Friday 7 July 2017


YOYSEF MAZEL (JOSEPH MASSEL) (1850-September 6, 1912)
            He was born in Vyazyn, Vilna district, Lithuania, the grandson of the bibliophile Yoysef Mazel, “the Vyazyner.”  For a time he studied at the Zhitomir rabbinical seminary, later living in Vilna, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Warsaw.  From there he immigrated in 1889 to England.  He was the founder of a Hebrew print shop with a publishing house in London, which in 1891 he transferred to Manchester.  He composed Hebrew-language poetry for Hamelits (The spectator) in Odessa (1879), later contributing to Gotlober’s Haboker or (Morning’s light) in Warsaw (1882-1886) whence he published in installments (1884-1885) his long story of Jewish life: “Harokhel” (The peddler).  He later placed poems, stories, and translations from Russian, German, and English in: Hatsfira (The siren) in Warsaw; Yudishes folksblat (Jewish people’s newspaper) in St. Petersburg (1886-1889); Haivri (The Jew) in New York; Subalski’s Hayehudi (The Jew), Idisher ekspres (Jewish express) (1889), and Idisher observer (Jewish observer) (1894) in London; and Der veker (The alarm) and Dos folk (The people) (1889-1890) in Leeds, England; among others.  He was one of the first translators from English literature into Hebrew and Yiddish.  Among his books (in Yiddish): Dray lieder (Three poems) (Manchester, 1895), 23 pp.; Tsien, di natsyonale lieder fun yude (Zion, the national poetry of Judah) (New York, 1905), 18 pp.; Yude hamakabi (Judah Maccabi), based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Judas Maccabaeus (Manchester, 1900), 60 pp.; (in Hebrew) Harokhel (Warsaw, 1886), 35 pp.; Ludwig Börne, Seḥok makhiv lev (Laughter, heart’s pain) (Vilna, 1886), 32 pp.; H. W. Longfellow, Yehuda hamakabi (Judah Maccabi) (Vilna, 1890), 60 pp.; John Milton, Shimshon hagibor (Samson Agonistes) (Manchester, 1890), 114 pp.; Sheloshet shire am (Three poems of the people), poems of Zion (Manchester, 1895), 23 pp.; Mikenaf haarets (From the edge of the land) (Manchester, 1897), 138 pp.; Megila ḥadasha lepurim (New scroll for Purim) (London, 1901), 8 pp.; and an anthology of Hebrew poets (1725-1900) (London, 1903).  He also translated Omar Kayyam into Hebrew (Manchester, 1907), 31 pp., as well as other works.  He died in Manchester.[1]

[1] Translator’s note. For more information on Mazel (Massel), see the interesting entry: (JAF).

Sources: A. S. Valdshteyn, in The Jewish Encyclopedia (London-New York, 1904); American Jewish Year Book 5674, p. 359; Ben-Tsien Ayzenshat, Dorot haacharonim (Generations of the later rabbis) (New York, 1914), p. 231; Leksikon fun der nayer yidisher literatur (Biographical dictionary of modern Yiddish literature), vol. 3 (under the entry for M. Zablotski); Joseph Klausner, Historiya shel hasifrut haivrit haadasha (History of modern Hebrew literature), vol. 4 (Jerusalem, 1954), p. 42; Klausner, Behitorer am (Amid the awakening of a people) (Jerusalem, 1962), p. 293.
Khayim Leyb Fuks

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