Sunday 31 July 2016


MIKHL (MIKHAIL) ZAMETKIN (1859/1960-March 7, 1935)
            He was born in Odessa.  His father was a hatter and had a small shop where he sold hats that he made himself.  Ignoring his poverty, he sent his son to study in the Odessa Commercial School.  Mikhl early on joined the revolutionary movement and in 1877-1878 was one of the twenty-eight members of the first Odessa “kruzshok” (circle) which established an illegal school to teach Jewish youngsters Russian and socialism.  In 1880 he was already being watched by the police, and two years later, for political reasons, he made his way to the United States where he arrived on August 20, 1882 at the head of the Odessa group of “Am Olam” (Eternal people) [groups aimed at establishing agricultural colonies in the United States]; en route they were joined by the second section of the Vilna “Am Olam” group with Avrom Kaspe at the head.  He worked for years in New York, stitching shirts for $4-$5 each week, and he was one of the main organizers (with Morris Hilkovitsh [Hilkvit], Louis Miller, and other socialist pioneers who were also working in the trade at that time) of the union of shirtmakers (one of the very first Jewish trade unions in America).  Right after arriving in New York, he took a prominent position among the pioneers in the Jewish socialist movement in America, and his name was linked with virtually all efforts and experiments (political, trade union, culturally enlightened, and literary) of that movement over the course of the 1880s and 1890s.  Already in 1882 he joined the “Propaganda Association” (which the student F. Mirovitsh had only just founded and for which Abraham Cahan was the principal speaker); and that year he was a cofounder of the “Self-Study Association” which, just like the “Propaganda Association,” only existed for a short time, later of the “Russian Workers’ Association,” the “Russian Labor Lyceum,” and the “Russian Progressive Association.”  He was one of the most beloved and influential propagandists (in Russian) of the “Jewish Workers’ Association” (founded in April 1885, just after the collapse of its predecessor, the “Russian Jewish Workers’ Association”), which lasted until the latter half of 1887 and played a significant political role at that time.  Among the Jewish socialists and the “Am Olam” people, Zametkin was known as a social democrat, but his views were, like other socialists of that time, rather more hazy, and in 1886 he was part of the “Committee of Eleven” that the socialist “Jewish Workers’ Association” appointed to lead agitation for the candidacy of Henry George (author of Progress and Poverty, a reformer, but not a socialist) for the position of mayor of New York City; Zametkin later described this in his article, “Undzer ershter kompromis” (Our first compromise), Tsayt-gayst (Spirit of the times) in New York (August 31, 1906).  Also for a short time he belonged to the anarchist group “Pyonire der frayhayt” (Pioneers of freedom), founded in 1886.  Bit by bit, however, his ideological views became clearer and more defined.  That same year he was one of those who influenced the “Jewish Workers’ Association” in its decision to join the Socialist Labor Party (S.L.P.) in America, and at the end of 1887—just after the “Jewish Workers’ Association” abolished itself—he joined the group of Jewish socialists who organized within the S.L.P. a “Jewish Branch” of the party (Branch #8).  Furthermore, in 1888 he was one of those who separated from the branch and founded “Branch #17” for the Russian-speaking Jewish socialists in the S.L.P.; Zametkin spoke and wrote throughout in Russian, only switching to Yiddish in 1892.  Following the initiative of Branches #8 and #17, in October 1889, the United Hebrew Trades was founded, and he was one of the most beloved and successful propagandists in founding new unions among Jewish laborers, in New York as well as in other cities (Philadelphia, Chicago, and Boston).  In December 1889 at the joint conference of Jewish anarchists and social democrats, with the goal of publishing together an impartial workers’ newspaper in New York (at the historic convention which gave the final push to the founding of two solid workers’ newspaper), Zametkin was a delegate from the Chicago “Continued Education Association” where he participated with the anarchists.  When the social democrats deserted the conference on the basis of a decision to publish their own newspaper, he left with the social democrats, and nine weeks later (March 1890) there appeared the social democratic weekly Di arbayter tsaytung (The workers’ newspaper); Zametkin became one of its main leaders and remained as such until 1902 when the newspaper ceased publication.  He was initially associated with the radical wing of the newspaper and for many years wrote on serious economic and socio-political issues—all illuminated from a Marxist standpoint.  He also wrote semi-fictional stories and allegories which always carried a socialist propagandistic character—one of them, entitled “Un dan?” (And, then?), was published in Tsukunft (Future) in New York in 1894.  He published current events articles as well in the daily Dos abend-blat (The evening newspaper) which the Jewish social democrats, together with the United Hebrew Trades, published from 1894 until 1902, and in Zuntog abend-blat (Sunday evening newspaper) which was published in 1896.  Zametkin also spoke and wrote on literature.  He was almost the best Yiddish speakers on literature—mainly on Russian literature—in the early 1890s, but the literary topics as well served only as a canvas to express social democratic propaganda.
            At the time of the rift in the S.L.P. in January 1897, he left with the opposition (Ab. Cahan, Louis Miller, Morris Wintshevsky, and others), and when it was decided to publish the Forverts (Forward) (first issue appearing April 22, 1897), he and Cahan traveled across the country to collect money for the newspaper.  He later became Cahan’s right-hand man at the newspaper, and, when Cahan resigned several months later from his editorial post, Zametkin assumed this position and over the years 1900-1901 he shared the editor’s chair with Louis Miller.  In those years, he wrote a great deal for the newspaper, and he remained a regular contributor for decades afterward.  He was also editor of the weekly Der sotsyal-demokrat (The social democrat), which the “Kangaroos” (members of the second opposition who split off from the S.L.P. in 1899) began to publish in New York on October 7, 1900.  In searching for a national expression for the Jewish socialist movement in America, which transpired among the ranks of the members—this time from the Socialist Party (S.P., led by Eugene Debs) over the course of the first decade of the twentieth century—Zametkin took up a sharply negative position which he expressed in his writing for Forverts, Tsayt-gayst (a weekly put out by the Forverts), Tsukunft, and elsewhere.  When a debate began (following the founding of the “Jewish Agitation Bureau” in 1905) over the need for a national conference of Jewish socialists, which would create a purely Jewish socialist federation, he ridiculed (in a long article in Tsayt-gayst, January 25 and February 1, 1907) the “solitariness” which is no more than “an illness which can and must be cured,” because “only what is polluted must be kept in quarantine, only lepers are kept outside the camp,” while the healthy ones do not separate themselves from anyone.  Zametkin’s socialism, in his speech and his writing, was cosmopolitan, although over the course of fifty years he spoke only to Jewish workers.  He also did translations from Russian, English, and French which appeared in various publications.  Among his books: A Russian Shylock, a play in four acts (New York, 1906), 135 pp.; a translation of Émile Zola’s La Bête humane (The human beast) as Di tsveyfisike khaye (The biped animal), together with his wife, the writer Adela Kiyen (New York: Forverts Publ., 1911), 554 pp.; translation of Allan L. Benson’s Sotsyalizmus un zayn rikhtige badaytung (Socialism and its proper meaning [original: Socialism Made Plain]) (New York: Forverts Publ., 1917), part 1, 133 pp., part 2, 128 pp.; N. Chernishevski’s novel, Vos tut men? (What is to be done? [original: Chto delat’]), together with Adela Kiyen (New York: Literarisher Publ., 1917), part 1, 255 pp., part 2, 288 pp.—the name of the translator is not indicated in the book, but Zalmen Reyzen deduced as much in his Leksikon (in the biographies for M. Zametkin and Adela Kiyen).
            He was active as a speaker, lecturer, and writer until 1925, when a severe illness over a long period of time interrupted his activities.  He was so weak the last ten years of his life that he could scarcely move.  He was living in the Bialystoker Home for the Aged on East Broadway.  Lonely and desolate (his wife predeceased him), he died on March 7, 1935.  He remains were cremated—one day later.  His daughter is the American Anglophone writer Laura Z. Hobson.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Y. Entin, “M. Zametkins ‘a rusishe shaylok’” (M. Zametkin’s “A Russian Shylock”), Tsukunft (New York) (August 1906); H. Burgin, Di geshikhte fun der yidisher arbayter-bavegung in amerike, rusland un England (The history of the Jewish labor movement in America, Russia, and England) (New York, 1915), see index; B. Vaynshteyn, Fertsik yor in der idisher arbeter bavegung, bletlekh erinerungen (Forty years in the Jewish labor movement, pages of experiences) (New York: Der Veker, 1924), pp. 51, 76, 81, 95, 115, 122-23, 133, 142, 187, 192, 201-3; Vaynshteyn, Di idishe yunyons in amerike, bleter geshikhte un erinerungen (The Jewish unions in America, pages from history and experience) (New York: United Hebrew Trades, 1929), see index; Y. Kapelyov, Amol in amerike (Once upon a time in America) (Warsaw, 1928), pp. 140, 143, 252; Ab. Cahan, Bleter fun mayn leyn (Pages from my life), vol. 2 (Vilna-Warsaw, 1928), p, 439; Moyshe Shtarkman, in Yivo-bleter (Vilna) 4.4-5 (1932), pp. 354-87; A. Zeldin, in Tog (New York) (June 11, 1932); Liliput, in Forverts (New York) (March 8, 1935) (also an editorial in the same issue); L. Finkelshteyn, in Der tog (March 11, 1935); Y. Milkh, Di antshteyung fun “forverts” (The rise of the Forverts) (New York, 1936), pp. 35-38; Dr. B. Hofman, Fuftsik yor kloukmakher-yunyon (Fifty years of the cloak makers’ union) (New York, 1936), . 84, 117, 122; Gr. Aronson, in Tsukunft (May-June 1942), pp. 278-79; Shmuel Niger, in Tsukunft (May-June 1942), p. 316; E. Shulman, Geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur in amerike (History of Yiddish literature in America) (New York, 1943), pp. 64, 136; Geshikhte fun der yidisher arbeter-bavegung in di fareynikte shtatn (History of the Jewish labor movement in the United States), vol. 2 (New York, 1945), see index; H. Vigderson, in Forverts (August 17, 1952); Y. Sh. Herts, Di yidishe sotsyalistishe bavegung in amerike (The Jewish socialist movement in America) (New York, 1954), see index; L. Kobrin, Mayne fuftsik yor in amerike (My fifty years in America) (Buenos Aires, 1955), pp. 164-69.
Yitskhok Kharlash


