Wednesday 26 July 2017


            He was a Hebrew teacher in the Ploiesti.  He published textbooks for Romanian Jewish schools.  Under the pen name Yimer, he published in Ploiesti, Romania, a theatrical piece entitled Ester oder asimilisten un tsienisten (Esther or assimilationists and Zionists) in 1901, in a highly Germanized form and in the style of the playwright Yoysef Lateiner and Moyshe Hurvits.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934).

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 366.]


IZAK MOSKOVITSH (b. ca. 1892)
            He was born in Jassy (Iași), Romania.  In 1909 he joined the Jewish socialist movement.  He served as editor of Der veker (The alarm) in Jassy (1915-1916).  He contributed to the Bundist-oriented press in Romania, such as: Dos naye lebn (The new life), Di naye tsaytung (The new newspaper), Der shtral (The beam [of light]), and Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper)—in Czernowitz.  He was last living in the state of Israel

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Psevdonimen in der yidisher literatur (Pseudonyms in Yiddish literature) (Vilna, 1939); information from Dr. Y. Kisman in New York; Shloyme Bikl, Eseyen fun yidishn troyer (Essays of Jewish sorrow) (New York, 1948), pp. 141-42.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


            He was born in Slutsk, Minsk district, Byelorussia.  Until age five he was mute, but thereafter he began to speak.  At age seven he had already acquired a name for being a brilliant child, with a marked inclination for preaching before people.  At age twelve he went to study in the Mirer Yeshiva.  At age fourteen he lost his father and went to study in Paritsh with the local rabbi, Yekhiel-Mikhl Volfson, author of the text Sefat hayam (Edge of the sea).  Around 1875 he arrived in Pinsk and worked thereafter as a teacher in the Talmud-Torahs of Pinsk and Karlin.  In 1881, after the pogroms and the Tsarist decrees against Jews, he began his work as a preacher and with time became a well-known sermonizer, first in Pinsk where he exerted an influence of Pinsk youth, among whom was the subsequent first president of the state of Israel, Dr. Chaim Weitzman.  Maslyanski also traveled around the cities and towns of Pinsk district, giving sermons about Ḥibat Tsiyon (Love of Zion).  It so happened that, due to a denunciation, he was arrested in the town of Noblye (?), near Pinsk, but his numerous followers persuaded the authorities to release him.  In 1887 he and the members of his household settled in Ekaterinoslav.  There, he also took up teaching and spoke in synagogues on the Sabbaths and holidays.  Together with Menakhem-Mendl Usishkin, he founded there a division of the illegal Zionist organization “Bene Tsiyon” (Children of Zion).  Sent by this organization, he made a professional voyage through the major Jewish communities in Russia.  He was such a big success in Odessa that Moshe-Leib Lilienblum, Aḥad-Haam, and Dr. Leo Pinsker proposed to him that he completely leave his teaching position and take up professional campaigning for the movement.  Maslyanski accepted the suggestion and undertook a speaking tour through southern Russian, Lithuania, Zamut, Courland, Bialystok, Warsaw, and Lodz, where he was arrested by the Tsarist gendarmerie, but the rabbi of Lodz, R. Elye-Khayim Mayzel, interceded on his behalf, and he was set free.  In 1895 he left Russia.  He traveled to Western European communities, spoke in Königsberg, Memel, Berlin, Rotterdam, London, Leeds, Manchester, Antwerp, Amsterdam, and Paris, and then set off for the United States.  His name so far preceded him in America that, when he went to give his first sermon at the Bet Midrash Hagadol in New York, he encountered in the surrounding streets such an immense crowd that the police had to carry him into the synagogue by hand.  A little later, he worked out a plan to strengthen Judaism in America which he presented to the Educational Alliance on New York’s East Side.  His program consisted of: “Americanize the older among the Jewish immigrants and enhance the Jewishness of their children.”  Jacob Schiff and Louis Marshall came to the East Side to hear him make his case.  Maslyanski’s program struck a chord with them, and from 1898 he was employed as a speaker for the Educational Alliance, where he would for decades on Friday evenings give his sermons.  He was the “national preacher” in America as well.  He began writing while in Russia, in 1881, for Haboker or (Morning’s light), edited by A. B. Gotlober, Hamelits (The spectator), and Hatsfira (The siren).  With the assistance of Louis Marshall, Friedrich Stein, and Cyrus Sulzberger, in 1902 he founded the major daily newspaper in Yiddish and English, Di idishe velt (The Jewish world), with M. Bukanski as the editor of the Yiddish division and Joseph Jacobs of the English.  After two and one-half years, the newspaper had to close down because of disputes with his Westernized Jewish partners.  Maslyanski also contributed to in New York to Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal).  In book form, he published: Maslyanskis droshes fir shabosim un yamim-toyvim (Maslyanski’s sermons for Sabbaths and holidays) (New York, 1908-1909), 3 vols., appearing later in various editions, and in an English translation by Edward Herbert as Sermons (New York: Hebrew Publishing Company, 1926), 345 pp.; Moyshe veyisroel, eyne fun di fortrege fun dem ṿelt-berihmten folks redner (Moses and Israel, one of the sermons of the world-famous speaker) (New York, 1899), 30 pp., with an introductory poem in Hebrew by Yitsḥak Rabinovits of Kovno.  On Maslyanski’s talent and impact, there was published the booklet Hayitshari (The determined one), published by his adherents Moyshe Zablotski and Yoysef Mazel (Manchester, 1895), 71 pp., including a biographical sketch of Maslyanski, written by Zablotski, and a series of letters, poems, and florid language to his honor, concerning which the Hebrew press had earlier made known; among other personalities: R. Isaac Elchanan, R. Shmuel Mohilever, Yitskhok-Yankev Vaysberg, Y. L. Gamzu, and others.  He made a trip to the land of Israel in 1921, and his impressions were published in Morgn-zhurnal.  In 1924 he published Maslyanskis zikhroynes, fertsig yor lebn un kamfn (Maslyanski’s memoirs, forty years of life and struggles) (New York), 365 pp., which began with childhood and ended with his notes (in the form of a diary) of his trip to Israel.  This volume included a preface, in the form of a letter, by Ruvn Brainin.  He also published three volumes in Hebrew, Kitve maslyanski (Maslyanski’s writings) (New York, 1929), vol. 1, 335 pp., vol. 2, 306 pp., vol. 3, 298 pp.  He died in Brooklyn.  Thousands of Jews attended his funeral.  The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York established a fund on the centenary of his birth: “Zvi Hirsch Masliansky Award in Homiletics.”

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Bentsiyon Ayzenshtat, Dor rabanav vesofrav (A generation of rabbis and writers), vol. 5 (New York, 1903); M. Ribalov, Sefer hamasot (Book of essays) (New York, 1928), pp. 238-40; Ribalov, in Hadoar (New York) (June 15, 1943); M. Dantsig, in Tog (New York) (May 24, 1931); D. Eydelsberg, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (May 19, 1931); A. Oyerbakh, in Morgn-zhurnal (May 26, 1931); D. Daniel and Sh. Shpayzhendler, in Hadoar (May 10, 1935); Y. D. Ayzenshteyn, Otsar yisrael (Treasury of Israel) (Berlin, 1935); Sefer haishim (Biographical dictionary) (Tel Aviv, 1937); Shmuel Niger, in Tsukunft (New York) (January 1940); Niger, in Toyznt yor pinsk (1000 years of Pinsk), ed. Dr. B. Hofman-Tsvien (New York, 1941), pp. 328-30; E. R. Malachi, in Hadoar (January 15, 1943); Miriam Shamer-Tsunzer, in Yivo-bleter (New York) 33 (1943); Dr. M. Reyzin, in Tsukunft (January 1945); L. Shpizman, in Geshikhte fun der tsienistisher arbeter-bavegung fun tsofn-amerike (History of the Zionist labor movement in North America), vols. 1 and 2 (New York, 1955), see index; Y. Tsuzmer, Beikve hador (In the footprints of a generation) (New York, 1957), p. 145; Kh. R. Rabinovits, in Sefer hayovel shel hadoar (Anniversary volume for Hadoar) (New York, 1957), pp. 248-51; A. Tsaytlin, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (August 2, 1957); D. Pirski, in Hadoar (Kislev 20 [= December 9], 1960); Pinkas slutsk uvenoteha (Records of Slutsk and its children) (New York-Tel Aviv, 1961/1962), pp. 25, 101-3, 138, 308; obituary notices in the Jewish press; Y. Ḥ. Loyntal, in Hadoar (Iyar 16 [= May 10], 1963); Who’s Who in American Jewry, vol. 3 (New York, 1938-1939); Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. 7 (New York, 1942); Lucy Dawidowicz, in Jewish Social Studies (New York) (April 1963).
Zaynvil Diamant

