Friday 24 October 2014


ZELIK (ZALMAN, MORDEKHAI) BALABAN (June 11, 1883-June 3, 1949)
Born in Dzigovke (Dzyhivka), a small town in the Yampol circuit, Podolia region.  By chance he happened to meet the Hebrew poet Yehuda-Leyb Levin who encouraged him to write.  He subsequently published poems, stories, and tales for children in Ha-ginah (The garden), Ha-perachim (The flowers), and Ha-shachar (The dawn).  In 1913 he moved to the United States where he contributed to Ha-doar (The mail), Ha-doar le-noar (The mail for children), Yehudah ha-tsair (The young Jew), and in Ts. Sharfshteyn’s Shacharut (Prime of life).  Under the influence of the Yiddish journalist L. Y. Prenovits, he began to write in Yiddish.  He published poems, stories, and legends in Forverts (Forward), Tog (Day), Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor), Miler’s Vokhnshrift (Weekly writings), Dos yidishe folk (The Jewish people), Yidisher kemfer (Jewish fighter), and Dos folk (The people) in Canada; he also contributed to Yidishe velt (Jewish world) in Philadelphia from 1914 until 1940, the year this newspaper ceased publication.  He died in Philadelphia on the first day of Shavuot in 1949.  A short time prior to his death, the first volume of his stories was published there: Mini kedem (From days of yore).

Source: Y. Tsuzmer, “Z. Balaban,” in Ha-doar (New York), p. ל (1949).


The date of his birth is unknown; the place was Orle, Poland.  He was the son of a ritual slaughterer, and he studied in religious elementary school and high school.  He was a teacher, a Zionist leader, a Joint official in Bialystok, and an inspector of “Joint” schools in Poland.  He was the author of Demografye fun der yidisher bafelkerung in byalistok far di yorn 1919-1935 (Demography of the Jewish population in Bialystok, 1919-1935) (Bialystok, 1937) with twenty-two tables, 53 pp.  His accounts, written in the Bialystok ghetto, are now lost.  He was killed during the first liquidation (February 1943).

Source: Der oyfshtand in byalistoker geto (The uprising in the Bialystok ghetto) (Warsaw, 1950).



He was the Yiddish translator of Aleksandra Kollantai’s novel, Fraye libe (Free love) (Warsaw, 1929), 238 pp.


Born in Vashilkove (near Bialystok).  He came to Bialystok and became active in a proletarian party.  He left for Argentina where he was a correspondent for Dos naye lebn (The new life) in Bialystok.  From there he moved to Israel and continued writing correspondences for the above-mentioned newspaper.

Source: Byalistoker leksikon (Bialystok handbook) (1935), p. 196.


MORDEKHAI BOKHNER (1897-October 28, 1977)
Born in Khzhanov (Chrzanow), eastern Galicia.  During WWII, he was interned in Hitler’s concentration camps.  In the years 1945-1950, he lived in Regensburg, and in 1950 he made aliya to Israel where he lived in Tel Aviv.  He was the author of Seyfer khzhanov, lebn un umkum fun a yidish shtetl (The book of Khzhanov, life and death of a Jewish town) (Munich-Regensburg, 1949), 375 pp.

Title page, Seyfer khzhanov

Source: Dr. Y. Shatski, in Yivo-bleter 37, pp. 268-70.

Thursday 23 October 2014


Born in Dvinsk (Daugavpils).  Her father was a teacher.  In 1917 she arrived in the United States.  In 1918 she began working in a sweatshop.  In 1924 she studied to become a teacher at the Workmen’s Circle.  Later she worked as a teacher in a Workmen’s Circle school, thereafter in schools of the International Workers Order (IWO).  She first published stories in Frayhayt (Freedom) in 1926.  She wrote about workers’ lives, about Jewish women of her day, and also about blacks.  Among her books: Fun a meydls togbukh un andere dertseylungen (From a young woman’s diary and other stories) (New York, 1941), 191 pp.; Yung lebn, dertseylungen (Young life, stories) (Cleveland, 1950), 188 pp.

Title page, Yung lebn, dertseylungen

Sources: Al. Pomerants, Proletpen (Proletarian pen) (Kiev, 1935); Y. Gotlib, “A meydls togbukh” (review), in Keneder odler (January 29, 1943); Yitshak Elhanan Rontsh, Amerike in der yidisher literatur (America in Yiddish literature) (New York, 1945), pp. 221-22.


     He was the rabbi of Vasilkov (Vasylkiv), Grodno region.  In 1911, Mordechai Tsederboym of Petrikov (Pietrykaŭ) in Poland published Boyarski’s edifying book, Dem yeytser hore's shuhle (shul), in ziben klasen (The school of the evil inclination, in seven levels), 40 pp., an excerpt from his text, Regesh amarenu (Sermons) (Vilna, 1898, 1904).  On the title page: “This explains the evil inclination’s cunning to bring down American Jews from their parents’ Judaism bit by bit and over the long haul.”  Due to the “serious trouble facing our simple brethren,… I have not written my work in zhargon [Yiddish].”  Thus, he produced the simpler portion of this work in Yiddish.  Di falshkeyt fun der kefire sistem (The falsity of the system of atheism) is not the same work and appeared in a separate pamphlet (Petrikov, 1910/1911): “This teaches and explains the falsity of…the heretics of our time, who are simple, short-sighted, lustful men…”

[With some information drawn from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 50.]


ELYE-PERETS BOYARSKI (March 15, 1866-October 20, 1916)
Born in Grodno.  His father, the great-grandson of R. Tanchum, a disciple of the Vilna Gaon, gave him a rigorous religious education.  In the yeshiva he began to devote his attention to secular education.  He became a bookkeeper.  At the start of the 1890s, he left for London and from there went to the United States.  He wrote for Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily news).  He lived for several years in California, and at the end of 1913 he settled in Chicago, and there he became the editor of Yidisher kuryer (Jewish courier).  He was a pioneer in the field of Jewish journalism in the West.  Among his pen names: Eykele Mazek, Alfonzo, Aliflis, A Lebezon, Af Bri, and Perl, among others.  He wrote articles and feature pieces, the majority of them under the titles, “Fun a vort a kvort” (A quart from a word) or “Eyn toyznt un eyn makheraykes” (1001 corruptions).  He participated in Jewish community affairs, as well as in municipal and national politics.  He died in Chicago.

