YANKEV TER (October 30, 1861-October 30, 1935)
He was born in Nayshtat, near the Polish-German border. Until age thirteen he attended religious elementary school, later the yeshivas of Slonim and Grodno. He was slated to become a rabbi, but he was lured away by the Jewish Enlightenment and initially became a businessman, and later (in 1880) he launched a Hebrew-Russian school in Rostov-on-Don. In 1891 he moved to the United States, settled in New York, and opened a Hebrew school there, but he had no further success and became a supervisor for kashrut in the Montefiore Talmud-Torah. In 1892 he, Morris Rozenfeld, and Yoyel Aronson published the weekly newspaper Di zun (The sun)—seven issues appeared. In 1898 he brought out the monthly Natur un lebn (Nature and life) in New York—eight issues appeared. He wrote plays and historical operettas for the professional Yiddish theater as well as for amateur troupes. These would include: “Amnen vetamar, oder der gliklekher pastekh” (Amnon and Tamar, or the happy shepherd) of 1892; “Di zilberne hokhtsayt” (The silver wedding) of 1893; “Bustenay, oder der letster prints fun malkhes beys-dovid” (Bustenai, or the last prince of the kingdom of the Davidic dynasty) of 1895; “Milkhomes hayehudim, oder di geroybte printsesin” (The wars of the Jews, or the kidnapped princess) of 1896; “Keser malkhes, oder di kroynung fun yanay hameylekh” (The crown of the realm, or the coronation of King Yannai) of 1899; and Di naye aristokraten oder di fertseyfelyte elterin (The new aristocrats or the desperate parents), “freely translated from Hebrew” (New York: Meyer Khinski); among others. He was also the author of one-act plays and scenarios which were staged in Yiddish vaudeville theaters in New York. His books would include: Natur un leben, romanen, ertsehlungen, dramme, skitsen, anekdoten, poezye und vitsen (Nature and life: novels, stories, drama, sketches, anecdotes, poetry, and jokes), “collected and original,” also including the drama “Der amerikaner arbayter, oder der kamf fir dos leben” (The American worker, or the fight for life) (New York, 1898), 40 pp.; Der biterer ṭoes, a humoristishe ertsehlung fun nyu yorker idishen leben (The bitter error, a humorous story of New York Jewish life) (New York, 1897), 34 pp.; Der ferfaser in kind-bet (The author in the child’s bed), a one-act comedy “from the diary of a woman” (Brooklyn, 190?), 12 pp., initially published in Minikes’s Di idishe bine (The Yiddish stage) in New York (1897) and later issued by the published “Teater-biblyotek” (Theater library) in Warsaw; Der protsentnik, oder di velt kert zikh iber, a humoristishe ertsehlung (The userer, or the world is tipping over, a humorous story) (New York, 1901), 20 pp.; Di idishe neshome, oder beril kokhlefl, a muzikalishe drame in fir aktn (The Jewish soul, or Beril the troublemaker, a musical drama in four acts), “adapted by B. Tomashefsky” (Warsaw, 1910), 56 pp.; Der geheymer mord, oder dem rebns moyfes (The secret murder, or the rebbe’s miracle), a novel (New York, 1914), 75 pp. He died in New York.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1 (with a bibliography); Z. Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934), with a bibliography.
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 286.]