Monday 23 May 2016


SHIFRE VAYS (WEISS) (September 1889-December 12, 1955)
            She was born in Kelm (Kelmė), Kovno district, Lithuania.  At age twelve she was orphaned with the death of her father (Nakhmen Royf, he was murdered in a nearby town on his way to the United States).  She joined the Bund at age fifteen and distinguished herself as a speaker.  Persecuted by the police, she took off for the United States in 1905.  She lived for a time in Pittsburgh, Chicago, and from 1917 in California.  She was active in the Jewish labor movement.  She participated in the founding of a Workmen’s Circle school in Hollywood, later becoming active in the camp of Jewish Communists.  She published poetry and articles in: Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor), Idishe arbeter velt (World of Jewish labor), Frayhayt (Freedom), Dos vort (The word), Ineynem (Altogether), and Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture)—in New York; Yidishe shriftn (Yiddish writings) in Warsaw; and elsewhere.  Her books would include: In gang (In progress), poems with drawings by Dovid Munis (Los Angeles, 1932), 145 pp.; Tsu der velt, lider (To the world, poetry) (Los Angeles, 1943), 118 pp.; Tsum morgndikn tog, geklibene lider (To tomorrow’s day, selected poems) (Los Angeles, 1953), 136 pp.  She also wrote under the pseudonym: “A heymisher mentsh.”  She died on the way from Los Angeles to Florida.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Ezra Korman, Yidishe dikhterins (Jewish women poets) (Chicago, 1928), pp. 238, 241, 342; A. H. Byalik, in Yidish (New York) 12 (1932); Al. Pomerants, in Proletpen (Proletarian pen) (Kiev, 1935), p. 205; Antologye amerike in yidishn vort (Anthology of America in Yiddish) (New York, 1955), pp. 469-72.

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