Source: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1

Wednesday 22 October 2014



She was a Soviet Yiddish composer and children’s poet, born in Rzhyshchiv, Ukraine, into a home where Jewish music and song were appreciated.  At age ten, she entered school in Kiev for general education and simultaneously a music school. She graduated from both in 1914, entered a pedagogical institute, and from 1918 began her educational activities. She helped organize kindergartens for homeless Jewish children and personally administered children’s institutions. In Kiev, Kharkov, and Kremenchuk, she worked as a teacher of rhythm, music, and children’s games, and she gave lectures on children’s literature to upper-level pedagogical courses. In so doing, she also made use of her own poetry and compositions. In 1922 she settled in Moscow, where she continued her educational and creative work in the realm of music and children’s poetry. She wrote music to the texts of creations for children and became well known in Moscow music circles. The composer Mikhail Gnessin arranged two of her poems to music: “Mashinen-gezang” (Sone of the machines) and “Ot iz shoyn gekumen friling” (Spring has already arrived). In 1925 she published her first collection for preschool children: Klingen hemerlekh, lider-zamlbukh (Ringing gavels, collection of poems), ed. Y. Lubomirski (Moscow, 1925), 47 pp., containing forty poems to be sung. She later brought out collections of her poetry with text and music, and these were used in the wider network of Jewish preschool institutions. During WWII she continued writing music, and she especially excelled in the music she composed to Shike Driz’s Babi Yar. She also wrote music to the text of such Soviet Yiddish poets as: Dovid Hofshteyn, Perets Markish, Itsik Fefer, Shmuel Halkin, Ezra Fininberg, Arn Vergelis, Arn Kushnirov, and others. Her compositions include in their repertoire the finest singers and actors: Klare Yung, Nekhame Lifshits, Sore Fibikh, Shoyl Lyubimov, and Zinovi Shulman. They were also recorded on records.

Other works by her include: Arbet, shpil, gezang: kinder lider (Work, play, song: children’s songs) (Moscow, 1932), 39 pp.; Kleyne boyer, kinder-lider (Little drill, children’s poems) (Moscow, 1938), 46 pp.; Lomir zingen lider (Let’s sing songs) (Moscow, 1940), 51 pp.; Yidishe lider (Yiddish songs), for solo and choir with piano accompaniment (Moscow, 1966).

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 50; and 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. 34-35.]


ELYAHU BOTSHKO (ELIJAH BOTSCHKO) (February 25, 1890-January 12, 1956)
Born in Khorzel, Russia.  He studied and received rabbinical ordination in the Navaredok (Navahrudak) yeshiva.  In 1912 he became the rabbi of the Chai Adam synagogue in Navaredok, and he gave Talmudic lessons in the yeshiva.  In 1914 he moved to Switzerland.  The following year he founded the student group Yavneh in Basel, and he systematically gave lectures for them about Judaism.  From 1927 he served as head of the Etz-Chaim yeshiva in Montreux, Switzerland.  During WWII, together with his son-in-law, Dr. Veyngot, he worked diligently with the many refugees in Swiss camps.  He wrote religious works in Hebrew and German.  He was a contributor to the religious Jewish press.  Among his books, in Yiddish: Chagim uzmanim, gezamlte artiklen vegn yomim-toyvim un andere problemen fun yaades (Holidays and festivals, articles concerning the holidays and other issues in Judaism) (Paris, 1950).  In January 1956, he became ill while on board ship en route to the United States; he was taken off the ship, and he died in Ireland.

Sources: Tog-morgn-zhurnal (January 20, 1956); Who’s Who in World Jewry (New York, 1955).

Tuesday 21 October 2014


BOREKH BATSHELIS (BARNEY BACHELIS) (September 28, 1886-July 23, 1953)
Born in Koshevata (Kivshovata), Kiev region, Ukraine, into a Hassidic family.  He received a traditional Jewish education.  In 1901 he moved with his family to the United States.  They initially settled in New York.  In 1910 he moved to San Francisco.  He began publishing poems and sketches in 1913 in the local weekly, Kalifornyer yidishe shtime (California Jewish voice), edited by Dr. Y. Vortsman.  In 1916 he published in Portland, Oregon in eight issues of a newspaper, Der yidisher gayst (The Jewish spirit).  In 1917 he settled in Los Angeles where he contributed to the local daily newspaper, Di tsayt (The times).  At the same time, he published poems and translations from English-language poets and prose writers to: Kibetser (The Jiker), Kundes (Prankster), Di feder (The pen), Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor), Tsukunft (Future), Forverts (Forward), Varhayt (Truth), and Tog (Day).  In 1921 he assisted Dr. Y. Vortsman to renovate Kalifornyer yidishe shtime to which he contributed regularly.  Among his books: Shmeltsikhe, kleyne monologn (Scraps, short monologues) (Los Angeles, 1926), 24 pp.; Mentshn fun mayn dor, lider, poemen, baladn un iberzetsungen fun der velt poezye (People from my generation: poems, ballads, and translations from world poetry) (Los Angeles: publ. by his family, 1953), 278 pp.  Among his pseudonyms: Borekh ben Meyer.  He died in Los Angeles.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Roza Shomer-Batshelis, in Kalifornyer yontef bleter (Los Angeles, September 1955).

Monday 20 October 2014


BERL BOTSHAN (DOV BER BOCZAN) (1877-June 23, 1939)
He was the owner of a publishing house in Tshenstokhov (Częstochowa), Poland, which he founded with his father, Moshe Boczan, and over the course of many years published Yiddish weekly and daily newspapers.  In 1912 he began publishing Tshenstokhover reklamen-blat (Częstochowa advertiser) for nine weeks; in 1913, Tshenstokhover vokhnblat (Częstochowa weekly); and in 1914, Tshenstokhover togblat (Częstochowa daily newspaper) which went to press at the time of the outbreak of WWI.  During the years of WWI, he put out an edition in Częstochowa of Lodzher folksblat (Lodz people’s newspaper), and during the two world wars an edition of the Warsaw daily newspaper, Unzer ekspres (Our express), in which he turned over a portion of the paper to local news.

