YANKEV GROPER (August 21, 1890-December 12, 1966)
He was born in Mihăileni, at the border between Moldavia and Bukovina, into a rabbinical family. He studied in religious elementary school, in synagogue study hall, and later he turned his full attentions to secular subject matter, studying law at Jassy (Iași) University. In 1913 he was a soldier in the Romanian army, and he took part in the Romanian war campaign against Bulgaria. Over the years 1916-1919, he was a non-commissioned officer in the Romanian army during WWI. He made his first stabs at writing in Romanian, German, and Yiddish. He lived in Czernowitz, 1907-1908, attended the Yiddish language conference there, and from that time forward switched entirely to Yiddish. In 1914 he published for the first time poems in Di yudishe velt (The Jewish world) in Vilna, and in Dos ilustrirte vokhnblat (The illustrated weekly newspaper) in Lemberg. He later contributed to Hamer (Hammer) in Brăila (Romania), Der veker (The alarm) in Bukarest, Frayhayt (Freedom) in Czernowitz, Der id (The Jew) in Kishinev, Tog (Day) in Vilna, Tsayt (Time) in London, the anthology Y. l. perets (Y. L. Peretz) which appeared just before Peretz’s death (New York, 1915), and Bukareshter zamlbikher (Bucharest anthologies), among others. In 1914-1915, he co-edited in Jassy Di pen (The pen), a humorous newspaper and the collection Likht (Light). Among his books: In shotn fun shteyn (In the shadow of a stone), poems (Bucharest, 1934), 96 pp. He translated works by Romanian and French poets into Yiddish, and his own poems were translated into Romanian. Groper was also active in the Jewish community and belonged to the Labor Zionists in Romania. He worked, 1911-1916, in the “Toybenhale,” an institution to spread Jewish culture in Jassy. Among his pen names: Nurd, Hashir, and Ofir. He was living in Bucharest. “A Jewish lyricist who emerged from the middle class,” wrote Shloyme Bikl, “and whose poems were worthy of publication in 1914 in Di yudishe velt in Vilna…. Romania today, together with Bessarabia and Bukovina, possesses of course a considerable literary heritage…. However, without Groper it would have been impossible for there to have been Itzik Manger.” Then, in 1964 he made aliya to Israel. Posthumously: Geklibene lider, Shirim nivḥarim (Collected poetry) ((Tel Aviv, 1975), 353 pp.; the parallel Hebrew was prepared by various translators. He died in Berlin and was buried in Haifa.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Zishe Bagish, in Indzl (Bialystok) 2 (1939); Y. Botoshanski, Portretn fun yidishe shrayber (Portraits of Yiddish writers) (Warsaw, 1933); Botoshanski, Mame yidish (Mother Yiddish) (Buenos Aires, 1949), pp. 145, 146, 151, 153, 158; Dr. Shloyme Bikl, In zikh un arum zikh (In and around oneself) (Bucharest, 1936); B. Tutshinski, in Tshernovitser bleter (December 4, 1934); Yankev groper un zayn tsayt (Yankev Groper and his time) (Tel Aviv, 1976), 299 pp.
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 173.]