Friday 11 August 2017


            He was born in Warsaw, Poland, into a family of booksellers.  He was the grandson of the founder of the Morgenshtern Publishers and of the first Jewish lending library in Warsaw.  He was orphaned in his youth and raised by his grandfather.  The author of dozens of storybooks, poems, and prayer books in Yiddish, which he published under such names as “Yelem,” “Yohalem,” “Menshenzohn,” “Nisht fun Shomer” (Not by Shomer), and “Vi farfast fun Shomer” (As written by Shomer).  He came to trial with Shomer (N. M. Shaykevitsh) in Warsaw district court (1903), because he had used Shomer’s name on his booklets, such as in: Di gliklikhe inzil oder dos derkenen zikh (The happy island or self-identification) and Di goldene kroyn (The golden crown) (Warsaw, 1884/1885), among others.  He was the author of a series of Hassidic tales: Der groyser tsadek (The great saint); Di basmalke (The princess); Der shlisel fun ale ziben himlen (The key to all seven heavens); Der bal-shem-tov hakodesh (The holy Bal Shem Tov [founder of Hassidism]); A bas kol fun himel (A voice from heaven); A brif tsu got (A letter to God); Nifloes r’ shimen fun yerusholaim (The prodigies of R. Shimen from Jerusalem); Di lebensbashraybung fun groysn goen rebe shloyme froym (The biography of the great and brilliant Rebbe Shloyme Froym); Mayse noyre meamsterdam (The awful story from Amsterdam); Megile omekes (Scroll of profundity); Shne katsovim (Two butchers); and Bintshe di katsefte (Bintshe, the female butcher); among others—(Warsaw, 1895-1911), each 24 pp.  Books of poems: Dray naye frehlikhe lieder, gezungen fun a menshenzohn (Three new happy songs, sung by a Menshenzohn) (Warsaw, 1900), 20 pp.; Di khevre kadishe sude (The burial society’s repast) (1901); Der frehlikher marshelik mit di gliklikhe khasene (The joyous jester with the happy wedding), jester songs, bride and groom songs, and youthful songs.  Stage plays: Mendele mit grendele (Mendele and Grendele), a play in eleven scenes, with songs (1895); Der frehlikher marshelik oder vi azoy men makht lustig af a khasene (The joyous jest or how one behaves cheerfully at a wedding), a play in six scenes (1902); Eygl hazohev, dos goldene kalb (The golden calf) (Warsaw, 1898), 120 pp.  Also: Anekdoten, vittsen, mayselekh un glaykhe vortlikh vos hershele ostropolyer hot zikh ongehert un nokhdertseylt fun mortkhe rakover un froym graydinger (Anecdotes, jokes, tales, and aphorisms of which Hershele Ostropolyer got an earful and were later recounted by Mortkhe Rakover and Froym Graydinger) (Warsaw, 1902).  All of these booklets were published in numerous editions until 1914.  He would have died in Warsaw during WWII.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Psevdonimen in der yidisher literatur (Pseudonyms in Yiddish literature) (Vilna, 1939), pp. 25, 27; Y. Shatski, Geshikhte fun yidn in varshe (History of the Jews of Warsaw), vol. 3 (New York, 1953), see index; Y. Ribkind, Yidishe gelt (Jewish money) (New York, 1960).
Khayim Leyb Fuks

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