Monday 30 November 2015


A. DISKIN (b. 1879)

            He was born in Warsaw, Poland.  He received both a Jewish and a secular education, graduating as an engineer.  He was the author of a number of popular scientific pamphlets which were published as notebooks, such as: Vi azoy flit der mensh in der luft, di geshikhte fun luft-plyen (How man flies in the air, the history of the airplane) (Warsaw, 1910), 16 pp.; and Luft-flyeray in der tsukunft, vet di luft-mashin fartretn di banen un shifn (Flying in the air in future, as the airplane will replace trains and ships) (Warsaw, 1910), 16 pp.


Y. DISKONT (d. 1943)
            He was born in Kovno, Lithuania.  He was a Hebrew teacher and cultural leader.  When the Nazis occupied Lithuania, he was in the Kovno ghetto, and there he composed a great number of Yiddish songs, which were sung in other ghettoes and camps as well.  A number of his songs, written in the years 1941-1943, were published in a volume compiled by Sh. Katsherginski, Lider fun di getos un lagern (Songs from the ghettos and camps) (New York, 1948).  His songs “Serenade” (Serenade), “In der yeshive” (In the yeshiva), “Mayn kleyner martirer” (My little martyr), and “Dos geto-land” (The ghetto country) convey the feelings of Jews in the ghetto.  His songs “Himl un erd veln zingen” (Heaven and earth will sing) and “Genug tsu tsitern” (Enough to cause anxiety)—composed over the days of Hanukkah in 1943—were thematically influenced by Jewish partisan activists.  He died in a German concentration camp.

Sources: Sh. Katsherginski, Lider fun di getos un lagern (Songs from the ghettos and camps) (New York, 1948); B. Mark, Umgekumene shrayber fun di getos un lagern (Murdered writers from the ghettos and camps) (Warsaw, 1954), pp. 207-8.


ARYE DISENTSHIK-SINI (ARYEH DISSENTSHIK) (December 13, 1907-August 15, 1978)
            He was born in Riga, Latvia, into a Zionist family.  He received both a Jewish and a secular education.  He later graduated as a doctor of medicine.  Until 1934 he lived in Riga, where he served as one of the leaders of the Revisionist movement, of the Hebrew school curriculum, and of a number of Jewish community institutions.  From 1934 he was living in Israel.  For a long time he practiced as an eye doctor.  He first published current events articles in Dos folk (The people) in Riga.  Later he was one of the co-editors of the Revisionist afternoon newspaper Ovent post (Evening mail).  In Israel he published in various outlets, mainly in the Tel Aviv daily Maariv (Evening).  He served as co-editor of the Revisionist daily newspaper Hayarden (The garden), 1935-1936, and Haboker (This morning), 1936-1948.  Following the death of Dr. Azriel Carlebach, he assumed the position of chief editor.  He died in Tel Aviv

Sources: M. Gerts, 25 yor yidishe prese in letland (25 years of the Yiddish press in Latvia) (Riga, 1933); M. Bobe, Yahadut latviya (Jews of Latvia) (Tel Aviv, 1953), see index; Sefer hashana shel haitonaim (The annual of newspapers) (Tel Aviv, 1951); Heymish (Tel Aviv) (February 1958).

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 198.]


            He was a publisher in London.  He published the Yiddish weekly Hashoyfer (der trumeyt) (The trumpet) in London—first issue, January 21, 1874.  The editor (or associate editor) was Zalmen Elyashyevitsh, a Hebrew writer who wrote under the pseudonym Ḥazal.  Some scholars believe that Distilator was also a co-editor of Hashoyfer.  He used the pen name Tsitem.

Sources: E. R. Malachi, in Zamlbukh, lekoved dem tsvey hundert un fuftsikstn yoyvl fun der yidisher prese 1686-1936 (Anthology in honor of the 250th jubilee of the Yiddish press, 1686-1936), ed. Dr. Y. Shatski (New York, 1937), pp. 315-17; K. Marmor, in Morgn frayhayt (New York) (April 4, 1937).


            This was the literary name of R. Mortkhe-Yitskhok Edelman (Aydelman, Edelmann), son of R. Simcha-Reuben Edelman; he lived in Bialystok.  He was a great scholar, brilliant Hebraist, master grammarian and poet.  He authored religious texts on the Talmud and Tanakh.  He translated into Yiddish Ecclesiastes; translated and wrote up in poetic form Job (part 1) (Bialystok, 1938), 84 pp.; Lider fun tanakh un Talmud (Poems from the Tanakh and the Talmud), 2 parts (Bialystok, 1938), 40 pp.; Rus, Shir hashirim, Danyel (Ruth, Song of Songs, Daniel) (Bialystok, 1938), 41 pp.  He was the author of Sefer pitgame hatalmud (Proverbs of the Talmud), Talmudic sayings freely translated into Yiddish (in free verse) (Lomzhe, 1912), 156 pp.  He was also the author of such religious texts as: Yedot hamidot (On measurements) (Bialystok, 1910), 235 pp.; Hashkafot hatalmud (Outlooks of the Talmud) (Bialystok, 1911), 191 pp.; Mearat adulam (The cave of Adullam) (Bialystok, 1912), 106 columns; Dorash reshumot (Exponent of the Torah); Ḥomer letoldot hatalmud (Stringency in the annals of the Talmud); Haakov lemishor (Turn in the road); Haosher vehaoni (Wealth and poverty) (Bialystok, 1913), 56 pp.; Hayayin hasharoni (Sharon wine) (Bialystok, 1913); Meerkat hamitsvot (From the list of the commandments); Mishle hatalmud (Proverbs of the Talmud) (Bialystok, 1929), 243 pp.  And, he began publishing a text in three parts, Talmud hamitsvot (Study of the commandments).  During WWII he was killed by the Germans in the Bialystok ghetto.

Sources: A. Sh. Hershberg, ed., Pinkes byalistok (Records of Bialystok), vol. 1 (New York, 1949); Tsukunft (New York) (1937); Byalistoker leksikon (Bialystok handbook) (Bialystok, 1935)

Yitskhok Kharlash

Sunday 29 November 2015


YANKEV DINEZON (JACOB DINESON) (1850s-August 29, 1919)
            He was born in Nay-Zager (Žagarė), Kovno district, Lithuania.  He studied in religious elementary school, yeshiva, and read widely.  He was strongly influenced by two major figures in Žagarė of that time: R. Khayim Zak and the poet Mikhl Gordon (1823-1890).  When he was twelve years of age, his father died.  He was raised by an uncle, Ayzik Elyashev, in Mohilev (Mogilev), near the Dnieper River.  The wife of the wealthy Mohilev merchant Hurvits had an influence on Dinezon’s spiritual development, as he worked as a Hebrew teacher in her home.  Sent from the Hurvits household to Vilna, Dinezon got to know Ayzik Meyer Dik at the Romm Publishing House.  By that time he had already published articles in Hamagid (The preacher) and Hamelits (The advocate), as well as in Smolenskin’s Hashaḥar (The dawn); and he published the pamphlet Duner un blits (Thunder and lightning) (Vilna, 1874).  He sent the manuscripts of his first two novels to Vilna: Beoven avos (For the sins of the fathers), “or a play for Jewish girls, shopgirls, and female innkeepers”; and Haneehavim vehaneimim, oder der shvartser yunger-mantshik (The beloved and the pleasant, or the dark young man) (Vilna, 1877).  He sold the first of these two novels for a high price, but it was never published because a wealthy party in Mohilev, a relative of the Vilna censor, was portrayed negatively in the novel.  The second novel was, according to Shmuel Niger, “the first long Yiddish novel and also the first sentimental novel in Yiddish”—a book with a moral; after it appeared in 1877 it enjoyed great success, selling some 10,000 copies in a short period of time.  The novel was subsequently republished many times and was even dramatized and performed on stage.  For a long time thereafter Dinezon did not write.  This was allegedly due to his love for a Hurvits daughter, his tutee.  Another version has it that it was due to a public stance taken against Yiddish by Perets Smolenskin.  Like all of his contemporaries, Dinezon looked upon Yiddish as a means of enlightening and teaching the masses, and it seems he remained undecided about writing further in Yiddish.  He afterward spent a brief time in Kiev, and in late 1885 he came to Warsaw and met with Y. L. Peretz. 

