Wednesday 12 July 2017


YOYEL-LEYB (JOSEPH) MALAMUT (July 23, 1886-August 19, 1966)
            He was born in Snitkov (Snitkiv), Podolia.  He studied with tutors and in the synagogue study hall under the supervision of his father, an intimate of the Kurilovitser Rebbe.  At age fourteen he was left an orphan and became a teacher in his village.  In 1903 he made his way to the United States.  The next year he began published sketches and stories in London’s Arbayter fraynd (Workers’ friend).  In 1906 he moved to London, and contributed to the weekly newspaper Di yudishe velt (The Jewish world), the Yiddish-language supplement to the English The Jewish World, in which he published a series of stories about the Kurikovitser Hassidic court.  He also wrote for the London-based Yudisher ekspres (Jewish express) about immigrant life in America.  In late 1907 he returned to the United States and wrote for: Forverts (Forward), Tsayt-gayst (Spirit of the times), Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper), Dos yudishe folk (The Jewish people), Idishe arbayter-velt (Jewish workers’ world), Kibetser (Joker), and Kundes (Prankster)—all in New York.  In 1910 he edited a humorous serial Di baytsh (The lash) and a humor weekly Der shpigl (The mirror) together with Bar-Yosi and B. Dubovski.  Over the years 1911-1916, he lived in Canada and was a regular contributor to Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal.  In 1913 he brought out the humorous newspaper Der hon (The rooster) for five issues and the weekly Di keneder idishe pres (The Canadian Jewish press) for twelve issues.  In 1915 he was living in Winnipeg, writing for Keneder id (Canadian Jew), and editing the literary weekly Di keneder yidishe velt (The Canadian Jewish world).  When it folded, he moved to Chicago, contributed to Kunst-fraynd (Art friend), edited by Kalmen Marmor, and Idisher rekord (Jewish record), and put together the Chicago edition of Forverts (Forward) and (with Menakhem Boreysho) of Tog (Day).  He was secretary (1918-1919) of “People’s Relief” in St. Louis, Missouri.  In 1920 he was editor of the weekly Der veg (The path) in Detroit, which was later to become a daily newspaper.  That same year he moved to Los Angeles, where he edited Los-andzheleser tsayt (The Los Angeles times) and later the Kalifornyer idisher shtern (California Jewish star).  At the beginning of 1925, he founded the monthly Zunland (Sunland) and published Dos yoyvl-heft zunland (The jubilee collection of Zunland) (September 1925), 172 pp., dedicated to the Jewish community of California.  In 1928 he edited and published the humorous weekly newspaper Der krumer shpigl (The crooked mirror), in 1929 the monthly magazine Holivud (Hollywood) (three issues), and in 1932 Idisher muzikalisher zhurnal (Jewish musical journal) in Boston which had an English supplement.  He settled in Philadelphia in 1936, wrote for Idishe velt (Jewish world) there, and published novels, stories, and poems in it; he also took charge of a weekly report on writers and books.  Among his pseudonyms: A Snitkover, Ben-Daniel, R. Leybushl, and Berta Levin.  His books include: Dray mayselekh far yidishe kinder (Three stories for Jewish children) (St. Louis, 1918), 54 pp.; Taybelekh un andere mayses (Little doves and other stories) (Los Angeles, 1925); Southwest Jewry: An Account of Jewish Progress and Achievement in the Southland, vol. 1 (Los Angeles, 1926), vol. 2 (Los Angeles, 1927); Southern Jewry (1932), a history of Jews in Memphis, Tennessee; Gezamlte shriftn, yubiley oysgabe (Collected writings, jubilee edition), third printing (New York-Boston, 1932), 114 pp.; Kinder-yorn, snitkiv mayn shtetl (Childhood years, my hometown of Snitkiv) (New York, 1933), 160 pp.; Ist brodvey un andere lider (East Broadway and other poems), second edition (Los Angeles, 1952); Filadelfyer idishe anshtalten un zayere fihrer (Philadelphia’s Jewish institutions and their leaders) (Philadelphia, 1942), 216 pp.; Tserisene keytn, roman (Broken chains, a novel) (Philadelphia-New York, 1946), 592 pp.—it had been published in installments in Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal) in New York under the title “Dray veltn” (Three worlds); Mitn ponem tsu der zun (Facing the sun) (Los Angeles, 1953), 218 pp., with a preface by A. Robak; Southwest Jewry (Los Angeles, 1957), a history of the Jews of Los Angeles from 1860 until contemporary times; Snitkiv mayn shtetl, lider un retsitatsyes (My hometown Snitkiv [Snitkov], poetry and recitations) (Tel Aviv, 1960), 94 pp.; Hagode shel peysekh (Passover Haggadah), a parody for a third seder (Tel Aviv, 1960), 8 pp.  Over the years 1913-1916, he published a number of theatrical works—“Baym rebn in hoyf” (With the rebbe in court), “Der egoist” (The egotist), and the like—and three one-act plays which were staged by drama circles and in Yiddish theaters in Montreal and Winnipeg.  From 1957 Malamut was editor of Kalifornyer yontef bleter (California holiday sheets).  An issue of this journal in 1959 was dedicated to Malamut’s seventy-fifth birthday.  He was also active in the Zionist labor movement.  He visited Israel in 1959-1960, and was an active member of the Jewish National Labor Alliance.  He died in Los Angeles.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934); P. Vyernik, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (January 22, 1933); H. Lang, in Fraye arbeter-shtime (New York) (January 15, 1954); Y, Kits, in Kalifornyer yontef bleter (Los Angeles) (September 1959).
Benyomen Elis

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