Friday 18 November 2016


S. TSHESTER (SAM CHESTER) (October/November 1882-March 18, 1941)
            This was adopted name of Osher-Zelig Khazanovitsh, born in Kaidanov, Minsk district, Byelorussia.  His father, Zev-Volf, was a follower of the Jewish Enlightenment and wrote Hebrew poetry.  Tshester studied in religious primary school, yeshiva, and with his famed fellow townsman Avrom Reyzen.  At age fourteen he left home, and over the course of three years he wandered through Russia, Poland, and Lithuania.  In 1899 he moved to the United States, and there he completed his studies to be a pharmacist.  He later left New York and live for a time as a farmer.  He was writing poems from 1905 and placing them in: Forverts (Forward), Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor), Tsayt-gayst (Spirit of the times), Di feder (The pen), Frayhayt (Freedom), and the collection Shriftn (Writings), among others—all in New York.  In addition to poetry, he published stories about American life, such as: “A vinkl af der erd” (A corner of the earth), in Avrom Reyzen’s Nay yidish (New Yiddish) and “Boris goldshteyn” (Boris Goldshteyn) in Frayhayt.  In book form: Amerika (America), poetry (New York, 1920), 96 pp.; Vald-brunim un andere dertseylungen (Forest well and other stories) (New York: Frayhayt, 1927), 253 pp., which includes as well “Shvester marta” (Sister Marta), “Tsvishn berg” (Amid the mountains), “A korbn” (A victim), “Shtarker fun toyt” (Stronger than dead), “Der foter” (The father), and the long story “Vildblut” (Wild blood), among others.  “Everything is here [in Vald-brunim], as around a forest spring,” wrote Shmuel Niger, “solitary and often dark and overgrown.  Tshester’s stories cover various topics, shaped from various materials of life, taken from all manner of environments (farmers, doctors, hunters, sailors, urban householders, and village Jews), but they are all as if strung along one rope.  They all practically guide us along one pathway, the way that brings us to the solitariness of the forest spring….  A number of things begin midstream or are interrupted midstream....  Everything is bunched up, not growing apart….  This all gives Tshester’s writing a charm of incompletion….We have here the rhythm of silent and sad steps along a despondent path.”  He died in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1, with a bibliography; Shmuel Niger, in Tsukunft (New York) (July 1928); R. Granovski, in Di feder (New York) (April 1930); M. Olgin, in Der hamer (New York) (March-April 1931); B. Y. Byalostotski, in Di tsayt (New York) (May 1931); Dr. Sh. Saymon, in Tog (New York) (March 21, 1942; Saymon, in the collection Koydenov (Kaidanov) (New York, 1955), pp. 115-27; Sh. Slutski, in Avrom reyzen-biblyografye (Avrom Reyzen bibliography) (New York, 1956), no. 4640.

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