This was a crucial moment in his life and an important date in the history of Yiddish literature.  This acquaintance gradually developed into an intimate friendship for his entire life.  Dinezon’s apartment became the gathering site for Yiddish writers in Warsaw.  Dinezon then returned to his literary activities.  His article in Yudishes folksblat (Jewish people’s newspaper)—entitled “An entfer profesor grets, ver mit vemen darf zikh shemen” (A response to Professor Heinrich Graetz, who should be ashamed of whom?)—a reply to Graetz’s attack on Yiddish, undoubtedly had to do with his new approach to the language issues among Jews.  He published images and stories, such as: “Kreplekh zolstu esn” (You’ve got to eat dumplings), in Sholem-Aleykhem’s Di yudishe folks-biblyotek (The Jewish people’s library), as well as in Yon-kiper (Yom Kippur) and in Hoyz-fraynd (House friend), and in 1890 he brought out his major novel: Even negef, oder a shteyn in veg (A stumbling block in the path) (Vilna, 1890), 380 pp.; (Warsaw, 1902, 1926), 492 pp.; (Moscow, 1938), 275 pp.  He also published a children’s story, entitled “Avigdorl” (Little Avigdor).  Soon thereafter appeared his third novel: Hershele (Warsaw, 1891, 1895, 1903), 200 pp.; (New York, 1905); Hebrew translation by Sh. Herberg (Tel Aviv: Mitspe, 1937).  He also published his children’s tale: Yosele (Little Joe) (Warsaw, 1899, 1903), 188 pp.; (New York, 1923, 1926); (Buenos Aires, 1949); (Warsaw, 1951); Hebrew translation by H. D. Shaḥar (Tel Aviv, 1950?).  Yosele was also reprinted in the work Finf niftorim: sholem-aleykhem, y. l. perets, mendele moykher-sforim, sh. sh. frug, y. dinezon (Five deceased persons: Sholem-Aleykhem, Y. L. Peretz, Mendele Moykher-Sforim, Sh. Sh. Frug, Y. Dinezon) (Vienna: Der kval, 1920).  His novel Alter, a roman in eyn teyl (The old man, a novel in one part) appeared in a supplement to Der fraynd (The friend) (1904; Warsaw, 1928, 201 pp.); as did Kindershe neshomes (Children’s souls) in 1904.  Other writings include: Tevyele, a shvues mayse (Little Tevye, a Shavuot story) (Warsaw, 1905?), 16 pp.; Der krizis, ertseylung fun soykherishn lebn (The crisis, a story of merchant life) (Warsaw, 1905), 133 pp.; Shimshen shloyme mit zayne ferd (Samson Solomon with his horses) (Warsaw, 1905), 14 pp.; Giteles yon-kiper (Gitele’s Yom Kippur) (Warsaw, 1909), 30 pp.; Indyen, dos land (India, the country) (New York, 1909), 64 pp.; Bovl, dos land (Babylonia, the country) (New York, 1909), pp. 167-201; and Egipten, dos land (Egypt, the country) (New York, 1909), pp. 105-66.  Dinezon also published his experiences in Pinkes (Records) in Vilna (1911); he translated Graetz’s Volkstümliche Geschichte der Juden (Popular history of the Jewish people), except for vol. 1 [translated by someone else]; and Velt-geshikhte, fun di elteste tsaytn biz oyf di gegenvart (World history, from ancient times until the present), in a supplement to Yud (Jew) in 1900, later frequently republished (Warsaw, 1901, 1909).  After Dinezon’s death, the following works of his appeared: Falik un zayn hoyz, dertseylung (Falik and his house, a story) (Warsaw, 1926), 106 pp.; Zikhroynes un bilder, shtetl, kinderyorn, shrayber (Memoirs and images, town, childhood, writer) (Warsaw, 1928), 244 pp.; Ale verk fun yankev dinezon (Collected works of Yankev Dinezon) (Warsaw, 1928-1929).  Dinezon stopped writing in 1910.  He left behind a number of unpublished works: Em habanim, oder di sheyne rokhele (Mother of children, or the beautiful Rokhele), a novel in four volumes (750 pp.); Maysim bekol yom (Stories for everyday), a novel in two parts (508 pp.); Khelme teyve khazey, a kritishe ertseylung fom lebn gegrif forgeshtelt in a kholem (A critical story of life drawn a concept in a dream) (200 pp.); Far likht bentsn (Before blessing the candles); Reb berl der groyser, a kheyder mayse (Reb Berl the great, an elementary school story); Kheyder yunglekh, an emese mayse (Elementary school boys, a true story); Vegn robinzon kruze—eykh mayn ersht verk (About Robinson Crusoe—also, my first work); Tsushnayder, dertseylung (Cutter, a story); Yonkiper motiven (Yom Kippur themes); Der zeyger (The clock); Di milkhome (The war); and Seyfer hazikorn (The book of memories).  Another work in Yiddish is mentioned in his memoirs, Miryam hakhshmonit (Miriam, the Hasmonean).  His story “A brif tsu a mekhaber” (A letter to an author) was never published in book form either.  Dinezon also translated into Yiddish sixty-five short works for the series “Pitgamim umivtaim” (Proverbs and pronunciations), from the writings of Kh. N. Bialik and Ravnitsky’s Sefer haagada (The book of tales), and he contributed them to Fraynd, Tsukunft (Future) which also carried his story “Yosele algebranik” (Little Joe Algebranik), and virtually all Yiddish publications of his time.  Dinezon’s letters constitute a major cultural historical work—a small portion of them were published by Yankev Shatski in Pinkes (a quarterly journal of Jewish literary history, linguistic research, folklore, and bibliography) in New York: 1.4 (1928), pp. 377-80; 2.1 (1929), pp. 61-69.  In Warsaw he made a living as an advertising agent for Yiddish and Hebrew newspapers.  In the years in which he was no longer writing, particularly after Y. L. Peretz’s death, he turned all of his attention to work on behalf of nursery schools and children’s schools (during WWI).  “Yankev Dinezon did not represent a great step forward in history of fiction writing,” wrote Shmuel Niger.  “The novel was important for the reader of Yiddish, and he remains of interest for those who study the history and psychology of the Jewish public.  Before anything else, pure literature was a return to the morality-style of A. M. Dik without a doubt.”  He died in Warsaw and was buried near Y. L. Peretz.


                      Dinezon with Sholem-Aleykhem                         

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Z. Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 1; D. Frishman, in Tsukunft (New York) (January 1928); Avrom Reyzen, Epizodn fun mayn lebn (Episodes from my life), vol. 1 (Vilna, 1929); Bal-Makhshoves, Geklibene shriftn (Collected writings) (Warsaw, 1929); Sh. Dubnov, Fun “zhargon” biz yidish (From “jargon” to Yiddish) (Vilna, 1929); N. Mayzil, in Tsukunft (May 1934); N. B. Minkov, in Yivo-bleter (New York) 25 (May-June 1945), pp. 441-65; Shmuel Niger, Dertseylers un romanistn (Storytellers and novelists), vol. 1 (New York, 1946); Dr. A. Mukdoni, Y. l. perets un dos yidishe teater (Y. L. Peretz and the Yiddish theater) (New York, 1949); Y. Y. Trunk, in Poyln (New York) 5 (1949); B. Yong, Mayn lebn in teater (My life in the theater) (New York, 1950); M. Natish, in Yivo-bleter 6 and a treatise on the same topic in the YIVO archives in New York; Sh. Slutski, Avrom reyzen biblyografye (Avrom Reyzen’s bibliography) (New York, 1956), nos. 4511, 4623, 4625; Kh. Sh. Kazdan, Fun kheyder un shkoles biz tsisho (From religious and secular primary schools to Tsisho) (Mexico, 1956), see index; Sh. Rozhanski, Yankev dinezon, di mame tsvishn undzere klasikers, 1856-1919 (Yankev Dinezon, the mother among our classical writers, 1856-1919) (Buenos Aires, 1956), 131 pp.; Rozhanski, in Afrikaner yidishe tsaytung (Johannesburg) (December 28, 1956); N. Mayzil, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (September 5, 1956); Y. Botoshanski, in Di prese (August 31, 1956); B. Ts. Goldberg, in Tog-morgn zhurnal (New York) (January 27, 1957; February 24, 1957); Y. Levin, in Fraye arbeter shtime (New York) (July 12, 1957); D. Naymark, in Forverts (New York) (March 3, 1957); Kh. L. Fuks, in Fun noentn over (New York) 3 (1957), p. 200; N. Mayzil, Noente un eygene, fun yankev dinezon biz hirsh glik (Near and one’s own, from Yankev Dinezon to Hirsch Glick) (New York, 1957); Dr. A. A. Roback, The Story of Yiddish Literature (New York, 1940), pp. 161-63.


