Wednesday 22 April 2015


HIRSH BRIL (April 1891-October 17, 1925)
            He was born in Papelyan, near Shavel (Šiauliai), Lithuania.  He studied in a secular high school in Vilna.  At age seventeen, he moved to South Africa, where he studied further in an English school.  He subsequently moved on to England to study medicine.  There he joined the British Workers’ Party.  In 1915 he returned to South Africa and practice medicine in Cape Town.  He began publishing in 1912 with short stories in Di yidishe fon (The Jewish banner) in Johannesburg.  In 1922 he wrote Khorev (Destroyed), a play in one act which depicts the sufferings of homeless Jews after WWI, and Shoul (Saul), a biblical drama in four acts (both were published in the journal Dorem-afrike [South Africa], 1922-1923; as a book: Kovno: Likht, 1922).  In 1924 he made a trip to Europe, and Berlin he published the collection Afn shvel (At the threshold) (Berlin: Schwellen, 1924, 99 pp.), which consisted of three dramatic works: Afn shvel, a three-act drama set in the time before the destruction of the Second Temple; Di dray (The three), “an old tale with a new style” (dialogue between Joseph and Mattathias Flavius, Yoḥanan ben Zakkai and Yoḥanan ben Levi); and Af der grenets (At the border), a play in one act (taking place amid a thief and revolutionaries in an autumn night in 1906 in Russia).  Bril also wrote articles on cultural and community themes in South Africa.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Z. Zilbertsvayg, Teater-leksikon, vol. 1 (New York, 1931); L. Gudman, in Dorem-afrike (Johannesburg) (August 1952); Y. M. Sherman, in Dorem-afrike (March 1954).

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