Tuesday 30 September 2014


AHARON-ZE’EV (AARON ZEEV) AESCOLY (1901-December 3, 1948)
Adopted name of Arn-Volf Vayntroyb (Weintraub), he was born in Lodz to well-to-do, Hassidic parents.  His father was a construction contractor.  He studied in yeshivas and in a secular high school.  During the years of WWI, he was in Berlin, returning to Lodz in 1918.  He was back in Berlin in 1922.  He was a student at R. Chaim Heller’s yeshiva and simultaneously at Berlin University.  He published reportage, correspondence essays, and short stories in Lodzher tageblat (Lodz daily news) under such pen names as A. V. Vayntroyb and A. Z. Vinogradov.  In 1926 he was in Paris, and from 1930 he was living in Palestine.  He was a teacher in a seminary for educators.  He was a member of the cultural committee of Histadrut.  He contributed to Davar (Word), Haolam (The world), Tarbits (Academy), Ktuvim (Writings), Leshonenu (Our language), Kriyat sefer (Republic of letters), Tsiyon (Zion), and virtually all of the literary-scientific publications in Israel.  During WWII, he volunteered and served as an officer in the British army.  He published a chapter of a larger work, Ha-chasidut be-polin (Hassidism in Poland), which appeared in Y. Halpern’s anthology, Bet yisrael be-polin (The house of Israel in Poland) (Jerusalem, 1953); chapters concerning the Falashas in Tarbits, and other writings about them.  He wrote works in various languages, primarily in Hebrew, concerning Jewish history and ethnology, including: Tenuat tuvianski ben ha-yehudim (The Tuvianski movement among Jews) (Jerusalem, 1932), 62 pp.; Yisrael, pirke etnologyah, yediat ha-am (Israel, section on ethnology, information on the people) (Jerusalem, 1937), 252 pp.; Kehilat lodzh, toldot ir ve-em be-yisrael (The community of Lodz, a history of the city and the fount of Israel) (Jerusalem, 1948), 237 pp.; Sipur david ha-reuveni (The story of David Ha-Reuveni) (Jerusalem, 1940), 240 pp.; Ha-falashim yehude chabash (The Falashas, the Jews of Ethiopia) (Jerusalem, 1943), 206 pp., published as well in a French translation (Recueil de textes falachas: Introduction, textes éthiopiens) (Paris, 1951, 284 pp.); an edition of Sefer ha-chezyonot (The book of revelations) by Moshe Luzzato, with a preface and notes (Jerusalem, 1953), 272 pp.; an edition of Yesode ha-torah (Foundations of the Torah), by S. D. Luzzato, adaptation with annotations (Jerusalem, 1946), 92 pp.  In German: Bibliothek Jacob H. Wagner (Berlin, 1926), pp. 31-32.  In French: Introduction à l’étude des heresies religieuses parmi les Juifs: la Kabbala, le Hassidisme (Paris, 1928), 202 pp.  He died in Tel Aviv.

Sources: Dr. Y. Shatsky, in Yivo-bleter (Vilna, 1934); Y. Baer, Kiryat sefer (Republic of letters), vav-zayin (Jerusalem, 1939); Reichert, in Sefer ha-shanah shel ha-itonaim (Journalism yearbook) (Tel Aviv, 1948); Z. Shazar, Or ishim (Light of men) (Tel Aviv, 1954).

