Tuesday 29 November 2016


            He was a carpenter in the town of Sokilen (Sokole?), Volhynia.  He authored the humorous story: Der tsveyter ayzin-band (The second railroad), “from Zarbinits to Yurkats by Khayim Yosilis, carpenter from Sokilen, the first part, Zhitomir, 1874” (36 pp., second part, Zhitomir, 1876, 32 pp.).  According to Y. D. Berkovitsh, the story is “a description of small town wagon drivers who joined together in a ‘trust’ to fight against the railway, written in a primitive popular Yiddish, mixed with folk sayings and witticisms.”  These stories were, as Sholem-Aleykhem noted in Funem yarid (From the fair), the first humorous booklets in Yiddish which exerted such an impression on him that he prayed to God that he might live to write such booklets himself.  Yosilis was also the author of a pamphlet of jests, Borekh sheptarani (Good riddance), “the frightening trip from Zarbinets to Borishov, the small town en route at five miles—the whole trip taking eight straight days.  The man who wrote The Second Railroad also wrote this booklet by hand, but should you wish to know the author’s name, he is called Reb Leyb der Writer (Warsaw)” (1880), 36 pp.  “Khayim Yosilis was…not a true humorist,” noted Shmuel Niger, “but there is in…his stories something of…that force of habit to make jokes which, it seems to me, typifies ordinary people from Volhynia.”

Sources: Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2, with a bibliography; Sholem-Aleykhem, Funem yarid (From the fair) (New York, 1923), pp. 66-67; Y. D. Berkovitsh, Sholem-aleykhem bukh (Sholem-Aleykhem volume) (New York, 1926), p. 314; Shmuel Niger, in Pinkes fun amopteyl (Records of the American division of YIVO), 1.2-3 (New York, 1927), pp. 2-7.

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