Tuesday 25 July 2017


YOYEL MASTBOYM (JOEL MASTBAUM) (February 27, 1884-April 3, 1957)
            He was born in Mezritsh (Międzyrzecz), Shedlets (Siedlce) district, Poland.  He received a Jewish education fit for a follower of the Jewish Enlightenment and something of a general education as well.  While still quite young, his family settled in Siedlce.  At age fifteen he became a house painter.  In the stormy years of 1904-1905, he joined the revolutionary movement under the influence of his older brother Yudl who was active in the PPS (Polish Socialist Party [Polska Partia Socjalistyczna]), was arrested by the Tsarist authorities, and was exiled to Siberia where he died.  He later depicted the revolutionary movement in his novel Fun roytn lebn (From the red life).  At that time he began to write.  He then went with his writings in hand to Warsaw to visit Y. L. Perets, but his written work did not find favor with Perets.  Tsvi Prilucki, the editor of Der veg (The way), the first Yiddish daily newspaper in Warsaw, published Mastboym’s sketch “Yirakhmielke dem shoykhets” (Yirakhmielke, the ritual slaughterer’s son) on the recommendation of his son Noyekh Prilucki.  The writers Hillel Tsaytlin and Dovid Frishman befriended him, and Frishman himself translated and published Mastboym’s work in Reshafim (Sparks) and Haboker (This morning)—both in Warsaw.  At that time, Mastboym wrote a great deal and published his stories and sketches in a variety of newspapers and anthologies, among them: Unzer lebn (Our life), Moment (Moment), Goldene funken (Golden sparks) edited by Prilucki, Yidishe yugend (Jewish youth) edited by Dr. A. Mukdoni, and Fraye teg (Free days) in 1911, among others—all in Warsaw.  His first collection appeared in 1912: Skitsen un bilder (Sketches and images) (Warsaw: Velt-biblyotek), 75 pp.  That same year he also published his first novel: Fun roytn lebn (Warsaw: Di tsayt, 1912), 171 pp., second edition (1921).  At that time he was closest to the young writers who assembled around Dovid Frishman.  During WWI he published in various newspapers in Poland stories and impressions from the war and German occupation.  His dramatic poem in one act, Ohn a melodye (Without a melody), appeared in 1917 (Warsaw: Gitlin), 28 pp., in which the author—inspired by Vispyanski’s Khasene (Wedding) and Perets’s Baynakht afn altn mark (Nightime in the old market)—attempted in a symbolic manner to express the emotional standing of Jews who were stunned by events in the war.  As early as 1912 he brought out a collection entitled Poylens klangen (Sounds of Poland) (Warsaw), 150 pp., published later in a second edition under the title Fun poyln (From Poland) (Warsaw: Di tsayt, 1920), 154 pp.—with contributions from: A. M. Vaysenberg, Fishl Bimko, Shiye Perle, Avrom Zak, Uri-Tsvi Grinberg, Yisroel Shtern, and others.  In this collection, Matsboym himself penned: “Shtet un shtetlekh” (Cities and towns), from a trip through Siedlce, Kalish (Kalisz), Sieradz, Vlotslavek (Włocławek), Lask (Łask), Fabianice, Plotsk-Mazovyetsk, Old Gombin (Gąbin), and both new and old Lodz, among other sites, as well as characterizations of the musicians and artists: Khanekh Glitsenshteyn, Dovid Herman, B. Benson, M. Shneur, Leo Lyav, and M. Kipnis, and a speech of his, “Di yidishe froy in poyln” (The Jewish woman in Poland).  Over the years 1919-1922, he spent time in London with his sister Basheve.  He became acquainted there with the life of Jews in England and described his impressions in Moment and Ilustrirte vokh (Illustrated week) in Warsaw.  In London he contributed to the daily newspaper Di tsayt (The times), edited by Morris Meyer.  After returning to Poland, he published writings in: Hayom (Today), Moment, Lodzer tageblat (Lodz daily newspaper), Lodzer folksblat (Lodz people’s newspaper), Nasz Przegląd (Our overview), Nowy dziennik (New daily), Chwila (Moment), Bikher-velt (Book world), and Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), among others.  In those years Mastboym was associated with the Labor Zionists, and he gave speeches on their behalf in the Polish provinces.  In the company of locals from town organizations, he especially enjoyed making a big hit among the town youths.  He published in that time period the following books: In der fremd un andere dertseylungen (Abroad and other stories) (Warsaw, 1920), 164 pp.; Dos mazldike fishele (The lucky little fish) (Warsaw, 1921), 17 pp.; Maritas glik, dray doyres, roman (Marita’s happiness, three generations, a novel) (Warsaw, 1923), 441 pp., third edition (1926); Nokhumkes vanderungen (Nokhumke’s wanderings) (Warsaw, 1925), 243 pp.—this novel begins in a Polish town and ends in Buenos Aires; Salamandra (Salamandra), on the life of the Jewish glassworks owner and his workers (Warsaw, 1926), 163 pp.; Naye mentshn, roman (New people, a novel), about pioneer life in Poland (Warsaw, 1926), 181 pp.; Galitsye, varshe (Galicia, Warsaw) (Warsaw, 1929), 187 pp.; Di lukhes fun a tsigayner (The tablets of a Gypsy) (Warsaw, 1932), 197 pp., second edition (Warsaw, 1933).  That year (1933) Mastboym made aliya to the land of Israel, where his works were translated into Hebrew and published in Davar (Word) and Haolam (The world).  The first volume of his autobiographical writings, entitled Mayne shturmishe yorn (My stormy years), was published in Buenos Aires in 1950 (171 pp.).
            In the summer of 1939, Mastboym paid a visit to his relatives in Poland, and there he was caught by the outbreak of WWII.  He was forced to remain for a short time under the Nazi occupation, though he succeeded in escaping from Poland, and he made his way back to Israel.  He wrote up these experiences of his in the Hebrew press.  They were later published in book form under the title Sheshim yom bepolin shel hitler (Sixty days in Hitler’s Poland) (Tel Aviv: Davar, 1940), 133 pp.  In 1951 a local committee was established in the state of Israel to celebrate Mastboym’s fifty years of literary activity and to publish his works in Hebrew.  In Hebrew he published: Bamapakha, roman erets-yisrael beshelosha ḥalakim (In the furnace, a novel of the land of Israel in three parts) (Tel Aviv, 1935); Darka shel marita, roman (Marita’s way, a novel) (Tel Aviv: Masada, 1941), 204 pp.; Ḥalil hatsoanim (The Gypsies’ flute) (Tel Aviv, 1935), 214 pp.; Varsha 1939, sefer hazikaron (Warsaw, 1939, a remembrance volume) (Tel Aviv, 1940/1941), 220 pp.; Haḥayim haadumim (The red life) (Tel Aviv, 1941/1942).  His work Der koyekh fun der erd (The power of the land), brought out by the jubilee committee (London, 1951), 293 pp., was also published in a Hebrew translation by Yaalov Eliav as Koaḥ haadama (Tel Aviv: Yavne, 1950).  This was the first volume of his Israel trilogy which reflected the years 1933-1948.  He also wrote a volume of memoirs about past Jewish life in Warsaw, in which Jewish literary life occupies a special place, initially published serially in Letste nayes (Latest news) in Tel Aviv, and in Di idishe shtime (The Jewish voice) in London, under the title Afn leyter (On the ladder) and later in a Hebrew translation by Elyahu Maytus as Al hasulam, pirke ḥayai hasoarim (On the ladder, chapters from a difficult life) (Tel Aviv, 1954/1955), 368 pp.  Considered a writer who brought so much to literature, the World Jewish Congress decided to present him with an award for his contributions to Jewish culture.  The date of bestowing the honor was set as April 23, 1957, but he did not live to see it.  He died in Tel Aviv.  “Mastboym is an original phenomenon,” wrote Zalmen Reyzen, “in Yiddish literature.  Careless and confused in form, with a remarkable incapacity sometimes literally for inaccurate and corrupted style, often unable to control the materials with which he is dealing, yet he has his own tone, a deeply original and quaint one, fresh and alive, alien to every literary influence, which gives his work its distinctive charm.  Highly musical, as Mastboym has a fine ear for the dark world of sounds, images, smells, and colors, and in his entire maladroitness, in the wild mixture of naïve childishness and sophisticated modernity, there pulses a real or long dreamt of life, expressed in a many-colored mosaic of memoirs, experiences, dreams, and visions.”