Monday 29 September 2014


SHOLEM ASH (ASCH) (November 1, 1880-July 10, 1957)
     Born in Kutne (Kutno), Poland, according to his birth certificate—it was January 1; according to his mother’s reckoning—four days after Passover.  His father, Rabbi Moyshe Gombiner, came from a family of ritual slaughterers and was something of a scholar as well as a philanthropist.  He did business in sheep and also ran a hotel.  His mother, Malka, née Vidovski, the second wife of his father and much younger, came from a scholarly family in Lentshits (Łęczyca).  He was raised at home “between two worlds”: on one side his full brothers—tall, healthy youngsters who did business with butchers and Gentiles and loved life’s adventures (they later moved to the United States and made their way there).  From the other side, several step-brothers who prayed in Hassidic conclaves and walked around dressed in their gabardines.  Ten children were raised in his home.  Asch’s parents had high hopes that he, the baby in the family, would become a rabbi, and they separated him from his brothers and sent him to the best tutors with whom he studied just like “the very wealthiest children of the city” (among them as well was the later portrayer of Asch’s youth: Dr. Avrom Gliksman).  After elementary school, he moved on to the synagogue study house where he studied on his own.  At age fifteen or sixteen, he began to read non-religious books.  Gliksman relates that his home was the “only enlightened Jewish home in the town,” as they also were reading Hebrew writings of the Haskalah.  Asch and his friends also discovered the German classics, and inasmuch as they learned a little German from Mendelssohn’s German translation of Psalms which was published in Hebrew letters, they went on to read the works of Schiller, Goethe, and Heine.  At the time Asch knew entire pieces by Heine.  Rumors spread in the town that Sholem was a heretic, and he thus ran away from home.  He was seventeen years old at the time.  “Until that time,” explained Asch of himself, “I was a strictly Orthodox, believing Jew.  Later I became convinced that the simple Jew, the common man, stood on a higher ethical level compared to the well-educated Hassid.”  Asch departed for relatives in a village, studied there with the children, and paid attention all the while to the lives of Polish peasants.  As he recounted, “this was my elementary school in life.”  He spent the next two years in Włocławek where he threw himself into various pursuits, until he “discovered a steady way to earn a living: writing letters for those who were unable to write themselves.”  It just so happened that he found himself writing love letters, and that gave him the “capability to look into the most hidden corners of life.”  That was his “high school”—as he expressed it himself.  In those years, Asch was reading Tolstoy, Hauptmann, and in particular Bolesław Prus (“in the original”) whose story, “Kamizelka” (The waistcoat), “made an unforgettable impression” on Asch.  He already knew of Y. L. Perets from the latter’s work, Ha-ugav (The organ), a small collection of Hebrew poems.
     Asch began, himself, to write at this time—initially in Hebrew.  By chance, however, two works by Perets, Shtrayml (The fur-trimmed hat) and Bontshe shvayg (Bontshe the silent), came into his hands.  “I read them from one end to the next and was deeply impressed,” recounted Asch in his reminiscences of Perets (Tsukunft [Future], New York, May 1915).  In the first months of 1900, Asch traveled by ship along the Vistula to Warsaw to meet Perets and to show him his own writings.  Perets advised Asch to write in Yiddish.  In passing, when he was in Perets’s home, he happened to meet H. D. Nomberg and Avrom Reyzen.  Several months later, Asch returned again to Warsaw from Włocławek and read out loud for Perets his first two stories in Yiddish.  At Perets’s recommendation, Dr. Yoysef Lurye, the editor of Der yud (The Jew), published in no. 48 (1900) Asch’s first story, “Moyshele” (Little Moses).  Asch stayed on to live in Warsaw and published stories, images, and sketches in the periodic press: Der yud and Di yudishe folks tsaytung (The Jewish people’s newspaper), and in Hebrew translation in Hadoar (The mail) and Hatsfira (The siren).  Early in 1903 there appeared in print Asch’s first collection of stories bearing the title In a shlekhter tsayt (In a terrible time) (Warsaw, 79 pp.).  Prior to this, two small books of Asch’s stories in Hebrew were published.  The Yiddish collection was very warmly received by Bal-Makhshoves.  Sadness and gloom filled the stories of Asch’s first anthology.  At this time Asch married Mathilde (or Madzhe) Shapiro, a daughter of an esteemed Hebrew teacher and Hebrew-Polish writer.  She had a great influence on Asch, and to a great extent affected the subsequent evolution of his talent.  In 1904 Asch published serially in Fraynd (Friend, St. Petersburg) his first major works, Dos shtetl (The town), which appeared in book form in 1905 (Minsk).  With a modern, romantic perspective toward earlier Jewish life, Dos shtetl marked out and defined Asch’s place in Yiddish literature.  In that same year of 1904, Asch began his career as a playwright.  He composed his first “theatrical piece in two acts” with the title Tsurikgekumen (Returned).  This was initially published in a Hebrew translation Yatsah ve-khazar (Left and returned) in Hashiloach (The shiloah), 1904, and then in the original Yiddish in Perets’s Di yudishe biblyotek (The Yiddish library), issues 3 and 4, also in 1904—in book form it appeared in Warsaw in 1909 bearing the title Mitn shtrom (With the current).  In the summer of 1904, Asch made the acquaintance of Polish writers in Zakopane.  One of them, Stanisław Witkiewicz, translated Asch’s drama into Polish, and in December 1904 it was staged at a Polish theater in Cracow.  Asch’s next theatrical piece was Meshiekhs tsaytn (Messianic times), a tragedy in three acts (in a subsequent printing with the subtitle: “A kholem fun mayn folk” [A dream of my people]; in a further edition: “A tsaytshtik in dray aktn” [A timely piece in three acts], Vilna, 1906; second edition, Vilna, 1907).  Meshiekhs tsaytn was almost simultaneously translated into Polish, Russian, and German, and on February 12, 1906—with the Russian title: “Na puty v Sion” (On the path to Zion)—it was performed in St. Petersburg with the actress Vera Fyodorovna Komissarzhevskaya in the role of Yustina, and on July 15, 1906 on the Polish stage in Warsaw.  At the same time, Asch’s stories and sketches in the form of notebooks were brought out by the publisher “Kultur” (Culture) in Minsk and which in part were published in Der nayer veg (The new way), the organ of the Zionist socialists in Vilna where there was also published for the first time the one-act play, Um vinter (During winter), 1906.  In 1905 Asch also took down notes concerning the 1905 Revolution in Warsaw—with the title “Momentn” (Moments), published in 1908 by “Progres” (Progress) in Warsaw, 38 pp.  In 1907 the publisher “Tsukunft” in Vilna brought out Asch’s play Got fun nekome (God of vengeance).  It was performed in various theaters around the world.  A fierce dispute arose in the Yiddish press surrounding this work.  In 1908 Asch read aloud before writers in Berlin his play, Shapse tsvi (Shabetai Zvi), published in the third number of Literarishe monatshrift (Monthly literary writings)—an effort to depict the conflict between earthly passion and heavenly purity on the field of the Shabetai Zvi movement.  The images were too philosophical, and the drama was never performed on the stage.  In the years 1907-1908 Asch also wrote two one-act plays entitled Amnon un tamar (Amnon and Tamar) and Der zindiker (The sinner).  In 1908 the publishing house “Shimin” in Warsaw brought out Yugend (Youth), a collection of stories that he published over the years 1902-1907.  Two of them—“Dos koyler gesl” (The butcher’s alley) and “Der yung mitn kind” (Youngster with child)—illuminated, contrary to the romantic tone of Dos shtetl, the second wave of Asch’s artistic works: his full-blooded realism.  Here we find the two waves mixed together, the rough nature of primitive man is enveloped in a romantic longing for higher worlds.  This would later be repeated more than once in Asch’s writings.
     In 1908 Asch made his first trip to Palestine, and his impressions were written up in a series of travel accounts.  Under the influence of this trip, he also wrote his biblical historical scenes (published in book form in 1911, Vilna, with the title Erets-yisroel [Land of Israel], and in Warsaw as In erets-yisroel [In the Land of Israel]).  In 1908 he participated in the Yiddish Language Conference in Czernowitz, and in the paper he presented he proposed that the treasures of old Hebrew literature be translated into Yiddish.  He himself translated the Book of Ruth into Yiddish (published in Dos naye lebn [The new life], New York, 1910).  Early in 1909 Asch complete his play Yikhes (Pedigree) in which he portrayed the decline of an old Jewish aristocratic house deceived through a misalliance through the hands of some upstart nouveaux riches.  At the end of 1909, Asch made his first trip to the United States, and there he wrote and produced for the stage (without particular success) his first comedy drawn from Jewish life in the New World, Der landsman (The compatriot) (Warsaw, 1911).  When he returned to Poland, Asch published over the years 1910-1914 a string of longer and shorter writings, some of which became milestones both in Asch’s own works as well as in Yiddish literature generally.  Among his stories from those years is Erd (Earth), a tale of Polish farm life (Warsaw, 1910).  In 1911 the same publisher brought out the longer story entitled Amerika (in later editions, it was Keyn amerike [To America] or Yosele [Joey]), a sensitive portrayal of the sad fate of a Jewish immigrant child on the way to the United States and in the new, strange world.  In 1912 he published in the St. Petersburg serial Di yidishe velt (The Jewish world) the two-act play Der bund fun di shvakhe (Ties of the weak) about Polish artistic life (staged in German at the Kammerspiel Theatre in Berlin).  In 1913 Kletskin Publishers (Vilna) brought out Reb shloyme nogid (Reb Shloyme, the rich man), “a poem of Jewish life,” one of Asch’s fullest pieces of work through which he clearly traced the boundaries of his philosophy of life.  In the same year, he published (in Vilna) Mayselekh fun khumesh (Stories from the Pentateuch), the dramas Di yorshim (The heirs) and Yiftekhs tokhter (Yiftach’s daughter), the poem Khurbm yerushlaim (The destruction of Jerusalem) (published in Di yudishe velt 1-2, Vilna, 1913), and his first novel Meri (Mary) which together with its second part, entitled Der veg tsu zikh (The route to oneself) (published in Di yudishe velt, Vilna, 1914), constituted an unsuccessful effort to create a diaspora novel—namely, to create a broad socio-cultural portrait of Jewish life in various cities and countries: in the cities of the former Pale, in the centers of semi-assimilated Jewishness, St. Petersburg and Berlin, as well as in the new settlement in Palestine.