Source: Tshenstokhover yidn (Częstochowa Jews) (New York, 1947), pp. 92-101.


YEHOYNASON BATNITSKI (JONATHON BATNITZKY) (January 15, 1899-December 22, 1980)
     Born in Mariampol, Lithuania.  His father, Shloyme-Pinkhes, was a local rabbi.  He studied in the Slobodker yeshiva as well as with private tutors.  After WWI, he served as secretary of the Jewish National Board in Kovno until the elimination of Jewish autonomy in Lithuania.  He was also the general secretary of Healuts (Pioneers) in Lithuania.  His first published articles appeared in 1921 in a Poale-Tsiyon serial.  He made aliya to Israel.  He was later called to Brazil to manage a Poale-Tsiyon school in Porto Alegre.  In 1928 he moved to South Africa.  He was member of the editorial board of Afrikaner (African) in Johannesburg (until 1933), in 1937 he was editor of the Poale-Tsiyon publication Di prese (The press), 1939-1948 he was editor of Afrikaner yidisher tsaytung (African Jewish newspaper), from 1949 he was the editor-publisher of Yorbukh dorem-afrike (South African annual), and in 1950 the editor of Tsafim.  His books include: Yisroel tsvishn mizrekh un mayrev (Israel between east and west) (Johannesburg, 1950), 20 pp.  He also published articles in Tsukunft (Future) in New York, Davar (Word) in Tel Aviv, and elsewhere.  He died in Johannesburg.

Sunday 19 October 2014


BERL BOTVINIK (BOTWINIK) (December 24, 1885-August 29, 1945)
     Born in Rakov (Rakaw), Byelorussia, into a family of poor carpenters.  He studied in religious schools in Minsk.  He became a sign painter.  He joined the Bundist movement and was arrested for spreading illegal literature.  In 1905 he moved to the United States, where he initially worked in his trade and was active in the Jewish socialist movement.  His first published pieces were stories in Yidishe arbeter velt (Jewish workers’ world) in Chicago and Forverts (Forward) in New York.  In a contest of stories concerning Jewish life in America, organized by Forverts, he won a prize for his story “Shabes in der fri” (Sabbath morning).  From 1913 he was one of the leading contributors to Forverts, and editor of its theater department.  From 1921 he served on the editorial board of Veker (Alarm) in New York, where he also published pieces of a play entitled Yezus kristus (Jesus Christ).  His theatrical piece, Beylke maronetke oder di tayvlshe libe (Beylke Maronetke, or devilish love), was staged in 1913 and in 1919 (in a newer adaptation) by the Yiddish Art Theater.  A one-act play, Der vegetaryaner (The vegetarian), was staged by the “Free Yiddish Folksbine.”  In 1921 his play, Shayke der bal-agole (Shayke, the wagon driver), co-written with Y. Adler (B. Kovner), was performed in St. Louis.  Together with Mikhl Kaplan, in 1912 he tried to publish a journal in the Roman alphabet, Unzer shrift (Our writing), which provoked a polemic in the Yiddish press.  Among his books: Ertseylungen un bilder (Stories and images) (New York, 1920), 256 pp.; Geklibene ertseylungen (Collected stories), 2 volumes (New York, 1948), which was brought into print by his family after his death.  In 1984 Wayne State University Press in Detroit brought a translation by Philip J. Klukoff of some of his short storie, entitled Lead Pencil.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Z. Zilbertsvayg, Teater-leksikon, vol. 1; B. Gorin, Di geshikhte fun yidishn teater (History of the Yiddish theater) (New York, 1929), vol. 2; A. Kahan, in Forverts (February 15, 1931, January 5 and April 16, 1932); Hillel Rogof, in Forverts (April 23, 1932); D. Ignatov, in Tsukunft (December 1944); Melekh Ravitsh, in Yorbukh (New York, 1949).