SHMUEL-MORTKHE ZAMD (March 15, 1890-November 1971)
            He was born in a village near Terlitsa, Kiev district, Ukraine, to an impoverished timber merchant.  He was orphaned in his youth on his mother’s side and raised by his grandfather in Terlitsa.  Afterward when his father, Avrom-Leyb Pesok, settled in Nikolaev and opened a religious elementary school there, Shmuel-Mortkhe moved there.  Until age thirteen he studied at his father’s religious elementary school and in a Russian public school, later becoming a sign painter.  In 1906 he moved to Canada, and from there in 1909 to the United States where he settled in Chicago.  For a time he worked as a sign painter, and later he worked as a secretary in a Jewish school.  He debuted in print (under the name Shmuel Pesok) in Der groyser kundes (The great prankster) in New York, with a memoirist description of Jewish Montreal entitled “Montreoler notitsn” (Notes on Montreal).  From the time on, he published humorous sketches, skits, articles, and reviews of Yiddish performances and concerts, as well as children’s stories, puzzles, children’s poems, and features in: Der groyser kundes, Kibitser (Joker), Forverts (Forward) in New York and Detroit, and other serials.  In 1912 he became an internal contributor (and for a time editorial secretary) to the daily Yidisher kuryer (Jewish courier) in Chicago—later known as Kuryer (Courier), a weekly—in which he also ran a column “Harts tsu harts” (Heart to heart).  From June 1919 (until the final issue of this publication in 1952), he was he was an internal contributor and assistant editor of Shikager forverts (Chicago forward), in which aside from the news, articles, and theater reviews, he also published the humorous series “Bilder un stsenkes” (Images and scenes).  He also contributed to: Der idisher rekord (The Jewish record) in St. Louis; the journal Shikago (Chicago); Nikolayever yorbikher (Nikolaev annuals) (1940, 1950); Idisher shriftzetser (Jewish typographer) (New York, 1926, 1936); and other trade journals and publications.  He was editor of Kinder-baylage tsum yidishn rekord (Children’s supplement to Idisher rekord) (Chicago, 1913-1915).  From 1955 he has been living in Chicago.

Source: Z. Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 3 (New York, 1959), p. 2416.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


TSEMEKH ZAMBROVSKI (b. April 15, 1911)
            He was born in Warsaw, Poland, into a rabbinic family.  He moved to the United States in 1924, graduated from rabbinic seminary, and received ordination into the rabbinate.  In 1932 he graduated from university in Cleveland.  For a time he served as rabbi there and from 1948 he was rabbi in Montreal.  He was chairman of Mizraḥi in Canada and a member of the executive of World Mizraḥi and of the General Zionist Organization.  He also chaired the Montreal rabbinate.  From 1932 he contributed to the Yiddish, Hebrew, and English-language Jewish press in the United States, Canada, and elsewhere.  He placed work in: Keneder odler (Canadian Eagle) and the monthly Di mizrakhi-shtime (The voice of Mizraḥi), of which he was also editor—both in Montreal; Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal) in New York; Unzer veg (Our way) in Paris; Hatsofe (The spectator) in Tel Aviv; and other serials.  He was also editor of Tora veavoda (Torah and belief) in Cleveland.  He was last living in Montreal.

Sources: D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah leḥalutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 10 (Tel Aviv, 1959), pp. 3571-72; M. Ginzburg, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (November 2, 1959); Who’s Who in World Jewry (New York, 1955), p. 838.


PALTIEL ZAMOSHTSHIN (July 21, 1851-1909)
            He was born in Odessa, southern Russia, into a well-to-do family.  At age twelve he entered the Odessa school of commerce, while simultaneously studying Hebrew with Perets Smolenskin (who lived right near the Zamoshtshins and even dedicated a poem to his student).  At age seventeen he left to study architecture at the Berlin Polytechnicum, but because of his father’s declining business, he interrupted his studies in 1870 and returned to Odessa, where he turned to commerce and initially gave up on studying literature.  He began writing in Hebrew in 1868.  He published poems, essays, and correspondence pieces in: Hamelits (The advocate), Hamagid (The preacher), Hakarmel (The garden-land), Hatsfira (The siren), Haboker-or (Good morning), Haor (The light), and other Hebrew publications; but his main activity developed in Yiddish in which he published poetry, plays, stories, and articles in: Kol-mevaser (Herald), Varshoyer yudishe tsaytung (Warsaw Jewish newspaper), Yudishes folksblat (Jewish people’s newspaper), Spektor’s Hoyzfraynd (House friend), and Familyen-fraynd (Family friend)—in the last of these, he excelled with his “Bilder fun lebn” (Images of life); in Spektor’s Varshoyer yudisher familyen-kalendar (Warsaw Jewish family calendar) (1893) and Lamtern (Lantern) (Warsaw, 1894); Sholem-Aleykhem’s Yudishe folks-biblyotek (Jewish people’s library)—a rhymed comedy in one act entitled Nor a doktor (Only a doctor); A. Goldfaden’s Yisroelik; Der yudisher veker (The Jewish alarm) (Odessa, 1887)—a long poem entitled “Shma yisroel” (Hear, Israel); Kleyne yudishe biblyotek (Little Jewish library) (Odessa, 1888); Der kleyne veker (The little alarm) (Odessa, 1890); Rozenblum’s Der folks-fraynd (The friend of the people) (Odessa, 1894); Der yud (The Jew) (Cracow-Warsaw, 1899); Minikes yontef bleter ([Khonen] Minikes’s holiday sheets) (New York).  In Odessa, he became a private lawyer and published a pamphlet entitled: Di naye zakones fun pasportn far dvoryanes, tshinovnikes, potshotni-grazhdanes, kuptses, meshtshanes, bale-melokhes, krestyanes un yidn (The new laws on passports for nobles, officials, honored citizens, merchants, petty bourgeois, craftsmen, peasants, and Jews), with supplements translated from no official publications (Odessa, 1895), 48 pp.  He also translated into Yiddish Y. L. Gordon’s Bimetsulot yam (In the waves of the sea) and adapted in Yiddish A. B. Gotlober’s play (in one act and two scenes) Der medalyon (The medallion).  “Without a doubt,” wrote Y. Shatski, “Zamoshtshin was a gifted poet….  Linguistically very interesting, his language had considerable folkish charm.”  His work was also included in Der arbeter in der yidisher literatur, fargesene lider (The worker in Yiddish literature, forgotten poems) (Moscow, 1939).  He died in Vienna, almost completely forgotten.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1 (with a bibliography); Z. Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 1; Dr. Shatski, “Umbakante yidishe dramaturgn” (Unknown Yiddish playwrights), Pinkes fun amopteyl fun yivo (Records of the American division of YIVO) (New York) (1927-1928), p. 271; Shatski, “Paltiel zamoshtshins briv tsu sholem-aleikhemen” (Paltiel Zamoshtshin’s letters to Sholem-Aleykhem), Yivo-bleter 11.1-2 (1937); Y. Entin, Yidishe poetn (Jewish poets), vol. 1 (New York, 1927); M. Greydenberg and Y. Riminik, in Tsaytshrift, vol. 5 (Minsk, 1931); R. Granovski, Yitskhok yoyel linetski un zayn dor: derinerungen tsu zayn hundert yorikn geburtstog (Yitskhok Yoyel Linetski and his generation, remembrances on the centenary of his birthday) (New York, 1941); “Briv fun paltiel zamoshtshin tsu mortkhe spektor” (Letters from Paltiel Zamoshtshin to Mortkhe Spektor), Yivo-bleter 29; Dr. Y. Klausner, Historiya shel hasifrut haivrit haadasha (History of modern Hebrew literature), vols. 4-5 (Jerusalem, 1954); E. Davidzon, Seḥok pinu (Laughter from the mouth) (Tel Aviv, 1951), p. 293.
Zaynvl Diamant

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 256.]