     During those years, Asch lived in a number of different countries in Europe, and thereafter settled as a resident in Paris, but with the outbreak of WWI he moved to New York where he wrote the play Undzer gloybn (Our beliefs) and a string of new novels (published serially in Forverts) and stories.  In 1916 in book form he published (Forverts Publishers) Motke ganef (Motke, the thief), a social novel; the first two parts of it, in which Asch portrays Motke’s childhood, were high art, while the last part rings as if it was artificially added on and reminds one more of literary crime stories.  In 1918 Onkl mozes (Uncle Moses) was published—Asch’s first novel of American Jewish life.  In his first years in America, Asch also published: Bleter, der yidisher soldat (Letters, the Jewish soldier) and other war stories (1918); Khurbm poyln, amerikaner dertseylungen (The destruction of Poland, American stories)—among them, “Leybl in der heym, leybl in amerike” (Leybl at home, Leybl in America) and “Di kinder fun avrom” (Children of Abraham); as well as Di rayze keyn kalifornye (The trip to California); the tale Yunge yorn (Youth) which was published in book form with other stories (New York, 1918).  Among his dramatic works: Dos heylike meydl oder a shnirl perl (The saintly girl or a string of pearls) (1916); Ver iz der foter (Where is Father?) (1918).  And the historical novel: Kidesh hashem (Martyrdom) (1919) which was a new artistic accomplishment.  Asch wrote the novel in the wake of the pogroms in Ukraine in 1918-1919 and with the historical background of the Khmelnytsky massacres.  A story of a great national passion, written with deep insight into Jewish history, this was a classic work in Yiddish literature, a splendid and enthusiastic source for Jewish schools.
     During the years of WWI, Asch took part in assistance to war victims and on assignment for the American Jewish Committee he traveled (spring 1919) through Western and Eastern Europe.  In 1921 he visited Poland where he was entertained by the wider Jewish intelligentsia with great honor and respect.  They staged hundreds of performances of the Yiddish theater in Warsaw and other cities.  In 1924 Asch settled down for a lengthy period of time in Warsaw, where he frequently appeared on stage with his peculiar impromptu speeches concerned with various Jewish cultural arrangements and, demonstrating—on the one hand—his sympathies for Palestine and Hebrew, and—on the other—leading in the name of Yiddish culture and the Jewish school a struggle against extreme Zionist Hebraism.  In 1926 in the wake of Pilsudski’s May Uprising, Asch became the center of an uproar after he published (in Haynt [Today], Warsaw, October 22, 1926) an “Open Letter to Marshal Pilsudski.”  In his letter, he praised and extoled the “noble knight” whose sword had “liberated the Polish soul.”  In the 1920s, Asch published the following dramas: Der toyter mentsh (The dead man) (1920); Maranen (Morons) (1922); Yoysef (Joseph) (1924); Reverend doktor silver (Rev. Dr. Silver) (1927); and Koyln (Coal) (1928).  He also wrote three social novels of American Jewish life: Di muter (The mother) (1925, 407 pp.), rich in individual artistic depictions especially of Jewish bohemian life in New York, but unable to capture the totality; Toyt-urteyl (Death sentence) (Warsaw, 1926, 182 pp.), a longer story of general American life; and Khayim lederers tsurikkumen (The return of Chaim Lederer) (Warsaw, 1927, 180 pp.), a social-psychological novel concerned with a once radical laborer who became rich and, sensing a spiritual emptiness, returns to the circle of his comrades.  In 1926 he published Di kishefmakherin fun kastilyen (The witch of Castile) (Warsaw, 144 pp.)—a second historical tale depicting Jewish martyrdom; and Mayn rayze iber shpanye (My trip through Spain) (Warsaw, 442 pp.).  In 1929 he published in Warsaw Peterburg (St. Petersburg) (442 pp.), the first volume of the trilogy entitled Farn mabl (Before the flood); the second volume, Varshe (Warsaw, 442 pp.), was published by the same press in 1930; and the third volume, Moskve (Moscow, 516 pp.), came out in 1931.  In the trilogy, Asch was attempting: (1) to portray the lives of wealthy Jews and Russified intellectuals in St. Petersburg from before 1914; (2) to give a well-rounded picture of all classes of Jewish society in Warsaw and Lodz during the violent first two decades of the twentieth century; and (3) to give a cross section of the Bolshevik Revolution (1917-1920) in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and other cities in Russia.  The internal linkage is weak in the three novels: the main figure—the young Zachary Mirkin—remains unclear and precarious.  In the first volume and especially in the third, foreign influences are set out too strongly; and as a result, Varshe is magnificently full of many-sided depictions of ways of life and as well with the vitality of distinctive images.  After this trilogy, Gots gefangene, der goyrl fun a froy (God’s prisoners, the destiny of a woman), a psychological novel, was published in Warsaw in 1933 (291 pp.).  In 1934 he published Der tilim-yid (The sayer of Psalms) (Warsaw, 611 pp.), a kind of summing up of motifs that were spread out over Asch’s earlier writings.  Belief is the essence of this novel, a higher belief, on a level above either form or ritual and embracing all manner of beliefs.  In 1937 he published Baym opgrunt (At the abyss) in Warsaw (790 pp.), a novel written on the eve of Hitler’s era in Germany; in 1938, Dos gezang fun tol (Song of the valley) (Warsaw, 215 pp.), a poetic depiction of the lives of pioneers in Palestine.  In 1930 there was a celebration for Asch’s double jubilee—his fiftieth birthday and thirtieth year as an author of literature.  In 1933 there was another commotion surrounding Asch’s name, in connection to his acceptance of a medal from the Pilsudski government.  In the 1930s Asch lived in France and Poland, and he traveled throughout many other countries in Europe.  In 1935 he paid a visit to New York, after which he returned to Paris, and in 1938 he again left Europe and this time settled in the United States.
     In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Asch wrote his Christ novels and theological-philosophical essays and articles.  The Putnam publishing house in New York brought in 1939 his novel, The Nazarene, which was an English translation of Der man fun natseres (The man from Nazareth); the original Yiddish text first appeared in print in New York in 1943 (two volumes).  This was a work of immense scope.  Given the vast canvas depicting life in three cultural settings—pagan, Roman-Hellenic, and Jewish—there was nothing like it in Yiddish literature.  It excelled also with its mastery in describing unusual figures, aside from the main figure who was too abstract and celestial to have flesh and blood.  In too many places—and this is the principal artistic failing of the book—Asch followed the New Testament too faithfully.  Yet (and perhaps therefore), the English version was enthusiastically received by the serious English press.  A large part of the Yiddish press sharply attacked Asch and his book, primarily on religious and national grounds.  Asch answered the complaints against him with a string of articles and press interviews in both the Yiddish and English press and indirectly with a pamphlet entitled What I Believe (New York, 1941).  The controversy grew bigger, some even suspecting Asch of “renegacy” and national betrayal.  The Forverts to which Asch had regularly contributed for decades would not publish the novel.  The doors to other Yiddish dailies were similarly shut to him.  Only a small number of Yiddish, Hebrew, and English-Yiddish newspapers did not make common cause with those boycotting the writer.  Some representatives of the Yiddish critique appraised Der man fun natseres from a purely literary point of view as one of the highest—“if not the highest”—artistic accomplishment in Yiddish literature of recent times.  G. P. Putnam’s Sons in 1943 brought out in an English translation of the second volume of Asch’s Christ novels: The Apostle, at a time when the Yiddish original had yet to appear.  This novel depicts the personality and surrounding life of the apostle Paul (Saul of Tarshish).  As with respect to background descriptions, so too with the characterizations in The Apostle, they were less complicated and therefore more thorough and more compact than in Der man fun natseres, but also here the artistic qualities suffered from the author’s insufficient critical follow-up in the interpretation of evangelism.  This interfered with the freedom of the artist’s fantasy in forming the main figure of the novel.  Published in 1949 in English translation (again with Putnam) was the third volume in the series, Meri (Mary), artistically much weaker and, from the point of view of Christian symbols, very sharp like the previous two volumes.  The struggle against Asch, which had died down a bit, was then renewed and with greater vehemence.
In the interim, Asch (in 1943) became a regular contributor to Morgn-frayhayt (Morning freedom), an act for which both sides [pro and con vis-à-vis Asch] declared that they were not responsible.  Thus, Asch’s tie to this extreme leftwing political organ did not last long.  For the two or three years of this “friendship out of exigency,” this leftwing publisher brought Asch’s stories, “Hitlers geburt” (Hitler’s birth) (64 pp.) and “A yidish kind in shnas 5695” (A Jewish child in the year 1944/1945) which appeared later in Asch’s anthology of ghetto stories under the title Der brenendiker dorn (The burning bush) (New York, 1946, 285 pp.), a collection which included Yisgadal veyisgadash (Magnified and sanctified [opening words of Kaddish prayer]), Kristus in geto (Christ in the ghetto), A kind firt dem veg (A child leads the way), and other works.  In 1948 IKUF (Jewish Cultural Association) published two volumes of Asch’s “collected writings”: 1. Dos shtetl, Reb shloyme nogid, and Der farborgener bokher (The borrowed boy); and 2. Dos gezang fun tol and other works.  In 1946 he published his novel Ist river (East River) (New York: Laub Pub. Co., 514 pp.), in which—like a great deal of masterly social descriptions of early Jewish life in New York’s East Side—he sought to bring to life his realist, living idea that two belief systems (Jewish and Christian) could live peacefully under one roof, not only under one heaven—an idea that Asch had been looking to improve upon since Dos shtetl in which prayers from the synagogue and from the church become unified in the air and ascend to one God, as well as in an entire series of stories for youth (Mentshn un geter [Men and gods], A karnaval-nakht [A carnival night]), through Der tilim-yid, all the way till the Christ trilogy.  In his last years, Asch published three new works: Moyshe (Moses) (New York, 1951, 491 pp.), a biblical novel; Grosman un zun (Grossman and son) (New York, 1954, 386 pp.), translated into English as Passage in the Night; and The Prophet (New York: Putnam, 1955, 343 pp.), initially in English and in Yiddish as Der novi (Tel Aviv: Letste nayes, 1956), 294 pp.  Posthumous publications include: Fun shtetl tsu der velt (From the town to the world) (Buenos Aires: Y. Lifshits fund, 1972), 307 pp.; and Onkl mozes (Uncle Moses) (Buenos Aires: Y. Lifshits fund, 1973), 261 pp.
     A restless man, at no time in his life did Asch reside in one place for long.  In his last years he continually travelled—through the United States, Europe, and the state of Israel where in 1954 there was a huge public reception for him in Tel Aviv.  According to the articles, for and against Asch, which were frequently published in the Israeli press, the impression was created that there as well was a part of the Jewish intelligentsia which had made their peace with him.  [He died in Bat Yam, a suburb of Tel Aviv.]