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. 2 (Tel Aviv, 1947), pp. 1039-40; Shmuel Niger, in Dray doyres (Three generations) (Warsaw, 1920), pp. 262-73; Niger, in Di tsukunft (New York) (June 1921; May 1924); Sefer haishim (Biographical dictionary) (Tel Aviv, 1937), pp. 336-37; Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 1 (Montreal, 1945), pp. 126-30, vol. 3 (Montreal, 1948), pp. 254-55; Z. Segalovitsh, Tlomatske 13, fun farbrentn nekhtn (13 Tłomackie St., of scorched yesterdays) (Buenos Aires, 1946), p. 93; N. Mayzil, Tsvishn khurbn un oyboy (Between destruction and construction) (New York, 1947), pp. 215-16; Mayzil, Noente un eygene, fun yankev dinezon biz hirsh glik (Near and one’s own, from Yankev Dinezon to Hirsch Glick) (New York, 1957), pp. 125, 285; B. Kutsher, Geven amol varshe (As Warsaw once was) (Paris, 1955), pp. 161, 205; Shlomo Shreberk, Zikhronot hamotsi laor (Memoirs of a publisher) (Tel Aviv, 1954/1955), pp. 156-57; Khayim Leyb Fuks, in Fun noentn over (New York) 3 (1957), pp. 200-17; Fuks, Arbeter-vort (Paris) (July 7, 1952); Fuks, in Folk un velt (New York) (June 1957); N. Grinblat, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 8 (1951); Grinblat, in Letste nayes (Tel Aviv) (March 20, 1953); Y. Kaspi, in Yivo-bleter (New York) 36 (1952), pp. 361-62; Kaspi, in Sefer yizkor lekehilat shedlets (Remembrance volume for the community of Shedlets [Siedlce]) (Tel Aviv and Buenos Aires, 1956), p. 280; Kaspi, in Der shpigl (Buenos Aires) (March 1958); G. Vaysman, in Di tsukunft (October 1953); Vaysman, in Lebns-fragn (Tel Aviv) (June-July 1957); A. Maytus, in Letste nayes (January 9, 1953); Maytus, in Di tsukunft (October 1957); A. Zak, in Di idishe tsaytung (Buenos Aires) (July 12, 1953); Zak, In onhoyb fun a friling (At the beginning of a spring) (Buenos Aires, 1962), see index; E. Almi, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (March 1957); Almi, in Letste nayes (May 17, 1957); Almi, in Unzer shtime (Paris) (March 15, 1958); Y. Botoshanski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (April 17, 1957); Y. Shpigl, in Di goldene keyt 28 (1957); Dr. Shloyme Bikl, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (May 12, 1957); D. Naymark, in Forverts (New York) (April 28, 1957); A. Lis, Heym un doyer, vegn shrayber un verk (Home and duration, on writers and work) (Tel Aviv: Y. L. Perets Library, 1960), pp. 66-70; Avraham Shaanan, Milon hasifrut haḥadasha (Dictionary of modern literature) (Tel Aviv, 1959), col. 492; Dov Sadan, Avne zikaron (Milestones) (Tel Aviv, 1961/1962), pp. 148-51; Mortkhe Khalamish-Flint, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (April 9, 1962); A. A. Roback, The Story of Yiddish Literature (New York, 1940), p. 243; Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. 7 (New York).
Zaynvl Diamant

Monday 24 July 2017


            The sister of Yoyel Mastboym, she was born in Mezritsh (Międzyrzecz) or possibly Shedlets (Siedlce), Poland.  Under the influence of her older brother, Yudl, she joined the revolutionary movement when quite young and was active in the Polish Socialist Party (PPS [Polska Partia Socjalistyczna]).  In 1912 she made her way to London.  She published poetry and stories in a variety of Yiddish-language newspapers and periodicals, among them: the monthly Yugend-shtrahlen (Youth beams [of light]) in 1915; Dos naye leben (The new life), an anthology, in London (1916); and the daily newspaper Di tsayt (The times), edited by Morris Meyer—all in London.  In book form, she brought out a poetry collection: Durkh zun un volkn (Through sun and cloud) (Warsaw: P. Braubard, 1923), 35 pp., which included several short stories as well.  In the later 1920s she became ill and was brought to a London institution for the incurable.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2, under the biography of Yoyel Mastboym; D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah leḥalutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 2 (Tel Aviv, 1947), pp. 1039-40; information from Y. Fishman and Y. Leftwich.
Zaynvl Diamant


LEYVI-YITSKHOK MAS (MASH) (1877-July 31, 1929)
            He was born in Podolia.  He studied with itinerant elementary school teachers and later secular subject matter in Odessa with private tutors.  In his youth he was enthralled by the revolutionary movement, and was a Labor Zionist, a Zionist Socialist, and a Bundist.  In 1902 he was arrested in Pinsk and thrown in prison.  In 1905 he moved to Argentina, had a furniture business in Avellaneda, a suburb of Buenos Aires, and at the same time published stories and articles in: the weekly Unzer vort (The word) in 1913; the monthly Der avangard (The avant-garde) in 1915; and Der tog (The day) in 1914-1915; among others.  Over the years 1915-1922, together with Mortkhe Stolyar, he co-edited the daily Di idishe tsaytung (The Jewish newspaper) in Buenos Aires, in which, aside from articles, he published (under the pen name Shevna) short stories and impressions.  He was sent as a delegate of the Buenos Aires Jewish community in 1921 to the conference on Jewish emigration in Prague, Czechoslovakia.  He took the occasion to visit Warsaw and other Polish Jewish centers.  After returning to Argentina, he resigned from the newspaper and settled in a Jewish colony.  His poetry and prose work were published in: the anthology Af di bregn fun plata (On the banks of the Plata) (1919); the monthly Argentine (Argentina); Di idishe handls-vokh (The Jewish business weekly) in 1925, edited by B. Olshanski and B. Shekhter; Antologye fun der yidisher literatur in argentine (Anthology of Yiddish literature in Argentina) (1944), pp. 344-60; and the jubilee publications of Di idishe tsaytung—all in Buenos Aires.  In 1929 he paid a visit to Buenos Aires from the colony, suddenly fell ill, and a short time later died.  “L. Mas was not only a talented writer and journalist,” wrote M. Regalski, “but he was also a concerted man of the community; with his straightforward, pure pen, he served the community and was the educator of the still young and unconsolidated Jewish community.”  To honor his memory, there was established in the Buenos Aires Jewish hospital a library in his name.  On the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of his death, the H. D. Nomberg Jewish Writers’ Association attached a separate tablet to his headstone.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Y. Botoshanski, in the anthology Argentine (Argentina) (Buenos Aires, 1938), pp. 72, 74, 75, 85; Botoshanski, in Yorbukh tsht”v fun der yidisher kehile in buenos ayres (Yearbook for 1954/1955 of the Jewish community of Buenos Aires), pp. 228-29; Sh. Rozhanski, Dos yidishe gedrukte vort in argentine (The published Yiddish word in Argentina) (Buenos Aires, 1941), pp. 73, 95, 96, 97, 150, 181; Antologye fun der yidisher literatur in argentine (Anthology of Yiddish literature in Argentina) (Buenos Aires, 1944), pp. 455-60 (see also the bibliographic listing there on p. 921); P. Kats, Geklibene shriftn (Selected works), vol. 7 (Buenos Aires, 1947), pp. 45-47; M. Regalski, in Yorbukh tsht”v fun der yidisher kehile in buenos ayres, pp. 45-47; Regalski, in Di naye tsayt (Buenos Aires) (July 23, 1954).
Zaynvl Diamant

