Sunday 7 September 2014


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).

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