Sholem Asch, 1906

Sholem Asch, 1940

Sources: All editions of Asch’s works in Yiddish through 1925 have been enumerated by Zalmen Reyzen in Leksikon, vol. 1, pp. 183-85.  One may also find there a listing of translations of Asch’s works into Hebrew, Russian, Polish, and German—also through 1925.  In Z. Zilbertsvayg’s Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of Yiddish theater), vol. 1, pp. 105-10, one will find a detailed list of Asch’s dramas and comedies, and their translations into foreign languages, as well as their performances on the Yiddish and foreign-language stages through 1930.  From that time forward, virtually all of Asch’s works were translated into English, and new editions of earlier translations into Hebrew, Russian, Polish, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Danish, Hungarian, Romanian, and other languages.
            The literature on Asch is rich, and the majority of it is spread over many periodicals in a variety of languages.  A partial bibliography covering what people have written about Asch can be found in Zalmen Reyzen’s Leksikon, vol. 1, pp. 173-86, and in Z. Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater, vol. 1, pp. 110-11; for Sholem Asch on himself, see Der veker (New York) (October 4, 1930), reprinted from Naye folkstsaytung (Warsaw), no. 206 (1930); an Asch jubilee issue of Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (December 19, 1930); M. Zilberfarb, “Sholem ash, der politisher, gezelshaftlekher tuer” (Sholem Asch, the political, communal leader), Tsukunft (New York) (June 1931); Yidishe kultur (New York) (January 1955), on Asch’s seventy-fifth birthday; Kh. Liberman, Sholem ash un kristntum (Sholem Asch and Christianity) (New York, 1950); Dr. A. Mukdoni, “Sholem ash iz avek fun yidish” (Sholem Asch has left Yiddish), Tsukunft (New York) (March 1950), about Asch’s Grosman un zun in English translation; N. Mayzil, “Sholem ashs ershte kritiker” (Sholem Asch’s first critic), Yidishe kultur (New York) (March-April 1948); Shmuel Niger, Dertseylers un romanistn (Story-tellers and novelists), part 2 (New York, 1946), pp. 320-531; Moshe Oved, Vizyonen un eydelshteyner (Visions and gems) (London, 1931), pp. 75-80, 203-15; Leo Finkelshteyn, Loshn yidish un yidisher kiem (The Yiddish language and Jewish survival) (Mexico, 1954), pp. 172-201; Av. Kahan, Sholem ashs nayer veg (Sholem Asch’s new pathway) (New York, 1941); Kh. Sh. Kazdan, “Ashs verk in der yidish-veltlekher shul” (Asch’s work in the secular Jewish school), Fraye arbeter shtime (New York) (August 12, 1950); Hilel Rogof, Der gayst fun forverts (The spirit of the Forverts) (New York, 1954), pp. 73-75; M. Ravitsh, in Fraye arbeter shtime, no. 35 (1941), no. 10-14 (1944), no. 46 (1945), no. 33 (1947), no. 8-10 (1950); Y. Rapoport, in Tsukunft (New York) (April 1954); Yitshak Elhanan Rontsh, Amerike in der yidisher literatur (America in Yiddish literature) (New York, 1945); Avrom Reyzen, Epizodn fun mayn lebn (Episodes from my life), part 1 (Vilna, 1929), part 2 (Vilna, 1929), part 3 (Vilna, 1935); Dr. Y. Shatsky, in Der veker (New York) (August 1952), concerning the novel Moyshe; I. Talush, in Yidishe shrayber (Miami Beach) (1953); Maks Erik, Sholem ash (Minsk, 1931), 125 pp.; Y. Paner, Sholem ash in zayn letste heym (Sholem Asch in his last home) (Tel Aviv, 1958), 169 pp.; A. H. Byalik, Sholem ash (Mexico City, 1959), 158 pp.; Shmuel Niger, Geklibene verk (Collected writings), vol. 3 (New York, 1960); Y. Turkov-Grudberg, Sholem ashs derekh in der yidisher eybikeyt (Sholem Asch’s path in Jewish eternity) (Tel Aviv, 1967); A. N. Ostrovski, Kritisher analiz af “man fun natseres” fun sholem ash (A critical analysis of The Man from Nazareth by Sholem Asch) (Tel Aviv, 1968).
Yitskhok Kharlash

Monday 15 September 2014



     A Tshenstokhov (Częstochowa) rabbi, he was the author of a book entitled Treyst vort farn yidishn folk (Word of consolation for the Jewish people) (Częstochowa, 1924), 77 pp.  Rabbi Ash was also the author of a pamphlet in Polish which defended the Jewish people in the face of a massacre (Częstochowa, 1936).


BER ORSHANSKI (November 30, 1883 [1884?]-November 15, 1945)

Born in Horodok, Byelorussia [now in Ukraine], in the home of a retailer, he was a prose author, playwright, and critic.  Until age sixteen he studied traditional Jewish subject matter.  He lived in Riga, 1902-1906, and there took part in the Bundist movement.  From 1908 he was in Vilna where he began his literary activities with a one-act play concerning the Revolution of 1905.  In 1909 he published a dramatic poem entitled “Der eybiker kholem” (The eternal dream). In 1918 he became a member of the Bolshevik Party, performing underground work in Byelorussia and Lithuania.  In the 1920s, he was director of the Jewish section at the Institute of Byelorussian Culture (“Inbelkult”).  He wrote novels, stories, plays, children’s stories, memoirs, literary criticism, and current events articles and books.  His play Blut (Blood) was staged by the Yiddish State Theater of Byelorussia.  His pen names include: Kh. Ber, Z. B. Elenzon, Khayem Mikhlson, and Kulyes un eynikl. He died in Moscow.