LEYB DINSKI (October 20, 1890-August 29, 1976)
            He was born in Suwalki, Russian Poland.  He studied in religious primary school and yeshiva.  Over the years 1905-1913, he was living in Paris where he was employed in various trades.  From 1913 he was in the United States, living in New York and for a time in Chicago.  He was cofounder of the Chicago poets group that assembled around the journal Ineynem (Altogether), and later he joined the Proletpen (Proletarian pen) group.  He was active in circles close to the leftwing movement.  He began publishing lyrical poetry in Kundes (Prankster) in New York in 1916.  He contributed as well to: Naye velt (New world), Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter), Frayhayt (Freedom), Hamer (Hammer), and other serials.  Among his books: Dervayl (For the time being), lyrical poems in free verse (New York, 1922), 63 pp.; and Teg in shap (Days in a sweatshop), revolutionary labor motifs (New York: Signal [Proletpen], 1936), 93 pp.  He died in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Yitshak Elhanan Rontsh, Amerike in der yidisher literatur (America in Yiddish literature) (New York, 1945), p. 153; N. Mayzil, ed. and comp., Amerike in yidishn vort, antologye (America in the Yiddish word, an anthology) (New York, 1955), p. 507; Aleksander Pomerants, Proletpen (Proletarian pen) (Kiev, 1935), p. 203; Sh. Slutski, Avrom reyzen biblyografye (Avrom Reyzen’s bibliography) (New York, 1956), no. 4643.

Friday 27 November 2015


SOLOMON (ZALMEN) DINGOL (March 15, 1887-June 12, 1961)
            He was born in Rogatshev (Rahachow), Byelorussia.  He descended from a scholarly Hassidic family and received a traditional Jewish education, with secular subject matter covered in a state school.  He later studied in the faculty of political economy at the University of Berne in Switzerland.  In 1908 he emigrated to England.  From there he wrote correspondence pieces for Fraynd (Friend) in St. Petersburg, and he stayed on when the newspaper was published from Warsaw.  He also placed works in the Russian Jewish Novyi vostok (New east) in Moscow, Vuhin (Where to) in Galicia, Dos naye land (The new country) in New York, Haynt (Today) in Warsaw), Tsukunft (Future) in New York, and Nayer zhurnal (New journal) in Paris, among others.  He edited: 1911-1912, in London the family magazine Der fonograf (The photograph); in 1913-1914, the daily newspaper Der idisher zhurnal (The Jewish journal); and in 1915-1916, Di velt (The world).  In 1916 he moved to the United States.  He studied at Columbia University.  From 1917 to 1919, he was assistant editor of Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper) in New York.  In 1920 he wrote the musical mystery drama Der neyder (The vow); and in 1922 a play about Jewish life, Fremd blut (Strange blood).  In 1923-1924, he worked as assistant editor of the Forverts (Forward) in New York, and he edited the Sunday issue of the newspaper.  From 1920 he was a contributor and from 1947 the editor of Tog (Day).  In 1951 he edited the Sunday edition of Tog.  He published current events pieces and editorials there and also in the joint Tog-morgn zhurnal (Day-Morning journal).  He excelled in his clear style and his social and political erudition.  For many years he published an article every Saturday, entitled “Di vokh in yidishn lebn” (The week in Jewish life), which was among the most widely read sections of the newspaper.  They excelled in the clarity of his commentary of the events of the week.  Among his books: Fertribene neshomes, ertseylung (Dispossessed souls, a story) (London, 1910), 31 pp.; compiler and translation of the literary collection, Velt-literatur (World literature) (London, 1909), 32 pp.; translator of Leonid Andreyev’s A gelekhter (Laughter [original: Krasnyi smekh (Red laugh)]), Arthur Schnitzler’s An antdekung (A discovery), Anatole France’s Shvarte broyt (Black bread), Dos farreterishe harts (The treacherous heart), and other works (London, 1909).  He also translated under the pen name Z. Rozes: Stanisław Przybyszewski’s drama Dos glik (Happiness [original: Dla szczęścia (For happiness)]) (London, 1908), 84 pp.; Andreyev’s Finsternish (Darkness [original: V tumane]) (London: Kunst, 1909), 127 pp.; Wladyslaw Reymont’s Di letste nakht (The last night) (London: Kunst, 1909), 37 pp.; Ivan Turgenev’s Klara militsh, ertseylung (Klara Militsh, a story [original: Klara Milich]) (London, 1909), 88 pp.; Mikhail Artsybashev’s Glik (Happiness) (London: Kunst, 1910), 16 pp.  He wrote the chapter on Jews for Henry Pratt Fairchild, Immigrant Backgrounds (New York, 1927), pp. 123-25.  In addition, he was also active in the life of the Jewish community: a member of the director’s council of YIVO, a member of the “League for Working Israel,” and vice–president of HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society).  For a time he was also president of the Sholem Aleichem Folk Institute.  He was a member as well of the executive council of the New York Jewish teachers’ seminary.  He wrote a great deal about theatrical performances, and for a time he had a special section in Tog called “Teater” (Theater).  He also published a number of novels in the same newspaper.  He excelled in many Jewish and general areas of learning, and with a great sense of responsibility for his duties within the Jewish public sphere.  In 1957 a celebration was held for his seventieth birthday, during which the New York writers and colleagues in their speeches and writings for the press brought to the fore fascinating features of his personality as a writer.  H. Leivick noted in a speech: “Dimentshteyn has his own approach to the problems in Jewish life.  He has the courage to criticize what must be criticized in all spheres of Jewish life, irrespective of direction or party.  He is reliable with his pen at his desk, and he is friendly and sincere to each and every colleague.” (Tog-morgn zhurnal, April 11, 1957)  He wrote under the following pseudonyms as well: Z. Ben-Shmuel, Z. Rozes, D. Solomon, and others.  He was living in New York.  He was the chairman of the Committee to Teach Yiddish in Public High Schools.  He was the principal initiator of arguing that Yiddish ought to be introduced as a subject in the high schools of New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Z. Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater) (New York, 1931); Dr. A. Mukdoni, In varshe un in lodzh (In Warsaw and in Lodz) (Buenos Aires, 1955), p. 127; O. Dimov, in Tog-morgn zhiurnal (New York) (May 16, 1957); A. Oyerbakh, in Tog-morgn zhurnal (March 18, 1957); see also the notice in Tog-morgn zhurnal (April 11, 1957); editorial in Tog-morgn zhurnal (March 15, 1957); B. Ts. Goldberg, in Tog-morgn zhurnal (March 17, 1957); Y. Zilberberg, in Fraye arbeter shtime (New York) (June 14, 1957); Who’s Who in World Jewry (New York, 1955), p. 159.
Zaynvl Diamant

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 198.]


            He was born in Rezhitse (Rēzekne), Latvia, brother of Zalmen Dimentshteyn (for information on their father, see Zalmen’s biography).  He wrote poetry with a romantic air.  He published his poems in the 1920s and early 1930s in various Yiddish newspapers and magazines in Latvia, among them: Letste nayes (Latest news) and Frimorgn (Morning).  He also placed poems in the anthology Ringen (Links) in Kovno (1940).  He contributed to Bleter 1940 (Leaves, 1940) (Kovno, 1940).  Later, the Riga publisher Levitas was preparing for publication a large volume of his poetry, but it never appeared with the outbreak of WWII.  His entire family was killed under the Nazis.  Nakhmen, though, refused to surrender alive to the Nazis.  When they came to take him, he cut his own arteries.

