Sunday 26 June 2016


AVROM VERMONT (December 16, 1868-December 6, 1916)
            His family name was originally Grinberg.  He was born in Galats (Galați), Romania, to a father who worked as a ritual slaughterer.  He left home very early, lived cut off from Jews, traveled extensively through the Balkan countries, got to know the Orient well, even knew the Turkish language, and lived for a while in Israel and later in London where he published stories about the gypsy life in Yekhiel Bril’s weekly, Hashulamis (The Shulamite).  In 1890s he moved to Argentina and settled in Buenos Aires where the Jewish community had only just begun to develop.  In 1898 he contributed to the first issue of Vider kol (Echo), the first Yiddish newspaper in Argentina, founded by Mikhl Hacohen Sinai, with a piece entitled “Di naye aseres-hadibres” (The new Ten Commandments).  That same year he established his own weekly, Di folks-shtime (Voice of the people), the only Yiddish newspaper from the pioneer era in Argentina that lasted for sixteen years.  He was a sensationalist writer and in his newspaper the problem of pimps was a regular feature.  In the unending controversies that occupied many years between Vermont and other Argentinian Yiddish writers of the time, he is often depicted as possibly the only person in the contemporary Jewish underworld of Buenos Aires.  Particularly distinguished among his opponents was Z. Levin, the editor-publisher of the humorous weekly Di poyk (The drum), ca. 1900, which issued a pamphlet entitled Vermont afn himl (Vermont in heaven), and also wrote a three-act comedy Vermont af der katre (Vermont on the Katra River), which was even staged by amateurs (it was, incidentally, one of the first Yiddish presentations in Argentina).  Mikhl Hacohen Sinai also characterized Di folks-shtime as a libelous newspaper.  A number of older Buenos Aires institutions, though, aroused Vermont’s respect, labeling him the defender of immigrants and wronged colonists in their struggle with YIKO (Jewish Cultural Organization).  In the history of the Yiddish press in Argentina, he was considered one of its most important pioneers.  He died in Buenos Aires.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Y. Botoshanski, in Tsukunft (New York) (August 1931); Botoshanski, in Algemeyne entsiklopedye (General encyclopedia), “Yidn H” (New York, 1957), p. 376; M. Horovits, in Yivo-shriftn (Argentina) 5 (1952); Mikhl Hacohen Sinai, in Yizker-bukh tshy”z, yidishe kehile in buenos ayres (Remembrance volume 1956/1957, the Jewish community of Buenos Aires), pp. 133-35, 138; Sh. Rozhanski, Dos yidishe gedrukte vort un teater in argentine (The published Yiddish word and theater in Argentina), vol. 1 (Buenos Aires, 1941), see index.
Borekh Tshubinski

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