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.
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