Friday 29 July 2016


            He was born in Volkovisk (Wołkowysk), Grodno region, at the time in Russia.  He studied in religious primary school and yeshivas.  He married at an early age and became a businessman.  He was one of the first “Ḥoveve Tsiyon” (Lovers of Zion) and followers of the Jewish Enlightenment in the city.  He published poetry and essays on national Jewish themes and fictional depictions and fantasies in: Hatsfira (The siren) in Warsaw; Hamelits (The advocate) in Odessa; and Volkovisker shtime (Voice of Wołkowysk) and Volkovisker lebn (Wołkowysk life), among others.  In book form: Der eyntsiger veg, dialog tsvishn man un froy vegn ashires un dales, luksus un basheydn (The only way, dialogue between man and wife on wealth and poverty, luxury and modesty) (Vilna, 1932), 119 pp.  Written in a modern Yiddish, this book describes the coming generations in a world of justice and peace with a vision of a Jewish state under the protection of the alliance of peoples, built “on foundations and principles of Sinai.” He died in Wołkowysk.

Sources: E. Y. Goldshmidt, in Di tsayt (Vilna) (September 16, 1932); Volkovisker lebn (Wołkowysk) (January 15, 1935); information from his son, Leyzer Zamoshtshanshki in New York.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


YITSKHOK ZAM (1907-December 25, 1935)
            He was born in Rovno, Volhynia district, Ukraine, into a well-off family.  He was orphaned early on his father’s side.  He received both a Jewish and a general education, graduating from a Polish senior high school.  He graduated from Warsaw University in 1933 with a doctoral degree in law.  From 1928 until his death, he was a contributor to the economics and statistical bureau at Cebeka (Central Education Committee) in Warsaw and placed work in: Dos virtshaftlekhe lebn (The economic life) and Folkshilf (People’s assistance), among others in Warsaw and Vilna.  He was author of a monograph on Rovno in Polish (Warsaw, 1934).  He died in Warsaw.

Source: Dos virtshaftlekhe lebn (Warsaw) (July-December 1935).


