Wednesday 24 August 2016


KALMEN ZINGMAN (November 1, 1889-September 30, 1929)

            He was a poet, prose author, and playwright, born in Kovno (Kaunas), Lithuania. He studied in religious primary school and yeshiva. Early on he had to give up his studies to support his family. He became an office employee in a manufacturing company. He debuted in print in 1909 with a poem, “Baym nyeman” (By the Neman [River]), in the Kovno journal Shtraln (Beams [of light]), edited by A. Litvin. In the years of WWI, he made his way to Ukraine where he lived in the city of Aleksandrov, Kherson Province, later in the city of Kherson where he ran a manufacturing business. After the Russian Revolution of February 1917, he liquidated his business and founded under the worst conditions of the civil war the publishing house “Idish” (Yiddish/Jewish) in Kharkov. After the Tsarist ban on Yiddish and Hebrew of June 15, 1915, he was the first to again bring out published items in Yiddish. He published: two literary-artistic collections entitled Kunst-ring (Art circle), vol. 1 (Kharkov, 1918), 68 pp., vol. 2 (Kharkov, 1919), 222 pp.; an anthology Di yunge yidishe poezye in rusland (The young Yiddish poetry in Russia) in 1918; and other works. He returned to Kovno in 1921 and attempted to continue the activities of his publishing house there, bringing out poetry collections and a journal under the title Di vispe (The islet), a “literary-artistic monthly,” over the years 1921-1923, six issues, which featured the works of several fine, young talents. After a visit to Berlin, in 1929 he traveled to Crimea to recuperate from a lung ailment, and there he soon thereafter died in Simferopol.

He published in book form: Bay di breges fun nyeman, a lider zamlung (By the shores of the Neman [River], a poetry collection) (Kharkov: Idish, 1917), 32 pp.; Der kholem fun a “gevezenem”: hinter di kulisn fun beylis protses, eynakter (The dream of a “former one”: behind the scenes at the Beilis trial, a one-act play) (Kharkov: Idish, 1917), 16 pp.; In der tsukunft-shtot edenya (In the future city of Edenia) (Kharkov: Idish, 1918), translated into Hebrew by Avrom Zimrani (Tel Aviv: Eked, 1996); Motl der shnayder (Motl, the tailor), a poem (Kharkov, 1919), 37 pp.; Ba der ozyere (At the lake), a one-act play (Kharkov, 1919), 20 pp., second edition (Kovno, 1921); Ven dos harts iz yung, lider (When the heart is young, poems) (Kovno: Idish, 1921), 80 pp.; Afn shvindltrep, roman (On the spiral staircase, a novel) (Warsaw: Fakl, 1926), 131 pp.; Der kalter barg (The cold mountain), a long story published in Shtern (Star) in Kharkov (1928). He used the pseudonyms: Z. Klunimus and Ben-Yankev.

Zingman on far right

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Z. Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 1; Bikher-velt (Warsaw) (May 1929); N. Y. Gotlib, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (April 10, 1944).

[Additional information from: Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), p. 152.]

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