Tuesday 4 April 2017


H. LEIVICK (December 1, 1888-December 23, 1962)
            The pseudonym of Leyvik Halpern, he also wrote under the pen names L. Halper and L. Gelperin.  He was born in Ihumen (Chervyen’, Červień), a town in the former Minsk district of Byelorussia.  His father Shoyel Halpern, a desiccated man, a redhead with a “flaming beard,” with “eyes like spears, sharpened to commit murder,” “an irascible Kohen” who smacked and thrashed his children, was a teacher of young girls in town.  He would travel around from one home to another, teaching girls to write from manuals for replication, and they would also come to his father’s home, sit around a table, and he would dictate from Bloshteyn’s letter-writing manual letters “to my highly-esteemed, much beloved fiancé, farewell.”  As support for the eleven souls in his home (four daughters and five sons, and Leivick was the eldest son), his subsistence far from sufficed, and additionally his mother carried within herself a deep sense insult over his work: he who drew his lineage back to the Shaagat Arye (the lion’s roar) [1695-1785] of Minsk had to teach “zhargon” (Yiddish) to serving girls; and so he traveled around, always bitter and often wreak his troubles on the children.  Deep in his heart he loved his children and often when thrashing a child was “himself the one thrashed,” but he did not evince it, traveled around in silence, always “absorbed in himself”—Leivik sensed his father in himself and frequently dealt with him in his autobiographical poems and “Dermonungen” (Reminiscences).  Leivick’s mother Esther-Rivke—a quiet and cheerless woman, with deep devotion evident in her lovely eyes, a slender woman with the traces of beauty, who “bungled in the shops and in the market”—was a baker, who would at daybreak “bake bread and bagels and cookies for the fairs,” and would carry her goods to sell to her booth in the market (his image emanated a special tenderness in many biographical poems by Leivik).[1]  However, from both earnings it was still far from enough to support the family which lived in grinding poverty.  “Their home,” recounted Leivick, “was small, four walls with wooden beams, one little room detached for the parents, the remaining—oven, table, two long benches and a dresser, the floor—made of tough, yellow clay.  Through the door of the detached room was the children’s hanging cradle, hoisted on four threaded ropes to a rafter from the ceiling.”

Our little home: four walls with ragged window panes,
A baker’s oven, dusty as a mill,
And rays from the sun, like golden doves,
Would dance in the morning on the earthen floor….
(from Leivick’s Dermonungen)

When he was six year old, a great misfortune transpired in their home, which left a impact on Leivick’s soul his entire life.  A younger sister, four years of age, one winter night when their mother was away from the home, went up in her jacket close to the baker’s oven, and from a single spark she caught fire and thereafter lay for many months in painful agony, until she passed away—“Mayn shvesterl” (My little sister), in A blat af an eplboym (A leaf on an apple tree).  At age five he was sent to religious elementary school, and at age ten he was sent off to yeshiva in the nearby town of Berezin (Berezino), in the “Brick School” where he studied all day long and at night slept on hard benches.  The headmaster, R. Itshe Frades, was a man not cut entirely from the same cloth, to a small extent influenced by the Jewish Enlightenment movement, and he instituted within the yeshiva a “second classroom” in which a teacher taught the yeshiva boys Hebrew and grammar.  The teacher in this “second classroom”—Moyshe Rubintshik—opened up for Leivick entry into the other world, to the world of books, Enlightenment, and secular knowledge.  For three years—as Leivick recounts it—he “ate days” (boarded with different local families on different days of the week) in Berezin, often hungry and ill, but he borrowed Hebrew books from Rubintshik’s library—Smolenski’s Hatoe bedarkhe haḥayim (Wanderer in the ways of life), Rabinovitsh’s Toldot am yisrael (History of the people of Israel), books on the Spanish Inquisition, and many, many others.  In those Berezin years, he encountered an incident involving his father from which he would not be able to free himself psychologically for a very long time.  At age eleven he was beaten down from hunger—“from the soles through the knees.”  He was suffering from great pain, and word reached his home but his father did not even come to see him in Berezin.  Leivick did not forget this for a long time.  When he later—during years of penal labor—was imprisoned in the Minsk prison dungeon, and in the pitch darkness he hallucinated and saw various images before his eyes, among them was that of his father, with “the red beard, his silent lips pressed together and sharp eyes which penetrated me”—as he later recounted it—he mentioned to his father the wounds suffered when he was eleven in Berezin and threw at his father the question of why he had not come then from Ihumen to see his son—in his Af tsarisher katorge (In Tsarist penal labor).  When Leivick was twelve or thirteen, his mother was working with her wealthy brother in Odessa, and he helped her move the family to a new house in Nikolaev, southern Russia, where a sister of hers lived—and there she opened a bakery.  As this transpired, Leivick left the yeshiva for a short period of time.  He helped his father early in the morning supply bread for purchasers in Nikolaev, bread which his mother would bake at night.  The bakery business in Nikolaev did not last for long, and the family returned to Ihumen, and Leivick was soon once again back in Berezin.  A little later, he traveled to Minsk where he studied for two terms in the yeshiva of the “Shoave mayim” (water carriers) school.  At the end of 1903 he left the yeshiva for good, made his way to Ihumen, and lived for two years with a conditional job working for a village Jew in nearby Domovitsk.  A major change took place in Leivick’s like around 1905: he joined the revolutionary movement.  His cousin, the painter Meyer Halpern, brought him to an illegal meeting in the woods—and Leivick became a Bundist.  He replaced the Hebrew in his poems (he was already at this time writing) with Yiddish, ceased attending synagogue and prayer, and refused even to perform the priestly blessings on the holidays.  He was arrested in 1906 at a Bundist demonstration (on Father Gapon’s anniversary, January 9, 1905, in St. Petersburg) in Ihumen but was soon set free.  He then left for Minsk, where he helped organize a strike of maid servants, went hungry, and engaged in revolutionary work.  Later in 1906 he returned to Ihumen and was arrested a second time by the police, who found illegal literature in his possession, and held him for three months in a single cell in the Ihumen jail; later, he was removed to the Minsk jail, where he waited nearly two years for his trial—in Kinder-tsaytung (Children’s newspaper) in New York (January 1939).  He wrote of his chief feelings which he endured over the course of the long, difficult period of time he waited in the Minsk jail: on the one hand, “terrifying…penal labor meant hard labor, chains, convict clothing, beatings and dungeons, hunger and sickness, and then Siberian snow, permanent exile.  At the same time, though, the word katorge (penal labor), and Siberia, drew upon and called up so many thousands who were already ‘there.’…  Let’s also go.”  And, he decided “to go.”  When finally the day of his sentencing arrived, the famed Russian lawyer Petrusevich came to him in the waiting room in the courthouse to support Leivick’s defense and spoke with him about the defense.  Leivick refused to take part in any defense.  He would not change his decision either, when in the middle of the court hearing he saw his father in the courtroom: “His face haggard, his red beard aglow, and his eyes—even more ablaze, they permeated my being.  They implored me, they pleaded….”  It didn’t help.  “I shall not defend myself,” said Leivick to the court.  “Everything that I have done, I have done with full consciousness.  I am a member of the revolutionary Jewish party, the Bund, and I shall do everything of which I am capable to undermine the Tsarist autocracy, the bloody hangmen together with you.”  His sentence was four years hard labor and then perpetual exile to Siberia.  After the sentence was announced, he was shackled and began his period of penal servitude.  He endured dungeons, hunger strikes, scenes of beatings and hangings of political arrestees.  (In the Minsk jailhouse, Leivick wrote in his solitary cell in the “Bashnia” (Tower) his first dramatic poem, “Di keytn fun meshiekh” [The chains of the Messiah].)  Two of his years in hard labor, 1910-1911, he slaved away at the well-known penal labor prison Butyrka in Moscow (his prison experiences later found expression in the poems “Hintern shlos” [Behind the castle], “Volkns ahinter dem vald” (Clouds behind the forest), and “Lid vegn zikh” (Poem about myself)—and “Ikh hob gezen geshmisene layber” (I saw human bodies whipped) in the prose work Af tsarishe katorge and elsewhere).  In late March 1912 his prison term came to an end, and he was then exiled to Siberia.  The march to Siberia in convict procession (through the prisons of Tula, Samara, Chelyabinsk, Novorossiysk, Krasnoyarsk, and Irkutsk) took a full four months.  From Irkutsk, Leivick and other penal laborers marched for two days on foot to the Aleksandrovsk labor camp and from there went by foot through the Buryat steppes for two weeks, before settling in a ship’s barracks, and from there they traveled from place to place on the River Lena, until at the end of August (1912) he arrived at Vitim, a small village in the region of Irkutsk, on the right shore of the Lena, several thousand versts from a railway line in the middle of dense, wild woods.  The winter there lasted for nine months of the year, and winter nights seventeen-eighteen hours of every twenty-four.  In Vitim, Leivick got to know several other deportees with whom he rented a house, and ran a household himself.  He also discovered two Jews among the local population, and he taught their children Pentateuch, Tanakh, and Hebrew.  He also painted portraits, and did other tasks to push his way through the winter of 1912-1913.  He wrote poetry there and the play Dort, vu di frayhayt (Where freedom dwells).  When spring 1913 was approaching, he began thinking about make his escape.  From Siberia he was in written contact with his comrades living in freedom, some of whom managed, while Leivick was in jails and then in penal servitude, to make their way to the United States.  In New York they belonged to an organization whose goal was to help revolutionaries who had been arrested in Russia.  The organization found a way to send money to the young poet who was languishing in Siberia, so that he would be able to escape.  When he received the money, Leivick purchased a horse with a sled, and around Passover time he set off by himself on a 2,000-verst trek which would bring him to a railway line.  Days, nights, months, he traveled over the Siberian roads—

