BASYE VYERNIK (BERTE, BERTHA WIERNIK) (March 21, 1884-1951)
She was born in Vilna, the sister of Perets Vyernik. In 1887 she moved to the United States and there received her Jewish and general education. She lived for a time in Chicago, where she worked as a typesetter in the publishing house of Hateḥiya (The revival). In 1903 she settled in New York and until 1936 was active in various relief and community institutions. She began writing in 1899, debuting in print in 1901 (under the pen name Shulamis) with poetry in Der kol (The voice), edited by L. Solotkof, in Chicago; later, she published sketches, novellas, and poems in Idisher kuryer (Jewish courier) in Chicago, edited by Y. M. Volfson. She also placed pieces in: Idisher herald (Jewish herald), edited by Bukanski, Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper), edited by Paley, and English-language Jewish periodicals, where she also published translations of the Yiddish classics into English. She also translated into English Ayzik-Meyer Dik’s Judaized version of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin under the title “Di shklaferay” (Slavery). She was as well the author of theatrical plays which were staged under her direction by amateurs in charitable societies in New York, among them: Lomir makhn a pshore (Let’s make a compromise), Di teyve (The [Noah’s] ark), Misis peddler (Mrs. Peddler), and Nokh nisht (Not yet). After the death of her brother, Perets, she was drawn back into community activities, became religiously focused, and wrote Gaystike atomen, a religyeze drame (Spiritual atoms, a religious drama) in eight scenes and two acts (New York, 1944), 76 pp., second edition (New York, 1946). She was a contributor to the great English-Yiddish Encyclopedic Dictionary (New York, 1915). In 1946 she moved to California where, according to some pieces of information, she died lonely and forgotten. [In fact, according to her nephew, she died in Brooklyn, New York, in 1951.]
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Z. Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 1.
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