Sources: Y. Bashevis, in Tsukunft (New York) (July 1940); M. Gerts, 25 yor yidishe prese in letland (25 years of the Yiddish press in Latvia) (Riga, 1933), pp. 38, 40, 54; Almanakh fun riger relif (Almanac of Riga relief) (New York) 3 (1948), p. 9; B. Mark, Umgekumene shrayber fun di getos un lagern (Murdered writers from the ghettos and camps) (Warsaw, 1954), p. 210.

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 198.]


YOYSEF M. DIMENTSHTEYN (December 5, 1898-September 20, 1945)
            He was born in Kirenits, Vilna region.  He studied in religious elementary school and yeshiva, and secular subject matter in a Russian state school.  He lived in New York where he attended middle school and college, as well as one year at a Jewish teachers’ seminary in New York.  In the 1920 he took off for Canada with a puppet troupe.  He lived in Montreal.  He supported himself with a variety of trades.  He worked as a book agent, a teacher, and had a chicken farm.  From 1924 he was writing for the English-language and Yiddish newspapers.  In 1927 he founded in Montreal Yidishe folks shtime (Voice of the Jewish people).  He contributed to Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) and Jewish Chronicle.  In early April 1931, he was attempted to kill himself by shooting himself in the mouth in a restaurant next door to Keneder odler.  In a letter that he left behind, he asked that his body be turned over to the medical college at McGill University for medical research.  In a letter to the editor of Keneder odler, he spoke of the vanity of vanities in life and ended with: “I now go where we all must go.”  He was saved and went on to write more.  In the jubilee volume for Keneder odler of 1932, he contributed an essay on B. G. Zak, entitled “Der historiker fun yidisher kanade” (The historian of Jewish Canada).  He died in Youngstown, Ohio.

Sources: Y. M. Dimentshteyn, “Idishe shrayber makht zelbstmord-farzukh in montreol” (Yiddish writer attempted suicide in Montreal), Tog (New York) (April 3, 1931), front-page news; “In di yidisher un hebreyisher literatur” (In Yiddish and Hebrew literature), Tsukunft (New York) (November 1945).

Zaynvl Diamant

Thursday 26 November 2015


            He was born in Rezhitse (Rēzekne), Latvia.  His father, Khayim the ritual slaughterer, was a scholar and also a proponent of modern Yiddish culture.  A great lover of Jewish art, he proffered a great deal of encouragement to the development of literature in both of his sons—Nakhmen and Zalmen—both of whom became Yiddish writers.  When the boys grew up, the ritual slaughterer’s home in Rezhitse was a center for Yiddish writers, artists, and cultural leaders.  Zalmen published (under the pen name Z-n) humorous sketches and humorous poetry in Dos folk (The people), Frimorgn (Morning), and other Yiddish newspapers in Latvia.  He was also a regular contributor to the journal of humor Der ashmodai (Riga, 1922-1929, edited by H. Aktsin), and he himself published Rezhitser ashmodai (issue no. 2 in 1930).  During WWII in June 1941, the Nazis tortured Dimentshteyn to death soon after the first day that they took the city.  His brother Nakhmen took his own life, and their aged father donned a new satin kaftan, fresh from the laundry, and thus went off to martyrdom, as the Germans shot him.

Sources: M. Gerts, 25 yor yidishe prese in letland (25 years of the Yiddish press in Latvia) (Riga, 1933), pp. 42, 58, 63, 65; Almanakh fun riger relif (Almanac of Riga relief) (New York) 3 (1948), p. 9.


YISROEL DIMENTMAN (1904-September 19, 1944)
            He was born in Vengrov (Węgrów), Poland, into a Hassidic family.  He graduated from a Hebrew high school and studied history and philosophy at Kovno University.  He was a teacher and an active leader in the Hebrew school curriculum, a member of the management division of the teachers’ union in Lithuania.  Until 1940 he lived in Kovno, after which he moved to Vilna where he was one of the central figures in Jewish community life in the ghetto.  He was administrator of the Yiddish-Hebrew school curriculum and a member of the executive of the literature association, of the Zionist coordinating committee, and other groups.  He began writing at the end of the 1920s on pedagogical issues for Mishele haḥinukh (Pathways of education) in Kovno.  He contributed articles and short stories to Dos vort (The word) in Kovno (1934-1940), and other serials as well.  In 1932 he published a novel in Russian, Nakanune (The day before), concerning the coming war.  In the Vilna ghetto, he translated from Yiddish into Hebrew Dovid Pinski’s Der eybiker yid (The eternal Jew) for the Hebrew-language ghetto theater, of which he was a manager.  He also wrote a story entitled “Ad hashaar” (To the gate) and a play in Yiddish about ghetto life.  He received a prize for the play from the Yiddish literature association.  He also authored a diary about cultural work in the Vilna ghetto.  He was deported to the Klooga Concentration Camp in Estonia.  There he kept a diary about camp life.  He died at Klooga during a Nazi massacre of the local camp.

Sources: Sh. Katsherginski, Khurbn vilne (The Holocaust in Vilna) (New York, 1947), p. 187; Dr. M. Dvorzhetski (Mark Dvorzetsky), Yerusholayim delite in kamf un umkum (The Jerusalem of Lithuania in struggle and death) (Paris, 1948), see index; Leyzer Bekher, in Eynikeyt (New York) (July-August 1946).


SHIMEN DIMANSHTEYN (SEMYON DIMANSHTAIN) (February 19, 1888-August 28, 1938)

            He was a current events writer and community leader, born in Sebezh, Vitebsk region, Byelorussia; his father Mortkhe was a tinsmith.  He received a traditional Jewish education, studying in the yeshivas of Telshe (Telz), Slobodka, and Lyubavitsh.  He received rabbinic ordination from many rabbis, among them: R. Chaim Ozer Grodzensky. He moved to Vilna to pursue his studies and there was drawn to socialist circles.  Over the years 1903-1904, he became captivated by the revolutionary burst of energy and was active in the movement. In 1904 he joined the Bolshevik Party. He also began his literary activities at this time. He was arrested for the first time at age nineteen. He was one of the most active propagandist agitators, transporting mailings of illegal literature. He translated into both Yiddish and Hebrew the programs of the “Russian Social Democratic Workers Party” (the Hebrew text was published in 1906 in Hazman [The times] in Vilna). At the time of the first Russian revolution (1905), he became a consistent fighter against the Bund and Zionism. After the collapse of the revolution, he carried on work not only among the Jewish masses, but also among the Gentile soldiers in the barracks (he was himself a soldier in the army), and there he launched an illegal Bolshevik newspaper De kazarme (The barracks). The gendarmerie tracked him down, and he was exiled to penal labor. After four years in a labor camp, he was sentenced in 1913 to permanent banishment to Siberia. However, he succeeded in escaping abroad, on the eve of WWI, making his way Germany, Belgium, and France, where he became a member of the Bolshevik Committee in Paris. He worked there in a factory, and he graduated from a school for electrical technology, led anti-war agitation, and founded a Jewish workers’ club. In 1916 Vladimir I. Lenin in Switzerland wrote Socialism and War, which appeared soon in a variety of languages. Dimanshteyn answered Lenin’s request and translated it into Yiddish. After the February Revolution in 1917, he returned to Russia, began publishing the Bolshevik newspaper Okopnaya Pravda (Trench truth), participated in the October Revolution, once again met Lenin, and he was appointed Commissar for Jewish National Affairs in Soviet Russia. Only then did Dimanshteyn’s turbulent activities in the Jewish environment commence, as he was the first editor in the Yiddish Communist press. And, one after the next, he began publishing serials in Yiddish: Di komunistishe velt (The Communist world), Kultur un bildung (Culture and education), and Di varheyt (The truth, later Der emes [The truth]). Dimnashteyn’s articles were published in virtually every issue of these newspapers and magazines.