Sunday 23 July 2017


LEYZER MONFRID (LAZARUS MONFRIED) (August 1885-October 14, 1955)
            He was born in Shadove (Šeduva), Kovno district, Lithuania.  At eight years of age he began studying to play the fiddle with a town musical group, later with a teacher in Shavel (Šiauliai), where he also studied Jewish subject matter.  At fifteen he went to Warsaw and studied there at the conservatory.  The editor of Der yud (The Jew), Dr. Yoysef Lurye, introduced him to Avrom Reyzen, and he began to publish poetry in Der yud, Folks-tsaytung (People’s newspaper), Der fraynd (The friend), Der tog (The day), and Epelberg’s Yontef bleter (Holiday sheets) which he later, around 1903, began publishing himself.  In 1901 he completed his first composition, text and music for the poem Tsiens fon (Banner of Zion).  For a time he was also active as a director in the Warsaw choral school, “Shaare tsiyon” (Gates of Zion), and in a singing group which later was transformed into the well-known “Hazemir” (The nightingale).  After the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War, he emigrated to join his father in South Africa, where he published in the Yiddish periodicals: Hakokhav (The star), Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper), and Der afrikaner (The African), and he also wrote correspondence pieces for European and American newspapers.  Together with his parents and siblings, in 1907 he moved to the United States.  For a time he was a frequent contributor to Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper) and other periodicals, in which he published poetry, stories, feature pieces, and journalistic articles.  He also wrote in English.  He edited: the weekly Der lets (The clown) in New York (1908); the weekly Di idishe shtime (The Jewish voice) in Cincinnati (1911); Idishe drama un familyen-zhurnal (Jewish drama and family magazine) in New York (1913); Di muzikalishe velt un teater-zhurnal (The musical world and theater journal) in New York (1923); and Der idishe familyen-zhurnal (The Jewish family journal), “monthly publication in Yiddish and English for the entire family,” in New York (1941-1942).  During WWII he dedicated a prayer to the American armed forces: Servicemen’s Prayer, which Congress authorized to be published in the Congressional Record (Washington, D.C.) (April 1945).  In book form: Freylikhkeytn, perl fun humor un satire (Cheers, pearls of humor and satire) (New York, 1944), 160 pp.; Unter eyn dakh (Under one roof), in five parts (poetry, stories, journalism, drama, and music set to certain poems) (New York, 1949), 35 pp.; Zayt ir balibt tsvishn mentshn (Are you loved among people) (New York, 1960), 67 pp., also published in English as: Ten Steps to Social Success: Ten Spiritual Faults, from Which People Suffer Socially (New York, 1950), 72 pp.  He also authored the plays: In letsten shturm (In the last storm), in four acts; and Got fun muzik (God of music), in three acts.  He was an active member of the Jewish National Labor Alliance.  He died in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934); Avrom Reyzen, Epizodn fun mayn lebn (Episodes from my life), part 2 (Vilna, 1929), pp. 137-38; L. Feldman, Yidn in dorem-afrike (Jews in South Africa) (Johannesburg-Vilna, 1937); E. Almi, preface to Monfrid, Unter eyn dakh (Under one roof) (New York, 1949), pp. 5-10; Sh. Slutski, Avrom Reyzen-biblyografye (Avrom Reyzen’s bibliography) (New York, 1956), no. 5237;Sh. Tenenboym, in Di shtime (Mexico City) (September 3, 1960).
Benyomen Elis


MORTKHE-LEYB MANSKI (b. March 10, 1872)
            He was born in Pruzhane (Pruzhany), Byelorussia.  Until age fifteen he studied in religious elementary school and the Grodno yeshiva, later settling in Warsaw where he worked as a private Hebrew teacher and a business employee.  He ran a “cheder metukan” (improved religious elementary school), 1901-1902, in Warsaw.  In 1903 he made his way to the United States.  For a time he lived in New York, and in 1910 he settled in Newark.  As a writer he debuted in print (using the pen name Yankevzohn) with a sketch in Forverts (Forward) in New York (February 2, 1904), and later he published in this newspaper sketches, stories, and impressions.  In 1906 he switched to Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper) in New York, where until 1910 he published under the pseudonym Malbim, as well as in Tog (Day) in New York.  From August 1910 until the end of December 1912, he was the editor and publisher of Nuarker vokhenblat (Newark weekly newspaper).  He was contributor and assistant editor, 1913-1914, to the monthly (later, weekly) Froyen-zhurnal (Women’s journal) in New York; among other items, he published in it a series of humorous sketches entitled “Mener nudnikes” (Men pests), using the pen name Rokhl Malbim.  Over the years 1915-1923, he served as the Newark correspondent for Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal) in New York.  He also contributed to Kibitser (Joker) and Kundes (Prankster)—in New York.  In book form: Milon yeladim levet sefer ivri (Children’s dictionary for the Hebrew school), part 1, Hebrew-Yiddish dictionary for children (Warsaw, 1903), 90 pp.  He died in Newark.

Source: Zalmen Reyzen archive, YIVO (New York).


ARN MANSFELD (b. October 20, 1910)
            He was born in Lodz, Poland.  He was a bookkeeper until WWII in the Aguda Bank in Lodz, later he was confined in the ghetto there, from which in 1944 he was deported to the Hasag ammunitions factory in Częstochowa.  In January 1945 he was sent to the Buchenwald Concentration Camp, from there to Dachau and Bergen-Belsen death camp, where he was liberated by the British army.  From 1947 he was living in the United States.  He began writing in Hebrew and Yiddish in 1928, published a story about Hassidic life in Hakedem (The days of yore) in Lodz (1930), edited by Y. Krakovski, and went on to published stories and articles as well in Nayer folksblat (New people’s newspaper) and elsewhere, in Lodz.  In the Lodz ghetto, he was a member of Miriam Ulyanover’s writers’ group.  Several of his ghetto novels were discovered in the Lodz ghetto archive.  Over the years 1945-1947, he was a contributor to Di yidishe vokh (The Jewish week) in London, in which, among other items, he placed reportage pieces on ghetto and camp life.  He was last living in New York. 

Sources: B. Mark, Umgekumene shrayber fun di getos un lagern (Murdered writers from the ghettos and camps) (Warsaw, 1954), p. 161; Khayim Leyb Fuks, in Fun noentn over (New York) 3 (1957), p. 273.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


AVROM-YANKEV MANSDORF (KELMOVITSH) (January 12, 1902-July 9, 1955)
            He was born in the village of Balice, Kielce district, Poland, the son of the Balice innkeeper, Ayzik Kelmovitsh.  He studied with itinerant teachers and for a short time in a yeshiva.  In 1912 he moved with his parents to Lodz, and there he became a metal worker, was drawn into the Jewish labor movement, and became active in the Bundist youth organization “Tsukunft” (Future).  He began acting with a drama circle [also] known as Tsukunft.  Later, under the adopted name of Mansdorf, he became known both as an actor and as a writer.  Over the years 1920-1925, he studied in drama school (under the direction of Dovid Herman and Dr. Mikhl Vaykhert) in Warsaw and thereafter acted in the variety theater Azazel.  In 1927 he became a member of the Vilna Troupe.  In 1933 he came with the Vilna Troupe on tour to Paris, and there he was one of the initiators of PIAT (Parizer yidisher arbeter-teater [Paris Yiddish workers’ theater]).  In 1936 he set off for Soviet Russia and traveled around there with Yiddish troupes.  In 1944 he played in Czernowitz and Bucharest, where in 1945 he was one of the founders of the Bucharest Yiddish Theater.  In 1947 he received from the Romanian government a golden medal “for services on behalf of the artistic theater.”  That year, 1947, he again travelled to Paris, where he directed the theater of IKUF (Jewish Cultural Association) and a drama school attached to the theater YIKUT (Yiddish Art Theater), and he gave poetry recitals in the Jewish communities of France and Belgium.  In 1949 he made his way to the state of Israel, where, together with a number of actors among the Holocaust survivors, he founded “Teatron amami” (National theater).  In 1953 he departed for a tour of South Africa and Rhodesia, and there in the city of Bulawayo, he died of a heart disease.  In addition, Mansdorf wrote essays and articles, mainly concerned with theatrical issues, in Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves) in Warsaw and thereafter in numerous Yiddish-language newspapers and magazines.  Concerning Mansdorf, the following works appeared in print: Draysik yor teater-gang fun yankev mansdorf (1924-1954) (Thirty years of the theatrical course of Yankev Mansdorf, 1924-1954) (Johannesburg: Jacob Mansdorf Jubilee Committee, 1954), 23 pp.; and (posthumously) an anthology entitled Yankev mansdorf un zayn dor (Yankev Mansdorf and his generation), edited by Mark Dvorzhetski, M. Tsanin, and Ruvn Rubinshteyn (Tel Aviv, n.d.), 264 pp., in which may be found treatments of Mansdorf and of works by him.