Wrapped up in a fur coat,
Uncovering only the eyes,
I look, as the sun rises,
I look, as the sun sets.
And the snow—it falls and falls
I cover my eyes, too,
I let my head drop down.
The clouds will be blurry,
And stars upon stars appear;
The road completely cast in shadows—
Nowhere to turn the sled.
I hitch up the horse to myself.
I help him drag the sled.
Pull and fall to the ground,
My fingers—bloodied and cut.
(“In shney” [In snow])

He finally reached a train line headed to the western portion of Russia, and from there to Germany; in Hamburg he boarded a ship and in the summer of 1913 arrived in America.  Leivick was then twenty-four years of age.
            To earn a living he became a laborer in New York, working as a paper hanger.  A year later (1914), he moved to Philadelphia, worked in a factory making children’s clothing, where he made six dollars per week.  In Philadelphia he made the acquaintance of two prominent representatives of the Yiddish press at that time: M. Kats, the editor of Di idishe velt (The Jewish world); and B. Vladek, the manager of the Philadelphia division of Forverts (Forward)—and both men befriended him.  Until then Leivick (Using the pen name L. Gelperin) had published only one poem—“Es hulyen vintn, veyen, shaln” (The gusting winds rage and howl)—in Tsaytgayst (Spirit of the times), a weekly supplement to the New York Forverts, in 1907; and now he was publishing his poems in Di idishe velt, and four years later Vladek helped him published his first volume of poems: Hintern shlos.  In 1915 he moved back to New York and to his early trade as a paper hanger, and thus until 1932 he hung paper by day and wrote poetry by night.  “For many years,” wrote Z. Vaynper in his Yidishe shriftshteler (Yiddish writers), “Leivick wall-papered rooms in New York homes.  More than one of us has seen him striding over a New York street with a packet of rolled up wallpaper in one hand and a brush and bucket with paste in the other.”  At this time Leivick was approaching the literary group “Di yunge” (The young ones)—which included Yoysef Opatoshu, Dovid Ignatov, Mani Leib, Ruvn Ayzland (Reuben Iceland), Moyshe-Leyb Halpern, Y. Y. Shvarts, and Zishe Landau—and published his poetry in Liessin’s Tsukunft (Future), Sh. Yanovski’s Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor), Menakhem Boraysho’s and Moyshe-Leyb Halpern’s collection Ist brodvey (East Broadway).  He published his well-known poem “Ergets vayt” (Somewhere far away)—

Somewhere far, far away,
Lies a forbidden land….
Somewhere very deep….
Treasures await hidden in the shadows.
Somewhere far, far away,
There lies a prisoner all alone….
And he cannot find a route
To the forbidden land.

