KHEVEL KATZ (May 10, 1902-March 8, 1940)
He was born in Vilna to poor parents and from an early age had to go to work. He became a typesetter for the Romm publishing house. He sang the first poetic couplets that he wrote at the Vilna publishers’ union. He accompanied himself with a guitar. In May 1930 he moved to Argentina. He soon gained popularity through performances of his own couplets and parodies, some of which sang of the experiences and suffering of the “green” immigrants. For a short period of time, he also acted on the stage, but he became very popular thanks to his radio audience, and although he sang in Yiddish, his songs captivated non-Jewish listeners who were fascinated by the sound of the words and the melodies. In 1933 a collection of his couplets, entitled Argentiner glikn (Joys of Argentina), was published in Buenos Aires. He suffered from a blood ailment and following an operation on his tonsils, he died at the age of just shy of thirty-eight. His funeral was the largest that any Jew had had in Buenos Aires to that point in time. Over 20,000 people accompanied him from his home, and some 10,000 of them were in attendance at the cemetery for the burial.
Sources: Information from Yankev Botoshanski in Buenos Aires; obituaries in the Yiddish press in Argentina.
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