Thursday 11 August 2016


YANKEV ZIZMOR (1856-May 11, 1922)
            He was born in Grodno, Russian Poland, into a well-to-do family.  He received a traditional Jewish education.  He was later popular in Lithuanian and Byelorussian locales as a wedding entertainer, especially after Elyokim Zunzer departed for the United States.  During WWI he was terribly impoverished, and after the war he tried to put on concerts in Vilna and Grodno, but without success.  In his last years he lived in Vilna in great need, and there he died.  He left three bright sons, two of them architects (one of whom created the sculpture work in Grodno’s Great Synagogue) and one a medical doctor in Germany.  From the poetry that Zizmor wrote over the course of his life, the following collections were published: Di sfire, un datsu dray lider, velkhe es iz forgeshtelt gevorn fun mir… (Counting the omer and three more poems presented by me…)—(1) “Dos papirl” (The paper), (2) “Di komode” (The dresser), (3) “Der lakh” (The laughter)—(Vilna: Y. L. Mats, 1883), 32 pp.; and Dos reyne yudishe herts (The pure Jewish heart) (Vilna, 1918), 48 pp.  He also published some interesting experiences under the titles “Amolike khasenes” (Weddings in the past) and “Mayne zikhroynes vegn badkhones” (My memories of wedding entertainment), in Pinkes far der geshikhte fun vilne (Records for the history of Vilna), edited by Zalmen Reyzen (Vilna, 1922), pp. 873-78.

Sources: Hatsfira (Warsaw) 44 (1891); Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1 (with a bibliography); A. M. Bernshteyn, Vilner pinkes (Vilna records) (1922), p. 878; Kh. Shmaltsoye, in Yubuley zhurnal fun grodner br. 74, arbeter-ring (Jubilee journal of the Grodno Branch 74, Workmen’s Circle) (New York, 1941); Dr. Y. Shatski, Geshikhte fun yidn in varshe (History of the Jews in Warsaw), vol. 3 (New York, 1953), pp. 335-36.
Aleksander Pomerants

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