Sources: Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934); L. F. (Leybl Feldman), in Dorem-afrike (Johannesburg) (July 1955); Dr. Mark Dvorzhetski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (July 27, 1955); Y. Kh. in Forverts (New York) (August 19, 1955); Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 3 (Montreal, 1958), pp. 479-80; Khayim Leyb Fuks, in Arbeter-vort (Paris) (June 15, 1951; August 8, 1951); D. Lederman, in Ilustrirte literarishe bleter (Buenos Aires) (21-22 (1955); obituary notices in the Yiddish press.
Zaynvl Diamant


SHIYE (YEHOSHUA) MANIK-LEDERMAN (July 10, 1909-September 1973)
            He was born in Bender (Bendery), Bessarabia.  He studied in religious elementary school, and later as an external student he prepared for the high school course of study.  In 1925 he came to the United States and studied at the University of Chicago.  In 1935 he made aliya to the land of Israel.  He debuted in print in 1930 with a poem in Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor) in New York, and later published poetry, fables, and children’s stories in: Kinder-tsaytung (Children’s newspaper) in Chicago; Tsukunft (Future), Nyu-yorker vokhnblat (New York weekly newspaper), Unzer veg (Our way), Unzer tsayt (Our time), and Vayter (Further)—in New York; Kheshbn (The score) and Kalifornyer yontef bleter (California holiday sheets) in Los Angeles; Nay-velt (New world), Shtamen (Tribes), Bleter (Pages), Di brik (The bridge), Heftn (Notebooks), Tsien-yugnt (Zionist youth), Heymish (Familiar), Dos vort (The word), Yidishe tsaytung (Jewish newspaper), Letste nayes (Latest news), Yisroel-shtime (Voice of Israel), and in the collection Unzers (Ours) and Yisroel-shriftn (Yiddish writings)—in Tel Aviv; Idishe bilder (Jewish images) in Riga; Der shpigl (The mirror), Di prese (The press), Argentiner beymelekh (Little Argentinian trees), In unzer dor (In our generation), and Ilustrirte literarishe bleter (Illustrated literary leaves)—in Buenos Aires; Heftn in Warsaw; Arbeter vort (Workers’ word) and Der frayer gedank (The free word) in Paris; Haynt (Today) and Umophengike yidishe tribune (Independent Jewish tribune) in Montevideo; Dorem-afrike (South Africa) in Johannesburg; Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal; and Ḥefa haovedet (Laboring Haifa), Haarets shelanu (Our land), and Yediot ramat-gan (News of Ramat-Gan), among others.  In book form: Metalene kveytn (Metal blossom), poems (Tel Aviv: Teḥiya, 1935), 36 pp.; Ikh, poeme (I, a poem) (Tel Aviv, 1941), 20 pp.; Trit in baginen (Steps at dawn) (Haifa: Ankor, 1955), 200 pp. (English translation [in part] by Joseph Leftwich); In trit fun dayn vander (In step with your wandering), poetry (New York, 1964), 158 pp.; In mayn glezernem turem, moshl un satire (In my glass tower, parable and satire) (Tel Aviv, 1968), 155 pp.  In 1944 he settled in Haifa, where he helped to establish the Franz Kursky Library, and helped organize the Yiddish Cultural Circle, the YIVO Circle, and the Yiddish Writers’ Group in Haifa.  He was a book agent and dealt primarily with the distribution of books written in Yiddish.  He prepared for publication books by a variety of authors.  He co-edited the remembrance volume Di yidn fun bilgoray un krasnobrod (The Jews of Biłgoraj and Krasnobród).  He was a correspondent and contributor to Groyser verterbukh fun der yidisher shprakh (Great dictionary of the Yiddish language) in New York.  He also contributed to Almanakh fun yidishe shrayber in yisroel (Almanac of Yiddish writers in Israel) (Tel Aviv, 1962).  He also published “miniatures” in the monthly Lebns-fragn (Life issues) in Tel Aviv.  He died in Haifa.

Sources: A. Shnayderman, in Tsvit (Warsaw-Brestetshko) (May 1938); A. V. Yasni, in Letste nayes (Tel Aviv) (November 18, 1955); Der Lebediker, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (August 12, 1956); D. Volpe, in Dorem-afrike (Johannesburg) (May 1956); M. Yofe, in Haboker (Tel Aviv) (July 13, 1956); Yofe, in Lebns-fragn (Tel Aviv) (November-December 1956); Y. Paner, in Folk un tsien (Jerusalem) (April 1957); Paner, in Davar (Tel Aviv) (December 27, 1957); A. Blum, in Tsukunft (New York) (July-August 1957); Blum, in Heymish (Tel Aviv) (October 1957); Y. Bronshteyn, Ineynem un bazunder, eseyen (Altogether and separate, essays) (Tel Aviv, 1960), p. 138; Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 3 (Montreal, 1958); M. Yekhieli, in Haynt (Montevideo) (February 20, 1959); Y. Z. Sharger, in Yisroel-shtime (Tel Aviv) (July 2, 1959); Y. Botoshanski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (October 16, 1959).

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 365.]


DOVID MANYEVITSH (1896-August 13, 1959)

            His was born in Ukraine. He began writing in Russian under the pen name “Prisheltsev” (newcomer, stranger). In the 1920s he was living in New York, working as an internal contributor to the Communist newspaper Morgn-frayhayt (Morning freedom), for which he was in charge of the daily column entitled “Gehert un gezen” (Heard and seen). He later returned to Russia and continued his writing activities there. No information is forthcoming on his subsequent years. In book form he published: In yene teg (1917-1920) (In those days, 1917-1920) (New York: Frayhayt, 1926), 264 pp.; Masnkamf (Mass struggle), a collection of descriptions of the struggles in the needle trades in New York over the years 1925-1930, with a foreword by Moyshe Olgin (New York: Industrial Needle Trades Union, 1930), 330 pp.; Masnkamf in der amerikaner nodl-industrye far di yorn 1925-1928 (Mass struggle in the American needle industry over the years 1925-1928) (Kharkov-Kiev, 1932). He also translated into Yiddish in an abridged form: Republik shkid (Republic of Shkid [original: Respublika Shkid]) by G. Belikh and L. Panteleev (Kharkov: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1932), 205 pp.; and Di ershte tsvantsik yor, zikhroynes fun a untererdisher tuerin (The first twenty years, memoirs of an underground activist [original Zapiski riadovogo podpol'shchika (Notes of an ordinary underground worker)]) by T. S. Bobrovskaia, her memoirs (Moscow: Emes, 1932), 191 pp. He died in Moscow.

Sources: Y. N. Shteynberg, Mit eyn fus in amerike (With one foot in America) (Mexico City, 1951), pp. 162-63; N. Mayzil, Dos yidishe shafn un der yidisher arbeter in sovetn-farband (Jewish creation and the Jewish worker in the Soviet Union) (New York, 1959), p. 128; Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), no. 607.

Benyomen Elis

[Additional information from: 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), p. 225-26.]

Friday 21 July 2017


DOVID MONIN (1898-November 9, 1957)

He was an editor, current events writer, and a community leader, born in Bila Tserkva (Belaya Tserkov), Ukraine. Monin was his pen name; his real name has not as yet been discovered. From his early youth he was active in the labor movement. Over the years 1918-1922, he volunteered to serve in the Red Army and fought on the front against the armies of Petlura, Makhno, and others. After the civil war, he was secretary of the main office of the Jewish section of the central committee of the Communist Youth Association in Ukraine. He lived in Kharkov, Kiev, and Minsk, later in Moscow. He was a delegate of the Profintern [Red International of Labor Unions] to congresses of the leftist World Federation of Trade Unions. He edited newspapers and journals for youth: Yunger spartak (Young Spartacus) (1921); Freyd (Happiness) (1922); Di yunge gvardye (The young guard) in Kharkov (1923-1928); Yungvald (Young forest) (1923-1927) and Pyoner (Pioneer) in Moscow (1925-1928). He edited the supplement for youth of Komunistisher fon (Communist banner) in Kiev (1919). His contributed to: Der yunger arbeter (The young worker) in Kiev (1920); Oktyabr (October) in Minsk; Shtern (Star) in Kharkov; and Der emes (The truth) in Moscow. He also placed writings in: Af di vegn tsu der nayer shul (En route to the new school) and Fragn fun komyug (Questions from the [Jewish] Communist Youth Association) in Moscow; and Di royte velt (The red world); among others. In the late 1920s he was mobilized for political work in the army, and he was not to return to Yiddish environs. After the army work, he studied at the Institute for Red Professors. From 1937 until WWII, there was no information about him available. Several years thereafter, he was editor of the Russian newspaper Trud (Labor) in Moscow. He also published under such pen names as: D. Min and Dmitri. He died in Moscow.

