Sunday 9 October 2016


YANKEV-SHMUEL TOYBISH (JACOB SAMUEL TAUBES) (August 13, 1898-February 2, 1975)
            He was born in Kolomaye, eastern Galicia, the son of the writer Leybl Toybish (Toybsh).  He studied in religious primary school and Hebrew with a private tutor.  Over the years 1905-1909 he attended public school, later high school in Czernowitz and Lemberg.  He served in the Austrian army, 1916-1918.  In 1918 he completed high school in Vienna, and then went on to study law, philosophy, and natural science at the university.  He worked as a bank employee in Vienna.  He lived in Paris, 1925-1929, and then returned to Vienna.  In November 1938, during the pogrom in Vienna, he was deported to the concentration camp of Dachau, but because of his earlier military service he was set free.  That year he emigrated to London, England, and from there in 1939 he moved to New York.  He began writing religious sonnets after being at the front during WWI.  Dr. Nathan Birnbaum (Nosn Birnboym) published his first poems in the anthology Yontef bikher (Holiday books) (Brin, 1917).  He later published poems and essays in Jüdische Morgenpost (Jewish morning mail) and other German Jewish periodicals in Vienna.  He later published in: Di tsayt (The times), Loshn un lebn (Language and life), in Hebrew in Hamesila (The roadway), and in the English-language New Judaea—all in London.  After arriving in the United States, he wrote for: Tsukunft (Future), Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal), Tog (Day), Afn shvel (At the threshold), and Der id (The Jew)—in New York; Shriftn (Writings) and Der shpigl (The mirror) in Buenos Aires; Kiem (Existence) in Paris; Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal; and others.  His books include: Der khiev fun aveyles, esey (The obligation to mourn, essay) (London, 1944), 77 pp.; Gezamlte lider (Collected poems), 3 parts (London, 1946), 152 pp.; Af yidishe yesoydes, eseyen (On Jewish foundations, essays) (London, 1948), 80 pp.; Yidish—nisht hebreish (Yiddish, not Hebrew) (New York, 1952), 80 pp.; Tsvey mol khay, 36 yidishe limeriks (Two times khay [18], thirty-six Yiddish limericks) (New York, 1962), 68 pp.; Khsidim dertseyln (Hassidim recount) (Los Angeles, 1971), one volume in typescript, nothing further; Sonetn fun a mamen (Sonnets from a mother) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1973), 75 pp.  “Just as the Jewish Enlightenment used Hebrew under the cloak of ‘grammar’ in its struggle again Jewishness and Yiddish,” wrote Yankev Glatshteyn, “so too is the contemporary popularity of Hebrew, in many instances, nothing more than a refined camouflage, a sly disguise in the fight against Jewishness and Yiddish.”  What differentiates Toybish’s poetry, noted Glatshteyn: “The poet of religious song, Yankev-Shmuel Toybish appears to have succeeded in creating devout poems, and between them and the master of the universe there would seem to be no arrogance in writing poetry.”  He died in New York.

Sources: H. Leivik, in Tog (New York) (February 10, 1945); B. Rivkin, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (May 18, 1945); A. N. Shtentsl, in Loshn un lebn (London) (August 1946); Dr. Sh. Birnboym, in Di vokhntsaytung (London) (December 6, 1946); Meylekh Ravitsh, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (January 20, 1947; September 7, 1953); Di prese (Buenos Aires) (January 26, 1948); Yankev Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (July 3, 1953); Y. Bronshteyn, in Unter eyn dakh (Los Angeles) 8 (1956).
Zaynvl Diamant

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 279.]

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