In the spring of 1919, he was named People’s Commissar for Labor in the Lithuanian-Byelorussian government in Vilna. When the Poles occupied this city, he escaped, returned to Moscow, and again assumed his position as head of the Jewish Commissariat. He was later chairman of Jewish section in the Communist Party, and manager of the division for national minorities of the Central Committee of the Party. Over the years 1920-1921, he was People’s Commissar for Education in Turkestan, and he assumed high positions in Tashkent, Orenburg, and Krasnoyarsk. Beginning in 1922, he was in Moscow serving as assistant to the chairman of the cultural division with the Central Committee of the Communist Party. From 1924 until February 1930, he worked in Byelorussia in elite positions in the Party and government; later again, he was in Moscow working as chairman of Gezerd (All-Union Association for the Agricultural Settlement of Jewish Workers in the USSR), a member of the Communist Academy, director of the Institute of Nationalities at the Central Executive Committee of the Soviet Union, and editor of the Russian publication, Revoliutsiia i natsional’nosti (Revolution and nationalities).

In the first half of the 1930s, Dimanshteyn was at the very center of work among the Jewish masses: he founded the Russian-language periodical monthly serial of “Gezerd,” the journal Tribuna (Tribune), brought out a series of books on the nationalities policy of the Communist Party, was involved in the composition of the editorial board of the bimonthly journal Forpost (Outpost) out of Moscow and Birobidzhan, edited books on the history of the revolutionary movement in Jewish circles. Then, the year 1937 arrived with Dimanshteyn getting no help from persecution, despite his work “Stalin vi a bolshevistisher teoretiker fun fer natsyonaler frage” (Stalin as a Bolshevik theoretician of the nationality question), Tsaytshrift (Periodical) 4 (1930). He was arrested in late 1937. The newspaper Der emes for January 16, 1938 (the paper had already announced its closing) carried an article in which was repeated the determination of the Central Committee on the closing of Tribuna in which over the course of ten years since its launch the editor-in-chief had been Dimanshteyn. It was stated in an article that the journal was being shut down because “it had been transformed into a tribune for the counter-revolution of nationalistic, Bundist contraband.” He wrote as well under the pen names: Naftali Gorfinkel, Dan, and A Royter, among others.

Among his longer works: Baym likht fun komunizm (By the light of Communism), collection of articles (Moscow, 1919), 295 pp.; Der tsienizm unter a komunistishn shlayer (Zionism under a Communist mantle) (Moscow, 1919), 16 pp.; A yor komunistishe arbet (A year of Communist labor), the activities of the Central Jewish Commissariat and the Jewish Communist Section (Moscow, 1919), 32 pp.; Natsyonale momentn afn 13tn tsuzamenfor fun der rk”p (National considerations at the 13th Conference of the Russian Communist Party) (Moscow, 1924), 64 pp.; the preface to a volume (in Russian) by Professor S. Semkovskii on Marxism and the national question (Kharkov, 1924); a foreword to a book by B. Orshanski (Minsk, 1925); “Di revolutsyonere bavegung tsvishn di idishe masn un der revolutsye fun 1905 yor” (The revolutionary movement among the Jewish masses and the Revolution of 1905), Royte bleter (Red leaves) (Minsk) 1 (1929), pp. 1-42; Di revolutsyonere bavegung tsvishn di idishe masn un der revolutsye fun 1905 yor (Moscow: Central People’s Publishers, 1929), 93 pp.; Di problem fun natsyonaler kultur (The problem with national culture) (Moscow: Central People’s Publishers, 1930), 80 pp.; “Stalin vi a bolshevistisher teoristiker fun der natsyonaler frage” (Stalin as a Bolshevik theorist on the national question), Tsaytshrift (Minsk) 4 (1930); a detailed introduction to a volume (in Russian) on the revolutionary movement among the Jews (Moscow, 1930), from the section on learning about the revolutionary movement among Jews for the association of those exiled to hard labor; Der kamf fun leninizm kegn lyuksemburgizm (The struggle of Leninism against Luxemburgism) (Moscow: Emes, 1933), 104 pp.; Di natsyonale frage afn tsveytn tsuzamenfor fun der partey (The national question at the second conference of the Party) (Moscow: Emes, 1934), 82 pp.; Di yidishe avtonome gegnt, a kind fun der oktober-revolutsye (The Jewish autonomous region, a child of the October Revolution) (Moscow: Emes, 1934), 56 pp.; “Fun tsarishn tkhum biz sovetisher avtonomye” (From the Tsarist pale to Soviet autonomy), in his edited anthology Yidn in fssr, zamlbukh (Jews in the USSR, anthology) (Moscow: Mezhdunarodnaya kniga, 1935), pp. 13-27; “Tsu der shprakhbaratung” (To the language conference), Afn shprakhfront (On the language front) (Kiev) 3-4 (1935), pp. 288-338; Der prezidyum funem tsentraln oysfir-komitet fun fssr vegn der yidisher avtonomer gegnt (The Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR concerning the Jewish Autonomous Region) (Moscow: Emes, 1936), 24 pp.

In addition to those mentioned above, he also edited Di varheyt, organ of the Social Democrats (Bolsheviks) and Left Socialist Revolutionaries (first issue appeared in St. Petersburg on March 8, 1918; from no. 4 it was being published in Moscow by the Jewish Commissariat); Evreiskaya tribuna (Jewish tribune), Russian-language organ of the Jewish Commissariat, together with Tuvye Akselrod, Nokhem Bukhbinder, and Zerekh Grinberg; Der emes, daily newspaper, organ of the Jewish Section of the Russian Communist Party (Moscow, 1918-1919), last issue appeared February 13, 1919, after which the name (Emes) was spelled out phonetically (rather than in its Hebraic form); Kultur-fragn (Cultural issues), anthology edited with N. Bukhbinder and Z. Grinberg (St. Petersburg: Commissariat for Jewish Affairs, 1918), 95 pp.; Di komunistishe velt, organ of the Jewish Commissariat (Moscow), fifteen issues in all (May 1, 1919-March-April 1920); N. Lenin, Di natsyonale un yidishe frage, fun onhoyb imperialistisher milkhome (The national and Jewish question, from the start of the imperialist war), in Oysgeveylte verk (Selected writings), vol. 8 (Moscow, 1929); Yidn in fssr, zamlbukh (see above), 284 pp.; Forpost, literarish-kinstlerisher un politish-gezelshaftlekher zhurnal fun der yidisher avtonomer gegnt birobidzhan (Outpost, literary-artistic and political-community journal of the Jewish autonomous region of Birobidzhan), of which he was a member of the editorial board, 1932-1937.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1, p. 694; D. Tsharni (Charney), in Tog (New York) (January 18, 1926); Tsharni, in Parizer bleter (Paris) (February 16, 1926); A. Glants, in Tog (June 25, 1932); Kh. Dunets, In kamf af tsvey frontn (Struggling on two fronts) (Minsk, 1932), p. 11; A, Brakhman, “Der lenin-zeksband af yidish” (Six volumes of Lenin in Yiddish), Emes (Moscow) (1934); Di komunistishe velt (Moscow) 10-11 (1934), p. 35; Kh-n, in Shtern (Kharkov) 208 (1934); Oktyaber (Minsk) 5 (1935); Yidishe bilder (Riga) 44 (76) (November 1938); G. Aronson, in Der veker (New York) (March 1, 1939); Tsharni, in Tsukunft (New York) (June 1939); Tsharni, A yortsendlik aza (A decade like that) (New York, 1943), pp. 208-14, 217, 218, 224-27, 250-57, 273-77; Tsharni, in Davke (Toronto) (1951), pp. 13-17; H. Vaynraykh, Blut af der zun (Blood on the son) (Brooklyn, 1950), p. 157; Ben-Tsiyon Kats, in Hadoar (New York) (Sivan 15=April 25, 1956); Kats, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (1954).

Aleksander Pomerants 

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 198; 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. 101-3.] 