YANKEV-MEYER ZALKIND (J. M. SALKIND) (August 16, 1875-December 25, 1937)
            He was born in Kobrin (Kobrun), near Brisk (Brest), Lithuania.  His father, Mortkhe-Yehude-Leyb Zalkind, was a prominent, well-cultivated merchant who drew his pedigree from the Baal Shem Tov and from Rabbi Mendele Don Yeḥia (rabbi in Drise [Verkhnedvinsk]) who came from a prominent Jewish family in Portugal.  His mother, Khaye-Ester, a great-granddaughter of the rabbi of Lublin, Rabbi Meshulem-Zalmen Ashkenazi, descended from generations of celebrated men and rabbis—from Ḥakham-Tsvi (1656-1718) back to Maharshal (1510-1574), Tosefet-Yom-Tov (1579-1654), and Rashi (1040-1105).  Until his bar-mitzvah, Yankev-Meyer attended religious primary school, studied for two years at the Volozhin Yeshiva, gained fame as an utterly brilliant prodigy, while studying secular subjects with private tutors; later as an external student, he sat for the examination for the sixth class in high school, and thereafter studied philosophy, philology, history, literature, and political economy at the Universities of Berlin, Munich, Geneva, and Berne (from the last of these, he received his doctor of philosophy degree in 1904), became a great linguist, knowledgeable in over twenty languages, old and new—he wrote twelve to fourteen with ease—while all the time devoting considerable energy to the multifaceted studies of the Talmud and its commentators.  He brought with him from his devout Enlightened, Ḥibat-Tsiyon (Love of Zion) home an ethnic Orthodox disposition, as already in Munich (Germany) he began campaigning for Zionism amid the local German Jewish student body, and later in Switzerland founded Zionist unions, libraries, and kosher student kitchens (as a counterweight to the influence of the assimilationist, socialist “Russian kitchens”); he was the founder and captain of the actively struggling, corporatist student union “Kadima” (Onward!) in Berne, where after the Kishenev pogrom of 1903 he organized an enthusiastic self-defense group, and it studied shooting and military marching.  From there he moved to England where he married and became a rabbi in the small Jewish congregation of Cardiff in South Wales.  For a time everything was proceeding well in Zalkind’s life, but then he began to quarrel with his community, moved to London where he founded a Zionist “Aḥuza” (estate) with seventy members, left for Israel in 1913 as its representative, and there established the colony of Karkur, not far from Pardes Ḥanna.  Just as the Aḥuza members (most of them laborers) were unable to simply move to Israel immediately (they initially began settling in the colony in 1921), so Zalkind returned to England and set off for Glasgow (Scotland) in 1915 to study agronomy, so that he would be able properly to administer the colonization of Karkur, when the time would come.  In 1916, however, the course of Zalkind’s life took a turn in a new direction, when he became an opponent of war, returned once again to London where he conducted an anti-militarist campaign, and when Herbert Samuel, Home Secretary in the British Government, reached an agreement with the Russian (Tsarist) government—according to which unnaturalized Russian Jews in England had to either join the English army or return to Russia and be recruited there to fight in the war—Zalkind launched a fierce fight against this.  For the goals of the anti-war campaign, he established in London at the time the “Defense Committee,” published and edited himself Di idishe shtime (The Jewish voice)—of which thirteen weekly and thirty-six daily numbers appeared, in close association with A. Vevyorke and Dr. A. Margolin—a national-radical, anti-militaristic newspaper, was arrested and spent a short time in prison for anti-war agitation, left the Zionist party and launched an anti-Zionist campaign, and fought also against Zhabotinsky’s plans of a Jewish Legion.  He later arrived intellectually at anarcho-communism and, with help from several London anarchists, in 1920 he revived the old anarchist periodical Der arbayter fraynd (The workers’ friend)—published over the course of three years monthly in 1920, biweekly in 1921, weekly and again biweekly in 1922 and 1923—which he edited and practically wrote by himself alone, both under his own name and using such pseudonyms as: Dr. Y. M. Salinfante, Pyer Romus, Y. M. Mivne Hekhala, B. Mayer, S. Zalkin, Osip S., M. Volodin, Eygen Haynrikh Shmit, M. Gracchus, and the like.  Other contributors to the newspaper included: Rudolf Rocker, Dr. Mikhl Kohen, Shloyme Ben-Dovid, Sh. Linder, V. Rubtshinski, Volin, and M. L. Vitkop.  Zalkind also edited and practically wrote the entirety of the newspaper (1922) Der yunger dor (The young generation).  He became a fiery anarchist, and aside from the hundreds of newspaper articles he wrote, he also translated a series of pamphlets and books by famous anarchist authors, while at the same time remaining a firmly religious Jew and an eminent scholar in his daily life.  In his first years as an anarchist, he devoted a great deal of work on a Yiddish translation of the Talmud; he fought hard against the Zionist movement, while at the same time writing (in Der arbayter fraynd) about Vladimir Zhabotinsky as the “Jewish Garibaldi” (he would later take a position close to Zhabotinsky’s Revisionism); he separated himself from Zionism, while remaining a firm adherent of the construction of the land of Israel.  Most striking in Zalkind’s contradictory ideas was the linkage between his anarchism and his Talmudic ethic, from which he never budged so much as a hair, neither in theory nor in practice.  An authentic “free society” would, in his view, be a “Talmudic society”—namely, a society in which the Talmudic ethic would lie at the foundation of its political philosophy and at the base of its legislation.  He believed that from the Talmud one could today extract living sources, and this was the thrust of his vast, nearly lifelong work of rendering the Talmud into Yiddish.  From 1921 he was living in Harrogate (a spa near Leeds) where his wife ran a millinery shop.  Zalkind was never able to earn enough to support himself and his family.  In 1930 on a visit to the United States, where he was close to his anarchist friends in various states, he appeared in public with anarchist speakers.  He then traveled on to Israel where he was to spend his last, painful years, went into seclusion, and took part in no community activities at all; for only a few acquaintances would he (with revolutionary pathos) speak about the need to create in Israel a stateless community based on anarchist principles.  He also, however, in his last years did not cease studying or writing; he was engaged in his immense Talmudic work (this time in Hebrew)—Hamishna vehatosefta (The Mishnah and the Tosefta), the first part of which appeared only after his death.  He died in poverty and desolation in Haifa (although in a letter of April 1937 sent to his Kobrin native place group in New York, he gave his return address as: 15 Yavne St., Tel Aviv).
            The first things he wrote for publication appeared in 1900 in Hatsfira (The siren) and Drohobitsher tsayung (Drogobych newspaper), and from that point in time he wrote hundreds of articles, treatises, feature pieces, impressions, stories, poems, and dramatic works in a variety of newspapers and journals in Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian, German, English, French, and Judeo-Español.  In Hebrew he wrote a series of children’s plays which were staged in Jewish schools and Talmud Torahs in various countries; among them the following appeared in separate editions: Haaniyim (The poor) (Warsaw, 1903), 23 pp.; Yetsiat mitsraim (The exodus from Egypt) (London, 1907), 32 pp.; Atselim (Lazy ones) (London, 1907); David (David) (Warsaw, 1907), 32 pp.; Harokhel hakatan (The little peddler) (Warsaw-Cracow, 1907), 27 pp.; Hashoshana halevana (The white rose) (Warsaw, 1907), 9 pp.; Boshtim (Disgraces) (Leipzig, 1922).  He translated into Yiddish: M. L. Lilienblum, Finf momentn in lebn fun moyshe rabeynu (Five moments in the life of Moses, our teacher) (Zurich, 1906; another translation by Hilel Malakhovski appeared in New York in 1909); Professor A. Varburg, Di tsukunft fun erets-yisroel (The future of the land of Israel) (London, 1907), 37 pp.; R. Rocker, Anarkhizm un organizatsye (Anarchism and Organization [original: Anarchismus und Organisation]) (London, 1922), 48 pp.; George Barrett (George Powell Ballard), Taynes kegn anarkhizm (Objections to anarchism) (London, 1922), 40 pp.; Sébastien Faure, Verter fun a dertsier (Words from an educator) (Buenos Aires, 1924), 96 pp.; H. G. Wells, Dr maros inzel (The Island of Dr. Moreau), a supplement to Arbayter fraynd.  Zalkind’s original works include: Die Peschitta zu Schir-haschirim (Aramaic translation of the Song of Songs) (Leiden, 1905), 42 pp.; Di idishe kolonyes in erets yisroel, zeyer eksistents un progres (The Jewish colonies in the land of Israel, their existence and progress) (London, 1914); Vayomer yaakov (And Jacob spoke), annotations and commentaries on Tanakh and Talmud (London, 1918), 196 pp.; Di geshikhte fun di idishe bukhdrukerayen (The history of Yiddish book publishers), a scholarly work of great range and value, only the first three chapters appeared in print in the monthly Renesans (Renaissance) (London, 1920).  Among his unpublished works: a collection of original legends in Hebrew, Bereshit (In the beginning); a longer historical treatment of the Gele late (Yellow patch); a Hebrew translation of Molière’s Der karger (The miser [original: L’avare]); a siddur (prayer book) with historical and grammatical notes and with an introduction on the history of the siddur; an anthology of political legends; a major work entitled Di filosofye fun anarkhizm (The philosophy of anarchism); a work in German entitled Die Irrwege der jüdischen Geshichte (Wrong turns taken in Jewish history); a major work on the history of the church censor and the Inquisition in Jewish religious texts—on the basis of a manuscript (found in the Parisian state library and variants also in Rome and Bologna) of an old censor, a Safed Jew, a student of the Ari, later a convert who pointed out the places that had to be erased in censored texts (this manuscript was unknown to earlier historians of the censorate—A. Berliner and V. Papir).  Zalkind also edited Milon zhargoni-ivri (Yiddish-Hebrew dictionary) by A. L. Bisko (London, 1920).
            Zalkind’s most important accomplishment was his starting work on a translation of the Talmud into Yiddish, of which the first four tractates in the order of Zeraim (Seeds [agriculture]) appeared in print.  The first volume, Berakhot (Blessings), had the general title on frontispiece: Babylonian Talmud—the Talmud in Yiddish, Gemara Publishers, “translated and explained by Dr. Yankev-Meyer Zalkind, published by B. Vaynberg (London, 1922),” 228 pp. in folio.  The text consists of the Mishna, the Gemara, and commentary.  Under “In lieu of a preface” to Berakhot, the “translator and editor” wrote, inter alia: “With respect to the translation we wish to note that it is highly literal…, even when the style has to suffer on occasion….  As concerns the commentary we have made every effort to create something that is worth any price, usable for the beginner as well as for the scholar.”  The commentary “is built, in the main, on the explanations of Rashi, Tosafot, Maharsha, Rabenu Yona, and other ‘commentaries on the Talmud,’” but in certain places “we have found it appropriate to offer our own opinion as well.”  Both the translation and the commentary were written (according to Shmuel Niger) “in a delightful language,” which in subsequent volumes became “richer and more refined.”  A handful of Germanisms which crop up here and there (dizer ‘this’; entfernt ‘remote’; entfernung ‘removal’; and a few others) apparently had for the author a certain stylistic justification, in any event not hindering in the least the great joy that one has reading (or studying) Zalkind’s Talmud in Yiddish.  The second volume, tractate Peah (Corner), carried on its frontispiece the title: “Talmud in Yiddish, Talmud Publishers, London, 1928” (86 pp. in folio).  This second tractate, just like the subsequent tractates in this translation, was taken from the Jerusalem Talmud; the Babylonia Talmud has only Berakhot, the Gemara to the first Mishna of the order Zeraim, and the remaining nine Gemaras of the order can only be found in the Jerusalem Talmud.  It includes the original Hebrew text, next to the Yiddish translation, and with pointing.  In his preface to the second volume, Zalkind remarked that his commentary was built on the commentaries of Rambam and R. Samson of Sens, as well as Bartenuro, Pnei Moshe, Tosafot-Yom-Tov, and later commentators, as well as his own opinions here and there.  The third volume on tractate Demai (Uncertainty)—“Talmud in Yiddish, Talmud Publishers, London, 1929” (126 pp. in folio)—also carries the original Hebrew text of the Gemara with pointing.  According to Z. R. (Zalmen Reyzen), in Yivo-bleter (Pages from YIVO) 13, Zalkind was planning to bring out a fourth volume, on tractate Kilayim (Mixture), but when and where he does not say.  Zalkind’s last work was his no less immense project, Hamishna vehatosefta: “Precise wording with extensive commentary by Yaakov Meir Zalkind,” the first volume of which—on tractate Berakhot—was published posthumously in Haifa in 1939 (348 pp.).

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; A. Frumkin, in Di idishe velt (Philadelphia) (January 23, 1921); Frumkin, in Fraye arbeter shtime (New York) (January 28 and February 4, 1938); Dr. A. Ginzburg, in Tsukunft (New York) (July 1922); Dr. A. Koralnik, Viderklangen un vidershprukhn (Echoes and contradictions), part 1 (Warsaw, 1928), pp. 103-8; M. Vanvild, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (February 1, 1929); Y. Babitsh, in Literarishe bleter (March 17, 1933); Dr. Y. Rubin, in Fraye arbeter shtime (January 21, 1938); Hadoar (New York) (January 21, 1938); Shmuel Niger, in Tsukunft (April 1938; Niger, Bleter geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur (Pages of history from Yiddish literature) (New York, 1959), pp. 203-7; A. Pazi, in Oyfkum (New York) (May-August 1938); Z. R. (Reyzen), in Yivo-beter (Vilna) 13 (November-December 1938), pp. 626-29; B. Riveszon, in Yidish london (London) (1939); Dr. A. Mukdoni, Oysland (Abroad) (Buenos Aires, 1951), pp. 96-106’; Kh. D. Fridberg, in Bet eked sefarim; D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah lealutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 9 (Tel Aviv, 1958).
Itskhok Kharlash

Thursday 28 July 2016


            He was a teacher of painting and drawing in Jewish schools in Vilna.  In the years between the two world wars, he frequently published articles on issues concerning painting and art in the Vilna Yiddish newspapers.  With the outbreak of WWII (September 1939), he escaped from Vilna to Grodno, and from there he was evacuated to Soviet Russia, where he died soon after arriving.

