Sunday 4 January 2015


     Born in Pumpian (Pumpenai), Kovno (Kaunus) region, his father, Khayim-Yitskhok, was known as the “preacher of Posvol” (Pasvalys) and later as the “preacher of Grodno.”  He studied in religious elementary schools and yeshivas in Ponevezh (Panevezys) and Kovno.  In his early youth, he was a member of the Kovno Zionist territorialists.  While still quite young, he published correspondence pieces in Fraynd (Friend) in St. Petersburg, using the pen name “A pumpyaner.”  In 1909 he published his first literary piece, a poem entitled “Fartsveyflung” (Despair) in Lebn un visnshaft (Life and science), edited by A. Litvin, in Vilna.  In 1910 he left for Germany, and in 1911 he arrived in the United States.  He studied in New York at City College.  In 1914 he joined the Poale-Tsiyon party.  He was among the first founders of Yiddish schools in the United States.  He worked as a teacher—initially, in the “National Radical” schools and later in the schools of the Workmen’s Circle.  He was for many years a member of the pedagogical council of the Workmen’s Circle.  He was a cofounder and active participant in Yiddish cultural organizations.  He contributed to a number of magazines and newspapers with poems and essays.  He also published pieces under the pseudonyms: B. Y. Belkin, Ben Ha-magid, Sh. S. Heler, Aviv, and B. Y. B.  Over the years 1918-1919, he served on the editorial board of Yunger yidisher kemfer (Young Jewish fighter); in 1919, together with Yoyel Entin and Sh. Shapiro, he edited the first children’s magazine in Yiddish—Di kinder-velt (The children’s world); 1919-1920, he was the managing editor and editorial secretary of Yidisher kemfer (Jewish fighter); 1920-1922, he was editorial secretary of Di tsayt (The times), edited by Dovid Pinski; from 1922, he was a regular contributor to Forverts (Forward); 1927-1932, he edited, together with Z. Veynper and Ber Lapin, the literary journal Oyfkum (Arise).  Among his books: Baym breytn veg (On the distant path) (New York, 1920), poems, 91 pp.; Lider un eseyen (Poems and essays), 2 volumes (New York, 1932); Fun di shtamen (From the roots) (New York, 1939), 190 pp.; Binele, a mayse fun a yingele vos hot zikh gelozt zukn dos land fun eybikn yontef (Binele, a story of a youngster who was set on searching out the land of eternal holidays) (New York, 1940), a children’s story, 96 pp.; Y. l. perets, tsum finf un tsvantsikstn yortsayt (1852-1915) (Y. L. Perets, 1852-1915, on the 25th anniversary of his death) (New York, 1940), 24 pp.; Moris rozenfeld, 1862-1923 (Morris Rosenfeld, 1862-1923) (New York, 1941), 48 pp.; Fun goles bovl biz roym (From the Babylonian exile until Rome) (New York, 1949), 345 pp.; Kholem in vor, eseyen (Dream in reality, essays) (New York, 1956), 484 pp.; Lid tsu lid (Poem to poem) (New York, 1958), xxv, 434 pp.; Di mesholim fun dubner magid un andere eseyen (The parable of the preacher of Dubno and other essays) (New York: CYCO, 1962), 372 pp.; Yidishe humor un yidishe letsim (Jewish humor and Jewish clowns) (New York: CYCO, 1963), 282 pp.  He also edited the Dovid edelshtat gedenk-bukh (Dovis Edelshtat memorial volume) (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, 1953), 624 pp., to which he contributed an essay on Edelshtat, Morris Rosenfeld, and Yoysef Bovshover.  He also translated Lord Byron’s “Jewish Melodies” and published them in Zamlbikher 6 (edited by H. Leivick and Y. Opatoshu) (New York, 1946).  Among his final works was an essay collection entitled Kholem un var (Dream and reality) (New York, 1956), 484 pp.  A collection of his poems (484 pp.) was in press as well.  He was living in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1, N. Shteyberg, in Di tsayt (New York) (Sedptember 20, 1920); Shmuel Niger, in Tog (New York) (July 17, 1932 and September 18, 1932); P. Vyernik, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York (November 13, 1932); H. Rogof, in Forverts (New York) (June 22, 1935); Sh. Tenenboym, in Yidisher kuryer (Chicago) (July 7, 1940); Who Is Who in World Jewry (New York, 1955).

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 78.

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