Sunday 9 November 2014

LEYB BASSAYN (LEON BASSEIN) (September 25, 1879-August 30, 1928)
Born in Minsk.  He was a co-founder of the Minsk Labor Zionists.  Around 1905 he emigrated to the United States.  For a certain period of time, he worked in the National Radical Schools.  His first publication was a sketch, entitled “Dos royte hemdl” (The red jacket), that appeared in Pinski’s Arbeter (Workers) (New York, 1925).  He was a regular contributor to Miller’s Varhayt (Truth) and Firer (Leader); assistant editor for the organ of the socialist territorialists, Dos folk (The people), in New York; and a contributor to Undzer veg (Our way) and Dos vort (The word) in Vilna, and Kibitser (Kibbitzer), Kundes (Prankster), Kinder-zhurnal (Children’s magazine), Kinderland (Children’s land), and Tsukunft (Future) in New York.  In the last years of his life, he was a regular contributor to Tog (Day) in New York.  Among his books: Di yidishe sphrakh (The Yiddish language) (New York, 1914), 126 pp.; Barni der melamed, zayn toyre un zayn milkhome mit di kundeysim fun kolombuses medine (Barney, the elementary school teacher, his Torah and his war with the tricksters in Columbus’s land) (New York, 1914), 169 pp.; Fun yidishn kval (From Yiddish springs) (New York, 1916), 306 pp. (together with Yoyel Entin); In roytn shayn (On the red certficate), sketches (New York, 1919), 314 pp.; Fun di kleyne kinders vegn (From the little children’s ways) (New York, 1921), with illustrations, 256 pp.; Yingele ringele (A little boy with his little ring), a very popular book (New York, 1929), 200 pp.  He also translated Jakob Wassermann’s Die Juden fun Zirndorf (The Jews of Zirndorf) as Di yidn fun tsirendorf (New York, 1918), 288 pp.; and eleven short stories by Edgar Allan Poe (New York, 1920), 240 pp.  His pseudonyms included: Leon Elbe, Leybe der royter, Ben ha-bat, A lamed-batnik.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; R. Ayzland, in Literarishe bleter (September 14, 1928); Y. Entin, in Tsukunft (May 1924); Sh. Hirsh, in Prolit (January-February 1931); A. B. Grin, in Tsukunft (October 1928); Bokher-velt (October 1928).

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