Sources: Sh. Katsherginski, in Khurbn vilne (The Holocaust in Vilna) (New York, 1947), p. 191; Lerer-yizker-bukh (Remembrance volume for teachers) (New York, 1954), p. 158; Y. Sandel, in Folksshtime (Warsaw) (November 17, 1956).


SHLOYME ZALTSMAN (1872-December 1, 1946)
            He hailed from a town in Grodno district.  He lived in Odessa and played an important role in the rise of the Russian Yiddish press.  After 1905 he ran a publishing house in Odessa, which published pro-Zionist pamphlets, some of which he wrote himself.  He published current events articles in Fraynd (Friend) in St. Petersburg and in subsequent years in Haynt (Today) in Warsaw.  He was the publisher, 1917-1918, of Petrograder togblat (Petrograd daily newspaper).  From the 1920s he was living in Israel.  He died in Givat Betar.

Sources: D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah leḥalutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 2 (Tel Aviv, 1947), p. 670; Sefer hashana shel haitonaim (The annual of newspapers) (Tel Aviv, 1947/1948), p. 250; E. Davidzon, Seḥok pinu (Laughter from the mouth) (Tel Aviv, 1951), p. 357.


RUVN ZALTSMAN (1890-March 15, 1950)
            He was born in Brisk (Brest), Lithuania, into the family of a poor shoemaker.  At age six he was orphaned on his father’s side.  He studied in religious primary school and on his own acquired secular knowledge.  In his youth he became a tailor, and he was active in the trade union movement and in the Bund.  He was arrested by the Tsarist authorities and exiled to Siberia for three years.  In 1911 he came to New York and until 1919 worked in a sweatshop, while at the same time remaining active in the trade union and socialist movement.  In the Workmen’s Circle he was a member of the education committee and a fighter on behalf of secular Jewish schools.  After 1920 he was one of the most active leaders in the Jewish section of the Communist Party in America.  He was cofounder and general secretary of the International Workers’ Order (IWO), of the newspaper Frayhayt (Freedom), and of a series of Yiddish periodical publications of the leftist movement.  He was one of the initiators of the Jewish Culture Congress in Paris (1937).  On several occasions he visited European countries, including the Soviet Union.  He published articles (some under the pseudonym “Zara”) in: Frayhayt, Morgn-frayhayt (Morning freedom), Hamer (Hammer), Di naye velt (The new world), Proletarishe dertsiung (Proletarian education), Shul-almanakh (School almanac), Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture), and Eynikeyt (Unity)—in New York; Kultur (Culture) in Chicago; and in other Jewish Communist publications in various lands.  He was the author of the book: Tsu der geshikhte fun der fraternaler bavegung (Toward the history of the fraternal movement) (New York, 1936), 287 pp.  He also published a significant number of pamphlets of a political polemical character with Communist leanings, such as: Barikht tsu der ershter konvents fun internatsyonaln arbeter ordn (Report to the first convention of the International Workers’ Order) (New York, 1931), 28 pp.; Di shul far ayer kind (The school for your child) (New York, 1935), 40 pp.; Ordn fun proletarishn fraternalism (Order of proletarian fraternalism) (New York, 1938), 23 pp.; Der ordn in yidishn lebn (The Order in Jewish life) (New York, 1938), 63 pp.; Der ordn in der itstiker epokhe (The Order in the contemporary epoch) (New York, 1941), 31 pp.; Farrat in arbeter ring (Treason in Workmen’s Circle) (New York, 1942), 23 pp.; A shand un a veytog (A shame and a pain) (New York, 1942), 23 pp.; 17 yor in dinst fun folks-ordn (Seventeen years in service to the people’s order) (New York, 1947), 63 pp.; Unter dem zeydenem farhang fun amerikaner yidishn kongres (Under the silk curtain of the American Jewish Congress) (New York, 1949), 32 pp.  He died in St. Louis, Missouri.

Sources: R. Yuklson, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (March 18, 1959); Moyshe Kats, in Morgn-frayhayt (March 24, 1959); Z. H. in Yidishe kultur (New York) (April 1959).


            She was born in Dvinsk (Daugavpils), Latvia.  She received a Jewish and a secular education.  She later became a bookkeeper.  After the Germans under Hitler occupied Latvia in 1941, she was confined in the Dvinsk and the Riga ghettos, from which she was deported in 1944 to the Stutthof death camp.  By a fortunate turn of events, she was sent from there to work in a factory in Thorn (Toruń), where she survived until liberation in 1945.  She remained in Germany until 1947 and then moved to Canada.  From 1953 to 1957, she lived in Israel.  In 1946 she began writing her memoirs from the ghetto years, which appeared in book form under the title Heftling numer 94771, iberlebenishn in daytshe lagern (Prisoner number 94771, experiences in German camps) (Montreal, 1949), 175 pp., with an introduction by Melekh Ravitsh.  Aside from historical documentation, this book also has a literary value thanks to the unmediated descriptions full of numerous impressions of the tragic events, and—as noted by M. Ravitsh—it is a voice in the Jewish chorus that accuses the world for the suffering of the Jewish people.  She was last living in Mexico City.

Sources: M. Ravitsh, introduction to Heftling numer 94771 (Montreal, 1949) pp. 3-4; Y. Bashevis, in Forverts (New York) (January 5, 1950); Y. Yonasovitsh, in Unzer veg (Munich) (April 14, 1950); Di naye tsayt (Buenos Aires) 234 (1953); M. Elkin, in Yorbukh (Annual) (New York, 1950/1951), p. 76.


            She was born in Vilna, into a well-to-do family.  For many years she was a teacher of pedagogy in a Hebrew teachers’ seminary in Vilna and ran her own “Gan Yeladim” (nursery school).  She published articles on psychological pedagogical issues in such journals and anthologies as: Dos shutsloze kind (The unprotected child) (Vilna) and Dos elendste kind (The most afflicted child) (Warsaw, 1927); Velt-shpign (World mirror) (Warsaw, 1927-1939); and Di tsayt (The times) (Vilna).  In book form, she published: Miyomana shel ganenet (From the diary of a kindergarten teacher) (Vilna, 1927), 196 pp.  Subsequent biographical details remain unknown.

Sources: Zalmen reyzen-arkhiv (Zalmen Reyzen archive) (New York, YIVO); Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO) (Warsaw, 1928); information from Miriam Weiss, Venezuela.


            He was born in Apt, (Opatów), Kielce district, Poland, into a Hassidic merchant family.  He studied in religious elementary school and yeshiva.  Until WWII he worked as a businessman in Lodz.  When the Germans occupied Poland, he left for Russia.  He returned to Poland in 1946.  He wrote poetry for Nayer folksblat (New people’s newspaper) in Lodz (1931).  He later contributed to: Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper) and Literarishe bleter (literary leaves) in Warsaw.  After the war he published poems and articles in: Dos naye lebn (The new life), Yidishe shriftn (Jewish writings), and Folksshtime (Voice of the people)—all in Warsaw.  In book form: In zunike teg (On sunny days), poetry (Warsaw, 1954), 80 pp.

Source: B. Mark, in Folksshtime (Lodz) (February 19, 1955).

Wednesday 27 July 2016


            He was born in Zamość, Poland.  He studied in religious elementary school, and worked as a tailor.  At first, he was part of the Youth Bund, later active in the Communist Party.  He spent time in prisons in Poland and France where he had moved in 1929.  He was dispatched to Soviet Russia in 1933, and there he was arrested in 1937 for “espionage” and sentenced to ten years of exile in a Siberian camp.  In 1947 he was freed and in 1956 rehabilitated.  From 1959 he was in Paris, and later he was in Israel.  His books include: Un men hot mikh rehabilitirṭ, iberlebungen fun a yidishn komunist in di stalinishe tfises un lagern (And they rehabilitated me, experiences of a Jewish Communist in Stalinist prisons and camps) (Tel Aviv: Yisroel-bukh, 1970), 315 pp., which was translated into Hebrew and French [and German, English, and Russian—JAF]; Yoysef epshteyn (Kolonel zshil), der heroisher yidisher frayheyts-kemfer (Joseph Epsztejn [Colonel Gille], the heroic Jewish freedom fighter) (Paris, 1980), 71 pp.; Di groyse enderung in yidishn lebn in frankraykh, fun der zeks-togiker milkhome biz 1980 (The great change in Jewish life in France, from the Six Day War to 1980) (Tel Aviv: Yisroel-bukh, 1980), 157 pp.; Bela shapiro, di populere froyen-geshtalt (Bela Shapiro, the popular image of women) (Paris, 1983), 71 pp.