Friday 17 October 2014


YANKEV BOTOSHANSKI (JACOB BOTOSHANSKY) (August 6, 1895-October (September?) 26, 1964)
     Born in Nay-Kilye, Bessarabia.  He studied in religious high schools in Kishinev and in Odessa, sustaining himself as an independent candidate who passed the sixth level of secular high school.  He began publishing in Russian newspapers.  His Yiddish debut in 1912 was in Gut morgn (Good morning) in Odessa; he published there a series of travelogues and stories.  In 1914 he joined the Russian army of his own accord.  Shortly before WWI broke out, he returned to Romania where he stayed until the annexation by Romania of Bessarabia.  In 1923 he spent a short period of time in Argentina.  At the invitation of Di prese (The press) in 1926, he settled in Buenos Aires.  He was a contributor to: Rampa in Bucharest; Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), Bikher-velt (Book world), Vokhnshrift (Weekly writings), Ekspres (Express), Haynt (Today), and Moment (Moment) in Warsaw; Parizer bleter (Parisian leaves); Tog (Day), Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal), Forverts (Forward), Oyfkum (Awake), Tsukunft (Future), and Feder (Pen) in New York.  He published articles, feature pieces, stories, travel impressions, theater and literary criticism, and fiction.
     Among his books: Nokh der forshtelung, groteskn un bilder funem yidishn aktyorn-lebn (After the performance, the grotesque and images from the life of a Yiddish actor) (Buenos Aires, 1928), 173 pp.; Fun beyde zaytn yam: dertseylungen, groteskn un minyaturn (From both sides of the sea: stories, the grotesque, and miniatures) (Buenos Aires, 1928), 129 pp.; Moyshe leyb halpern,…a kleyn krentsl oyf dem keyver fun a groysn dikhter (Moshe Leib Halpern,…a small gathering at the grave of a great poet) (Buenos Aires, 1932), 56 pp.; Portretn fun yidishe shrayber (Portraits of Yiddish writers) (Warsaw, 1933), 277 pp.; Di lebnsgeshikhte fun a yidishn zhurnalist, memuarn (The life story of a Jewish journalist, memoirs) (Buenos Aires, 1942), vol. 1, 396 pp., vol. 2, 414 pp., vol. 3, 444 pp.; Mir viln lebn, roman (We want to live, a novel) (Buenos Aires, 1944), 536 pp.; Breyshis fun medines yisroel, reportazhn (The genesis of the state of Israel, reportage) (Buenos Aires, 1948), 2 vols., 538 pp.; Mame yidish, eseyen un lektsyes (Mother Yiddish, essays and lectures) (Buenos Aires, 1949), 275 pp.; Pshat, perushim oyf yidishe shrayber (Literal sense, commentaries on Yiddish writers) (Buenos Aires, 1952), 400 pp.  Shabes, yontef un vokh in medines yisroel (Sabbath, holiday, and the week in the state of Israel) (Buenos Aires, 1958), 398 pp.; D”r zhivago (Doctor Zhivago) (Buenos Aires, 1959), 43 pp.; Di kenigin fun dorem-amerike (The queen of South America) (Buenos Aires, 1962), 338 pp.  Plays for the theater: Hershl ostropolyer, tragikomedye in fir aktn mit an epilog (Hershl Ostropolier, a tragi-comedy in four acts with an epilogue) (Buenos Aires, 1928), 41 pp.; Tsvishn tsvey revolutsyonern, R. ber lyoner, Hershl ostropolyer: dray drames (Between two revolutions, R. Ber Lyoner, Hershl Ostropolier: Three plays) (Buenos Aires, 1928), 186 pp.  Together with Yankev Shteyberg, Botoshanski wrote a series of theatrical reviews which were staged in Bucharest in the years of and after WWI.  Various Yiddish theater companies performed Hershl ostropolyer and R. ber lyoner in Soviet Russia, Cuba, Mexico, Australia, and Argentina.  He served on the editorial board of Di prese.  He helped edit four numbers of the anthology Likht (Light) (Iasi, 1915).  He edited Veker (Alarm), a weekly in Brăila, Romania in 1916; and Oyfkum, a monthly journal, in Buenos Aires in 1927.  His communal activities: in Odessa and later in Romania, he was close to the Zionists; after 1914, it was Poale-Tsiyon, later left Poale-Tsiyon; from 1922, he belonged to no single party and devoted himself in the main to Jewish cultural work.  He was sent as a delegate to the YIVO convention in Vilna in 1926.  In 1935 in Buenos Aires he was the initiator and inspiration for an energetic campaign against Temaim (Impurities); from 1951 chair of Yiddish writers’ association which bore the name of H. D. Nomberg in Buenos Aires.  Among his pen names: Yankev ben Avrom, Yasha, Montshi, Hannah Levin, Yankele Gibalshs, S. Murdes, Shimele Soroker, Tsingenton.  He was living in Buenos Aires.  He occupied a conspicuous place in the field of literary criticism.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Z. Zilbertsvayg, Teater-leksikon, vol. 1; Algemayne entsiklopedye (General encyclopedia), vol. 5, p. 82; Yankev Glatshteyn, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (June 1929, June 1949); N. Mayzil, in Oyfkum (New York) (July-August 1934); Moyshe Shtarkman, in Tog (New York) (July 20, 1940); Melech Ravitsh, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (April 3, 1945); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (July 31, 1949); N. B. Minkov, in Tsukunft (January 1953); Shmuel Niger, in Tog morgn-zhurnal (December 20, 1953); Yankev botoshanski tsu zayne 60 yor (Jacob Botoshansky at age 60) (Buenos Aires, 1955), 96 pp.

Thursday 16 October 2014


Born in Zhitomir (Zhytomyr) into a wealthy family.  For a time he studied together with Avrom Goldfaden in Zhitomir in a rabbinical school.  He later pursued his studies in Odessa.  He published the play Der bilbl (The frame-up), which Goldfaden adapted with the title Doktor Almasada (Dr. Almasada).  His play, Di meshugene oys libe (Crazy in love) was performed in 1880s in Russia with considerable success, as well as in other European countries and in the United States.  In 1880 he wrote Di shtile khasene, oder di farfolgte libe (The quiet wedding, or persecuted love), censorship dated: Kiev, June 24, 1905; and it was published by his brother, A. Bazilinski, 56 pp.  In 1881 he translated Ludwig Philippson’s Esther, a tragedy in five acts (Odessa, 84 pp.).  He did the same for Philippson’s Gedalia under the title Gedalyes toyt (Gedalia’s death), published by A. Bazilinski, 72 pp.  In Zalmen Reyzen’s Leksikon, vol. 1, his name is misspelled as Bazelinski.

Sources: Y. Sh., “Umbakante yidishe dramaturgn” (Unknown Yiddish playwrights), Pinkes (YIVO, New York, 1928); Z. Zilbertsvayg, Teater-leksikon, vol. 1 (New York, 1931), and his Teater-mozaik (Theater mosaic) (New York, 1941); Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1, p. 899.


He was from Dvinsk (Daugavpils), Latvia. He translated into Yiddish a work by Peter Beer, entitled in Yiddish:

Wednesday 15 October 2014


ZEV BAUMGOLD (b. July 5, 1908)
     Born in Lodz, Poland.  From early childhood, he was active in the Hitachdut Party [a socialist Zionist workers party].  He moved to Paris in 1929 to study jurisprudence.  He was a delegate to the Zionist Congress, and he took part in Parisian Jewish social life.  He was the national director of Poale-Tsiyon in France, 1937-1941.  In the 1930s he served as the Parisian correspondent for Lodzher folksblat (Lodz people newspaper) and Davar (Word), a contributor to the Parisian Tog (Day), and a cofounder and editorial secretary for Poale-Tsiyon’s weekly Undzer vort (Our word) in Paris.  In 1941 he emigrated to the United States.  He published articles about political and general Jewish and labor Zionist questions in Yidisher kemfer (Jewish fighter).  He was a cofounder and secretary of the Zionist workers’ committee for assistance and construction.  He authored a number of brochures concerning problems with Jewish assistance.  His books include: In di trit fun mayn dor (Footprints of my generation) (New York: Idisher kemfer, 1975), 527 pp.; Maamarim vemasot (Articles and essays) (Tel Aviv, 1980).

