AVROM (AVRAHAM) LEVINSON (August 14, 1889-July 19, 1955)
He was born in Lodz, Poland. He attended religious primary school, and in 1912 graduated from a high school in Warsaw. He went on to study law at Warsaw University. During WWI he moved with the university to Rostov and graduated there from the law faculty in 1916. He began writing at age fifteen and published while still young a booklet of Hebrew-language poems. In 1907 he published in Warsaw a Hebrew translation of Evgenii Chirikov’s play Di yidn (The Jews [original: Evrei]). From 1910 he was an active leader in the Lodz Hebrew theater Habima and took part in theatrical performances in Lodz, Warsaw, and Vienna (during the Zionist Congress in 1913). In 1914 he spent several months in the land of Israel. He was one of the founders of the Yardenya Theater in Warsaw. During WWI he went with his parents to Russia and stayed there until the 1917 Revolution. In Kharkov he joined the Tseire-Tsiyon (Young Zionists) party, later serving as a member of the central committee of the party. He worked for the cooperative children’s publisher Hasefer (The book) which, among other works, published Levinson’s collection Ḥokhme yisrael (The wisdom of Israel). He co-edited with Y. Mereminski the organ of Tseire-Tsiyon, Folk un land (People and land). He was the literary manager of Kharkov’s “Unzer vinkl” (Our corner), for which he translated the plays Di hotel-virtin (The hotel Virtin [original: La locanderia]) by Carlo Goldoni, In shtot (In the city [original: V gorode]) by Semyon Yushkevich, and Tsvey pyero (The two pierrots [original: Les Deux Pierrots, ou Le Souper blanc (The two pierrots, or the white supper)] by Edmond Rostand, among others. In 1919 he published the Tseire-Tsiyon’s weekly in Russian: Evreiskaia zhizn’ (Jewish life). In late 1920 he returned to Poland and contributed to Lodzer tageblat (Lodz daily newspaper). Together with Y. Loyfban, in late 1921 he co-edited the weekly organ of “Hitaḥdut olamit shel hapoel hatsair vetseire tsiyon” (World Union of Labor Zionism and Young Zionists) in Eastern Europe, Folk un land. He was a member of the central committee of the Tarbut in Warsaw. In 1922 he was elected on the list of Hitaḥdut in the Polish Sejm. He visited Israel for the second time in in 1925. In 1933 he was director of the Jewish National Fund in Poland and later in Israel. In 1935 he settled in Israel. In 1939 he was named director of the cultural division of the Histadrut. He translated and adapted plays for the Hebrew theater in Israel. He also contributed work to Haynt (Today) in Warsaw, edited the publication Unzer kind (Our child) in Poland, and for a time co-edited the journal Di goldene keyt (The golden chain) in Tel Aviv. He also wrote under such pen names: Naḥmanson, Ben-Naḥman, Ben-Levi, and A. Naumov, among others. He especially excelled at translating from Yiddish poetry. He also published a monograph on A. D. Gordon (Warsaw, 1924). He translated poetry by Shimon Frug and Z. Segalovitsh, Koldunye by Avrom Goldfaden, Mirele Efros by Yankev Gordin, and Dem shmids tekhter (The smith’s daughters) by Perets Hirshbeyn. From his surviving manuscripts, one may find: translations for an anthology of Yiddish poetry, of Itsik Manger’s Khumesh-lider (Poems from the Bible), fables by Leyzer Shteynbarg, Hershele ostropolyer (Hershele Ostropolyer) by M. A. Gershenzon, among other works. Among his Hebrew books: Ḥokhme yisrael (Kharkov, 1917); Levisus hatsiyonut (Establishing Zionism), 2 volumes (Warsaw, 1927); Hatenua haivrit bagola (The Hebrew movement in the Diaspora) (Warsaw, 1935), 433 pp.; Haleumiyut hayehudit (Jewish nationalism) (Jerusalem: Hamakhon lehaskala tsiyonit, 1942), 428 pp.; Biblyografiya tsiyonit, mivḥar hasifrut hatsiyonit lehishtalmut vehadrakha (Zionist bibliography, a selection of Zionist literature for advanced study and training) (Jerusalem, 1943), 493 pp.; Bereshit hatenua, perakim betoldot “tseire tsiyon-hitaḥdut” (The beginning of the movement, chapters in the history of “Young Zionists and Hitaḥdut) (Tel Aviv, 1947), 121 pp.; Toldot yehude varsha (History of the Jews of Warsaw) (Tel Aviv, 1953), 440 pp. His other translations include: Yevgeni onegin (Evgenii Onegin) by A. Pushkin; Mtsyri (The novice) by Mikhail Lermontov; the prologue to Tolstoy’s War and Peace; Henryk Sienkiewicz’s Potop (The deluge); an adaptation of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment; Dubnov’s Briv vegn altn un nayem yidntum (Letters concerning old and new Judaism); and Alex Bein’s study of Theodor Herzl; among others.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934); D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah leḥalutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 3 (Tel Aviv, 1949); Sefer haishim (Biographical dictionary) (Tel Aviv, 1937), pp. 296-97; Pinkes fun yekopo (Records of Yekopo [Yevreyskiy komitet pomoshchi zhertvam voyny—“Jewish Relief Committee for War Victims”]) (Vilna, 1931), see index; Hadoar (New York) (July 29, 1955); A. Alperin, in Tog (New York) (August 9, 1955); Hapoel hatsair (Tel Aviv) (Av 2 [= July 21], 1955); Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 22 (1955); N. Bari, in Di goldene keyt 25 (1956); Sh. Shaḥariya, in Di goldene keyt 27 (1957); Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon) (Montreal, 1958), p. 479; Sefer shimon dubnov (Volume for Shimon Dubnov) (London-Jerusalem, 1954); A. Rembah, “Haitonut haivrit bevarsha” (The Hebrew press in Warsaw), in Haḥinukh vehatarbut haivrit beeropa (Hebrew education and culture in Europe) (New York, 1957), pp. 459-509; Khayim Leyb Fuks, in Fun noentn over (New York) 3 (1957), p. 216; Y. Grinboym, Pene hador (The face of the generation) (Tel Aviv, 1959), pp. 361-62.