Ruvn Goldberg

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), cols. 255-56.


            He was born in a town in Kielce district, Poland, into a poor family.  He studied in religious elementary school, yeshivas, and later through self-study acquired secular knowledge.  For a time he was in preparatory training for work on a kibbutz, and later he lived in Warsaw and maintained himself through unskilled labor.  He was active among Jewish anarchists.  He published a volume of poems entitled Memento mori (Remember you shall die), with a foreword by the author (Warsaw, 1938), 146 pp.  Aside from poetry written in the motifs of love, pain, and suffering, this book included a cycle entitled “Khalutsim” (Pioneers) in which the author expressed the yearnings of youth in Poland who were prepared to become pioneers in Israel.  Subsequent information about him remains unknown.

Source: Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (April 10, 1938).
Khayim Leyb Fuks


YOYSEF-BOREKH ZALTSBERG (J. B. SALSBERG) (November 5, 1902-February 8, 1998)
            He was born in Lagov (Łagów), Poland.  From 1913 he was living in Toronto.  He received a Jewish and a general education.  In his youth he was active among the left Labor Zionists, and from 1926 he was playing a leading role in the Communist movement which he abandoned in 1956.  Over the years 1943-1955, he was a member of the Ontario Legislature.  He began writing on youth issues and community matters in the monthly periodical that he edited, Unzer yugend (Our youth) in Toronto (1919), as well as in other publications of the left Labor Zionists and later in the Communist periodicals: Der kamf (The struggle), Der veg (The path), and Vokhnblat (Weekly newspaper)—in Toronto; Morgn-tsaytung (Morning newspaper) in New York; and elsewhere.  He also contributed to: Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal under the pen name Yoysef-Borekh; and Idisher zhurnal (Jewish journal) in Winnipeg, in which he published stories and ran a column “Vokh-ayn un vokh-oys” (Week in and week out).

Source: Kh. L. Fuks, Hundert yor yidishe un hebreishe literatur in kanade (A century of Yiddish and Hebrew literature in Canada) (Montreal, 1980).

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 255.


ELKHONEN ZALTSBERG (1857-February 17, 1924)
            He was born in Raseyn (Raseiniai), Lithuania, and studied in religious elementary schools and yeshivas.  He later turned to secular subjects and joined the revolutionary movement of the Russian Populists.  In 1881 he set out for the United States.  He spent two years in London, where he was active in Jewish labor groups.  In 1883 he arrived in New York.  Together with Dovid Edelshtat and others, he founded the anarchist organ Di varhayt (The truth), in which he published his translation of chapters from Karl Marx’s Kapital.  Years later he joined the Labor Zionist party.  He settled in Philadelphia where he contributed for a time to the local editions of New York’s Morgn-tsaytung (Morning newspaper).  He died in Philadelphia.

Source: Yedies fun yivo (New York) (June 1948).
Borekh Tshubunski


FALIK ZOLF (September 18, 1896-April 20, 1961)
            He was born in Zastavye, near Kamenets-Litovsk, Byelorussia.  Until age eleven he studied with his father, a teacher of Talmud, and later he attended a Talmud Torah and yeshivas in Brisk (Brest) and Slobodka.  For a time he studied in the towns around Minsk and Vilna, where he gave Hebrew lessons and taught children in the synagogue study chambers.  In 1915, at the time of the expulsion of Russian Jews from the front lines, he was expelled from his town, stayed for a short time in Molodetshne (Maladziečna), and then in 1916 he turned up in Yaroslav, by the Volga River, where he worked in a leather factory.  After the outbreak of revolution in 1917, he volunteered to join the Russian army and left for the front.  He spent some time in a German prisoner-of-war camp in Czersk.  When he returned home at the end of 1918, he founded the first Jewish public school in Zastavye, then moved to Brest-Litovsk, and from there in 1926 he moved on to Canada.  From 1927 on, he worked as a Yiddish teacher in the Peretz School in Winnipeg.  He began his writing activities with a series of descriptions of his voyage to Canada in Dos idishe vort (The Jewish word) in Winnipeg (1926), and from that point on he published stories, books, tales for children, and dramatic works in: Dos naye vort (The new word) in Winnipeg; Der khaver (The comrade) in Vilna; and Der tog (The day), Kinder-zhurnal (Children’s magazine), and Kinder tsaytung (Children’s newspaper) in New York; among others.  His books include: Af fremder erd, bletlekh fun a lebn (On foreign soil, pages from a life) (Winnipeg, 1945), 524 pp. (awarded a prize from YIVO in 1943 while in manuscript)—a book that depicts in a quiet tone and careful language the types and figures of the massacred Jewish towns in Poland and Lithuania; Di letste fun a dor, heymishe geshtaltn (The last of a generation, familiar images), stories (Winnipeg, 1952], 339 pp.—descriptions of familiar figures from the past.  He also published: the children’s plays, Der oyfshtand fun di khashmenoim (The uprising of the Hasmoneans) and Der eybiker nes fun a krigl boymel (The eternal miracle of a little jug of oil), performed in Jewish schools in America and Canada; and Unzer kultur hemshekh (Our culture continued) (Winnipeg, 1946), 221 pp.—a collection of essays and articles on Yiddish writers, “a volume with a pedagogical mission,” written with “conviction and zeal” (according to Dr. A. Mukdoni).  He died in Winnipeg.

Sources: M. Elkin, in Dos naye vort (Winnipeg) (February 15, 1943); D. Tsharni (Charney), in Proletarisher gedank (New York) (May 1, 1947); Charney, in Der shpigl (Buenos Aires) (July 1957); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (February 6, 1946); Mukdoni, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 26 (1956); M. Ginzburg, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (July 25, 1946; August 5, 1957); M. Kligsberg, in Tsukunft (New York) (November 1950); B. Ts. Goldberg, in Tog (New York) (March 21, 1953); Goldberg, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (March 25, 1959); Shmuel Niger, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (May 3, 1953); Yankev Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (October 9, 1953); Glatshteyn, in Folk un velt (New York) (October 1953); Rabbi M. Shvartsman, in Keneder odler (May 8, 1956); Y. Bronshteyn, in Keneder odler (May 21, 1956).
Binyumin Elis and Khayim Leyb Fuks


YITSKHOK ZALER (1868-1936)
            He was born in Warsaw, Poland, into a Hassidic merchant family.  He studied in religious primary school, at the Gerer Yeshiva, and with private tutors, later becoming a businessman.  He was an activist in Orthodox education.  He authored a number of works on Torah, such as: Yalkut yitsḥak (Yitsḥak’s satchel) (Warsaw, 1895), 296 pp.; Likute yitsḥak (Gleanings of Yitsḥak) (Warsaw, 1913), 96 pp.; and others.  He was a contributor to Nohkem-Leyb Vayngot’s Dos yidishe vort (The Jewish word) in Warsaw (1916), where, aside from articles on pedagogical topics, he published weekly tales of Hassidic rebbes.  At the time of the German occupation of Poland during WWI (1915-1918), he was a cofounder of the first religious schools in Warsaw and wrote a number of textbooks for them, such as: the reader Sefer shaare yitsḥak, leman tinokot shel bet raban (The gates of Yitsḥak, for the sake of school children) (Warsaw)—“This book is to teach Jewish children how to conduct themselves the entire day from rising in the morning until going to sleep at night, on the Sabbath, New Year, and holidays.  It brings together holy words of the Sages.  This will involve an implantation, like fire in the hearts of the sacred Jewish children, of an eagerness with joy and love to serve the Lord with all of one’s heart, and this will remain with them in their hearts forever” (from the introduction by the author); Minḥat yitsḥak velikute yitsḥak (Offering of Yitsḥak and gleanings of Yitsḥak), with a preface in Hebrew and an approbation from the Gerer rebbe (Warsaw, 1915), part 1, 130 pp., part 2, 84 pp., and an appendix comprised of a short dictionary of words of Hebrew and Aramaic origin translated into Yiddish.  This last book was written in dialogue format between a rabbi and his pupil and was reissued in many editions and translated into Hebrew (used as well in Agudah schools in Israel).  A photographed edition of the Yiddish text, published in New York in 1953, was used in girls’ schools of the Beys-Yankev sort and other religious schools in the United States.  He died in Warsaw.