Tuesday 14 October 2014


YOYSEF (JOSEPH) BOVSHOVER (September 30, 1873-December 25, 1915)
     Born in Lubavitsh, Mohilev fistrict, Byelorussia, into a family of cantors and scholars on his mother’s side and businessmen on his father’s side.  He studied in religious schools and with his father, a scholar, who wanted him to become a rabbi, but he had no desire to remain in his father’s domain, and he then left for Riga where he worked for several years in a grain shop.  He quickly picked up German, and he began to read the German classics to the point where he could recite Heine by heart.  In October 1891, he emigrated to the United States, brought over by his brothers who had made their way there years before.  In the new world, he became a furrier in a sweatshop; he quickly learned the trade and did his job well, but he was not long for work in a sweatshop.  He became involved in the anarchist movement, began writing revolutionary poems, and read them aloud before the workers in their shops.  That made it impossible for him to continue working as a factory worker, and one of his brothers bought for him a grocery store, but he evinced no commercial aptitude and quickly wasted everything that had been invested in the store.  His brothers thus brought him into their business, but this too proved short-lived for him.  So, he became a private teacher of German, but did this as well without success.  His mind was entirely caught up in writing poetry.
      He published his first poems in the social democratic Arbayter-tsaytung (Workers’ newspaper) in New York under the pen name of M. Turbov.  His first poem was “Kapitals a korban” (Capital’s victim) on July 8, 1892; in his writings, this poem is titled “Afn shterbe-bet” (On the death-bed).  The image is that of a laborer who, due to hunger and need, was dying before his time.  The daily sufferings of work constituted the principal theme of the majority of the poems that he composed in these years.  Arbayter-tsaytung also published his first work of prose, “Kapitals karbones” (Capital’s victims), in September 1892.  The influence of Morris Rozenfeld, Morris Vintshevski (Winchevsky), and Dovid Edelshtadt run through his early writings.  Little by little Edelshtadt’s influence superseded others’ in Bovshover’s work, but this lasted only until 1894 when he set out on a new path.  The years 1894-1895 were a turning point in his life, and not only in his writing.  He lived in great poverty, and could not adapt to any more stable pursuit.  In the summer of 1895 he received from friends work in a Brooklyn furrier shop, but on the very first day of work Bovshover disappeared and only later was he found in New Haven, where he worked several hours each day in a clothing store, which offered him a place to sleep with an additional couple of dollars (A. Rodash, in Fraye arbeter shtime [Free voice of labor], January 3, 1936).  At noontime, “he used to help out in a restaurant and in return receive a meal and twenty-five cents.”  His third “job” was delivering newspapers every morning.  In New Haven, he learned to write English with fluency.  Back in New York in 1896, he found a job looking after a doctor’s office.  In his free time, he wrote a great deal both in Yiddish and in English.  He was by this point completely free of Edelshtadt’s influence and wrote such playful poems as: “Fest-lider” (Poems of affirmation), “Lust-lider” (Poems of joy), “Libe-lider” (Poems of love), “Dikhtung-lust” (Joy of poetry), “Friling-lust” (Joy of spring), “Di meydls libe-lid” (The girl’s love poem), “Der dikhter als gast” (The poet as guest), and the like.  Under the impact of English-language poets—in particular, Walt Whitman—at the same time he found his way to writing long, revolutionary poems, such as: “Tsum folk” (To the people), “A gezang tsum folk” (A song to the people), and “Revolutsyon” (Revolution).  That era coincided with a short period in which Bovshover wrote in English using the pseudonym “Basil Dahl.”  On March 7, 1896 the anarchist periodical Liberty published his poem, “To the Toilers” (an English translation of his Yiddish poem, “Tsum folk”), with Benjamin Tucker, the editor, offering an enthusiastic evaluation of Bovshover’s poetry and with a call to Anglophone critics to give the young author their recognition.  Tucker’s extravagant praise just confused the young writer.  His English-language poems did not appeared in Liberty after 1896—all in all, eleven poems (eight of them were later translated by A. Plotnik into Yiddish, and they appeared in Shtern [Stars], Minsk, March 1936).
     In the 1898-1899 period, a crisis occurred in Bovshover’s mood.  He became terribly embittered.  His new poems—“Dos lebn” (Life), “Di fridns-polme” (Freedom’s palm tree), and the like—were full of despair.  In 1898-1899 he contributed to Harkavy’s Der nayer gayst (The new spirit), in which he published his sketch, Oys dem togbukh fun a froy (From the diary of a woman) and, more importantly, his translation (in verse) of Shakespeare’s drama, The Merchant of Venice, as Shaylok oder der koyfman fun venedig (Shylock, or the merchant from Venice).  The translation caused quite a stir among the more intelligent readers.  Bovshover also wrote a short biography of Shakespeare and a critical preface to the play.  In 1899 he wrote an essay entitled “Vegn poezye” (On poetry), with poetic examples drawn from Goethe, Heine, Milton, and Petrarch, as well as critical biographies of Heinrich Heine (with a selection of the poet’s aphorisms), Ralph Waldo Emerson (with translations of two of his poems and excerpts from his essays), Walt Whitman (with citations from his writings), and Edwin Markham.  With the last of these, he translated the author’s poem, “The Man with the Hoe” as Der man mitn ridl (published by Fraye gezelshaft, 1899).  Thanks to his translation of The Merchant of Venice, he found an entrance into the Yiddish theater.  The actor Jacob Adler staged Bovshover’s translation, and Bovshover outlined for him plans for the theatrical staging of Schiller’s Kabale und Liebe (Cabals and love)—based on Yankev Gordin’s earlier adaptation entitled Reyzele—and of Hauptmann’s Fuhrmann Henschel (Wagoneer Henschel)—based on M. Katz’s adaptation entitled Gedalye der balagole.  He also planned to translate Goethe’s Faust, as he had already, it appears, translated portions of the work, but the Faust translation is absent from the published collections of Bovshover’s writings.  In October 1899, after a five-year interruption, Fraye arbeter shtime published poetry by Bovshover entitled “Naye un alte lider” (New and old poems)—“they ring strange to me, those workingman’s poems, which I sang and will sing again.”  Severe concerns about making a living and innate egocentrism brought about in him a mental illness.  He became melancholic.  “Friends clearly understood,” explained Maks N. Meysel (Fraye arbeter shtime, January 3, 1936), “what was happening to Bovshover, but none of them had the heart to commit him to an institution, and the one who finally did it remains unknown till this day.”  Bovshover lived for almost fifteen years in the institution (in Poughkeepsie, New York).  He died on December 25, 1915.  His brothers informed no one of his death.  Only in February 1916 did it become publicly known.  Bovshover’s talent was not properly appreciated until years after his death, and his name was remembered in connection with the three proletarian poets (Winchevsky, Edelshtadt, and Rozenfeld).
     Bovshover’s books include: Poetishe verk (Poetic works) (London, 1903), 96 pp.; Lider un gedikhte (Songs and poems) (London, 1907), 64 pp.; Bilder un gedanken (Pictures and ideas) (London, 1907), 64 pp.; Gezamlte shriftn, poezye un proze (Collected writings, poetry and prose) (New York, 1911), reprint in 1916, 347 pp.; Geklibene lider (Collected poems) (Petrograd, 1918), 32 pp.; Geklibene lider (Moscow-Kharkov-Minsk, 1931), 190 pp.; as Basil Dahl, To the Toilers and Other Verses, eleven poems written in English by Bovshover and sixteen translated by Rose Freeman-Ishill (New Jersey, 1928), 57 pp.; Shaylok (“Shaylok, oder der koyfman fun venedig”) (New York: Yehudah Katsenelbogen), 116 pp.; Shaylok (New York: Hebrew Publishing Company, 1911-1912); Lider (Poems) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1930), 120 pp.; Lider un dertseylungen (Poems and stories) (Kiev: Ukrainian state publishers for national minorities, 1939), 86 pp.  His nwork also was included in Mut (Courage) (Moscow, 1920); and Zamlung (Collection) (Kharkov, 1925).  In addition to the above: three unknown poems by Bovshover were published by Kalman Marmor in Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture) (New York) (April 1940).