His works include: Der eybiker kholem (The eternal dream), a play, in the anthology, Knospn (Buds) (Vilna, 1909); Bay di ershte zunen-shtraln, a drame in dray aktn (At the first ray of the sun, a play in three acts) (Vilna, 1911), 47 pp.; Ana, a drame in dray aktn (Anna, a drama in three acts) (Vilna, 1911); Di legende vegn bolshevizm (The legend of Bolshevism) (Moscow, 1918), 48 pp.; Af khvalyes (On waves), a novel (Moscow, 1924), 83 pp.; In dem bloen kestele (In the little blue box) (Minsk, 1927), 49 pp.; Blut, tragedye in fir aktn (Blood, a tragedy in four acts) (Minsk, 1929), 105 pp.; Arbetndike froy, zay aktiv in gezerd (Working woman, remain active in Gezerd [All-Union Association for the Agricultural Settlement of Jewish Workers in the USSR]) (Moscow: Gezerd, 1930), 14 pp.; In baheltenish, dertseylungen far kinder (In hiding, stories for children) (Moscow, 1930), 80 pp.; Teater-shlakhtn, artiklen-zamlung (Theater battles, a collection of articles) (Moscow, 1931), 230 pp.; Di yidishe literatur in vaysrusland nokh der revolutsye, pruvn fun an oysforshung (Yiddish literature in Byelorussia after the revolution, attempt at an inquiry) (Minsk, 1931), 258 pp.; Artyom (Moscow, 1932), 67 pp.; A tsung, dertseylung far altere kinder (A tongue, story for older children) (Moscow: Emes, 1933), 101 pp.; Kamo, stories (Moscow: Emes, 1937); 131 pp.; In kolime (In Kolyma), stories (Moscow, 1937), 95 pp.; Mit ofene meyler, mayses fun amol (With mouth wide open, stories from the past) (Minsk, 1939), 33 pp.; Epizodn, dertseylungen far kinder (Episodes, stories for children) (Moscow, 1940), 63 pp.; Der geler pas, eynakter (The yellow pass, a one-act play) (Minsk: Melukhe-farlag, 1940), 23 pp.; Kolimer dertseylungen (Stories from Kolyma) (Moscow, 1941), 140 pp.  He also edited the anthologies: Der shnayder (The tailor), Shtern (Star) (Vilna), and Oktyaber (October), and the daily newspaper, Der shtern (The star) in Minsk.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Shmuel Niger, in Yidishe velt (Jewish world) (1914), vol. 2; Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (April 29, 1927); “Shoymers mishpet af sholem aleykhemen” (Shomer’s trial to Sholem-aleykhem), Tsukunft (New York) (January 1947); Moyshe Litvakov, In umru (Apprehensive), vol. 2 (Moscow, 1926), pp. 159-80; Y. Bronshteyn, Atake (Attack) (Minsk, 1931); M. Khashtshevatski, in Royte velt (August 1931); Sh. Bitov, in Farn leninishn etap in der literatur-kritik (Toward the Leninist stage in literary criticism) (Live, 1932); Y. Mestl, in Yivo-bleter 5 (1933); Elye Shulman, “Di yidishe literatur in vaysrusland” (Yiddish literature in Byelorussia), Shikago (February-March 1933); A. Abtshuk, Etyudn un materialn tsu der geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur bavegung in FSRR (Studies and material for the history of the Yiddish literature movement in the Soviet Union) (Kharkov, 1934), p. 25; Yidish-sovetisher shrayber b. orshanski in rige (The Soviet Yiddish writer B. Orshanski in Riga), in Oyfboy (Riga) 11 (June 1941); “B. orshanski” (B[er] Orshanski), in Eynikeyt (Moscow) (November 17, 1945); A. Pomerants, Edelshtot gedenkbukh (Memory book for [Dovid] Edelshtot) (New York, 1953).

[Additional information from: Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), pp. 31-32.]


LEON ARKIN (July 23, 1888-September 30, 1953)
Born in the town of Luna, near to Grodno, into the home of a wealthy timber merchant.  He studied in religious elementary school and the Volozhin yeshiva, later in the commercial school in Bialystok.  In Volozhin he became a Bundist.  For political reasons, in 1906 he departed for the United States and settled in Pittsburgh.  He was the director of the Boston Forverts (Forward), 1922-1949, and for many years he wrote a news column entitled “In and Around Boston.”  In 1949 he assumed the post of director of advertisements for the Forverts.  In 1950 he was elected president of the Workmen’s Circle, and he held that position until the day of his death.

Sources: Y. Baskin, “Epizodn fun mayn lebn” (Episodes from my life), in Baskin-bukh (New York, 1951); N. Khanin, in Forverts (New York) (October 2, 1953); B. Gebiner, in Forverts (New York) (October 23, 1954); Y. Yeshurin, “Leon-arkin-biblyografye” (Leon Arkin’s bibliography), Der fraynd (New York) (November-December 1953).


DOVID ORKIN (b. 1884)
Born in a village near Tukum (Tukums), Courland.  His father was a well-to-do businessman and a ritual slaughterer.  After the expulsion of the Jews of Zamut from Courland (1889), his family turned up in the Lithuanian town of Layzeve (Laižuva).  He studied with tutors until his bar mitzvah, and thereafter at the yeshivas of Vekshne (Viekšniai) and Zhager (Žagarė), among others.  By age sixteen he had mastered ritual slaughtering from his father, and he worked as slaughterer and inspector in various towns; later he gave up slaughtering and became a teacher.  In 1905 he emigrated to the United States, but he was unable to adjust to life there, and he returned to Layzeve where he opened a modern religious elementary school.  He married in 1909.  During WWI, he was a bookkeeper for a St. Petersburg factory.  He returned to Courland after the Russian Revolution and worked as a business commissioner in Libave (Liepāja), Latvia.  His first publications transpired in New York (1905-1906) with a poem in Forverts (Forward), which he signed “Yehude” (Judah), and with “Thoughts and Spirits of Shop Life” in Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor).  From 1925 he was a contributor in Riga to Kol-boy (Catchall), Liboyshe shtime (Voice of Liepāja), Liboyshe nayes (News of Liepāja), Fraytig (Friday), Folk (People), and Frimorgn (Morning), and in New York to Kundes (Prankster) in which he published feature pieces and satirical poems under the pen name: Nirko, Leboy, and Zukhmikh.

Sunday 14 September 2014


     She hailed from a great Polish Jewish lineage: her father Mendl Lipski was a businessman and Gerer hassid from the eminent Lipski family of Kutne (Kutno), Poland; her mother was from a well-known, old family in Mlave (Mława).  She was raised in a religious home, in Mlave, later in Warsaw.  In her youth, she wrote poetry.  She graduated from a Polish drama school.  At age sixteen, she was introduced to the painter Shmuel Kratke.  Due to her family’s opposition to the match, she ran off with him to Palestine and got married there.  After two years living in Jerusalem, she returned to Warsaw and befriended Y. L. Perets and all the other Yiddish writers who frequented Perets’s home.  She had a drama school in Warsaw around 1914-1915.  Perets gave her the artistic name of Miriam Izraels, and with this name she performed in Perets’s stage pieces.  In 1925 she was the founder of the variety theater Azazel in Warsaw.  During WWII, she was interned for several months in a concentration camp in Burgvayde.  After the war, she settled in Paris and completed the work over which she had been working on before the war: the drama Miryaml for which she received the Aleksander Shapiro prize from the World Jewish Congress in New York in 1954.  She was also a contributor to the Parisian newspaper, Far undzere kinder (For our children).  In 1962 she published Miryeml, dramatisher tsikl in fuftsn bilder (Little Miriam, a dramatic cycle in fifteen scenes) (Paris: Goldene pave), 238 pp.  She died in Paris.

Sources: Y. Y. Trunk, Poyln (Poland), vol. 5 (New York, 1949); Melekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 1 (Montreal, 1945); R. Federman, “Fun mayn lebn” (From my life), in Tshenstokhover yidn (Jews of Tshenstokhov) (New York, 1947); Dr. Y. Shatski, “Vegn ‘miryaml’ fun tea ortsishevska” (Concerning Miryaml by Tea Ortsishevska), Bulyetin fun alveltlekhn yidishn kultur-kongres (Bulletin of the World Jewish Congress), mimeograph (New York) (June 28, 1954); Khil Aron(son), “A bazukh mit tea ortsishevska” (A visit with Tea Ortsishevska), Naye prese (Paris) (July 1, 1947).