OSIP DYMOV (DIMOV, OSSIP DIMOW) (February 16, 1878-February 3, 1959)
            The pseudonym of Yoysef Perelman, he was born in Bialystok, Poland, into a semi-assimilated family.  His mother was a teacher of foreign languages.  He studied in the Bialystok high school.  He graduated in 1894 from the Forestry Institute in St. Petersburg.  He began his literary activities in 1892 with humorous sketches in the Russian provincial press.  He gained a name for himself with his ingenious feature pieces and humorous sketches at the time of the first Russian Revolution, when Russian humor journals, such as Signali (Alarms), sprang up.  He wrote a short essay in 1894, entitled “Der eybiker vanderer” (The eternal wanderer).  He later reworked it into a drama with the same title, which was staged in the best theaters in virtually the entire world and in many languages.  From 1906 he was a standing contributor to the largest, Russian, progressive newspapers, such as: Svobodnaia mysl’ (Free thought), Utro (Morning), Rus (Russia), and Satirikon (Satyricon).  He was also writing under the pen name “Kin.”  In 1905 he published an anthology of symbolist stories, Solntsevorot (Sun cycle) (St. Petersburg), 169 pp., which would appear in a number of editions; in 1908, his collection Zemlya svetet (The earth blossoms) (Moscow), 122 pp.; in 1910, Beselaia pechal’, yumoristicheskie razskazy (Joyous sadness, humorous stories) (St. Petersburg), 210 pp.; in 1911, Razskazy (Stories) (St. Petersburg); and the like.  From 1907 he began writing in Yiddish and contributed to Roman-tsaytung (Fiction newspaper) in Warsaw.  In 1907 he composed his play Slushay, Izrail! (Hear, O Israel!), translated into Yiddish by A. Goldring (Warsaw, 1907), 48 pp., in which he introduced using bold action Jewish suffering during pogroms in Tsarist Russia.  The drama was well received by the Jewish and the Russian public while it was playing on the Russian and Jewish stage.  It was translated into Hebrew by Pesaḥ Kaplan and staged, under the direction of Naḥum Tsemaḥ, by the Bialystok’s “Habima beivrit” (Habima in Hebrew).  Particularly successful was his play Kazhdyi den’ (Every day) which was staged in Russia and in Europe, and also in film.  Also, his second play about Jewish loss of rights, Der eybiker vanderer, in three acts, with a prologue (St. Petersburg, 1913) appeared in Yiddish (Warsaw, 1928), 66 pp., and had a strong nationalist tenor, but was tendentious and not sufficiently absorbing, and yet had a major impact.  The well-known American Yiddish actor and theater director Boris Tomashevsky, while performing in a guest role in Lodz, watched a performance on the Russian stage of Der eybiker vanderer, and he invited Dymov to the United States where he had in that very year staged the play in his own theater (translated by Dr. A. Mukdoni).  This had the effect of bringing Dymov generally closer the Yiddish stage, language, and literature.  Der eybiker vanderer was translated into Hebrew in 1912 and was staged by Tsemaḥ at Habima.  Dymov was living from that point in time in the United States, where he was active in the realm of theater and literature.  He published hundreds of stories, human interest pieces, and humorous sketches in Tog (Day), Kundes (Prankster), and elsewhere.  His two volumes of memoirs, entitled Vos ikh gedenk (What I remember) (vol. 1: New York, 1943, 345 pp.; vol. 2: New York, 1944, 311 pp.), in which he describes his life until WWI, were initially published serially in Forverts (Forward) in New York.  Dymov was thoroughly devoted to the stage.  He wrote the play Der gedungener khosn (The rented bridegroom) of 1914 (anonymous translation by B. Rivkin, staged by B. Tomashevsky in New York).  The same play, under the title Der zinger fun zayne leydn (The singer of his sufferings) was performed in Minsk, directed by Bertonov, translated by Moyshe Goldberg (1922).  In 1925 the play, now titled Der zinger fun zayne troyer (The singer of his sorrow), was adapted by Yoysef Bulov (Joseph Buloff) and Yankev Shternberg and performed in grotesque form by the Vilna Troupe.  In 1926 the play, now dubbed Yoshke muzikant (Yoshke the musician), a drama in three acts (Riga, 1925), 63 pp., played at the Warsaw Skala Theater and in the Schildkraut Theater in the Bronx.  The play was also performed in Polish, Hebrew, and German.  Other dramatic works by him include: Di milkhome (The war), a play in three acts (1914); Der katorzhnik (The convict), a one-act play (1914); Tsvishn felker (Among peoples) (1915); Di tragedye fun mayn folk (The tragedy of my people), a drama in three acts (1915); Der shtot gayst (The city spirit) (1916, published as Der gayst fun shtot (The spirit of the city) (New York, 1917), 68 pp.; Di velt in flamen (The world in flames), a drama of war (1917), anonymously translated by B. Rivkin, and the role of Yoysef was played by Dymov himself; Shklafn fun folk (An enslaved people), a comedy in four acts (1918); Di ervakhung fun a folk (The awakening of a people) (1918), staged by Maurice Schwartz at the Irving Place Theater in New York; Yerusholaim (Jerusalem), a historical drama in four acts (1919); Der yom-hadin (The day of judgment), a drama in three acts (1920), performed at the Tomashevsky Theater in New York; Nudnikes (Pests), a comedy in three acts (1921), performed at the New Yiddish Theater in New York; Dendzher (Danger) (1921), a social drama in four acts; Leydi khaye tsipe (Lady Chaya Tsipe), adopted from Madam san zhen (Madame Sans Gêne) by Victorien Sardou (1922); Broyt, sotsyale drame (Bread, a social drama) (1923), staged by Maurice Schwartz’s Yiddish Art Theater; Ven meshiekh kumt (When the Messiah comes) (1924), a comedy; Dem rebns khasene (The rebbe’s wedding) (1924), a tragi-comedy in three acts; and more.  In the autumn of 1925, Dymov, together with Rudolph Schildkraut, took over the latter’s intimate theater in the Bronx and staged his comedy Bronks-ekspres (Bronx express), written in 1919, which enjoyed extraordinary success; Di letste gelibte (The last beloved), a comedy in three acts, staged in 1926 in New York, and staged in 1929 in German at Max Reinhardt’s Kammerspiele and in other German theaters; Kafeterye (Cafeteria), a comedy in three a acts (1927); Mentshn shtoyb (Human dust), a play in three acts (1927), staged by Maurice Schwartz in New York’s Yiddish Art Theater.  Only a small portion of Dymov’s stories were published in book form.  Those few appeared in the following books: Meydlekh-muters un shtot meshugoim, ertseylungen (Girls-mothers and city crazies, stories) (New York, 1919), 115 pp. and 120 pp.; Dramen un dertseylungen (Plays and stories) (New York, 1943), 205 pp.  He also wrote for the English-language theater a comedy entitled Personality.  The American playwright Guy Bolton adapted it, and it was performed with great success in New York and London under the title Polly Preferred.  He received a number of prizes for his works of fiction and for his dramas, as well as from the Malyi teatr (Little theater) in St. Petersburg.  From 1942 he was in charge of the drama programs on the Yiddish radio station of the Forverts in New York, WEVD.  In his final years he was consumed by sculpture.  He made a number of successful bas-relief.  A writer with an international reputation, Dymov was simultaneously one of the most respected representatives of the new Yiddish comedy and drama, and he earned a great deal of money from the Yiddish stage with his many and sundry activities.  He enriched the Yiddish stage with plays which were artistically constructed, and they gave opportunities for actors to excel in their roles.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Z. Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 1; S. Raskin, in Tsayt (New York) (April 8, 1922); L. Kobrin, Erinerungen fun a yidishn dramaturg (Remembrances of a Jewish playwright), vol. 2 (New York, 1925), p. 137; M. Vaykhert, Teater un drame (Theater and drama), vol. 2 (Vilna, 1926), pp. 174-76; Abraham Teitelbaum, Teatralya (Theatricality) (Warsaw, 1929), pp. 69-77; B. Ts. Goldberg, in Tog (New York) (December 12, 1932); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (June 21, 1933); Avrom Reyzen, Epizodn fun mayn lebn (Episodes from my life), vol. 3 (Vilna, 1935), pp. 274-76; M. Osherovitsh, in Tsukunft (New York) (September 1943); N. Y. Gotlib, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (August 23, 1943); Y. Kreplyak, in Byalistoker shtime (New York) (March-April 1948); A. Sh. Hershberg, in Pinkes byalistok (Records of Bialystok), vol. 1 (New York, 1949), p. 417; Sh. Perlmuter, Yidishe dramaturgn un teater-kompozitorn (Yiddish playwrights and theatrical composers) (New York, 1952), pp. 272-75; Sh. Shveler, in Keneder odler (September 30, 1953); Sh. Yudson, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (March 21, 1954); Osip Dimov, in Zelbstportret (New York) (June 28, 1957); Kh. Ehrenreich, in Forverts (New York) (February 28, 1958); Ehrenreich, “Mayn geshprekh mit osip dimov” (My conversation with Opip Dymov), Tog-morgn-zhurnal (March 13, 1958).

