LEYB MORGENTOY (July 20, 1905-May 25, 1979)
The pseudonym of Khonen-Leyb Sapozhnik, he was born in Pinsk, Polesia (Polesye), into a laboring family. He studied in religious elementary school, in a Yiddish-Hebrew public school, and in evening courses. At age thirteen he became a cobbler. Until the German invasion of Russia (June 1941), he lived in Pinsk and thereafter left for Soviet Russia. He lived in Samarkand (1941-1945), where he participated in literary Sundays run by the local writers’ association. He returned to Poland in the summer of 1947 and lived in Lodz and Warsaw. From 1957 he was living in the state of Israel. He wrote poetry in his student years for publications of the “Moyshe Gloyberman School” in Pinsk. He published his first poem—entitled “Friling” (Spring)—in Pinsker shtime (Voice of Pinsk) (Passover, 1927), and from that point he placed poems and stories as well in: Pinsker tsaytung (Pinsk newspaper), Pinsker vort (Pinsk word), and Pinsker lebn (Pinsk life), among others. From 1929 his work appeared in: Velt-shpigl (World mirror), Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper), Moment (Moment), Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), Vokhnshrift far literatur (Weekly writing for literature), Foroys (Onward), Arbeter-tsaytung (Workers’ newspaper), Dos vort (The word), Arbeter-shtime (Voice of labor), Heftn (Notebooks), Zalbeakht (Group of eight), Yugnt-frayhayt (Youth freedom), and Yugnt-veker (Youth alarm)—in Warsaw; Vilner tog (Vilna day) and Grininke beymelekh (Little green trees)—in Vilna; Dos naye leben (The new life) and Unzer lebn (Our life)—in Bialystok; and In zikh (Introspective) in New York (using the pen name “Yuten”). From 1940, he was a contributor to: Oktyabr (October) and Shtern (Star)—in Minsk; Byalistoker shtern (Bialystok star); Eynikeyt (Unity) and Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland)—in Moscow; Dos naye lebn (The new life), Yidishe shriftn (Yiddish writings), Oyfgang (Arise), Arbeter-tsaytung, Arbeter-vort (Workers’ word), and Folksshtime (Voice of the people), among others—in Lodz and Warsaw; Morgn-frayhayt (Morning freedom) and Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture)—in New York; Naye prese (New press) in Paris; Fraye yisroel (Free Israel), Goldene keyt (Golden chain), Letste nayes (Latest news), Heymish (Familiar), Di vokh (The week), Yisroel-shtime (Voice of Israel), Lebnsfragn (Life issues), Folksblat (People’s newspaper), Yisroel tog-ayn tog-oys (Israel day in, day out)—in Israel; Ikuf-bleter (Pages from IKUF [Jewish cultural association]) in Romania; Oystralishe yidishe nayes (Australian Jewish news) in Melbourne; and Ikuf-bleter in Buenos Aires; among others. In Hebrew: Davar (Word), Al hamishmar (On guard), Maariv (Evening), Omer (Speech), Davar leyeladim (Word for children), and other serials in the state of Israel. His poems appeared in such almanacs and collections as: Yidish shriftn (Lodz, 1948); Kidesh hashem (Sanctification of the name) (New York, 1949); Der poylisher id (The Polish Jew) (Rio de Janeiro); Unzer lodzh (Our Lodz) (Buenos Aires); Fuftsik yoriker yubiley fun pinsker brentsh (Fiftieth anniversary of the Pinsk Branch) (New York); Almanakh fun di yidishe shrayber in yisroel (Almanac of Yiddish writers in Israel) (Tel Aviv, 1962). He especially excelled with his poem Af polyeser erd (On Polesian earth), a portion of which was published in Literarishe bleter in 1934. His poems were translated into Russian and published in Poleskaia pravda (Polesian truth) in Pinsk (1939-1941), and in Druzhba narodov (Friendship among peoples) in Moscow. The composers Sh. Beregovski, M. Lerner, L. Goldis, and Y. Mandelboym all composed music to his poetry. In book form he published: Af polyeser erd (Pinsk-Warsaw, 1937), 107 pp., with a foreword by Shmuel Zaromb; Unter polyeser himlen (Under Polesian skies) (Minsk, 1941), 105 pp.; Ruinen in zun, poezye (Ruins in the sun, poetry) (Lodz, 1949), 96 pp.; Bay der arbet klingt dos lid (The song sounds at work), children’s songs (Warsaw, 1950), 32 pp., with a foreword by D. Sfard and drawings by Kalmen Gleb; Aldos guts far aykh (All the best to you), children poems and translations from Russian and Polish, illustrated by Y. Rayzman (Warsaw, 1957), 102 pp.; Tsar un freyd, lider un poemen, 1928-1968 (Sorrow and joy, poetry, 1928-1968) (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1968), 307 pp. His longer poem Esterke (Esther) in 200 printed pages was published serially in Unzer lebn in Bialystok, Pinsker vort, and elsewhere. He died in Ḥolon, Israel.
Sources: M. Broderzon, in Pinsker shtime (July 12, 1929); Y. Pat, in Vokhnshrift far literatur (Warsaw) (March 8, 1932); Sh. Zaromb, foreword to Morgentoy, Af polyeser erd (Warsaw, 1937), pp. 7-8; K. Lis, in Foroys (Warsaw) (August 8, 1938); D. Tsharni (Daniel Charney) and Ber Shnaper, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (September 16, 1938); Sh. L. Shnayderman, in Toyznt yor pinsk (1000 years of Pinsk) (New York, 1941), pp. 362-63; Dr. L. Zhitnitski, in Ikuf-bleter (Buenos Aires) (March-April 1948); D. Sfard, in Yidishe shriftn (Warsaw) (May 1949); Sfard, Shtudyes un skitsn (Studies and sketches) (Warsaw, 1955), pp. 92-100; B. Mark, in Yidishe shriftn (June 1949); M. Shklyar, in Dos naye lebn (Warsaw) 57 (1949); Y. Horn, In unzer dor, erev un nokh treblinke in yidishn lid (In our generation, on the eve and after Treblinka in Yiddish song) (Buenos Aires, 1949); B. Y. Byalostotski, in Yorbukh tsh”t (1948/1949 yearbook) (New York, 1949); Sh. Mitsmakher, in Yidishe kultur (New York) (November 1951); Sh. Lastik, Mitn ponem tsum morgn (Facing tomorrow) (Warsaw, 1952), pp. 183-86; Y. Emyot, in Folksshtime (Warsaw) (August 14, 1957); Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 3 (Montreal, 1958), p. 480; Biblyografye fun yidishe bikher vegn khurbn un gvure (Bibliography of Yiddish books concerning the Holocaust and heroism) (New York, 1962), see index.
Khayim Leyb Fuks
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 367.]