BINYUMIN ORENSHTEYN (BENJAMIN ORENSTEIN) (November 23, 1914-December 2, 1974)
     Born in Warsaw, he graduated from a Tarbut school and secular high school, and he studied in Germany and Canada.  During WWII, he lived under the Nazis in Otvotsk, then in the Katshev Concentration Camp, on the “Aryan” side of Warsaw, then in the small ghetto in Tshenstokhov (Czestochowa) and later in a German concentration camp in Tshenstokhov: HASAG [a private German company, Hugo Schneider Aktiengesellschaft-Mentalwarenfabrik, that used camp inmates for arms production].  He was transported to Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen where he lived to see liberation.  At the end of 1948 he came to Canada.  His first published work appeared in 1930, a piece of reportage in the Warsaw paper, Folks-tsaytung (People’s news).  He published historical treatises in Unzer ekspres (Our express) in Warsaw, and in a series of provincial newspapers.  He served on the editorial board of Unzer vort (Our word), 1946-1948, in Germany, and contributed to Vidershtand (Resistance), Ibergang (Transition), A heym (A home), Landsberger lager-tsaytung (Landsberg Camp news), and Yidishe bilder (Jewish images)—all in Germany.  From 1949 he was publishing reviews and historical articles in Keneder odler (Canadian eagle), Der yidisher zhurnal (The Jewish journal) in Montreal, Amerikaner (American), and Tog (Day).  Among his writings: Khurbm tshenstokhov (The holocaust in Tshenstokhov), composed in Romanized script (Munich, 1948), 464 pp.; Khurbm otvotsk, falenits, kartshev (The holocaust in Otvotsk, Falenits, and Kartshev) (Bamberg, 1948), 92 pp.; Virklekhkeyt, problemen fun yidishn kamf un umkum (Reality, problems of the Jewish struggle and destruction) (Bamberg, 1948), 184 pp. (with pictures); Der umkum un vidershtand fun a yidisher shtot, tshenstokhov (The destruction and resistance of a Jewish city, Tshenstokhov) (Montreal, 1949), 18 pp.  Orenstein’s oratory, Khamisha-eser be-shabbat (Twenty-five on Shabbat), was performed by the women’s pioneer club in Montreal.  He edited: Unzer yortsayt, oysgabe gevidmet dem umkum fun tshenstokhover yidntum, 1942-1948 (Our yortsayt, edition dedicated to the destruction of Tshenstokhov Jewry, 1942-1948), unique printing (Munich, 1948); Der varshever landsman (The Warsaw fellow native), single printing of an illustrated journal (Bamberg, 1948); Dos lebn un shafn fun dr. filip fridman (The life and work of Dr. Philip Friedman) (Montreal, 1962), 54 pp.; Etishe problemen bay yidn in der natsi-epokhe (Ethical issues for Jews in the Nazi period) (Montreal, 1964), 42 pp.; Tshenstokhover landsmanshaft in montreol (Czestochowa local association in Montreal) (Montreal, 1966), 349 pp.  In 1952 he received an award from the World Jewish Congress for his study, Sotsyale problemen bay yidn in der natsi-epokhe (Social problems of the Jewish people in the Nazi epoch).  He used the pen names: Noyekh Sarna and Anatol.  He died in Montreal.

Sources: Dr. Philip Friedman and Dr. Ts. Kantor, in Undzer yortsayt (Munich, 1948); M. Ginzburg, in Keneder odler (December 5, 1948).


AVROM OREZ (1897-February 1, 1943)

Born in the town of Mazilyev, Byelorussia, to “enlightened” parents.  He received a Jewish and general education.  After WWI, he moved to Pruzhane (Prużana), Poland, and worked as a teacher in the Tarbut school there.  He was a Zionist worker, speaker, and lecturer.  From 1926 to 1930 he was in Brisk (Brześć), Lithuania, later back in Pruzhane.  From 1931 until the war broke out in 1939, he was editor of the weekly Pruzhaner shtime (Voice of Pruzhane) and simultaneously a teacher in the Hebrew high school there.  On January 30, 1942, together with 2000 Jews in Pruzhane, he was sent by the Nazis to Auschwitz.  He died with his wife and his two children as martyrs.

Sunday 7 September 2014



He was the author of a book entitled Mishle moyshe, poems, lider un mesholim (Proverbs of Moyshe: poems, songs, and fables) (Buenos Aires, 1948), 218 pp.


     He was a journalist from Lemberg (Lvov).  He contributed to the Galician Yiddish press.

Source: Zalmen Reyzen, “Galitsye in der yidisher kultur” (Galicia in Jewish culture), Yoyvl-bukh far 30 yor keneder adler (Jubilee volume for 30 years of Keneder adler) (Montreal, 1938).


