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.

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