Friday 16 May 2014


KHONEN (HANAN J.) AYALTI (November 15, 1910-1992)
Adopted name of Khonan Klenbort, born in Sapetkin (Sopotkin), Grodno region.  During WWI, he was evacuated with his parents to central Russia.  He studied in a Russian school.  In 1918 he returned to Sapetkin.  For a short time he studied in a yeshiva in Grodno and for two years in a Hebrew high school in Bialystok (graduating in 1928).  He made aliya in 1929 as a pioneer to Palestine.  In 1933 he went to Paris where he studied at the Sorbonne.  He was in Spain in 1936 as a newspaper correspondent.  In June 1940 he returned to Paris, leaving the city on the eve of the Nazi invasion and living in southern France.  For a short period of time he was interned in a Vichy concentration camp.  In early 1942 he traveled to Uruguay and worked in Montevideo as a teacher as well as a contributor to the composition of a Hebrew-Spanish dictionary.  In 1946 he came to New York.  His first publication (1923) was a description of travels in Russia and Poland in Hebrew in Hakochav (The star).  He contributed to: Di folks-tsaytung (The people’s newspaper) in Warsaw; Forverts (Forward), Tsukunft (Future), Yidisher kemfer (Jewish fighter), Kultur un dertsiung (Culture and education), and Bialistoker shtime (Voice of Bialystok) in New York; Di prese (The press) and Di naye tsayt (New times) in Buenos Aires; Folks-blat (People’s paper) in Montevideo; Undzer vort (Our word) in Paris; Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal; Yidisher zhurnal (Jewish journal) in Toronto; Der veg (The way) in Mexico; Oyfboy (Construction) in Melbourne.  He published stories, novels, and correspondences.  His books include: Bamekhilot (Underground) in Hebrew, a novel (Tel Aviv, 1933/4), 244 pp.; “Bum” un ketn (“Bum” and chains), a novel (Vilna, 1936), 332 pp.; Tate un zun (Father and son), a novel (Montevideo, 1943), 336 pp. (also published in Spanish translation, Padre y hijo, awarded a prize from the Louis Lamed Foundation); Der hotel vos eksistirt nit (The hotel that does not exist), a novel (Montevideo, 1944), vol. 1, 262 pp., vol. 2, 262 pp.; Der tshek un di eybikeyt (The check and eternity), stories (Montevideo, 1950), 212 pp.; Yidishe shprikhverter (Yiddish proverbs), Romanized transcription with English translation (New York, 1949), 127 pp.  His two novels, Tate un zun and Der hotel vos eksistirt nit, were dramatized and staged in Buenos Aires and other cities in South America.  From 1950 he was an editor for Yidisher kemfer.  Among his pseudonyms: Ben Kelman, Ben Aba, and Silver.  He was living in New York.  His novels and stories excelled with their vehement style, urbane subject matter, and timely social motifs of struggle.

Sources: Y. Botoshanski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (August 28, 1943; November 21, 1944; March 24 and 30, 1951); Sh. Niger, in Tog (New York) (October 9, 1944; September 16, 1951); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (February 9, 1944; September 16, 1951); M. Boraisho, in Tsukunft (February 1945); Y. Glatshteyn, in Yidisher kemfer (February 16, 1951).


  1. Thank you for this write-up is is more complete than the obit published by the NY Times in 1992.

    I am trying to find a review of his" Hotel that Never Existed" I have from the Yiddish Book Center a download of the work. My Yiddish is not good enough to plow thru it as of yet so any clue as to its content will help

    Thank You