This poem and its innovative mixture of luring romantic and sublimated sufferings became with time characteristic of Leivick’s poetic work.  Between 1914 and 1918-1919, he wrote all of the poems which were later (in 1940) included in the first volume of his Ale verk fun h. leyvik (Collected works of H. Leivick), in the sections: “Ergets vayt,” “Hintern shlos,” “Af di vegn sibirer” (On Siberian pathways), “In shney,” “Baym rand” (At the edge), and “In keynems land” (In no one’s land).  Irrespective of their various and sundry motifs, tenors, and sensibilities, the great majority of all of his poems were constructed on the poet’s personal experiences and visions.  However, the bloody events of WWI and the following years of revolution, civil war, and pogroms wrenched the poet from purely autobiographical events and moved him into the broader world of universal humanity.  Over the years 1917-1920, Leivick composed his four apocalyptic, visionary pogrom poems: “Er” (He), “Dos kranke tsimer” (The sick room), “Der volf” (The wolf), and “Di shtal” (The stable); at the same time, he was working on his monumental dramatic poem, Der goylem (The artificial man).  The prophetic foresight of “Der volf” and his other “pogrom poems” went effectively unnoticed at the time, but only when the Nazi murderers began to invade the Jewish world, did people go back to find Leivick’s poem “Der volf” and to reconsider it more deeply.  Such was not the fate of Der goylem.  The idea of the redemption of the world and mankind was carried on throughout the years of revolution (1917-1919) and through the countries and people; and people at the time, especially among Jews, spoke and wrote extensively about Messiahs and messianism.  Leivick had been drawn to such ideas since his youth, and since then, needless to say, after joining the revolutionary movement.  Sitting in his solitary cell in the Bashnia in the Minsk jail, he wrote “Di keytn fun meshiekh”—a dramatic poem which contained within it much of the subsequent Der goylem.  When Der goylem appeared in print in 1921, it made a huge impact in Yiddish literature.  People read and reread it; they debated and wrote about the issues raised in the book: world redemption and Jewish deliverance, the role of matter and the role of spirit in the process of redemption, the Jewish Messiah and Christian redemption, the Maharal [Judah Loew ben Bezalel, 1520-1609] and the golem, crowd and individual, creator and creation, realism and symbolism—all were aroused and stimulated by Leivick’s Der goylem in the 1920s.  A new Leivick now emerged in Yiddish literature—this Leivick, who appeared as the best writer since Perets, as one might recognize universal, human content dressed up in pure national garb and as one might see even the ancient in a living way transformed into something ultra-modern.  After Der goylem, Leivick’s playwriting grew in quantity and became altogether different in character.  Over the course of the 1920s (1921-1929), he wrote seven dramas—“Shmates” (Rags), “Andersh” (Different), “Di oreme melukhe” (The poor state), “Bankrot” (Bankrupt), “Shap” (Sweatshop), “Hirsh lekert” (Hirsh Lekert), and “Keytn” (Chains)—all realistic in character.  “Shmates” (1921) was the first play of Leivick’s staged in a theater, and it played for a long time in Maurice Schwartz’s Yiddish Art Theater in New York; it was also performed in Warsaw and Vienna; and the Forverts (Forward) in New York published it in installments.  The royalties that he received at the time from the theater and from the newspaper helped ease his material conditions a bit, and he was able to take a bit of time away from hanging paper and devoted more time to his literary work.  The seven realist (or realist-symbolist) plays were at the same time both about ways of life and about contemporary issues, and the success from the dramas on stage was dependent on the proportions of both elements: the more realistic of them lasted longer on the stage, but as a result the problem-oriented ones had greater success among readers and among polite literary discussion of those years.  Concerning the issues raised in “Shap,” “Hirsh lekert,” and “Keytn” (the individual and the crowd, individual terror and mass revolution, politics and morality), no one ceased speaking.  These works demonstrated with blood and drama the tormenting issues that the revolutionary at that time was feverishly facing.  These works also demonstrated the development in his political philosophy that Leivick himself was undergoing at the time.  In 1922, after the Forverts printed his play “Shmates,” he could have become a regular contributor to the newspaper, but he avoided it—the political mood there was not to his liking.  He began publishing his poems in the Communist Frayhayt (Freedom)—such as, in July 1924, his lyrical visionary poem, “Nyu-yorkishes” (New Yorkish).  In 1925 he made a trip to Europe—to England, France, Germany, Poland, and Soviet Russia.  He was on the road for five months, and everywhere he was met with admiration and love.  In Soviet Russia he was received “as one of their own,” although he was criticized at meetings for the pessimism in his poetry, and they asked him to have self-confidence and belief in the new Soviet construction.  Furthermore, in his prose work Baym rand fun onheyb (At the edge of the beginning), he expressed things which were not at all to the liking of M. Litvakov, and the latter polemicized against him.  Leivick was not satisfied with everything that he saw in Soviet Russia.  He retained fundamental doubts that he had long held about the Bolshevik expression of revolution, and he was not freed from them when he left there and returned to New York, but he wanted sincerely to join the Communists.  Leivick’s sensibilities in those years of painful, political-theoretical doubts were expressed in his dramas “Shap,” “Hirsh lekert,” and “Keytn,” as well as in the poems collected in the first volume of his Ale verk under the rubrics “Altmodish” (Old-fashioned) and “Heym sovetishe” (Soviet home), and in those published in Russia: “Shney aropgefalener” (Snowfall), “Durkh zibn toytn” (Seven dead), and “Baym rand fun onheyb.”  When Leivick returned to New York in 1926, he became a contributor to Frayhayt, with a small weekly salary.  Over the years 1926-1927, he published his plays “Shap” and “Hirsh lekert” in the Communist monthly Der hamer (The hammer).  The end of the earlier, though unsolidified, alliance between him and the Communists came to a conclusion very rapidly.  In the fall of 1929, at the time of the Arab pogrom against the Jews in Hebron, Leivick—together with Menakhem Boraysho, Avrom Reyzen, and other Yiddish writers—left as contributors to Frayhayt and published in a newspaper a letter in which they condemned the Communists who applauded the pogrom as a stage in the Arab revolution against imperialism.  The Communists then labeled Leivick as a “traitor” to the revolution, and Leivick responded with a poem entitled “Farreter” (Traitor) which was published in the new weekly newspaper Di vokh (The week), founded in October 1929 by those who had seceded from Frayhayt (edited by Leivick, Boraysho, and L. Shapiro).  Leivick wrote a great deal for this new weekly, which also published his play “Keytn”; this play was like unsealing the poet’s searching and internal struggle around the agitating and painful question: Ought the revolution reckon with the affairs of morality, societal and personal, or in the name of the supreme goal, might one do anything, even something immoral?  In “Keytn,” Leivick came to resolute affirmation of the ethical principle in the revolution and in the fight for socialism.  Di vokh was published for twenty weeks, and with its closing Leivick began writing for Tog (Day).  By this time he had his own family.  In 1916 he married Sore Sultan (her father would have been the prototype for Mortkhe Moze, the main character in his play “Shmates”).  In 1918 Leivick and his wife had their first son, Daniel (their younger son, Shmuel, was born in early 1928), and that year (1918) Leivick developed signs of tuberculosis (his grandfather had died from the disease; his father died at age forty-nine and his mother at age forty-six).  Over the years 1920-1922, he spent time in the mountains to repair his lungs a bit, but in the early 1930s, when Leivick’s material situation worsened, the illness returned in a stronger form.  He was no longer able to go to work and left (summer 1932) for a sanatorium for lung ailments in Denver, Colorado.  He spent three years in Spivak’s sanatorium and almost a year being treated in a sanatorium run by the Workmen’s Circle in Liberty, New York.
            The years of his illness, 1932-1936, were—remarkably—also years of great creative work by the poet.  The violent 1920s had brought agitation and disquiet to the poet’s soul, searching and discontent.  Leivick’s internal struggle within the world of ideas was connected to the social and the human sense of belonging.  At the Denver sanatorium, he raised himself internally over the personal.  The painful problems spread from man to nature in general, the cosmically philosophical took off the sharpness of the “accursed” individual issues and thus introduced calm and sublime into the poet’s soul.  Spinoza entered in the middle, and he “did not allow any anger into his heart even before his death,” from whom we learn that “everyone can be pure and sincere.”  In view of the “purity” and “sincerity” of Nosn Nyuman (Nathan Neuman), the poet found in him strength and courage to believe in man, for one must now walk the path of human life with one’s own feet:

Yet, my heart, do not give up on your beliefs,
And my poem shall arise in belief, too,
For he who is genuinely exalted will,
Kneel in awe before the least limb.
(“Di balade fun Denver sanatorium” [The ballad of the Denver Sanatorium])

And not only did the “Lider fun gan-eden” (Poems from paradise)—including “The Ballad of the Denver Sanatorium”—have within it human warmth, with its soothing philosophical skepticism, but also other works by Leivick from the 1930s, such as: Di geule-komedye, der goylem kholemt (The redemption comedy, the golem dreams); Di akeyde (The binding [of Isaac]) with its argument that no life should ever be sacrificed, even for redemption; Sdom (Sodom); Der poet iz gevorn blind (The poet has gone blind), dedicated to the memory of Morris Rozenfeld, inclined more toward optimism; and especially the wonderful dramatic poem “Abelar un heloiz” (Abelard and Heloise), a pearl in Leivick’s lyrical dramatic works generally.  In the early 1930s he became a member of the “Yiddish Culture Association” and a co-editor (with Menakhem Boraysho and Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky) of the journal of this group, Yidish (Yiddish)—thirty-three issues were published, 1932-1934.  In the summer of 1936 Leivick returned from the Denver sanatorium to New York and, together with his close friend Yoysef Opatoshu, began publishing and editing the major literary anthologies entitled Zamlbikher (Collections)—eight volumes appeared in print until 1952.  As can be seen from the explanation offered by the editors in the first volume, Leivick still believed in the possibility of rummaging through the new publications of writers who held a “positive attitude toward mankind and everything around,” and irrespective of where they were and under what circumstances they were living.  Allegedly there were even such Yiddish writers from Soviet Russia.  This was no longer an illusion for Leivick (and Opatoshu).  That year (1936), he became a regular contributor to Tog in New York, and here he published his poems and articles until the end of his life.  In 1936 he was a delegate sent by the Yiddish PEN Club to the international PEN congress which was taking place in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Leivick gave a speech at the congress which had a major impact both for its characterization of Yiddish literature and for its protest against Nazism which was then competing for world conquest.  “The main issue in our literature in the years of the twentieth century,” he said, “is how to find a synthesis of the national and the universal.  Jew and world—this is the chief drama of our lives and our literature.”  He received a heartfelt welcome in Argentina, and a special anthology was published about him: H. leyvik, tsu zayn kumen keyn argentine (H. Leivik, on his coming to Argentina). (Buenos Aires, 1936), 67 pp.  On his back home from Argentina, he stopped in Uruguay and Brazil.  In 1937 he made an important voyage—to Europe and from there to Israel.  In Paris he was a participant at the International Jewish Culture Congress, was selected onto the central administration of the international Jewish Cultural Association (IKUF), and remained active with this organization until 1939.  Then, when the Soviet Russian government that year concluded its pact with Nazi Germany, Leivick left IKUF and from that point on he cut off all ties with leftists.  He spent three months in Israel in 1937.  The trip had a positive influence on Leivick.  In his “Gezegenungs-vort tsu yidisher arbetershaft” (Parting words to Jewish labor), which he published in Proletarishe gedank (Proletarian idea) in New York, among other things, Leivick stated: “On the question which stands before me—concerning our rights in this land—I myself reply: Yes, we have full rights to the land.”  His impressions of Israel then found poetic expression in a dozen poems collected in “Dortn, vu di tseder” (There, by the cedars).  In 1938 on his fiftieth birthday, a jubilee committee was formed, and it arranged Leivick’s celebration in various cities in the United States and Canada (the event was celebrated in other countries as well).  The committee also collected a fund which made possible the two-volume edition of Leivick’s complete works (1914-1940): vol. 1, poetry; vol. 2, dramas (New york, 1940).  The bloody Hitler years were impending, and the poet’s apocalyptic visions from the post-WWI era becoming reality.  Man in the form of a wolf was increasing into the hundreds of thousands, millions.  Killings and massacres were becoming an organize part of daily life.  And the poet of prophetic fearful vision was gasping for breath, even at a loss for word:

And what the victim saw at the last breath,
No one can now recount it to another.
We can barely make a mark with our pen
Around the graves of the unknown four cubits.
(“Dos lid fun korbn” [Song of the victim], in
In treblinke bin ikh nit geven [I was not in Treblinka])

The poet began to abstract his images more and more.  He removed the portrait of his father from the wall (just as did the Russian Nikolai Gogol).  Numbers and figures took on a transcendental significance: they “set out in legions / Over mountains and valleys”; they “shout and caw like crows, / After marching, nothing, zero.”  (“Tsifer—toyznter, milyonen” [Numbers—thousands, millions], in In treblinke bin ikh nit geven).  Leivick’s abstraction of the irrational in the surrounding mystical reality approached its apogee in those years in his mystery Di khasene in fernvald (The wedding in Föhrenwald) of 1947-1949.  In the spring of 1946, the Jewish World Congress invited Leivick to accompany a cultural delegation from the Congress to visit Holocaust survivors in “displaced persons’ camps” in Germany.  He wrote up his impressions from this trip first for Tog, and later they were published in a book entitled Mit der sheyres-hapleyte (With the survivors).  The result of this trip was also Leivick’s dramatic poem Di khasene in fernvald which was entirely a romantic-mystical vision constructed in shadows and symbols, without borders of time or place, but on the whole not so negatively flustered as was the feeling in the poets’ poems from the years of the Holocaust.  The play is not nearly as macabre as “Dos lid fun korbn.”  In the end they dance around death and massacre in a new world of life and being (the play was staged in 1950 by the Folksbiene in New York).  In 1950 Leivick made his second trip to Israel—now the state of Israel—and felt internally bound to the land even more than the first time fourteen years previous.  At that time he wrote his poem “Tsu amerike” (To America), published in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (Day-morning journal) in New York (September 12, 1953)—a remarkable mirror of Leivick’s penetrating insight into his own soul with the aim of finding an answer to the question: Is America his country or not?  In 1953 he published his dramatic work In di teg fun iev (In the days of Job)—after a Leivick-like effort to uncover the reason for suffering in the world as a whole.  This question troubled the poet throughout his entire life.  In his “Ershter yinglsher zeung” (First boyish vision), Leivick recounts that when he was a youngster he had his first vision of the attempted sacrifice of Isaac, and he grasped his childhood fantasy not like Isaac on the altar, but like the ram which had become entangled in the bushes and waited its turn.  At this point the painful question arose for the poet: “If Isaac’s neck avoided the slaughter, must a second neck soon fill his vacant place?”  And, in In di teg fun iev the devil asks Isaac, why “doesn’t the neck that is stretched out to be slaughtered feel lament for the second neck which lies somewhere swollen and covered in wounds?”  Leivick’s last volume of poetry was published in Buenos Aires in 1955: A blat af an eplboym.  In 1930s in his “Lid vegn zikh” (vol. 1, p. 527 in his collected works), he described the path to poetic development as follows:

I have seen whipped bodies
And blood oozing from them;
When I later became a writer,
I wrote poetry about snow.
Did people like the poems,
Because they were as white as snow.
They were often repugnant to me,
Because I covered them in blood.
I took up my pen one time
And removed the snowy layer,
And everyone sensed with alarm,
As the earth spurted blood on the poem.