He translated into Yiddish and adapted for the Party school a number of popular political textbooks, such as: P. M. Kerzhentsev and Leontiev’s Alefbeys fun leninizm (The ABCs of Leninism) (Moscow: Central People’s Publishers, USSR, 1924), 195 pp., second edition (Moscow, 1925), 199 pp., third edition (Moscow, 1928), 331 pp.; V. Virganskii’s Komyugishe forlezungen (Komyug lectures), first volume (Moscow, 1925), 60 pp.; M. Taishin and F. Kozlov’s Politalefbeys, ershter teyl, lerbukh far dorfishe un shtetlshe baveglekhe politshuln un far zelbstbildung (Political ABCs, part one: Textbook for village and town mobile political schools and for self-education) (Moscow: Central People’s Publishers, USSR, 1926), 196 pp., part two (Moscow, 1927), 320 pp.; M. Grishin’s In lenins veg, lernbukh far shtotishe normale politshuln un far zelbstbildung (In Lenin’s way, textbook for urban political normal schools and for self-education), part 1 (Moscow: Central People’s Publishers, USSR, 1928), 415 pp.; M. Bragin’s Komyugishe alefbeys (Komyug ABCs), with A. Kovner and H. Smolyar (Moscow, 1927-1928), 193 pp.

Sources: Pyoner (Moscow) 1 (January 1, 1927); Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO) (Warsaw, 1928), see index; H. Smolyar, in Folksshtime (Warsaw) (November 1957); Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index.

Khayim Leyb Fuks

[Additional information from: 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), p. 225.]


Y. MANITSH (March 27, 1902-August 17, 1974)
            He was born Yoysef Epshteyn in Vishegrad (Wyszogrod), Poland.  He attended religious elementary school and yeshiva.  In 1928 he moved to Belgium and 1933 to France.  He made aliya to Israel in 1974.  He published stories and literary articles in: Unzer vort (Our word) and Arbeter-vort (Workers’ word) in Paris.  In book form: Koyekh fun gloybn (Strength from belief) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1968), 267 pp.  He died in Jerusalem.

Source: Information from his son Simkhe in Tel Aviv.

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 365.