Khayim Leyb Fuks

Tuesday 24 November 2015


YIKHEZKL DILYON (July 27, 1909-December 18, 1942)
            He was a popular Zionist leader in Kovno, born in St. Petersburg.  He was head of the Revisionists and founder of Betar in Lithuania.  For many years he was a contributor to Idishe shtime (Jewish voice) in Kovno.  When the Soviet-German war erupted, he was evacuated to Russia, and he died in Siberia.

Source: Obituary in Drayshprakhikn yorbukh (Trilingual yearbook) (New York, 1943), p. 77.

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 197.]


            His former family name was Zhuravitski.  He was born in Zhetel (Zdzięcioł), near Grodno, into an elite family.  He studied with private teachers in Borki, an estate that belonged to his grandfather on his mother’s side, and later in Biten (Byten) and Slonim.  In 1904 he emigrated with his parents and family to the United States, where his father changed the surname to Dilon (Dillon), his wife’s maiden name.  He began writing poetry at an early age.  In 1910 he published for the first time, poems in the second anthology of Literatur (New York).  He subsequently published in: Dos naye lebn (The new life), Shriftn (Writings), Der onheyb (The beginning) in New York, and in Renesans (Renaissance) in London.  He was a follower of the group “Yunge” (Young).  The last seven or eight years of his life—highly productive years—he published primarily in Tsukunft (Future) in New York.  Among his books: Gele bleter (Yellow leaves), a poetry collection, with ornately drawn letters and adorned with illustrations by Z. Maud (New York, 1919), 32 pp.; Di lider (The poems), published by his friends (New York, 1935), 127 pp.  He died in New York.  “The driving force in his life,” wrote Y. Kisin, “was dark, but he always found for it a sheer expression in verse.  He did not write much, but the source within him of poetry always brought forth new poetic lines and stanzas.”

Sources: D. Ignatov, in Tsukunft (New York) (December 1944); M. Yafe, in Letste nayes (Tel Aviv) (January 1, 1954); Dr. M. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (May 8 and 22, 1935); Shmuel Niger, in Tsukunft (August 1933); Niger, in Tog (New York) (October 28, 1934); Y. Kisin, in Tsukunft (November 1934); Kisin, Lid un esey bukh (Poem and essay book) (New York, 1954), pp. 217-22; M. Ravitsh, in Vokhnshrift (Warsaw) (October 18, 1934); Y. Rolnik, Mayne zikhroynes (My memoirs) (New York, 1954), p. 163; L. Shapiro, in Studyo 2 (1934); Sh. Meltser, in Al naharot (By the rivers) (Jerusalem, 1955), p. 430; Sh. Slutski, Avrom reyzen biblyografye (Avrom Reyzen’s bibliography) (New York, 1956), no. 4839; Ignatov, Opgerisene bleter (Torn off leaves) (Buenos Aires, 1957), pp. 25-32.


            He was born in Shasmaken (Valdemārpils), Courland.  He received a traditional religious Jewish education.  While still quite young, he demonstrated a strong desire to travel, to learn about the lives of Jews in the Diaspora, so as to describe it.  At age sixteen he made his first trip.  In 1873 he became acquainted with the Karaite scholar and archeologist Shmuel [Abraham?] Firkovitch.  He stayed with him in [the Karaite fortress of] Sela Hayehudim (Rock of the Jews), in Crimea, and helped him compile lists of the old manuscripts which he sold to Imperial Asian Museum in St. Petersburg.  In 1874 he made a trip to the Oriental countries.  In 1878 he was appointed by the Parisian society “Alliance Israélite française” to assemble for it statistics on Jews in the world.  He was sent in 1888 by Arkady Koyfman to Israel with the goal of investigating the possibilities for establishing there agricultural settlements.  After he returned, the same society sent him on assignment to Brod, eastern Galicia, to help organize the emigration to the United States of Russian Jews, who because of pogroms and persecution were leaving Russia without resources or passports.  In the 1880s he founded in Odessa a business in religious Jewish texts, in which he collected numerous ancient works and which became the place to which seekers of rarities were drawn.  In those years he published his treatise, Seu nes tsiyona (Raise high the banner of Zion) (Pressburg, 1885/1886), 24 pp., which was aimed at awakening the interest of Jews in the idea of love of Zion.  In 1884 he established the association Zerubavel with the objective of encouraging Russian Jews to settle in the land of Israel.  In working out this goal, he dispatched Isser Halevi Landau to Israel, so as to organize this movement there, a movement he dubbed “Nusu mitsafon” (Flee from the North).  He emigrated to the United States in 1888 and settled in Arlington, New York.  In 1889 he published the Hebrew weekly newspaper Haleumi (The national).  In 1891 he began publishing in Newark, New Jersey, the Zionist newspaper in Yiddish, Der patriot (The patriot).  In 1897 he founded a Jewish agricultural colony in the state of Nevada.  Over the years 1899-1909, he made three trips to countries in the Orient with the aim of discovering old manuscripts and rare religious texts.  At that time he discovered the Geniza in the ancient synagogue in a village near Damascus, known as “Cave of Elijah the Prophet.”  He was the author of a great number of works in Hebrew.  The most significant of them concerned his travels and old religious texts and manuscripts.  He was an important researcher and bibliographer of Jewish literature in both languages, Hebrew and Yiddish.  He compiled the bibliographical listings: Sifrut yisrael beamerika (The literature of Israel in America) (Jaffa-New York, 1910-1913), two vols.; and Kehilat amerika (American community), two parts (St. Louis, Missouri, 1926), in which he recorded all the books that were published in America from 1735 (when the first Jewish text was published in the New World) until 1926.  Irrespective of his Enlightenment attitude toward Yiddish (see his short chapter entitled “Yehudit” [Jewish, implying Yiddish] in his Devir efrayim [Sanctuary of Ephraim]), he recognized the importance of works that were composed in Yiddish, and he included them in his bibliographical listings.  In 1913 he made aliya to Israel and lived in Ramla.  During WWI he was arrested by the Turkish authorities and in 1916 expelled from the country.  He returned to the United States.  He continued his writing and research activities and his concerns for ancient texts.  He died in St. Louis, Missouri.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1 (Vilna, 1928); K. Marmor, in Der hamer (New York) (May 1927); D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah lealutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 3 (Tel Aviv, 1949); Prof. Y. Klausner, Historiya shel hasifrut haivrit haadasha (History of modern Hebrew literature), vol. 3 (Jerusalem, 1952), see index; M. izkuni (Shtarkman), “Ivrim kaalutse yidish beamerika” (Jews as pioneers of Yiddish in America), Metsuda 7 (1953).

Zaynvl Diamant

Monday 23 November 2015


            He authored the pamphlets: Lomir zogn shire! tsu der itsiker lage in yidntum (Let’s recite songs of praise! On the present state of Jewry) (1936), 18 pp.; Yisroel, tsum opver kegn der agresiv-farsharfter, umoysganglikher faynshaft tsu yidn (Israel, to the fending off of aggressive-intensified, dead-end hatred of Jews) (Lomzhe, 1936), 19 pp.; Protses fun geule (Trial of redemption) (Pyatnitsa, Poland, 1938), 15 pp.  Possibly, the author was the son or a relative of the Pyatnitsa rabbi, R. Dovid-Toyvl Daynovski, a brother-in-law of the Chofets Chaim.  Further biographical details remain unknown.

Source: Sefer zikaron lekehilat lomza (Remembrance book for the community of Lomzhe) (Israel, 1952), p. 338.


