Sunday 22 June 2014


LEYB (LEO) ALTSHULER (June 7, 1904-1975)
Born in Vilna into an elite family.  His grandfather was the rabbi of Smorgon (Smarhon’), known as the “Broder gaon,” and his uncle, Betsalel-Mortkhe Altshuler, was one of the most visible of Vilna leaders.  He studied in the best religious schools, and his aunt Khane (wife of Betsalel-Mortkhe) taught him secular subjects.  He was later introduced to younger Jewish poetry, especially the poems of Leyb Naydus.  He began writing very early on (songs, poems, and dramatic scenes in verse), but he published little.  In 1923 he graduated from the drama studio of the Jewish Arts Society in Vilna and performed on stage in the best pieces of the Jewish theatrical repertoire at the time.  He wrote the plays: “Asada” and “Herod and Salome” in which he also played a role.  In 1926 he made his way to the United States and settled in St. Paul, Minnesota.  During a visit to Vilna in 1928, he published his first volume of poems, Ershte blitn (First blossoms) with a foreword by E. Y. Goldshmidt (Vilna, 1928), 80 pp.  His second volume, entitled Fun juni nekht (Of June nights), were lyrics for music (Vilna, 1831), 18 pp.  His children’s songs were published in Grininke beymelekh (Little green trees) (Vilna, 1929, 1931).

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