MANI LEYB (LEIB) (December 20, 1883-October 4, 1953)
            The pen name of Mani-Leyb Brahinski, he was born in Nyezhin (Nizhyn), Chernigov region, Ukraine, into a poor family.  He father would travel to markets as a buyer of horse and animal hides, and he also would write letters to the United States for abandoned wives and deserted brides.  Mani Leib would listen to his father’s letters, watch as the brides and abandoned wives drenched themselves in tears, and quietly would cry to himself.  His family lived in a poor home with a straw roof.  The children slept on the floor, on straw, covered with sheepskin.  Inscribed in the poet’s memory were the Saturday evenings at his father’s table.  Sitting around the table were low-level buyers and sellers of farm products, horse merchants, and storytellers.  They would drink up six samovars full of tea, “describe in detail an entire world”—wonder upon wonder—about snow-covered, enchanted forests, about horse thieves, about treasures of stolen gold, horses gone astray, lost boots, Jews—travelers with sacks, about Elijah the prophet, also tales of highwaymen, corpses, and wizards.  His mother brought six sons into the world (Mani Leib was the first-born) and two daughters.  She was the breadwinner in the family, because her husband earned very little.  She sold vegetables, chickens, and eggs in the market.  She was also a sayer of sayings, a rhyme-maker, and a singer.  Until age eleven he attended religious elementary school, after which he entered an apprenticeship to a bootmaker and five years later became his own boss, with six employees.  At that time he joined the revolutionary movement: initially, he was a Ukrainian socialist, later he stood with the Socialist Revolutionaries, later still an anarchist, and finally a social democrat.  In 1904 he was arrested and spent several months in jail.  When he was arrested again somewhat later, though, he escaped and fled to England, and there over the course of a year he contributed to the revolutionary movement of young Jewish immigrants.  Y. Ḥ. Brenner encouraged him there by to write poetry, and he made it possible for the socialist weekly newspaper Di naye tsayt (The new times) to publish Mani Leib’s first poems which were later republished by Forverts (Forward) in New York.  In 1905 he came to the United States, settled in New York, where he lived for the rest of his life.  He soon found work as a bootmaker, was an exceptional expert, and remained with his trade for a long time.  In America he began to publish poetry in a large number of periodicals and magazines.  The poems were utterly new in every detail in terms of theme, versification, and expressiveness.  He became the most representative agent of the “Yunge” (Young ones) writers’ group.  This direction was a reaction against everything formalistic.  Youth now had to renounce age.  “Age” in the Yiddish literature of that era meant in practice—the social, the ethnic.  The “Yunge” wanted to free themselves from every tendency and moral, introduce the motif of the individual, create a new poetic lexicon and form, and even establish poetry for poetry’s sake.  Later, a portion of this group broke off along another path of their own.  There were but three poets who always remained faithful to the credo of the “Yunge”: Mani Leib, Zisho Landau, and Ruvn Ayzland.  Mani Leib went on to place work in the most diverse of Yiddish periodicals and anthologies in America: Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor), Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter), Di varhayt (The truth), Der arbayter (The worker), Do yudishe folk (The Jewish people), Dos naye leben (The new life), Di tsukunft (The future), Di naye velt (The new world), and Troymen un virklekhkeyt (Dreams and reality), among others.  Special, though, were the publications of the “Yunge”: the collections Yugend (Youth), Literatur (Literature), Shriften (Writings) 1-4, Fun mensh tsu mensh (From person to person), and Der inzl (The island), among others.  He had ties to Forverts in which he had published his first poem, when he had just arrived in America, and he proceeded to place there a great number of original poems and translations, becoming a regular contributor to the newspaper in 1946, when he stopped working in a factory as a bootmaker, and he published his poetry in all the Sunday issues of the newspaper.  When he was in his fifties, he contracted tuberculosis and soon thereafter had abscesses in his stomach, making it impossible for him to work any longer in the shoe factory.  The Jewish bakers’ union gave him an office job, and he subsequently became the publicity agent for the union which added something further to his salary.  Every day, 1933-1934, he published (using the pen name Khevreman) in Tog (Day) and labor-features in prose, with which he was himself not terribly pleased.  His fiftieth and sixtieth birthdays were celebrated with the warmest exchanges for the beloved poet.  There were special editions of journals (e.g., Oyfkum [Arise] and Epokhe [Epoch]) dedicated to the poet.  Throughout his entire literary activity as a poet, only a small number of his poems appeared in book form, but his poetry and children’s stories were published in wide variety of serials.  A collection of his poems and ballads in two parts appeared posthumously.  It was missing, however, numerous poems, and his translations from various languages still found no place in book form.  In early 1953 he became ill again.  He was taken to Deborah Sanatorium and then to Liberty Sanatorium (run by Workmen’s Circle), where he took his last breath.  On his sixtieth birthday, he was given as a present a large house (the idea was initiated by Yankev Pat, and the present was given to him by Forverts and special friends).  The poetess and storyteller Rochelle Weprinsky was his truest and closest friend for the last thirty years of his life.  The critics argued that Mani Leib was in essence a romantic, lyrical poet.  Frugal was his byword, a condensed image, and not a “voluble” plot.  His lyric with its wonderful sound, rhythm, and rhyme peels off its wordy garb, from its thought-provoking concreteness, and enters completely into the sphere of music.  He was also an authentic balladist and storyteller, and a master of the children’s poem which in his hands approached a classical level.  His lyricism accompanied the mysterious, melancholy ballad; the descriptive, recounted tale which played with all the charms of naïveté, simplicity, and good-natured humor; the poem for children that sings and dances and plays every instrument.  The wonder of his poetry in general is not so much the topic but the vivid language which is refined and simple; the innovative music of living rhythms, sounds, rhymes; the joint, concerted working of tones and colors; the lyrical mood which trembles through the genteel turns of phrase and the tender experiences of his verses.  The entire world was full of wonder for him—and full of beauty.  On numerous occasions, he reminds us of the wonder atop wonder and beauty on top of beauty—and like every genuine poet, he marveled even more than anything at that which is ordinary.  He was among the only poets who for him “beauty rides on the word, like a horseman in the distance.”  He succeeded in playing the secular tune on a Jewish instrument of the vibrant word and the vigorous idiom; the simplicity and sincerity of the Yiddish language flow into the exalted and liberating secular motif; they introduce the beauties and the spirit of universalism.  He was both folkish and ethnic.  He never spoke about the “folk”—only about “Jews.”  A man of the people, he could not employ the florid language of glorifying the abstract “folk.”  He enjoyed speaking simply about Jews.  Among Jews—even in remembrance—he felt like “a fish in water”; unprepared, he transformed himself into a cheerful, delightful, popular tone about the Jews of Vilna, who taught Torah to the simple folk of Nizhyn; he loved speaking in a serious Yiddish and recounting with charm and good-natured humor tales and wonders of Chelm, and primarily of the Jews of Chelm.  He was Jewish to the core—although he lacked “Jewish” subject matter.  Perhaps the “purism” in his poetry was not accidental, but a predetermined system.  Perhaps it was the fruit of that inclination of the “Yunge” who held that one had to free oneself from every kind of tradition and create poetry for poetry’s sake.  He did not, however, write random poems just to write poetry, for the poem itself was replete with content.  The poem became the practical objective and therefore was imbued with ethnicity.  He spoke about himself—though overly modestly and also not fairly—that he was “a whistler but such a one as no prophet am I.”  All the elements are organic for Mani Leib: the delicate, charming word; the implicit jest full of significance; the elegant Yiddish idiom; the good-natured and all-forgiving humor; the delightful popular quality that smells of all the finest aromas and shines forth with extraordinary appeal, especially in the folktales and children’s poetry.  “Mani Leib’s first poetic period,” wrote Ruvn Ayzland, “began with the series of poems that he published in 1910 in the second collection of Literatur….  In his first period, he was thoroughly romantic and his subject matter was the fruit of a dark mood of an individual who quarrels over the gray surroundings which he fears.  On many occasions he never stops complaining about his fate.  In another instance he struggles with himself or with his despised surroundings.  And, in yet a further case, he envisions for himself a completely unreal world, but more beautiful and enlightened than the one in which he lives; on another occasion, he sings of the joy and the sadness of a great and mighty personal experience that brings about longed-for happiness….  The main characteristic of Mani Leib’s first poetic period was haze….  The reason for such haziness came essentially from…the fears he had himself of getting to the bottom of his own emotions.  I don’t know precisely when he began to write his sonnets, the crowning achievement of his work and which constitutes his third and final poetic period….  He wrote some sixty sonnets….  I was amazed at the tone in which they are written and the wisdom of life that emerges from them.  Now, though, when I have reread them many more times than before, this amazement returns to place for an unending and profound joy, for which Mani Leib was worthy—no, for which Mani Leib himself engendered the rare honor of creating something such that everything that he earlier wrote—as beautiful and important as it was—appears no more than a preparation for what would come later.”
           His books: Baladn (Ballads) (New York: Inzl, 1918), 109 pp.; Lider (Poetry) (New York: Inzl, 1918), 140 pp.; Idishe un slavishe motivn (Jewish and Slavic motifs) (New York: Inzl, 1918), 110 pp.; Yingl-tsingl-khvat (Little boy-little tongue-dapper man) (New York: Inzl, 1918), 27 pp., illustrated by Z. Moud—later editions (Kiev-St. Petersburg: Jewish People’s Publ., 1919) and (Warsaw: Kultur-lige, 1922), illustrated by El Lissitzky—Der fremder, der shlof (The stranger, the bed) (New York: Inzl, 1918), 39 pp., illustrated by Z. Moud; Gazlonim, di noyt (Thieves, hardship) (New York: Inzl, 1918), 7 pp., illustrated by Z. Moud; Dos liedel fun broyt, dray malokhim (The little song of bread, three angels) (New York: Inzl, 1918), 27 pp., illustrated by Z. Moud; Blimelekh-krentselekh (Little flowers in a group) (New York: Inzl, 1918), 24 pp., illustrated by Z. Moud; Kinder-lider (Children’s poetry) (New York: Inzl, 1918), 27 pp., illustrated by Z. Moud; In a vinterdiker nakh (On a wintry night) (New York: Inzl, 1918), 27 pp., illustrated by Z. Moud; Viglider (Lullabies) (New York: Inzl, 1918), 27 pp., illustrated by Z. Moud; translation of A. I. Kuprin’s Dertsylungen (Stories) (New York: Nay-tsayt, 1920), 248 pp.; Vunder iber vunde, lider, baladn, mayselekh (Wonder on top of wonder, poems, ballad, stories) (New York: Workmen’s Circle, 1930), 160 pp.; Mendele moykher sforim (sholem yankev abramovitsh), biografye tsu zayn 100-yerikn geburtstog (Mendele Moykher-Sforim, Sholem Yankev Abramovitsh, biography on his 100th birthday), a biography for children (New York: Sholem-Aleykhem Schools, 1936), 32 pp.; A maysele in gramen fun dray zin mit a mamen (A story in verse of three sons and their mother) (New York: Kinder-ring Library, 1937), 44 pp., drawings by Immanuel Romana; Lider un baladn (Poems and ballads), vol. 1, collected and compiled by Nokhum Bomze, Sotshe Dilon, Rochelle Weprinsky, Avrom Tabatshnik, and Itzik Manger (New York: Mani Leib Book Committee and the World Jewish Culture Congress and Tsiko [Central Yiddish Cultural Organization], 1955), 341 pp.; Lider un baladn, vol. 2 (New York: Mani Leib Book Committee and the World Jewish Culture Congress and Tsiko, 1955), 408 pp., including his autobiography and Y. Yeshurin’s “Mani-leyb-biblyografye” (Mani Leib bibliography); Sonetn (Sonnets) (Paris: Di goldene pave, 1961), 71 pp.; Shirim ubaladot, Lider un baladn (Poems and ballads), translated from the Yiddish by Shimshon Meltzer (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1963), 263 pp., preface by Itzik Manger, “Mani leyb der liriker” (Mani Leib the lyrical poet) (pp. 8-29); Lider un baladn (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1977), 366 pp.  He edited: Di yidishe velt (The Jewish world), community literary monthly, New York division of B. Kletskin Publishers, of Vilna (1915), with Ruvn Ayzland; Nyu-york in ferzn (New York in verse), anthology (New York: Inzl, 1918), 32 pp.; Inzl (Island), anthology (January 1918), with Dovid Kazanski; Inzl, a monthly, published with Zisho Landau and Ruvn Ayzland (New York, 1925); Dovid ignatov, finf-un-tsvantsik yor literarishe shafn (Dovid Ignatov, twenty-five years of literary creations) (Chicago, 1936), with Dr. Y. Rozenfeld; Epokhe (Epoch) in New York (April, August, and December 1945).  Celebrating his twenty-five years in America, Mani leyb, a matone mani leybn fun khaveyrim (Mani Leib, a gift to Mani Leib from friends), compiled by Ruvn Ayzland (New York: Inzl, March 1931), 44 pp., appeared in only thirty-five copies.  Over thirty poems by various poets were dedicated to him.  Music was composed for his poems: “In di vign veynen kinder” (Children are crying in their cribs), music by Pinkhes Yasinovski; “Shneyele” (Snowflake), music by M. Gelbart; “Dos lid fun broyt,” music by N. L. Zaslavski; “Nyezhin” (Nizhyn), music by Khayim Riterband; “Baym taykh” (At the river), music by Solomon Golub; “Der soykherl fun perl” (The little merchant of pearls), music by Shmuel Bugatsh.  Mani Leib also translated a great deal, actually transformed poetry from Russian (formidably under the influence of Pushkin, Lermontov, Blok, and others), Ukrainian, English, German, and one poem by Bialik.  He was himself translated into a variety of languages, though mainly into Hebrew.  A considerable number of his poems appeared in the anthology Aḥisefer and in the anthology Al naharot (To the rivers) by Shimshon Meltzer.  In Davar leyeladim (A word to children), his poem “Yingl-tsingl-khvat” appeared in Hebrew translation by Yehoshua Meltzer; and “Dem zeydns shtekn” (Grandpa’s stick) in Hebrew translation by Miriam Vilensky-Stekelis.  A great number of his poems were translated by Moshe Basuk, Ḥaim Rabinzon, Sh. Meltzer, Shlomo Shenhod, A. M. Halevi, and others.