LEYB DAYEN (LEIB DAYAN) (August 12, 1891-August 26, 1947)
            He was born in Zhashkov (Zhashkiv), Kiev region, Ukraine.  He came from a family of rabbis and scholars.  His father was a ritual slaughterer in town, and his grandfather on his mother’s side was the Zhashkov rabbi and a close relative of Hayim Naḥman Bialik.  He studied with his grandfather, later in various yeshivas, and he received permission to officiate as a rabbi.  He became engrossed in the Jewish Enlightenment and became a Hebrew teacher and a Zionist activist.  During WWI, he was a Hebrew teacher in Kressen, later in a Tarbut School in Rovno.  In 1929 he emigrated to Argentina and worked as a teacher in an Entre Rios colony until 1932.  In those years, he began publishing stories and episodes of former Hassidic ways of life, stylized tales about pious Hassidim, and memoirs and depictions of the pogroms years in Ukraine following WWI.  He mostly published his work in Di idishe tsaytung (The Jewish newspaper) in Buenos Aires.  He also contributed pieces to the Zionist organ Di yidishe velt (The Jewish world), in Hebrew to the journal Darom (South), and to a number of other Yiddish and Hebrew publications.  He served as secretary and vice-chair of the Buenos Aires Vaad Haḥinukh (Board of education), member of the executive of the Hebrew “Bialik School,” cofounder of the Buenos Aires Hebrew-Yiddish teachers’ seminary, member of the executive of the Histadruth, and active leader of the Argentine Zionist Federation.  He died in Buenos Aires.  On the fifth anniversary of his death, Dayen’s widow and his children brought out a collection of his writings, entitled Fun khsidishn kval un andere shriftn (From the Hassidic spring and other writings) (Buenos Aires, 1952), 268 pp., with an introduction by Yoysef Mendelson.  It is apparent from his Hassidic stories that he principally intended to save these lovely folktales from being forgotten and to make them known among the younger generation.  His memoirs about the pogroms and massacres in Ukraine have historical value.  Especially interesting are his family memoirs concerning Kh. N. Bialik.

Sources: Y. Mendelson, “Leyb dayen, der mentsh un zayn shraybn” (Leyb Dayen, the man and his writings), introduction to Dayen’s Fun khsidishn kval un andere shriftn (Buenos Aires, 1952); Y. Botoshanski, “Yidishe biukher in argentine in di yorn 1952-1953” (Yiddish books in Argentina in the byears, 1952-1953), Yorbukh tshy”d fun der yidisher kehile in buenos ayres (Yearbook for 1953-1954 of the Jewish community in Buenos Aires) (Buenos Aires, 1953-1954), p. 154.

Zaynvl Diamant


            He was born in Mezhibizh, Podolia region, Ukraine, into a family that drew its pedigree back to R. Nakhmen Braslaver.  He received a Jewish and a partial secular education.  He later became a publisher and settled in Odessa.  Due to his acquaintance with M. Spektor, he was included in a circle of Yiddish writers in Odessa: Mendele, Linetski, Zamoshtshin, and Lerner, as well as the younger Bukhbinder, Bekerman, and others.  In 1890 he joined the revolutionary movement and thus had no choice but to escape from Russia.  In 1892 he came to New York and was active in the Jewish labor movement.  For several years he was a traveling agent for Forverts (Forward) and Tsukunft (Future).  He was a cofounder in 1904 of the literary group, “Di yidishe yugend” (The Jewish youth), in New York.  During the years of WWI, he was active in aid work for Jewish war victims in Europe.  He published reportage pieces on the lives of Jewish laborers, travel narratives, stories, and tales in Forverts (until 1906), Di naye post (The new mail), and Yugend (Youth), and in other publications of the young writers who gathered around “Di yidishe yugend.”  Over the years 1926-1927, he published in Amerikaner (American) in New York a series of folktales.

Source: “Zalmen Reyzen Archives,” in YIVO (New York).


DOVID DAYMONDSHTEYN (b. April 14, 1885)
            He was born in Kurents (Kuraniec), Vilna region, Lithuania.  He received a Jewish and a partial general education.  In 1897 he emigrated to the United States and settled in Chicago.  He graduated from the Art Institute there.  He later lived in New York where he worked as a designer.  In 1906 he published his first poems on workers’ lives in Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor) in New York.  He also placed articles there on community issues and religion.  He contributed to Forverts (Forward), Kundes (Prankster), and other serials, as well as to the radical English-language press in America, such as the journal Tomorrow in Chicago.  He authored a book of revolutionary motifs in English, in which he included his translations of a number of works by worker-poets in Yiddish literature.  He also wrote under the pen name of David Irving Dobson.

Source: “Zalmen Reyzen Archives,” YIVO (New York).


            This was the adopted name of Berl Dvorkin, born in Homel (Hamel, Gomel), Byelorussia.  He studied in religious elementary school, later pursuing design and architecture in the Baron Hirsch School in Vilna.  In 1911 he emigrated to the United States.  In that year he published his poetry for the first time in New York.  His work appeared in: Forverts (Forward), Varhayt (Truth), Yidishe beker (Jewish baker), Kundes (Prankster), Kibetser (Joker), and Yidisher gazlen (Jewish thief).  He also published a series of one-act plays and dramas.  He was editor of Dos fraye vort (The free word) in 1916 and of Literarishe heftn (Literary notebooks) from 1946.  Among his books: Herbst-blumen, a lider zamlung (Autumn flowers, a poetry collection) (New York, 1911), 36 pp.; Tog un nakht (Day and night), poems (New York, 1914), 36 pp.; Lo tirtsa (Thou shalt not kill) (New York, 1916), 32 pp.; Naye veltn, fir eyn akters (New world, new one-acts) (New York, 1919), 80 pp.; In di shturem teg, drama (In the stormy tags, a drama) (New York, 1927), 93 pp.; Iber unzer kraft (Beyond our strength) (Tahonga, 1951), 128 pp.; Gezamlte dramen (Collected plays) (Tahongo, 1951), 96 pp.; Bleter fun mayn gortn, lider zamlung (Leaves from my garden, poetry collection) (Tahongo, California, 1951), 96 pp.; Der vulkanen inzl (The volcanic island), adapted from English (Tahongo, 1951), 94 pp.; Der ruf in zikh, roman fun der ershter rusisher revolutsye (The call within, a novel from the first Russian revolution) (Tahongo, 1951), 76 pp.; Vilne, dray doyres, di leydn un libes fun borekhn (Vilna, three generations, the sorrows and loved of Borekh) (Tahongo: Literarishe heftn, 1952), 96 pp.; Kegn shtrom (Against the tide), a trilogy (Tahongo, 1952), 286 pp.; Zangen fun mayn feld (Songs from my field) (Tahongo: Literarishe heftn, 1955), 80 pp.; Antologye fun englishe un amerikanishe poetn (Anthology of English and American poets) (Tahongo: Literarishe heftn, 1957), 40 pp.; Dializm, lider-zamlung, 1910-1959 (Dualism, poetry collection, 1910-1959) (Tahongo: Literarishe heftn, 1959), 128 pp.; Naye gezamlte shriftn (New collected writings) (Tahongo: Literarishe heftn, 1960), 184 pp.; Fun fristn friling bizn shpetstn vinter, lider-zamlung in yidish, ivrit, english (From a delayed spring to late winter, poetry collection in Yddish, Hebrew, and English) (Sefat: Literarishe heftn, 1965), 159 pp.; A tate fun nisht zayne kinder, sotsyale drame (A father of not his children, a social drama) (Sefat: Literarishe heftn, 1969), 95 pp.  He also published a series of works in English.  His poetry was translated into Hebrew and published in book form under the title Alim migani (Leaves from my garden) (Los Angeles, 1955), 80 pp.  He used such pseudonyms as: Ben-Tsvi, Moris Di Van, B. D. Stoler, and A. Blumenkrants.  He also engaged with sculpture.  In 1958 his book Eseyen (Essays), 200 pp., was published in Tahongo.

Sources: Der Lebediker, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (October 27, 1952); Dr. Vilai, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (February 17, 1952); Sh. Ernst, in Keneder odler (June 28, 1954).

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), cols. 196-97.]