Sources: Mikhl Kohn, ed., Geklibene shriftn fun y. bovshover (Collected writings of Y. Bovshover) (New York, 1911), pp. 3-27; Sh. Yanovski, in Tsukunft (March 1916); Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1, pp. 193-96, includes a bibliography; Y. Entin, Yidishe poetn (Yiddish poets), vol. 2 (New York, 1927), pp. 259-66; Forverts (New York) (February 8, 1916); Z. Zilbertsvayg, Teater-leksikon, vol. 1 (New York, 1931), p. 116, with a bibliography; Sh. Agurski, ed., Geklibene lider fun y. bovshover (Moscow, 1931), pp. 3-42; Fraye arbeter shtime (January 3, 1936) including articles by Dr. Mikhl Kohn, A. Rudash, Maks N. Mayzel, A. Almi, and Avrom Reyzen; V. Eybrams [William Abrams], in Signal (New York) (February 1936); Moyshe Shtarkman, in Hemshekh (New York) (1939), pp. 222-24; Algemayne entsiklopedye (General encyclopedia), vol. 4 (New York, 1944), pp. 61-62, includes a bibliography; Kalman Marmor, Yoysef Bovshover (New York, 1952), 80 pp.; Itsik Manger, Noente geshtaltn (Proximate images) (Warsaw, 1938), pp. 173-81; A. Shulman, Geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur in amerike (History of Yiddish literature in America) (New York, 1943); B. Y. Byalostotski, “Fir zenen zey geven” (There were four of them), in Dovid edelshtadt gedenk-bukh (Dovid Edelshtadt memorial volume) (New York, 1953), pp. 477, passim.
Yitskhok Kharlash

Sunday 12 October 2014


YITSKHOK-MOYSHE BADER (March 15, 1841-March 19, 1905)
Born in Kraków, he was the father of Gershom Bader.  He wrote correspondences, stories, and articles for Ha-magid (The preacher) and Ha-tor (The circlet), and he published in Yiddish: Di tane un fikhte in betar (Fir and spruce in Betar), Haynrikh oder geshmadt un gehangen (Heinrich or converted to Christianity and hanged), Tsviye fun odesa (Zvia from Odessa), Di mume gnendl (Aunt Gnendl), and Mistre kroka (Mysteries of Kraków).

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Gershom Bader, Medina veḥakhameha (The state and its sages) (New York, 1934).