MARK ARNSHTEYN (ARNSTEIN) (January 2, 1878-1943)
     Born in Warsaw, his father was an iron manufacturer.  He studied in religious elementary school, and later in a private high school.  He worked for a period of time in a metal factory and at the same time continued his studies.  At age fourteen, he joined an amateur troupe of actors.  In 1897 he first published in the Polish-Yiddish newspaper Izraelita under the pen name “Andrzej Marek.”  In 1900 he wrote a drama in Polish entitled Khsidim (Hassidim), which was staged in Polish in Warsaw.  Around 1901 he began to publish in Yiddish in Der yud (The Jew) in which his one-act play, Der eybike lid (The eternal song), appeared.  The play depicted the life of laborers, and it later became part of the Yiddish theatrical repertoire (first staging, Riga, 1905).  He became well known for his play Der vilner balebesl (The young gentleman of Vilna)—about a cantor, R. Yoyel-Dovid Levnshteyn, in Vilna.  He wrote in Polish a play entitled Pieśniarze (Singers), staged in 1902 in a Polish theater in Lodz, and in 1905 in Yiddish.  The Vilna Troupe later performed this play with great success.  In 1905 he translated into Polish and directed Sholem-Aleykhem’s Tsezayt un tseshprayt (Widely scattered).  In 1912 his play, Di malke shabes (Queen of the Sabbath), was performed in Russian in Odessa.  At the same time, his play Naomi was being performed in Lodz in Polish.  Aside from this, he published stories, humorous pieces, poems, and theater reviews in Yud, Fraynd (Friend), Veg (Way), and Unzer lebn (Our live), among others.  He followed the advice of those in the circle of Y. L. Perets and strove to create a better Yiddish theater in Warsaw.  In 1914 he arrived in the United States where he staged his historical drama, Der letste meshiekh (The last messiah), as well as A yidishe tokhter (A Jewish daughter), and he published three one-act plays in Avrom Reyzen’s anthology Dos naye land (The new land).  He returned to Russia in 1916 and became director of the Russian theater in Vitebsk.  About this time, he wrote a series of one-act plays which were staged on Russian miniature stages and were published in the Russian magazine, Teatr i iskusstvo (Theater and art).  Together with N. Tsemakh, he contributed to the founding of Habima [the Hebrew-language theater] and was one of its first directors.  The commissar for Jewish affairs, Shimon Dimentshteyn, invited him to organize a Yiddish state theater in the Soviet Union.  The effort was unsuccessful, and in 1919 he came once again to the United States where he staged his comedies, A zun fun tsvey natsyonen (A son of two nations, 1920), Far der khasene (Before the wedding), and Di khsidishe tokhter (The Hassidic daughter).  In 1921 he directed in the Yiddish Art Theater in New York.  He published stories, articles, and poems in Tsukunft (Future), Tog (Day), Tsayt (Time), and Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal).  In 1923 he was in Argentina where he founded an amateur troupe and traveled around the Jewish colonies with it.  In 1924 he was in Chile where he gave lectures on Yiddish and Yiddish art.  That same year he staged in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, his drama on Russian life: In roytn land (In the red land).  In 1924 he returned to Poland where he staged in his own Polish translation of Sh. An-sky’s Dybbuk and H. Leivick’s Golem—and in the Yiddish theater, for the first time in Europe, Harry Sekler’s Yizker (Prayer for the dead).  In 1928 he staged the Golem in Kraków in the original.  The following year he staged Mirele efros in Lodz in Polish in his own translation and adaptation.  Even during the period of the Nazi invasion when he was in the Warsaw Ghetto, Arnshteyn did not cease his theatrical activities.  In 1941 he staged Mirele efros in Polish and contributed to the Yiddish cultural organization “IKOR” (Yidishe kolonizatsye organizatsye in rusland).  He was murdered in 1943 by the Nazis.
      Among his book-length works: Dos eybike lid, a bild fun arbayter lebn in eyn akt (The eternal song, a scene from the life of laborers in one act) (Warsaw, 1907), 28 pp.; Der vilner balebesl, drame in fir aktn (The young gentleman of Vilna. a drama in four acts) (Warsaw, 1908), 102 pp.; A yidishe tokhter, drame in dray aktn (A Jewish daughter, drama in three acts) (New York, 1914), 98 pp.; Mayn vaybs meshugas, komedye in eyn akt (My wife’s craziness, a comedy in one act) (New York, 1920), 32 pp.; Dramatishe shriftn (Dramatical writings), vol. 1 (Moscow: Kunst un lebn, 1918; Warsaw, 1926), 84 pp. (including: Dos eybike lid; Ver iz der gonef? [Where is the thief?]; Mayn vaybs meshugas; and Shvester un bruder [Sister and brother], a tragi-comic play in one act [Moscow: Kunst un lebn, 1918], 30 pp.); Dramatishe shriftn, vol. 2 (Warsaw, 1928) (Di nekome [Revenge], a translation; Ven di bleter faln [When the leaves fall]; Der friling geyt [Autumn departs], a dramatic study in one act [Moscow: Kunst un lebn, 1918], 25 pp.; Ven der tayvl lakht, [When the devil laughs]; Dem zeydns matone [A gift from grandpa], a comedy in one act for children; Di makhsheyfe [The witch], a children’s play).  Dos eybike lid in an improved printing appeared in Moscow in 1919 as well.  In 1918 in Moscow, a volume of his dramatical writings (Dos eybike lid, Shvester un bruder, and Der friling geyt) was published.  In Hebrew: Hashir hanitskhi (The eternal song) (Jerusalem, 1906-1907); Hashir hanitskhi (Bialystok, 1913), translated by Pesakh Kaplan.  A number of his one-act plays and other dramas appeared in Polish, Spanish, English, and Russian translations.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Z. Zilbertsvayg, Teater-leksikon, vol. 1; Sholem-aleykhem bukh (Sholem-aleykhem volume) (New York, 1926), pp. 205-6; Mikhl Vaykhert, Teater un drame (Theater and drama) (Warsaw, 1922), vol. 1, pp. 71-76; Sholem Perelmuter, Yidishe dramaturgn un teater-kompozitors (Yiddish dramatists and theater composers) (New York, 1952)

Menakhem Flakser


YISROEL ORNSHTEYN (May 19, 1831-1905)
Born in Yampol (Yampil), Ukraine.  He studied in religious elementary school and later devoted himself to self-study.  He settled in Iaşi (Jassy), Romania.  He was one of the first Yiddish writers in Romania.  In a Germanized Yiddish, he criticized a variety of phenomena in Jewish life, such as the improper conduct of Jewish community leaders and clergy.  In Hebrew, he wrote Bet yaakov, o dimat ashukim (The house of Israel, or tears of the oppressed) (1870), and in Yiddish a series of novels and stories such as Arbe aves nezikin (Damages of four fathers), Dos shlekhte kind (The evil child), Eyts-hadaas oder di tsuvilizatsyon (The tree of knowledge or civilization), Khizoyen yisroel oder khibet hakeyver (Israel’s prophetic vision or punishment after death), Di geheymnisse der yassyer gemeynde (The secret of the Iaşi community), and A vol yingl khlebin (A decent lad, really) (Lemberg, 1882); Rayones yisroel oder di genarte velt (Jewish imagination or the disappointed world) (Iaşi, 1896); and Der fardorbener daytsh (The depraved German) (Lemberg), among others.  His last works which appeared after his death include: Gilgl shoykhed oder der mitsraim hund (Transformation of graft or the dog of Egypt) and a short biography of Shabtai Delapan (?) (first part, Iaşi, 1906), 24 pp.  In his Rayones yisroel oder di genarte velt, he ridiculed the false shame connected with Yiddish and agitated on behalf of the notion of Zion.  In his Fardorbenes khosid (The depraved Hassid), he criticized premature weddings, comparing them to the medicinal remedies of old wives and demonstrating scorn for the practice, etc.

Source: Zalme Reysen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Pinkes Broynshteyn, ed., Yubiley numer fun tageblat (Jubilee issue from Tageblat) (New York, 1910).

Friday 5 September 2014


KHAYIM ORMYAN (CHAIM, HENRYK ORMIAN) (December 18, 1901-June 22, 1982)
     Born in Tarnov (Tarnów), Galicia.  He attended religious elementary school.  After studies at the University of Vienna, he received a Ph.D.  In the years 1925-1936, he was a teacher in the Hebrew high school in Lodz and lecturer in psychology at Lodz University.  He was the author of several books in the field of psychology in Hebrew, Polish, and German.  He also published articles on psychological and educational issues in Lodzher tageblat (Lodz daily news, 1927-1936); in Dos kind (The child, January, February, and March 1934); and in Yivo-bleter (Pages from YIVO) (Vilna, 1934-1939, 1945).  He was from 1936 living in Israel, and he died in Jerusalem.


YEHUDA (JUDA LOEB) ORLEAN (1898-October 10, 1944)
Born in Warsaw, he was a founder of Poalei agudat yisrael (Agudat Israel Workers) in Poland, a teacher and director of the Kraków Beys Yankev seminar, and leader of the Orthodox Beys Yankev Girls’ Schools in all of Poland.  Among his books: Tsu zate un tsu hungerike (Satiated and hungry) (Warsaw, 1930), 63 pp.; Yidish lebn, lernbukh far yaades (Jewish life, textbook for Judaism), part 1, second school year (third printing) (Warsaw, 1936), 126 pp.; together with Fridman, the same title, Yidish lebn, lern-kapitlen far yaades (Jewish life, instructional chapters on Judaism) (Munich: “Le-chinuch ha-torah, 1947), 20 pp.; Yidish lebn, lernbukh far yaades, part 2, second school year (Kraków: Beys Yankev tsentrale, 1938), 152 pp.  As Rabbi Yisroel Shapiro of Bluzhev recounted, he found himself with Orlean in Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp.  On the evening of Hoshana Rabba, 1944, they learned that the following morning they were going to be taken away to Auschwitz.  So it happened, and on Simchat Torah Orlean was murdered in Auschwitz.

Source: Y. Gledi-Gelbfarb, in Keneder odler (October 28, 1948).


TSVI M. ORLINSKI (HARRY ORLINSKY) (March 14, 1908-1992)
Born in Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada.  He graduated from the University of Toronto and Dropsie College in Philadelphia.  From 1931 he was living in the United States.  He was a professor of Bible criticism and archeology.  He was the author of works concerning Jewish archeology and history in Hebrew and English.  In Yiddish: “Goles bavel in shayn fun arkheologye” (The dispersion in Babylonia in light of archeology), Yivo-bleter 25 (1945); and “Tanakh un arkheologye” (Bible and archeology), Yivo-bleter (1950), pp. 21-48.

