MORTKHE YOHALEMSHTEYN (JOHALEMSTEIN) (1835-August 18, 1897)
He was born in Suvalk (Suwałki), Russian Poland. Until age twelve he studied with his father, a rabbi, and then with a rabbi in Saini, while at the same time turning his attention to secular subjects and foreign languages. After getting married, he lived for a time in Paris where he filled out his education; he also lived for a time in Ramsgate, England, where he became acquainted with Moses Montefiore’s secretary, Dr. Levi. He later returned to Poland and worked as chief proofreader in the publishing house of his uncle, Abele Markzon, in Warsaw. In 1879 he made his way to New York, and there, with Tsvi-Hirsh Bernshteyn, he brought out the first Hebrew-language periodical in the United States: Hatsofe beerets haḥadasha (The spectator in the new land), at which he worked not solely as a journalist, but as a typesetter as well. He also wrote correspondence pieces for Hamelits (The advocate). In 1873 he published one of the first Yiddish periodicals in America: Der nyu-yorker izraelit (The New York Israelite). In 1874, together with his brother-in-law, Kasriel-Tsvi Sorezon, he founded the weekly newspaper Di yudishe gazetten (The Jewish gazette), in which he introduced a Hebrew section for satire in the style of the Talmud. Until his death he was editor of the daily Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper), founded by Sorezon, and he wrote (mainly using the name “Ish Yemini”) numerous articles and features for Hamelits. He was one of the founders and the secretary of the society “Shoḥre sefat ever” (Friends of the Hebrew language) in New York. In Hebrew he also published a history of the United States as Divre yeme artsot haberit (New York, 1893), 112 pp.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1 (with a bibliography); Moyshe Shtarkman (M. Khizkuni), in Zaml-bukh tsu der geshikhte fun der yidisher prese in amerike (Anthology toward a history of the Yiddish press in America), ed. Y. Shatski (New York, 1934); Shtarkman, “Di sorezon-zikhroynes” (The Sorezon memoirs), in Yorbukh fun amopteyl (Annual from the American branch [of YIVO]), vol. 1 (New York, 1938); Shtarkman, in anthology 75 yor yidishe prese in amerike (Seventy-five years of the Yiddish press in America) (New York, 1945), pp. 9-55; Shtarkman, in Metsuda (New York) 7 (1954), p. 521; Elye Shulman, Geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur in amerike (History of Yiddish literature in America) (New York, 1943), p. 39; Kalmen Marmor, Der onhoyb fun a yidisher literatur in amerike (The beginning of a Jewish literature in America) (New York, 1944), see index; Y. Khaykin, Yidishe bleter in amerike (Yiddish newspapers in America) (New York, 1946), see index; The Jewish Encyclopedia (New York), vol. 7, p. 67.
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