Sources: Bet eked sefarim; information from Rabbi A. Zemba and Gedalye Meyblat.
Khayim Leyb Fuks and Leyzer Ran


M. ZALMAN (pseudonym?)
            He was the author of Der ershter shtral, lernbukh oystsulernen zikh leyenen un shraybn yudish (The first ray [of light], textbook to teach oneself to read and writing Yiddish) (Kovno, 1912), 28 pp.

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 255.


BINYUMEN ZALMANOVITSH (b. February 27, 1875)
            He was born in Vilna.  His father was a gravedigger.  Until age twelve he studied in religious elementary school, later becoming a laborer.  In 1900 he moved to the United States.  He was the founder of the first Jewish butchers’ union in New York, as well as other trade unions.  He lived for many years in Paterson, New Jersey.  He debuted in print with a story about workers’ life in the weekly Tsayt-gayst (Spirit of the times) (New York, 1905).  From that point, he published stories and sketches concerning the lives of Jewish laborers in: Forverts (Forward), Varhayt (Truth), Di tsayt (The times), Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor), and Der tog (The day)—in New York.  In book form: Der barber, oder broyt far di kinder (The barber, or bread for the children), a drama in three scenes (New York, 1911), 16 pp.  He was living in Hightstown, New Jersey.

Sources: Y. Khaykin, Yidishe bleter in amerike (Yiddish newspapers in America) (New York, 1946), p. 191; Forverts (New York) (April 22, 1959).


            He was born in Meytshet (Molchad), Slonim district, Byelorussia.  His father, Noyekh Meytsheter, was a cantor in a number of Jewish cities, among them Lide, Vilna district, where he had become famous and from which he acquired the name “Reb Noyekh Lider.”  When he was two years of age, Elyohu’s parent brought him to Kalish (Kalisz), Poland, where his father was to serve as the city’s cantor.  He initially studied at a religious primary school, from age nine with the Kalish rabbi, R. Shimshen Orenshteyn, and secular subject matter with the “best teachers in the municipal government’s high school.”  Early on he demonstrated musical talent, and he was taught to play the fiddle.  At age eighteen, he sat for the examinations for the sixth class in high school, and afterward he left (1905) for Milan, Italy, where he spent five months studying voice with Professor Augusto Broggi; he later studied for a short time in Vienna, Austria, with Professor Frank, and in 1906 he arrived at the Kaiser’s Music Academy in Berlin, later moving to the Stern Conservatory, from which he graduated with a silver medal in 1909.  That same year (1909), he became the chief cantor of the Sinai Synagogue in Warsaw.  At that time he began writing about music and the cantorial art in the Hebrew-language Hatsfira (The siren)—“Sirtutim muzikalim” (Musical sketches) and other pieces under the pen name “Even”—and in Yiddish for Shoyel Hokhberg’s Unzer lebn (Our life)—both in Warsaw.  In 1913 he moved to Rostov-on-Don, where he served as cantor in the Great Synagogue, voice teacher in the local state conservatory (1914-1917), and tenor in the opera (1918-1921).  He wrote on music for the Russian Jewish Razsviet (Dawn) in St. Petersburg and for the Russian-language Priazovskii krai (Azov region) in Rostov.  In 1922 he left Russia, worked for a specified amount of time as a cantor in the reform synagogue Taharat Hakodesh in Vilna, served as cantor in Bialystok and Lodz as well, wrote on music and cantorial work for Vilner tog (Vilna day) and Dos naye lebn (The new life) in Bialystok, and compiled his work Manginot yisrael (Melodies of Israel), a collection of songs and stock tunes.  In 1925 he arrived to serve as cantor at the Central Synagogue in Liverpool, England, wrote for Der idisher ekspress (The Jewish express) in London, and published his book Di muzik in 19tn yorhundert, historish-byografisher iberblik (Music in the nineteenth century, historical-biographical survey) (London, 1925), 62 pp.—short biographical and critical essays on forty-five composers.  In 1926 he moved to the United States, served for a short time as cantor in a number of synagogues in New York, and then later moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he was cantor as Temple Shaarey Zedek from 1926 to 1932; later still, he served as cantor again in New York, as well as in other cities in America.  He spent his last five year as cantor in Congregation Beth Shalom in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  He published Finf folkstimlekhe lider far gezang un pyano (Five popular songs for voice and piano) (New York, 1926), 4 pp.—music and lyrics by Z. Segalovitsh, Avrom Reyzen, Moris Rozenfeld, and M. Goldman; and he published in Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal) in New York a series of biographical articles on cantors and conductors which was later included in his book Kultur-treger fun der yidisher liturgye, historish-byografisher iberblik iber khazones, khazonim un dirizhorn (Culture bearer of Jewish liturgy, historical-biographical survey of the cantorial art, cantors, and conductors) (Detroit, Michigan, 1930), 351 pp. and 8 pp., with a preface by the author, a biographical dictionary of cantors—among them, biographies of his father, his brothers who were cantors, and his own autobiography.  He also compiled a cantor’s prayer book, entitled Tefilat noaḥ veavodat eliyahu (The prayer of Noah and the service of Eliyahu), his father’s and his own liturgical compositions and recitatives.  In the jubilee volume of Dos naye lebn (Bialystok) in 1929, he published “Khazonim un khazones bay yidn” (Cantors and the cantorial art among Jews), and in Shul un khazonim velt (The world of synagogue and cantors) (Warsaw, 1938) he contributed a series of articles entitled “Mayne zikhroynes” (My memoirs).  He was also the founder and president (1928-1932) of the cantors’ society of the Midwest.  He died in Pittsburgh.

Sources: Zalman Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Z. Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 1; his autobiography in his Kultur-treger fun der yidisher liturgye (Detroit, 1930); P. Vyernik, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (January 3 and February 14, 1932); M. Dantsis, in Der tog (New York) (August 26, 1932); Y. Kirshenboym, in Morgn-zhurnal (November 2, 1932); Byalistoker leksikon (Bialystok handbook) (Bialystok, 1935); M. Yardeni, in Der tog (July 11, 1943); Drayshprakhik yorbukh (Trilingual yearbook), vol. 3 (New York, 1944), p. 76; Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (New York), vol. 10, p. 627.

[1] The birth date of 1888 is taken from his autobiography; 1886 comes from Zalmen Reyzen’s Leksikon.  The later date from his autobiography fits better.

