Monday 23 January 2017


LEYZER KASVAN (LAZAR CASSVAN) (March 8, 1852-April 16, 1916)
            He was born in Sniatyn, eastern Galicia.  He attended the seminary courses (1870-1873) in Vienna, where he heard lectures given by Dr. Adolf Jellinek, Isaac-Hirsch Weiss, and others.  In Dr. Jellinek’s home he became acquainted with the poet Ludwig August Frankl and translated his poems into Hebrew.  Perets Smolenskin later invited him to contribute to Hashaḥar (The dawn).  Cassvan went on to study philosophy and pedagogy in Berlin and (using the pen name “Ezra hasofer” or Ezra the scribe) to publish literary and scholarly articles in: Haivri (The Jew), Hamagid (The preacher), Halevanon (The Lebanon), and Hatsfira (The siren).  Compelled to interrupt his studies, he settled in Romania where he worked as a teacher and in 1885 published his grammar: Torat sefat ever, Manual de gramatica Limbei Ebraice (Manual of Hebrew grammar) (Bucharest, 108 pp.).  He was also working on a Hebrew-Romanian dictionary.  From 1879 he published articles on pedagogy and natural science in Bucharest’s Hayoets (The advisor) and in other Jewish periodicals of that era.  In the 1880s he led a campaign for settling the land of Israel and came out publicly against Jewish immigration to the United States.  He wrote old-style satires in a fine folkish Yiddish.  He died in Brăila, a port city on the Danube, leaving behind numerous unpublished writings in Hebrew and Yiddish (mostly translations from German, French, and Romanian poets).  Idishe visnshaft (Jewish science) (Iași, 1927) published a fictional piece by him.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Y. Botoshanski, in Mame yidish (Mother Yiddish) (Buenos Aires, 1949).
Benyomen Elis

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