GERSHOM BADER (August 21, 1868-November 11, 1953)
Born in Krakow into a family that traced its pedigree back to the Shakh (Shabbatai ben Meir HaKohen, 1621-1662) and the Shelah (Isaiah Horovitz, c. 1565-1630).  He was the son of Yitskhok-Moyshe Bader.  He studied in religious schools, and he spent one year in the home of the Krakow rabbi, Shimon Sofer (1820-1883).  At age fourteen he left Krakow on foot for Berlin to enter rabbinical school.  However, he was compelled to return home, and he became a teacher in villages.  In 1889 in Kolomyja, he took over the editing of Ha-shemesh (The sun) in place of R. A. Broyder.  In 1894 he was a teacher in Lemberg (Lvov), where he played an important part in Yiddish literary life and in the Zionist movement.  He was a pioneer in Yiddish literature and the press in Galicia.  He first published in the Yiddish weekly, Ha-karmel (The Carmel).  In 1898 he was editor of the biweekly Ha-ivri (The Jew), and he was the founder and editor (1904-1906) of the first Yiddish-language newspaper in Galicia (in Lemberg): Tageblat (Daily news).  He was the publisher of Yudisher folks-kalendar (Jewish people’s calendar, 1896-1912) and of an anthology Shtraln (Rays of the sun).  He was a contributor to Otsar ha-sifrut (Treasury of literature), Khermon (Mt. Hermon), Ha-et (The pen), Der yud (The Jew), Tsukunft (Future), Zhitlovsky’s Dos naye lebn (The new Life), Pardes (Orchard), and Ha-shiloach (The shiloah), among others.  He wrote stories, allegories, feature pieces, historical essays, literary treatises, and articles on current events.  His stage pieces include: Tate-mames tsores (Trouble for parents), Nont baym fayer (Near to the fire), Yisroel bal shem tov (Yisroel Bal-shem-tov [founder of Hassidism]), R’ chaim raytses (R. Chaim Raytses), Der amerikaner doktor (The American doctor), and Di goldene royz (The golden rose), among others.  In 1912 he settled in New York and became a longtime contributor to Tageblat (Daily news) and Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal).  Among his books: Tsvishn blut un fayer (Between blood and fire) (New York, 1916), 99 pp.; R’ Yisroel bal shem tov, historishe folks-shtik in fir aktn (R. Yisroel bal shem tov, a popular historical piece in four acts) (Lemberg, 1922), 68 pp.; Draysik doyrer yidn in poyln, fun der ershter tsayt vos yidn zenen ahin gekumen (Thirty generations of Jews in Poland, from the first time that Jews came here) (New York, 1927), 494 pp.; Eybike emesn fun sforim un funem lebn, kleyne mayses un sharfe bamerkungen (Eternal truths from religious works and from life, short tales and sharp observations) (Vienna, 1927), 304 pp.; Divre kheyn veseykhel (Words of charm and wisdom) (New York, 1935), 103 pp.; Naye horizontn vegn undzere alte yomim-toyvim (New horizons on our ancient holidays) (New York: “Pardes,” 1938), 127 pp.; Di milkhomes fun di khashmenoim (The wars of the Maccabees) (New York, 1940), 358 pp.; Medina veḥakhameha (The state and its sages), a Hebrew-language handbook of Galician writers (New York, 1934); Mayne zikhrones (My memoirs) (Buenos Aires: Tsentral-farband fun poylishe yidn in argentine, 1953), 429 pp.  His works of popular history and his memoirs retain significant value.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Z. Zilbertsvayg, Teater-leksikon, vol. 1; Avrom Reyzen, Epizodn fun mayn lebn (Episodes from my life), part 3 (Vilna, 1935); Zalmen Reyzen, “Galitsye in der yidisher kultur” (Galicia in Jewish culture), in Yoyvl-bukh 30 yor keneder odler (30-year jubilee volume of the Canadian eagle) (Montreal, 1938); Dr. Y. Tenenboym, Galitsye mayn alte heym (Galicia, my old home) (Buenos Aires, 1952); Yankev Mestl, 70 yor teater-repertuar (Seventy years of theater repertoire) (New York, 1954); A. Goldberg, “Der talmid khokhem gershom bader” (The scholar Gershom Bader), in Yorbukh poylishe yidn (Annual of Polish Jews) (1938); Melech Ravitsh, “Gershom bader,” Keneder adler (November 29, 1953); Dr. Y. Klausner, Historiyah shel hasifrut haivrit haadashah (History of modern Hebrew literature) (Jerusalem, 1930), vol. 2.

Friday 10 October 2014


     He was the owner of a publishing house (founded in 1899) in New York at 63 Clinton St., and at other sites.  He was the author of booklets, written in primitive verse, but in an entirely popular style of language to which was added bits and phrases from the Sages.  All of his booklets were published between 1920 and 1935.  They touch on actual community matters, the majority of them from the point of view of religious Judaism.  These booklets include: Kol arye (Voice of Arye) (New York, 1926), 128 pp.; Emuna al pi haskala (Faith according to the [Jewish] Enlightenment) and Tohorot hamishpaḥa (Purity of the family), printed together (New York, 1924), 32 pp., pocketbook format; Hameorer letaken olam beemet, der veker tsum emes (Alarm to repair the world in truth, the alarm to the truth) (New York, 1920), 8 pp.—in this pamphlet the author agitated for his position on behalf of “socialism” and a five-day work week; Sotsyalizm min ha-torah (Socialism from the Torah) (unidentified further); Megilat ester (Scroll of Esther), rhymes concerning the school (New York, 1936), 21 pp.  All of these were printed in Bodenshteyn’s own publishing house.  He died at a ripe old age (see the last page of Emuna al pi haskala, his message under the words “Al tashlikheni leet zikna” [Do not cast me out in my old age]).


He was a laborer living in Chicago.  He published poems about a workingman’s life and about impressions of nature in Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor).  A book by him was entitled Letste klangen, lider (Last sounds, poems) (Chicago, 1939), 72 pp.

Source: Tsukunft (New York) (August 1940).

[N.B. This entry may be in error, as most bibliographic sources give the author of Letste klangen to be Majer Bogdanski.  See entry under “Moyshe (Majer) Bogdanski.”—JAF]


Born in Smorgon (Smarhon’), near Vilna.  In 1897 she became a medical doctor in Boston.  She was the wife of the Anglo-Russian writer (on medical topics), Dr. Aleksander Rovinsky (d. 1931).  She began publishing in 1886.  For many years she contributed essays to Der tog (The day) in New York.  She composed two plays, one of which was published under the title Dem doktors refue (The doctor’s remedy), a drama in four acts (New York, 1913), 132 pp.

Source: Biographical Encyclopedia of American Jewry (New York, 1935).

Thursday 9 October 2014


SHAUL BADANES (1865-April 23, 1940)
Born in Vilna, he graduated from the teachers’ institute there.  He emigrated to the United States with the first group of “Am olam” (The eternal people) in May 1882.  He was the first graduate of the pedagogical division (Teachers College) of Columbia University in New York.  He was a teacher and author of pedagogical writings.  He published articles in Tsaytgayst (Spirit of the times) in 1905 which were concerned with Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Sources: Forverts (New York) (April 25, 1940); Morg-zhurnal (New York) (February 7, 1943).


BERNARD BADANES (March 14, 1870-January 1942)
     Born in Russia, he came to the United States in 1886, where he was a dentist and lived in Queens, New York.  He was the author of a book entitled Tseyn higyene vi tsu farhiten dos gezuntheyt fun di tseyn (Dental hygiene so as to protect the health of the teeth) (New York, 1921), 32 pp.