Tuesday 26 July 2016


LEON ZOLOTKOF (May 15, 1866-July 31, 1938)
            He was born in Vilna, Lithuania.  He received a thorough Jewish education and thereafter attended a Russian senior high school.  From late 1883 until the autumn of 1885, he lived in Paris where he was an early auditor at the Sorbonne and at the same time was engaged in a variety of trades, for a time as well working in a publishing house.  In those years, he began to write poetry in Russian and Hebrew.  He debuted in print with “A Letter from Paris,” in which he described the sad condition of Jewish immigrants in Paris and the work of Alliance Israélite, for the Russian monthly Evreiskoe obozrenie (Jewish review) in St. Petersburg (March 1884)—in which he also published under such pen names as L. Zolotkovich and Ben-Zev.  At the beginning of 1886, he returned to Russia, worked for a time on the editorial board of Hayom (Today) in St. Petersburg (writing under the pen name “Zaken gadol” or big elder), and then late that year again left Russia and headed for London, where he purchased the small publishing house from which he produced Der arbayter fraynd (The workers’ friend), became a friend of B. Feygenboym who enlisted him in the Jewish labor movement, and together with Feygenboym wrote Di sotsyalistishe hagode shel peysekh (The socialist Passover Hagada) (London: Berner Street Club, 1888).  That same year he emigrated to the United States and settled in Chicago.  He was at first active in the Jewish socialist movement and was well-known as a political speaker and lecturer.  After graduating from university with a doctoral degree, he practiced as a lawyer and also assumed the post of prosecutor, simultaneously turning his attention to writing, and with his friend and fellow townsman Perets Vyernik, he began to publish various periodicals in Hebrew and Yiddish.  He was one of the pioneers in the Yiddish (mainly, conservative) press in America.  In 1911 he moved to New York, was active in the Labor Zionist party, later moved over to general Zionism, and was one of the founders of the organ Knights of Zion in Chicago in 1898.
            Zolotkof began writing when he was still a youth, producing Hebrew poetry for Hamelits (The advocate) and Hatsfira (The siren).  He debuted in Yiddish (under the pseudonym “Yener” or “that one”) with “A vig lid fun an arbayter froy” (A lullaby for a worker’s wife) in Arbayter fraynd in London (September 1886); and thereafter he published features, poetry, and impressions of laboring life in the same serial.  He would later contribute to virtually the entirety of the Yiddish press in America.  He published current events articles, feature pieces, stories, poems, images, and newspaper novels (his own and translations from French) in: Nyu yorker yudishe folkstsaytung (New York Jewish people’s newspaper) (1886-1889), Tsukunft (Future), Morgn zhurnal (Morning journal), Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper), Di yudishe gazeten (The Jewish gazette), and Dos idishe folk (The Jewish people)—in New York; and Der idisher kuryer (The Jewish courier), Der toglikher yudisher kol (The daily Jewish voice), and Keren haor (The ray of light)—in Chicago.  In Morgn zhurnal in which he placed in 1924 his major work, “Der mensh un di velt” (Man and the world), a popular treatise on the principal facts of civilization in connection with Jewish history, he also was in charge (under the name Dr. Klorman) of a daily column of answers and advice for readers.  At various times, he served as editor of: the Hebrew monthly Keren haor (Chicago, 1889); Der idisher kuryer (Chicago, from 1887, with M. Melamed); Yidishes tageblat (Chicago edition, four numbers each week; Di yudishe gazeten (New York); Dos idishe folk (New York, 1909); and the daily newspaper Der toglikher yudisher kol (Chicago).  He was the author (under the pen name Ben-Zev) of the pamphlet Der tsvek fun der tsien bevegung (The goal of the Zion movement), “a brief explanation in questions and answers” (Chicago, 1901), 36 pp.  He also wrote the following books: Blut shvaygṭ nit, a mayse fun yidishe tsores in di regirungs tsayṭ fun aleksander III (Blood will not be silent, a story of Jewish troubles in the era of the government of Alexander III) (Chicago, 1902), 66 pp.; Der biterer tropen, a komedye in dray akten (The bitter drop [of alcohol], a comedy in three acts) (New York, 1924), 61 pp.; Mayn eytse, entfers af problemen velkhe entshtehen in dem yidishn lebn in amerike (My advice, answers to issues that arise in Jewish life in America) (New York, 1931), 352 pp.; an autobiographical novel, From Vilna to Hollywood (New York, 1932), 234 pp. (initially published in Yiddish in Morgn-zhurnal).  From his novels which he published over the course of many years in the press, the following were published in book form: Tsvishn libe un milyonen, oder durkh fayer un ayzerne keytn (Between love and millions, or through fire and iron chains) (New York, 1899), 414 pp.; Di shvartse hand oder der goyel hadam (The black hand or the avenger of blood) (written under the pen name L. Zolotarofski) (Brooklyn, 1901), 428 pp.; Di velt-banditn (The world bandits) (New York, 1919), 476 pp.  He translated Adolf Friedemann’s Teodor hertsels lebn (The life of Theodor Herzl [original: Das Leben Theodor Herzls]) (New York, 1915), 141 pp., with his own preface.  His two plays were performed in the Yiddish theater in America.  In the collection Der yidish-amerikaner redner (The Jewish American speaker) (New York, 1908), edited by G. Zelikovitsh, a number of pieces by him (under the pen name Ben-Zev) were published which reflect Jewish life in America at that time.  He also published in Russian under such pseudonyms as Z. Zolotkovich.  He died in Long Island, New York.

Sources: Zalman Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Z. Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 1; Dovid Eydelsberg, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (June 25, 1931); Yorbukh fun amopteyl (Annual from the American branch [of YIVO]), vol. 1 (New York, 1938), pp. 256-80; A.-R, in Hadoar (New York) (August 12, 1938); K. Marmor, Der onhoyb fun der yidisher literatur in amerike (The beginning of Yiddish literature in America) (New York, 1944), see index; Shmuel Niger, in Tsukunft (New York) (May 1942); E. Shulman, Geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur in amerike (History of Yiddish literature in America) (New York, 1943), p. 90; Y. Khaykin, Yidishe bleter in amerike (Yiddish newspapers in America) (New York, 1946), see index; P. Vyernik, “Fun vilne biz nyu york” (From Vilna to New York), Morgn-zhurnal (October 10-December 23, 1951); M. Khizkuni, in Hadoar (4 Sivan [= June 5], 1954); Khizkuni, in Pinkes shikago (Records of Chicago) (1954), p. 75; Khizkuni, in Metsuda 7 (1954); L. Shpizman, in Geshikhte fun der tsienistisher arbeter-bavegung fun tsofn-amerike (History of the Zionist labor movement in North America), vol. 1 (New York, 1955), see index.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


IZIDOR (YITSKHOK) ZOLOTAREVSKI (December 27, 1875[1]-November 28, 1945)
            He was born in Elizavetgrad, southern Russia, now in Ukraine.  In 1879 his father, a wool maker, died, and he was raised by an aunt on his mother’s side in Belaya Tserkov, Kiev district, in assimilated surroundings.  He knew nothing of Jewishness and studied only Russian and German.  In his youth he set out to roam through the bigger cities of Ukraine, worked in a library in Elizavetgrad, and was a newspaper seller along the Kharkov-Nikolaev train line.  In 1890 he emigrated to the United States and looked up an older brother in Fall River, Massachusetts, who from time to time would act in Yiddish theater with an amateur group.  He worked there as a laborer in a textile factory and at the same time acted in the amateur troupe with his brother.  He set himself to learning English and Yiddish, and he acquainted himself with the novels of Shomer and Tanenboym as well as with Yiddish theatrical works that were popular at the time.  He later worked as a peddler, a shoe-shiner, a newspaper seller, and an insurance agent, while all the time playing with the amateur troupe in Providence, Boston, and New Haven.  In 1893 he became a professional Yiddish actor and traveled through various cities in the United States.  For want of repertoire, he began to translate bit by bit theatrical poems and shorter pieces for the stage (many of these poems were published in a separate volume in Montreal in 1897).  He composed his first play in 1895: Der farfaser (The author), “a drama in four acts”; in 1897 he wrote the theatrical work, Der yudisher volentir (The Jewish volunteer), and in 1899 Der yudisher martirer, oder der yeshive bokher (The Jewish martyr, or the yeshiva lad).  After this, over the course of a half-century, he provided the Yiddish theater with more than one hundred plays of the well-known Lateiner-Hurwitz sort.  Many of his plays had great box office success, and such actors as the following played in them on stage: Yankev (Jacob) Adler, Dovid Kesler, Boris Tomashevsky, Ludvig Zats, Morris Moshkevits, Kenny Liptsin, and Berta Kalish.  In the Yiddish theatrical world, Zolotarevski was considered “king of the melodrama.”  His plays circulated among the Yiddish acting troupes in manuscript form, with only a few of them appearing in print: Di yudishe anna karenina (The Jewish Anna Karenina), a “drama in four acts” (Lemberg, 1909), 44 pp.; Reb abali Ashkenazi (Reb Abali Ashkenazi), “a life in four acts” (Lemberg, 1909), 52 pp.; Korten (Playing cards), one act (New York, 1910), 14 pp.; Di seyls goyrl (The salesgirl), “drama in four acts” (New York, 1913), 97 pp.; Der yeshive bokher, oder der yudisher hamlet (The yeshiva lad, or the Jewish Hamlet), “a play in four acts and six scenes” (Warsaw, 1914), 56 pp.; Geld, libe un shande (Money, love, and scandal), “a play in four acts” (Warsaw, 1923), 58 pp.; Di vayse shklafn (The white slaves), “drama in four acts” (Warsaw, 1926), 48 pp.; Libe un laydnshaft (Love and passion), “a life in four acts” (Warsaw, 1926), 64 pp.; Di shtifmuter (The stepmother), “a drama in three acts” (Warsaw, 1928), 52 pp.  He died in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Z. Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 1 (with a bibliography); L. Kobrin, Erinerungen fun a yidishn dramaturg (Remembrances of a Jewish playwright) (New York, 1925), p. 160; Moyshe Nadir, Mayne hent hobn fargosn dos dozike blut (My hands are covered in this blood) (Vilna, 1927), pp. 150-53; Sh. Perlmuter, Yidishe dramaturgn un teater-kompozitorn (Yiddish playwrights and theatrical composers) (New York, 1952), pp. 175-84; Y. Mestl, 70 yor teater-repertuar (Seventy years of theater repertoire) (New York, 1954), pp. 33-36; “Tsili adler dertseylt” (“Celia Adler recounts”) (New York, 1959).
Borekh Tshubinski

[1] Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1, gives a birth date of “ca. 1873.”