Friday 17 March 2017



            He was a prose author, born Aleksandr Lizenberg in the village of Haydayky, Ukraine. His father died during WWI, and when the pogroms began his mother took her seven children, the only Jewish family in the village, and moved to Kupel (Kupel') where he spent his youth. Kupel became the main source of his subsequent literary work. In his writing he calls it Kopin, and it is meant to stand in for the typical shtetl in the violent era of the Civil War and the first years of the USSR. In 1925 Lizen became a member and later a leader of the illegal Zionist youth organization Hashomer Hatsair (The young guard) and subsequently continued these activities in Moscow. He was arrested there and sentenced to three years (1930-1933) in prison, and he was then deported for three years to Siberia (to the city of Yeniseysk). After suffering through his deportation, he returned to Kiev where his family was living, and when WWII began he was drafted into the army. From 1948 he was living in Lemberg (Lvov, Lviv). He debuted in literature in Ukrainian. He published his first story in 1959 in the Ukrainian journal Zhovten' (October) in Lvov. Over the years 1966-1990, he published six books with the Ukrainian publishing house of Kameniar (stonemason) in Lvov, and with the Kiev publisher Radians'kii pis'mennik (Soviet writer) he published one. He began writing in Yiddish in 1970 for Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland), no. 5, in Moscow, with the story “A soldat in pompeye” (A soldier in Pompeii). In subsequent issues of the same journal, he published an array of works: novels, novellas, stories, jottings, and essays. In 1988 he organized in Lvov a Yiddish cultural association, the first of its kind in Ukraine.

            In book form in Yiddish: Nokhemke esreg (Again, an etrog), a novel and stories (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1981), 383 pp.; Ale kolirn funem regnboygn (All the colors of the rainbow), jottings (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1984), 63 pp., a supplement to Sovetish heymland, no. 11; Likht un shotn, lider (Light and shadow, poetry) (Odessa: Mayak, 1995), 61 pp.; Amol iz geven a meylekh (There once was a king) (Odessa: Mayak, 1996), 29 pp.; Der blinder fatum (Blind fate) (Odessa, 1997); Rekviyem, poeme (Requiem, a poem) (Lvov, 1998); Neviim, emese un falshe (Prophets, true and false), a novel (Odessa: Studiya nehotsiant, 1998), 387 pp.

Source: Sovetish heymland, Materyaln far a leksikon fun der yidisher sovetisher literatur (Materials for a handbook of Soviet Jewish literature) (September 1975).

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 331; and Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), pp. 205-6.

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