A clamor arose: Why is he torturing us with blood?  They condemned the poet and attacked his poems, but the poet remained proud, bearing his truism that “in the blood of whipped bodies lies also his whipped name.”  At the end of the poem, however, Leivick pledged that “perhaps he would cover [his poems] again, when there is a fresh snowfall.”  His hopes began to come true in many of the poems in A blat af an eplboym.  A new snow did appear.  Not that snow of “silvery blue mountains” in fairyland, for this was the snow of philosophical skepticism which came as a result of experience.  This is the calm of practical wisdom.  “I do not say that life is a dream, but a rider on a horse who rides through the entire world and comes back here, where his cradle stands upon the earth.”  The last volume of poetry well exemplified Leivick’s innovative path in Yiddish poetry.  In August 1957 appeared at a conference of Jewish scholars from around the world in Jerusalem and there gave a celebrated talk about the value and significance of Yiddish and Yiddish literature in the life of the Jewish people—a speech which made a huge impact on the whole Jewish world.  He was already at this time not feeling well, and in the morning after giving his speech he entered a hospital in Jerusalem, where he was treated over a month’s time.  After returning to New York, the World Jewish Culture Congress—of which Leivick was chair of the world council and a member of the administrative committee—together with the PEN Club, organized a public reception for Leivick, at which a series of well-known Yiddish writers gave welcoming speeches for him and at which he spoke.  In December 1957 he appeared at the sixtieth anniversary celebration of the Bund in New York.  The thousands who gathered at Town Hall gave Leivick a resounding, standing ovation, and Leivick spoke with great warmth about his years past with the Bund.  In January 1958 he appeared at a banquet at the YIVO conference in New York and gave a speech which also had a big impact (Leivick’s speeches always excelled at thoughtful depth and simplicity of expression—just like his writing).  On March 31, 1958, at a special celebration he received an honorary doctorate—doctor of Yiddish literature—from Hebrew Union College (Jewish Institute of Religion), the highest academic institution of Reform Judaism in the United States.  In September (on the eve of Rosh Hashanah) 1958, Leivick became paralyzed and was confined to his bed until his death.  In December 1958 and January 1959, his seventieth birthday was celebrated, and all of the Yiddish newspapers and periodicals throughout the world wrote something about the poet.  In 1959 two volumes by him were published: Lider tsum eybikn (Poems to eternity), a deluxe edition from the publisher “Der kval” (The source) in New York (159 pp.), a collection of poems published earlier; and Af tsarisher katorge, Leivick’s memoirs from prison and penal labor, which was published earlier in Tog in New York and elsewhere, brought out by the publisher Y. L. Perets Library in Tel Aviv (478 pp.).  In March 1959, for the first time Der goylem was staged in New York in English.  In 1961 he was awarded an honorary medal from the National Jewish Welfare Board; the text of the testimonial read in part: “The Frank L. Weil Medal of the National Jewish Welfare Board for the year 1960 for the extraordinary contribution to American Jewish Culture is to be given to Halpern-Leivick, whose literary creation for the past fifty years has won for him the recognition as the finest Yiddish poet and playwright of our time.”  The testimonial was given at a special ceremony at the convention of the Welfare Board in St. Louis, Missouri.  Leivick was represented at the event by his eldest son Daniel.  In March 1962 Der goylem was produced as an opera in English at City Center in New York.  For four years, Leivick lay in bed without movement or language.  Writers and artists, relatives and close friends visited him, read aloud to him, spoke one after the next, and Leivick would listen as long as his state of health would allow.  In these years of new suffering and new pain, he himself represented a bizarre image.  His look, his bearing before visitors, his embrace and kissing of friends—all remind one of the sufferings of Job, the pain of the binding of Isaac, and the old man Zosima in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov.  Those who saw the poet in his last deprivation will carry this image forever.  On December 23, 1962 Leivick died.  Irrespective of this lengthy period of his severe illness, his death made a crushing impact in New York and more generally in the Jewish world.  At his funeral, according to the will of the deceased, no speeches were given, and only Dr. Shloyme Bikl eulogized the poet, and Froym Oyerbakh, A. Glants-Leyeles, Meylekh Ravitsh, and Y. Y. Shvarts read from Leivick’s poetry.  A large number of people attended the funeral, all in sincerely profound sorrow.  Leivick’s grave is located in the new Mount Carmel Cemetery of the Workmen’s Circle.  At the Rambam Institute in Winnipeg, Canada, where everything was studied in Hebrew, they inaugurated a chair in Yiddish literature named for H. Leivick.

I do not say that my life is passed,
I say only that the sun has set in the sea—
A circular sunset fire,
Which kindles a flame in the West.
(“Ikh zog nit” [I do not say])

