Wednesday 24 August 2016


ELI ZINGER (July 2, 1892-February 5, 1950)
            He was born in Baytsh (Biecz), Gorlice district, western Galicia.  He studied in religious elementary school and in a Polish public school.  He moved to the United States in 1907, and for many years he worked as a waiter in the “writers’ restaurant” on East Broadway, New York.  He was known by the nickname of “the literary waiter,” because he also wrote for: Forverts (Forward), Tog (Day), Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal), and other Yiddish newspapers in New York.  He began writing with a humorous piece entitled “Hey, veyter” (Hey, waiter) in Forverts (June 25, 1923).  He went on to publish humorous sketches, skits, poems, and a long series of biographies of Jewish jazz bandleaders, published in the Sunday issue of Forverts.  He had a great love for Jewish music and Hassidic melodies, and he was thus a frequent guest at the tables of Hassidic rebbes; and he wrote about them in the newspapers.  His series of articles and humorous sketches brought him enormous popularity, and as a result writers enjoyed eating in the restaurant in which he worked.  The series was dubbed “Di literatur bay der shisl” (Literature by the dish).  He authored the plays: A khazn af shabes (A cantor on the Sabbath), Gitele (an operetta), Nekome tsulib libe (Revenge for love), Yisroel (Israel), Mayn zun (My son), and Mame tayere (Mother dear), among others.  In the last years of his life, he was connected to the bakery industry and also on several occasions was president of the former Biecz residents’ association in New York.  He died in Brooklyn.

Sources: Zalmen reyzen-arkhiv (Zalmen Reyzen archive) (New York, YIVO); obituary notices in: Der tog (New York) (February 6, 1950), and in Der veg (Mexico City) (February 11, 1950).

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