Title page of Badanes's book


G. BOGEN (D. BOGEN) (1892-February 12, 1948)
     Adopted name of Gershon Dua, he was born in Shedlets (Siedlce), Poland.  He was an international Communist activist.  He was the former Paris correspondent for Morgn-frayhayt (Morning freedom), and he contributed to Zibn teg (Seven days) in Vilna (1935-1936), Nayes lebn (New life) and Folks shtime (Voice of the people) in Lodz.  Among his books: In poylishe tfises (In Polish prisons) (Mexico, 1925), 71 pp.; Mopr (International Red Aid) (Moscow: Central Committee of MOPR, 1925), 32 pp.; Der vayser teror in palestine (The white terror in Palestine) (Mexico, 1926), 43 pp.; Di, vemen me fargest nit (Those one does not forget) (Mexico, 1933), 175 pp.; Oyfshteyg (Ascent), stories (Moscow: Emes, 1935), 200 pp., new edition (Warsaw, 1956); Di umfargeslekhe (The unforgettable) (Warsaw: Yidish bukh, 1955), 126 pp.; Af di shpurn fun gvure (On the tracks of heroism) (Warsaw: Yidish bukh, 1965), 277 pp., reportage pieces from the Spanish Civil War.  Among his pseudonyms: Admoni, A. Ger, Verber.  He was killed in an automobile accident.

Sources: Biblyografisher arkhiv fun der yidisher sovetisher lite (Bibliographical archive of Soviet Jewish Lithuania), YIVO (New York); Dos naye lebn (Lodz) (February 20, 1948); Di folks shtime (Lodz) (February 20, 1948).


ZISHE BAGISH (d. January 20, 1944)
Adopted name of B. Vaysman, he was born in Lodz into a rabbinical family.  The date of his birth is unknown.  Between the two world wars, he was ideologically tied to the Communists.  He lived in Belgium, France, and Romania.  In 1937 he returned to Lodz, and in 1938 he settled in Bialystok.  He edited the periodical Der yingl (The young man) until the war broke out in 1939.  During the Soviet occupation of Bialystok, he was for a short time secretary of the Jewish writers union.  When the Germans took Bialystok, he remained in the Bialystok ghetto, and later in Birkenau next to Auschwitz.  As reported by Refuel Rayzner (Der umkum fun byalistoker yidntum, 1939-1945 [The destruction of Judaism in Bialystok, 1939-1945] [Melbourne, 1948]), Bagish voluntarily surrendered himself to death in the gas chambers, so as to save those younger and healthier than he.  His publications appeared in: Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves); Oyfgang (Arise) in Sighet, Hungary; Byalistoker lebn (Bialystok life), a Soviet Jewish publication (1939); Radyo (Radio), an afternoon publication from Moment (Moment) in Warsaw in which he published a biographical novel entitled “Lenin”; Der veg (The way) in Mexico (1939) in which he published one of his last poems entitled “Tsu mayn yidish folk” (To my Jewish people).  Among his books: In shtubikn vandl (Wandering within), poems (Antwerp, 1931); Lernt lib tsu hobn s’lebn, lider un plakatn (Learn to love life, poems and posters) (Brussels, 1935), 96 pp.; Dos gezang fun neger-folk (The song of the Negro people), translations (Chicago, 1936), 44 pp.; Portretn (Portraits) (Bucharest, 1937), 89 pp.; Khinezish (Chinese), translations (Chicago, 1938), 73 pp.; In kinderland, lider (In a children’s world, poems) (Warsaw, 1938), 16 pp.  He belonged to the modernist turn in Yiddish poetry.

Cover of Doz gezang fun neger folk

Sources: A. Almi, in Oyfgang (Sighet) (December 1938); Yisroel Shtern, in Haynt (Warsaw) (February 22, 1935); Yoysef Volf, Kritishe minyaturn (Critical miniatures) (Krakow, 1939); A. Rontsh, Amerike in der yidisher literatur (America in Yiddish literature) (New York, 1945); Shmuel Niger, Kidesh hashem (Martyrdom) (New York, 1948); R. Rayzner, Der umkum fun byalistoker yidntum, 1939-1945 (The destruction of Judaism in Bialystok, 1939-1945) (Melbourne, 1948); Moyshe Grosman, In farkhishuftn land fun legendarn Dzhugashvili, mayne zibn yor lebn in ratnfarband, 1939-1946 (In the enchanted land of the legendary Dzhugashvili [Stalin], my seven years living in the Soviet Union, 1939-1946) (Paris, 1949); Ber Mark, Der oyfshtand in byalistoker geto (The uprising in the Bialystok ghetto) (Warsaw, 1950); Ber Mark, Umgekumene shrayber fun di getos un lagern (Murdered writers from the ghettos and camps) (Warsaw, 1954).

Wednesday 8 October 2014


SHLOYME (SALOMO) BOGIN (b. March 13, 1895)

Born in Gluboke, Vilna region.  He was the grandson of the Gluboke rabbi, R. Moyshe-Gershon Bogin (the prodigy of Krupke).  He studied in religious schools and received permission to officiate as a rabbi.  He later became acquainted with enlightenment (haskole) literature and set out to acquire a secular education, while remaining religious.  After WWI, he took an active role in auxiliary work for Yekopo (Yevreyskiy komitet pomoshchi zhertvam voyny—“Jewish Relief Committee for War Victims”) in the Vilna area.  He was also secretary of the first Jewish community management committee in Gluboke (1920-1922), as well as being an active leader in all cultural institutions in his town: the Jewish public school, professional school, library.  He began writing after studying at the Bobryusk yeshiva.  In the years 1921-1922, he contributed to Undzer hilf (Our assistance), organ of Yekopo (Vilna).  Among his books and pamphlets: Tsu di progromen in ukraine (On the pogroms in Ukraine) (Minsk, 1920); Nokhn pogrom, a drame in dray aktn (After the pogrom, a drama in three acts) (Vilna, 1922), 32 pp.; Der ferter internatsyonal afn shtern mars, fantastishe dertseylung (The fourth international on the star Mars, fantastic tale) (Bialystok, 1927), 106 pp., second printing (New York, 1929); Fun yeshu biz lenin: religye, familye, kapitalizm un marksizm in likht fun obyektiver sotsyologye (From Jesus to Lenin: religion, family, capitalism, and Marxism in the light of objective sociology) (Bialystok, 1930), 82 pp.; Geshikhte fun der evolutsye fun religyezn gedank (History of evolution of religious thought), with a foreword by A. Almi (New York, 1937), 140 pp.  Bogin was editor of Gluboker lebn (Gluboke life), and from 1934 of Gluboker vokh (Gluboke week).  He later moved to the United States and became a rabbi in Chicago.