            The works of H. Leivick in book form, published in journals, produced for the theater, or remaining in manuscript would include: Hintern shlos (New York: Dr. K. Forenberg, 1918), republished as volume 1 of Geklibene verk fun h. leyvik (Selected works of H. Leivick) (Vilna: B. Kletskin, 1925), 191 pp.; Lieder (Poems) (New York: Inzel, 1919), 183 pp.; Der goylem, dramatishe poeme in akht bilder (The artificial man, a dramatic poem in eight scenes), frontispieces drawings by Y. Topel, woodcuts by Maks Veber (Max Weber) (New York: Amerike, 1921), 222 pp., republished (Warsaw: Kultur-lige, 1922), 233 pp., and as Geklibene verk fun h. leyvik, volume 2 (Vilna: B. Kletskin, 1927), 254 pp., first performed in Hebrew by Habima in Moscow on December 25, 1925, in Polish in January 1928 in Lublin, and in June 1928 in Warsaw, as well as in Yiddish by the Vilna Troupe under the direction of Dovid Herman in Lodz in August 1930; Andersh, a play in three acts, performed by Maurice Schwartz’s Yiddish Art Theater on September 22, 1922, remaining in manuscript; In keynems land, lider un poemes (In no one’s land, poetry) (Warsaw: Kultur-lige, 1923), 181 pp.; Shney aropgefalener, an anthology of selected poems (Moscow: Shul un lebn, 1925), 160 pp., published under the author’s name as Leyvik Halper; Afn rand fun onheyb, veg-ayndrukn (At the edge of beginning, impressions along the way) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1925), 31 pp.; Durkh zibn toytn, poems (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1926), 92 pp.; Oreme melukhe, betler (Poor state, beggar), a drama in four acts (Vilna: B. Kletskin—in volume 3 of Geklibene verk fun h. leyvik—1927), 141 pp., staged by Maurice Schwartz’s Yiddish Art Theater in New York in 1923; Bankrot, a drama in three acts and four scenes, published in volume 4 of Geklibene verk fun h. leyvik (Vilna: B. Kletskin, 1927), 170 pp., first published in the anthology Shriften (Writings) (New York, 1925-1926), never staged; Shmates, a play in four acts, staged by Maurice Schwartz’s Yiddish Art Theater in New York (1921-1922), published in Forverts in New York (1922) and in book form in volume 4 of Geklibene verk fun h. leyvik (Vilna: B. Kletskin, 1928), 118 pp.; Shap, a drama in four acts, initially published in the monthly Der hamer in New York (1927), in book form in volume 5 of Geklibene verk fun h. leyvik (Vilna: B. Kletskin, 1928), 138 pp., staged in numerous Yiddish theaters throughout the world, as well as in Hebrew at the Ha-Ohel Theatre in Tel Aviv; Hirsh lekert, dramatic poem in seven scenes, initially published in the monthly Der hamer (1927) and in book form in Geklibene verk fun h. leyvik (Vilna: B. Kletskin, 1931), 113 pp., in Hebrew translation as Hirsh lekert, poema deramatit (Hirsh Lekert, dramatic poem) by Moshe Basok (Tel Aviv: Kibuts hameuḥad, 1944), 100 pp.; Keytn, a drama in three acts, initially published in the journal Di vokh in New York (1929), staged by the Yiddish Art Theater in New York (1930) and in Warsaw (1932) under the title Di tfise (The prison), and in Hebrew by Habima in Tel Aviv, in book form (Vilna: B. Kletskin, 1931), 101 pp.; Lider (Poems) (New York: Fraynt, 1932), 300 pp.; Di geule-komedye, der goylem kholemt, a dramatic poem in eleven scenes (Chicago: L. M. Shteyn, 1934), 226 pp.; Di akeyde, biblishe drame in finf bilder (The binding of Isaac, a biblical drama in five acts), published in Di tsukunft in New York (August-December 1935); Abelar un heloiz, a dramatic poem in three scenes, with a foreword by Nakhmen Mayzil (Warsaw: Literarishe bleter, 1936), 93 pp.; Lider fun gan-eden (Chicago: M. Tseshinski, 1937), 157 pp.; Sdom, a biblical drama in four acts, with a prologue, published in Di tsukunft (May-August 1937); H. leyvik vegn erets-yisroel (H. Leivick on the land of Israel) (Warsaw: N. Sirkin, 1938), 22 pp.; Der poet iz gevorn blind, a drama in three acts, published in Zamlbikher, vol. 3 (New York, 1938); Ver iz ver? (Who is who?), drama in three acts (New York, 1938), in manuscript; Di keytn fun meshiekh, a dramatic poem, written in 1907-1908 in a Minsk jail, published first in Di tsukunft (March 1939), and then in volume 2 (pp. 393-418) of his Ale verk; A neshome in gehenem, iev der tsvayter (A soul in hell, Job II), a dramatic poem also composed in the Minsk jail, left in manuscript form; Der nes in geto (The miracle in the ghetto), a drama in three acts (New York, 1940), in manuscript; Ale verk fun h. leyvik (New York: H. Leivick Jubilee Committee), vol. 1 Lider un poemes (Poetry) (New York, 1940), 667 pp., vol. 2 Dramatishe poemes (Dramatic poems) (New York, 1940), 498 pp.; Der goylem, abridged text by the author (New York: Yiddish Cultural Association, 1941), 16 pp., with text also in English; In treblinke bin ikh nit geven, poetry (New York: Leivick Jubilee Fund through Tsiko, 1945), 347 pp., which was awarded the Louis Lamed Prize for 1945; Maharam fun Rotenberg, dramatishe poeme in7 bilder (The Maharam of Rothenberg, a dramatic poem in seven scenes) (New York: Tsiko, 1945), 127 pp.; Mit der sheyres-hapleyte, diary and notebook from a trip through the Jewish D. P. camps in the American zone in Germany (New York: Leivick Jubilee Fund through Tsiko, 1947), 300 pp.; Di khasene in fernvald, a dramatic poem in eleven scenes (New York: Tsiko, 1949), 186 pp.; Dort, vu di frayhayt, a drama in four acts, written in 1912 in Siberia and published in Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter) in New York (April 1952); In di teg fun iev, a dramatic poem in seven scenes (New York: Tsiko, 1953), 210 pp., winner of the Yekhiel Hofer Prize of 1954; Gzar (Fateful sentence), a biblical drama in three acts from antiquity about the generation exiled from Egypt, published in Idisher kemfer (Passover issue, 1953); A blat af an eplboym, poetry (Buenos Aires: Kiem, 1955), 370 pp., recipient of the Louis Lamed Prize for 1955; Lider tsum eybikn, deluxe edition (New York: Der kval, 1959), 160 pp., with a portrait, frontispiece, and drawings by Ben; Af tsarisher katorge (Tel Aviv: Y. L. Perets Library, 1959), 478 pp.  In Hebrew (in addition to work cited above): Ḥezyone geula (Drama of redemption)—including Hagolem (The artificial man), Ḥalom hagolem (The golem dreams), and Kavle hamashia (Chains of the Messiah)—translated by A. Z. Ben-Yishay and Avraham Shlonsky, with an introduction by Dov Sadan (Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1957), 388 pp., jacket design by Betsalel Shats.  There have been two translations of Der goylem into English, both (Boston, 1928).  Der goylem appeared in a Polish translation by Mark Arnshteyn.  There was an Italian translation as well that was published in Milan.  Leivick held editorial oversight over the publications of the work of other writers and wrote introductions to them, among them: Ikh bin der korbn un der eydes (I am the victim and the witness), by Arn Tverski (New York, 1947); Lider fun di getos un lagern (Songs from the ghettos and camps), compiled by Sh. Katsherginski (New York: World Jewish Culture Congress through Tsiko, 1948); Eybik blyen vet der troym (Dreams will bloom forever) (New York: Fride Ernst, 1955); Lider, by Leyzer Volf, compiled by L. Ran (New York, 1955); Lider un eseyen (Poems and essays), by Yisroel Shtern (New York, 1956); Yidishe shrayber in sovet-rusland (Yiddish writers in Soviet Russia), by Shmuel Niger (New York, 1958); and Mortkhe Shtrigler, Maydanek (Majdanek) (Buenos Aires, 1947); among others.  Leivick’s writings were included in dozens of anthologies (and school readers) in Yiddish, Hebrew, English, and Russian, among them: M. Basin, Antologye, 500 yor yidishe poezye (Anthology, 500 years of Yiddish poetry) (New York, 1917); Basin, Amerikaner yidishe poezye (American Yiddish poetry) (New York, 1940); Zishe Landau, Antologye, di yidishe dikhtung in amerike biz yor 1919 (Anthology, Yiddish poetry in America until 1919) (New York: Idish, 1919); Y. Kisin, Lider fun der milkhome (Poems from the war) (New York, 1943); Y. Paner and A. Frenkel, Naye yidishe dikhtung (New Yiddish poetry) (Iași, 1947); Mortkhe Yofe, Erets-yisroel in der yidisher literatur (Israel in Yiddish literature), anthology (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1961); and Kadye Molodovski, Lider fun khurbn, t”sh-tsh”h (Poetry from the Holocaust, 1939-1945) (Tel Aviv, 1962).  In English: Joseph Leftwich, The Golden Peacock (Cambridge, 1939; London, 1961); Irving Howe and Eliezer Greenberg, A Treasury of Yiddish Stories (New York, 1954); and Nathan and Marynn Ausubel, Yiddish Poetry (New York, 1957), among others.  In Russian: Leonid Grebnev (L. Faynberg), Evreiskaia poeziia (Yiddish poetry) (New York, 1947), among others.  Special journal issues were dedicated to Leivick: Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture) (New York, 1939); Di tsukunft (March 1959; February 1963); Kinder-zhurnal (Children’s magazine) (New York, 1959); and the like.  The world council of the Jewish Culture Congress established a fund for an annual literary prize in the name of H. Leivick and decided to put together for the first anniversary of the poet’s death a Leyvik-bukh (Leivick volume), a collection of Leivick’s speeches and unpublished articles and essays.  The Parisian section of the World Jewish Culture Congress decided to administer a competition of painters on Leivick themes.  In 1963 a volume of Leivick’s poems in Braille was published.  Leivick was also co-editor of Di tsukunft in New York from May 1951.

