, 1947), pp. 176-83; B. Tshubinski, in Tsukunft (July-August 1953); H. Leivick, in Tog (November 29, 1942); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (November 21, 1934; April 10, 1935; October 9, 1935); Sh. Niger, in Tog (January 13, 1935); H. Rogoff, in Tsukunft (January 1919); M. Ravitch, in Keneder odler (May 11, 1953); Dr. Y. Shatski, in Fraye arbiter shtime (June 1, 1928).

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