Sources: Yefim Yeshurin, “Mani leyb biblyografye” (Bibliography of Mani Leib), in Mani Leib, Lider un baladn (Poems and ballads), vol. 2 (New York, 1955), including works in Yiddish and other languages, covering through 1954 inclusive.  We include below a portion of the bibliography concerning the poet from 1954 on: A. Leyeles (Glants), in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (March 6, 1954; March 13, 1954); N. Mayzil, in Yidishe kultur (New York) (June 1954; December 1954; February 1955); Mayzil, Tsurikblikn un perspektivn (Retrospectives and perspectives) (Tel Aviv, 1962), see index; D. Tsharni (Daniel Charney), in Kiem (Paris) (October-December 1954); N. B. Minkov, in Di tsukunft (New York) (December 1954); Yankev Pat, Shmuesn mit yidishe shrayber (Conversations with Yiddish writers) (New York, 1954), pp. 10, 12, 16, 139-210; Ruvn Ayzland, Fun undzer friling (From our spring) (Miami Beach and New York, 1954), pp. 65-108; M. Basin, Yidishe poezye af amerikaner motivn, zamlung (Yiddish poetry on American motifs, collection) (New York, 1955); A. Tabatshnik, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (January 19, 1955); Tabatshnik, in Vogshol (New York) (January-March 1959); Tabatshnik, in Di tsukunft (March 1963); H. Leivick, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (January 22, 1955); Itzik Manger, in Der veker (New York) (March 1, 1955; December 1, 1955; January 1, 1956); Yankev Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (March 1956; March 8, 1963); Glatshteyn, In tokh genumen (In essence) (New York, 1956); Glatshetyn, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (November 11, 1962); Y. Tafel, in Fraye arbeter-shtime (New York) (October 1, 1960); Avraham Shaanan, Milon hasifrut haḥadasha (Dictionary of modern literature) (Tel Aviv, 1959), col. 490; Y. Bronshteyn, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (November 27, 1961); G. Pomerants, in Der yidisher zhurnal (Toronto) (December 4, 1961); Dr. L. Fogelman, in Forverts (New York) (December 9, 1962); Rochelle Weprinsky, in Forverts (December 30, 1962; June 2, 1963); Arbeter ring, boyer un tuer (Workmen’s Circle, builders and leaders) (New York, 1962); Y. R. (Rabinovitsh), in Keneder odler (March 18, 1963); B. Ts. Goldberg, in Tog (New York) (June 8, 1963); Briv-1918-1953, mani leyb tsu rashel veprinski (Letters, 1918-1953, Mani Leyb to Rochelle Weprinsky) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1980), 61 pp.
Mortkhe Yofe

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 365.]

Thursday 20 July 2017


YEKHIEL (HERMAN) MANTEL (1880-April 10, 1948)
            He was born in Mishkolts (Miskolc), Hungary.  He descended from generations of rabbis and rebbes in Hungary.  At age eighteen he received ordination into the rabbinate.  He was in the Austrian army (1914-1915) on the war fronts with Russia.  Afterward he lived in Vienna, where he became engaged in business and was an active Mizrachi leader.  He was the cofounder of Mizrachi in Hungary.  He published articles in the Yiddish and German Jewish press in Austria and in Hungary.  From 1932 he was living in the United States, the rabbi at the Or Ḥadash (New light) synagogue in New York.  He contributed to: Dos yidishe likht (The Jewish light), Der mizrakhi-veg (The Mizrachi way), and Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal), among other serials, in New York.  His books include: Vort un tsayt (Word and time), sermons on Tanakh issues (New York, 1938), 2 vols., each 148 pp.; Mantels folks redner, droshes un redes far ale yomim toyvim un farshidene gelegenheyten (Mantel’s public speaker, sermons and speeches for all holidays and various occasions), “an encyclopedia for rabbis, preachers, and public speakers” (including sermons by his son, Khayim Dov Mantel, published after Y. Mantel’s death) (New York, 1948), 259 pp.  He died in New York.

Sources: Information from his wife in New York; obituary notices in the Yiddish press in New York.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


TSVI MANHEYM (b. August 7, 1918)
            He was born in Baranov (Baranów), Poland.  After WWII he was in Jewish displaced persons’ camps in Germany.  He worked as a Hebrew teacher.  He wrote for the press of the survivors in Germany: Dos vort (The word), Unzer veg (Our way), and Yidishe tsaytung (Jewish newspaper)—in Munich.

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 365.


ODEL MONDRI (ADELE MONDRY) (January 15, 1900-April 1986)
            She was born in Vishkove (Wyszków), Poland.  She was raised in a Hassidic household.  She attended a Polish high school.  In 1920 she immigrated to the United States.  She wrote stories for Morgn zhurnal (Morning journal) and Tog (Day) in New York.  In book form: A shtetl baym bug (A village by the Bug [River]) (Tel Aviv: Measef Yisroel, 1968), 187 pp., English translation by Moshe Spiegel: Wyszkowo, a Shtetl on the Bug River (New York: Ktav Publishing House, 1980), 151 pp.

Sources: Sh. Teneboym, in Di shtime (Mexico City) (October 12, 1968); Y. Emyot, in Folk un velt (New York) (April 1969).

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 364.

Wednesday 19 July 2017


            He came from Vinitse (Vinnytsa, Vinnytsya), Ukraine.  In 1881 (with a group from “Am Olam” [Eternal people]), he moved to the United States and settled in Philadelphia.  He cofounded and contributed to the political biweekly Yudishes folksblat (Jewish people’s newspaper) in Philadelphia (1894), which was close to anarchist circles.  He published poems there and wrote editorial articles.  He also placed work in: Der folks-advokat (The people’s advocate), Teglekher herald (Daily herald), and Di varhayt (The truth)—in New York; and Der literarisher shtrahl (The literary beam [of light]) and other serials in Philadelphia.  He was set to return to Russia after the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Sources: D. B. Tirkel, in Pinkes fun amopteyl fun yivo (Records of the American division of YIVO), vol. 1 (New York, 1927-1928), p. 260; M. Frihman, Fuftsik yor geshikhte fun idishen lebn in filadelfye (Fifty years of Jewish life in Philadelphia) (Philadelphia, 1934).
Khayim Leyb Fuks


SHLOYME MANDELKERN (April 12, 1846-1902)
            He was born in Mlyniv, Volhynia.  He was the author of the large concordance Hekhal hakodesh (The hall of sanctity) and a great series of works in Hebrew, Russian, and Yiddish, from which Sefer zikaron (Book of remembrance) cites as Teḥiyat hametim (Reviving the dead) (Vilna, 1868).  He died in Vienna.

Source: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2, with a bibliography.


            He was born in Kurów, Lublin district, Poland.  In 1957 (1937?), he made his way to Havana, Cuba.  His literary activities began in the journal Oyfgang (Arise), in which he published humorous sketches and poems.  Over the course of two decades, he contributed to a series of Yiddish parodical publications in Havana.  For a time he was in charge of a column entitled “Umgetsoymte gedanken” (Unbridled ideas) in the magazine Yidish vort (Jewish word).  He graduated from the school for journalists at the University of Havana.  In 1951 he made his way to the United States and took courses in writing techniques at Columbia University in New York.  He published sketches and articles in Cuban Spanish-language periodicals and in New York’s Spanish-language daily newspaper La Prensa (The press).  He was later writing mostly in English.

Sources: Y. Reznik, in Havaner lebn, almanac (1943), pp. 304-5; B. Ts. Goldberg, in Tog (New York) (February 25, 1944); L. Ran, Hemshekh af kubaner erd (Continued on Cuban soil) (Havana, 1951), pp. 61, 63.
Leyzer Ran