         H. Leivick                                                                               "Di yunge" poetry group
                                                                                            (Leivick, standing second from left)
Sources: A great deal has been written about Leivick in newspapers and magazines, in pamphlets and books, in several languages.  No one has as yet compiled a detailed bibliography of his immense production.  Recently, the bibliographer Yefim Yeshurin assembled a portion of the bibliographical materials on Leivick, and this was published in Leyvik-bukh (Leivick volume), which appeared in the series “Muster-verk fun der yidisher literatur” (Masterpieces of Yiddish literature), ed. Sh. Rozhanski (Buenos Aires, 1963), pp. 336-48, and we have consulted portions of this bibliography here.  We note only the books and major works on Leivick and a portion of those essays written about the poet after his death.  Poems written to and about Leivick: Froym Oyerbakh, Mikkl Basin, Yikhezkl Bronshteyn, Yankev Gotlib, Moyshe-Dovid Giser, Mates Daytsh, Perl Halter, Zishe Vaynper, Berish Vaynshteyn, Avrom Zak, A. Tabatshnik, Malke Tuzman, Malke Li, A. Leyeles-Glants, Mani Leyb, Perets Miranski, Avrom Sutskever, Gershon Pomerants, Leon Faynberg, Rokhl H. Korn, Zalmen Shazar, A. N. Shtentsl, and Yankev Shternberg, among others.  Books about Leivick: Leo Finkelshteyn, Tsvishn di shures fun leyviks goylem (Between the lines of Leivick’s Der goylem) (Warsaw, 1925), 37 pp.; B. Smolyar, Vi leyvik iz gekumen tsu zayn goylem (How Leivick arrived at his golem) (New York, 1925), 15 pp.; A. Bekerman, Goylem als velt-derleyzer (The golem as world-redeemer) (Warsaw, 1926), 32 pp.; Dr. Sh. Saymon, H. leyviks goylem (H. Leivick’s golem) (New York, 1927), 31 pp.; Saymon, H. leyviks kinder-yorn (H. Leivick’s childhood years) (Vilna, 1938), 24 pp.; B. Tutshinski, Unter der hak (Under the ax) (Chicago: M. Tseshinski, 1935), 87 pp.; V. Natanson, H. leyvik der dikhter fun onkum un oyfkum (H. Leivik, the poet of arrival and arising) (Chicago: M. Shteyn, 1936), 177 pp.; Y. Gotlib, H. leyvik, zayn lid un drame (H. Leivick, his poems and dramas) (Kovno, 1939), 95 pp.; Y. Glants, H. leyvik in stil fun der epokhe (H. Leivick in the style of the epoch) (Mexico City, 1943), 98 pp.; L. Shalit, Meshiekh-troymen in leyviks dramatishe poemes (Messianic dreams in Leivick’s dramatic poems) (Munich, 1947), 62 pp.; Shmuel Niger, H. leyvik, zayn opshtam, zayne kinder- un yugnt-yorn, zayne lirishe un dramatishe verk, zayn dikhterisher gang, tsu zayn vern a ben-shishim 1888-1948 (H. Leivick, his origins, his childhood years and youth, his lyrical and dramatic works, his poetic pathway, on the occasion of his turning sixty years of age, 1888-1948) (Toronto: Gershon Pomerants Esey-bibyotek, 1951), 501 pp., a work with exhaustively well-organized bio-bibliographical materials, in addition to his richly critical handling of the poet; B. Rivkin, H. leyvik, zayne lider un dramatishe verk (H. Leivick, his poems and dramatic works) (Buenos Aires: Yidbukh, 1955), 249 pp.; Leyzer Grinberg, Tsentrale motivn un grunt-problemen in h. leyviks shafn (The central motifs and basic issues in H. Leivick’s works) (New York: Tsiko, 1961), 39 pp., first published in Tsukunft (New York) (January 1960).  Particular attention given to Leivick in other books: Nakhmen Mayzil, Noent un vayt (Near and far), vol. 2 (Warsaw, 1926); Leo Kenig, Shrayber un verk (Writers and works) (Vilna, 1929); Y. Botoshanski, Portretn fun yidishe shrayber (Portraits of Yiddish writers) (Warsaw, 1933); A. Litvak, Literatur un kamf, literarishe eseyen (Literature and struggle, literary essays) (New York: Yidishe sotsyalistishe farband, 1933); B. Vladek, B. vladek in lebn un shafn (The life and work of B. Vladek) (New York, 1936), the piece on Leivick appeared earlier in Tsukunft (March 1919); Z. Vaynper, Idishe shriftshteler (Yiddish writers), vol. 2 (New York, 1936); A. Korolnik, Shriftn (Writings), vol. 1 (New York, 1938); Mortkhe Yofe, Ringen in der keyt, eseyen (Links in the chain, essays) (New York, 1939); Sh. Rozhanski, Dos yidishe gedrukte vort in argentina (The published Yiddish word in Argentina) (Buenos Aires, 1941); Dr. Shloyme Bikl, Detaln un sakhaklen, kritishe un polemishe bamerkungen (Details and sum totals, critical and polemical observations) (New York, 1943); Bikl, Shrayber fun mayn dor (Writers of my generation) (New York, 1958); Yankev Glatshteyn, In tokh genumen (In essence) (New York, 1947, 1956; Buenos Aires, 1960); Yankev Pat, Shmuesn mit yidishe shrayber (Conversations with Yiddish writers) (New York, 1954); Sh. Leshtsinski, Literarishe eseyen (Literary essays), vol. 2 (New York, 1955); A. Leyeles-Glants, Velt un vort (World and word) (New York, 1958); and L. Shpizman, Geshtaltn (Images) (Buenos Aires, 1962); among others.  Biographical dictionaries and encyclopedias: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2, with a bibliography; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934), with a detailed bibliography; Shmuel Niger, in Algemeyne entsiklopedye (General encyclopedia), “Yidn G” (New York, 1942); Symcha Pietruszka, Yidishe folks-entsiklopedye (Jewish people’s encyclopedia), vol. 2 (Montreal, 1943); Moyshe Shtarkman, in Algemeyne entsiklopedye, “Yidn H” (New York, 1957); Arbeter-ring boyer un tuer (Workmen’s Circle builders and activists) (New York, 1962); Avraham Shaanan, Milon hasifrut haḥadasha haivrit vehakelalit (Dictionary of modern literature, Hebrew and general) (Tel Aviv, 1959); Shloyme Birnboym and M. Vaykhert, in Jüdisches Lexikon (Jewish encyclopedia), vol. 3 (Berlin, 1929); Y. Vortman and Sh. Klitenik, in Literaturnaia entsiklopediia (Literary encyclopedia), vol. 6 (Moscow, 1932); Irving Suhl, in The Universal Encyclopedia, vol. 5 (New York, 1941); N. B. Minkov, in The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. 7 (New York, 1942); S. Wininger, Grosse Jüdische National Biographie (Great Jewish national biography), vol. 4 (Czernowitz, 1930); Kl. Zufrieden, in Histoire des littératures, in the series Encyclopédie de la Pléiade (Paris, 1956); A. A. Roback, Contemporary Yiddish Literature: A Brief Outline (London, 1957); The Standard Jewish Encyclopedia (New York, 1959); and The New Jewish Encyclopedia (New York, 1962); among others.  A portion of the articles published after his death: M. Tsanin, in Letste nayes (Tel Aviv) (December 24, 1962; January 4, 1963); A. Oyerbakh, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (December 26, 1962); Oyerbakh, in Tsukunft (New York) (February 1963); A. Glants-Leyeles, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (December 26, 1962; January 23, 1963); Yankev Glatshteyn, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (December 26, 1962); Glatshteyn, in Folk un velt (New York) (February 1963); Dr. Shloyme Bikl, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (December 26, 1962); Bikl, in Tsukunft (February 1963); M. Shveyd, in Forverts (New York) (December 26, 1962); N. Sverdlin, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (December 27, 1962); Kh. Ehrenraykh, in Forverts (December 28, 1962); M. Gros-Tsimerman and Sh. Grodzenski, in Davar (Tel Aviv) (December 28, 1962); B. Shefner, in Forverts (December 29, 1962); B. Ts. Goldberg, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (December 30, 1962); L. Bayon and Z. A. Berebitshez, in Der veg (Mexico City) (December 30, 1962); Sh. Tenenboym, in Di shtime (Mexico City) (January 1, 1963); Y. Byetsh and Y. Domb, in Loshn un lebn (London) (January 1963); Y. Mark and A. G., in Kultur un dertsiung (New York) (January 1963); M. Rubinshteyn, in Di shtime (January 1, 1963); Y. Ts. Shargel, A. Shomri, and L. Shalit, in Yisroel shtime (Tel Aviv) (January 2, 1963); Y. Glants, in Der veg (January 5, 1963; January 12, 1963); Y. Kharlash, in Unzer tsayt (New York) (January 1963); Y. Pat, in Tsukunft (January 1963); Pat, in Letste nayes (January 4, 1963); Pat, in Unzer shtime (Paris) (January 9, 1963); Pat, in Der veker (New York) (February 1, 1963); Pat, in  Tsukunft (February 1963); Y. Emyot, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (January 14, 1963); A. Golomb, in Der veg (January 19, 1963; April 2, 1963); Meylekh Ravitsh, in Keneder odler (January 27-February 4, 1963); Y. Rotenberg, in Foroys (Mexico City) (January 1963); Avrom Shulman, in Der fraynd (New York) (January-February 1963); Leyzer Grinberg and A. Tabatshnik, in Tsukunft (February 1963); Dr. L. Fogelman, in Forverts (February 10, 1963); Sh. D. Zinger, in Kultur un dertsiung (February 1963); A. Sheynfeld, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (March 30, 1963); L. Shalit, in Afrikaner idisher tsaytung (Johannesburg) (Passover issue 1963)
Yitskhok Kharlash