Source: Who’s Who in World Jewry (New York, 1955).


MORTKHE (MORDECAI) ORLIN (b. December 23, 1891)
Shortened name of Mortkhe Orlinski, he was born in Vilna to poor parents.  Until age twelve he studied in religious elementary school and in a public school.  He was living in the United States from 1911 as a laborer.  His first poems were published in Roman-tsaytung (Fiction news) (Warsaw, 1907); Lebn un visnshaft (Life and science) (Vilna, 1910); Gut-morgn (Good morning) (Odessa); as well as in Dos naye land (The new land), Vokhnshrift (Weekly writings), Kundes (Prankster), Tsukunft (Future), and Tog (Day), all in New York.  His book, Lite (Lithuania), was published in 1921 in New York (62 pp.), scenes drawn from Jewish towns in light, lyrical stanzas.

Source: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1.

Thursday 4 September 2014



A writer on politics and a translator, he was born in Vilna, Lithuania.  He was a member of a Zionist youth organization.  He studied in Berlin and there became a Communist.  In 1929 he came to Soviet Russia.  In 1934 he became a special correspondent and a contributor to Der emes (The truth) in Moscow.  He translated into Yiddish several short books for children by the Russian author Korney Chukovsky.  He wrote under the names: Y. Orlyuk, Kh. Orlyuk, and Ye. Arlyuk.  He was arrested in 1937 and shot with a number of writers for Der emes, including Moyshe Litvakov.  Two of his translations of Chukuvsky’s booklets: Fligele migele (“The chattering fly”), “freely translated” (Moscow, 1935), 16 pp.; and Telefon (Telephone) (Moscow, 1937).

Sources: Emes (Moscow) (July 9, 1935), as well as in issues dated August 23 and 26, and September 14, 1935.

[Additional information from: Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), p. 31.]


HERSHL ORLAND (1896-March 16, 1946)

A prose author, he was born in the town of Tetyev (Tetiyiv), near Kiev, Ukraine.  He studied in religious elementary school, and later he prepared to attend middle school as an auditor.  In 1918 he moved and settled in Kiev.  He volunteered and served in the Red Army, 1920-1921.  Demobilized from the army in 1922, he began working at the Kiev newspaper, Komunistishe fon (Communist banner).  The same year he published his first stories in that venue; his writings soon attracted attention for their juicy language, their lyrical quality, and their colorful depictions of nature.  In 1926 he was employed in the villages of Volhynia in land reclamation work, and he later embodied his experiences there in his novel Hreblyes (Dikes), part 1 (Kiev, 1929), part 2 (1931), part 3 (1935)—adapted for use in school, 1938—which attracted recognition for him as an important author.  In his second novel, Aglomerat (Agglomerate, 1935), he described a metallurgical plant in Kerch; social-economic reconstruction of the Jewish people who came from the towns into industry provided the main theme of both novels.  For many years in succession, he edited the Kharkov newspaper Shtern (Star) and the magazine Sovetishe literatur (Soviet literature), among others.  He was much consumed by journalistic and translation work.  In the war years, he was active in the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee.  He died in Moscow.

His writings include: Grobers (Ruffians) (Kiev, 1930), 68 pp.; Hreblyes (Kharkov rpt., 1931), 294 pp.; Shlakhtn, fuftsn yor oktyaber in der kinstlerisher literatur (Battles, fifteen years since October [1917] in artistic literature), compiled with Kh. Gildin and A. Kahan (Kharkov, 1932), 543 pp.; Aglomerat (Kiev, 1935), 228 pp.; A gast (A guest), a story (Kharkov-Odessa: Kinder-farlag, 1936), 15 pp.; Shikere gendz (Drunk geese) (Kharkov-Odessa, 1936), 12 pp.; Sorele in vald (Little Sarah in the woods), a story (Kiev: Ukrainian state publishers for national minorities, 1937), 12 pp.; A mayse mit a layb (A story with a heart) (Kiev: Ukrainian state publishers for national minorities, 1938), 14 pp.; Polyesye, a story (Kiev: Ukrainian state publishers for national minorities, 1939), 19 pp.; Infirn zaynen mir geforn (We led the way) (Kiev: Ukrainian state publishers for national minorities, 1940), 33 pp.  His translations include: Aleksandr Pushkin, Kapitanskaya dochka as Dem kapitans tokhter (The captain’s daughter) (Kiev, 1936), 109 pp.; Pavel Postyshev, Iz proshlogo as Fun der fargangenheyt (From the past) (Kiev, 1936), 39 pp.; Nikolai Ostrovsky, Kak zakalyalas' stal' as Vi s’hot zikh farhartevet dos shtol (How the steel was tempered), adapted for older children (Kiev, 1937); Vos geven un vos gevorn, zamlbukh (What was and what has become, anthology), compiled with B. Slutski (Kiev, 1937), 214 pp.; Victor Hugo, Les Travailleurs de la Mer as Di yam-arbeter (Toilers of the sea) (Kiev, 1940), 359 pp.; Ivan Franko, Boa konstriktor (Boa constrictor) (Kiev, 1940), 103 pp.  In addition his work appeared in: Ukraine, Almanakh fun yidishe sovetishe shrayber tsum alfarbandishn shrayber-tsuzamenfor (Almanac, from Soviet Jewish writers to the all-Soviet conference of writers) (Kharkov, 1934), Der arbeter in der yidisher literatur (The worker in Yiddish literature), Deklamater fun der sovetisher yidisher literatur (Reciter of Soviet Yiddish literature) (Moscow, 1934), Tsum tsig (To the objective), Komsomolye (Communist youth), and Lenin un di kinder (Lenin and children) (Kharkov, 1934).

Sources: Y. Bronshteyn, Atake (Attack) (Minsk, 1931), pp. 248-79; Kh. Dunyets, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (February 20, 1933); Shmuel Zhitkovski, Pruvn (Endeavors) (Kharkov, 1934), p. 92; M. Mizhiritski, in Shtern (Minsk) (September, 1936), p. 84; “Tvishn di sovetishe yidishe shrayber” (Among the Soviet Yiddish writers), Eynikeyt (Moscow) (June 7, 1942); Aleksander Pomerants, Inzhenern fun neshomes, di shrayber un bikher fun der yidisher sovetisher literatur (Engineers of the souls, the writers and books of Soviet Yiddish literature) (New York, 1943), p. 41; A. Pomerants, in Morgn-frayhayt (May 17, 1946); Arn Kushnirov, in Naye prese (Paris) (July 27, 1945); “Hershl Orland,” Eynikeyt (Moscow) (March 19, 1946), obituary with about 150 undersigned; N. Y. Gotlib, in Keneder odler (March 30, 1053).

[Additional information from: Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), pp. 30-31.]


     Born in Blotnitse, near Pryluky, Ukraine.  He studied in religious elementary school and level four high school in Rovne (Rivne).  He fought in WWI and returned an invalid.  He survived the civil war in Ukraine.  He began writing as age fifteen, with his first publication in Voliner shtime (Voice of Volhynia); he contributed to: Voliner lebn (Volhynia life) and Voliner tageblat (Volhynia daily news).  He published stories of Jewish village life in Ukraine, scenes from the Denikin and Petliura pogroms.  In 1930 he moved to Argentina.  He was the author of Fun fayer un shverd (From fire and sword) (Warsaw, 1929); and the drama Aleyn avek (Alone with) which was staged in 1919 in Kharkov.  He used the pseudonym Ben Golus and lived in Buenos Aires, where he died.

Source: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1.