(Translator’s note. Since this lengthy entry appeared in the early 1963, a number of Leivick’s plays that were then only in manuscript have since been published, such as in Nit-gedrukte drames [Unpublished dramas] [Amherst: National Yiddish Book Center, 1999], 320 pp.; there have as well been translations of his writings that appeared in print after this entry did. JAF)

[1] Poems about his parents may be found in all of Leivick’s collections of poetry: “Der beyzer tate” (The malicious father), “A kholem” (A dream), “Ver ken nit dayn partsef” (Who doesn’t know your face), “Mayn tate” (My father), “Tate-legende” (Legend of father), “Mayn viglid” (My lullaby), “Der tate zitst oybnon” (Father sits at the head of the table), “Di mame iz geforn tsum raykhn feter” (Mother left for the rich uncle), “Volkns ahinter dem vald” (Clouds behind the forest), “Sonetn-ring” (Sonnet cycle), and others in Gezamlte lider (Collected poems), jubilee edition; “Di bekerin” (The female baker), “Mame-lid” (Poem of mother), “Yontef” (Holiday), “Af hoykhe akslen” (On high shoulders), and “Der tate flegt es rufn khtsos” (Father used to call for midnight prayer), among others, in A blat af an eplboym (A leaf on an apple tree [1953]), and elsewhere.


  1. The photo on the left is Peretz Hirshbein, not H. Leivick.

    Ellen Perecman

  2. Good evening. Leivick's biographies give two dates of his birth on December 1 or 25. Can this be decided?

  3. Replies
    1. The date of his death is definately 23rd of Dec. I try to confirm his birth date. In this bio above it is written 1st of Dec, but in more sources it is mentioned 25th. I have also one book with a date 25 of May, but I think it was a mistake of authors.

  4. Wikipedia gives Christmas day, but the source I translated from gives Dec. 1. Not much more I am qualified to say.

  5. Thank you for your answer. It's seems for me that 25th of Dec is a correct date. Hope to find his birth act. Warm regards!