DOVID-LEYB MEKLER (June 15, 1891-April 26, 1976)
He was born in Meyshagole (Maisiagala), Lithuania. He studied in religious elementary school and yeshiva in Vilna, Vilkomir (Ukmergė), and Shirvint (Širvintos), Vilna district. He also studied Hebrew, Russian, and German, and he was encouraged by Y. Kh. Tavyov (Tawiow) to write. He came to the United States in July 1907. He attended school in Boston and studied engineer at a polytechnical school. His activities as a journalist began with Boston’s The Jewish Advocate (initially a weekly and later a daily newspaper). In 1912 he brought out in Boston Dos yudishe vokhnblat (The Jewish weekly newspaper) in Yiddish and English (six months), and later he began writing for Varhayt (Truth) in New York, edited by Louis Miller. In 1918 he became a regular contributor to Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal) and Der amerikaner (The American). In 1934 he became news editor of Morgn-zhurnal, and in 1938 editor of the newspaper, until it merged with Tog (Day). From that point he served as editor of Tog-morgn-zhurnal (Day-Morning journal) and Der amerikaner. He wrote stories and journalistic articles, mainly on issues of general politics. In book form: Fun rebns hoyf (fun tshernobil biz talne, gezamlte khsidishe mayselekh (From the rebbe’s court, from Chernobyl to Talne, collected Hassidic tales) (New York: Hebrew Publishing Company, 1931), 2 vols., 283 pp. and 288 pp.; Mentsh un mashin in sovyet-rusland, faktn, bilder, ayndrukn fun a rayze iber sovyet-rusland (Man and machine in Soviet Russia, facts, images, impressions from a voyage through Soviet Russia) (Warsaw: Y. Ziman, 1936), 412 pp.; Der emes vegn henri ford (The truth about Henry Ford) (New York: Pinkes, 1924), 126 pp.; Di panenka, a maysele (The doll, a story) (New York: Tsveygn, 1925), 15 pp.; as well as volume in English called Miracle Men: Tales of the Baal Shem and His Chassidim (New York: Bloch, 1964), 312 pp. He wrote for the Sunday issue of Tog-morgn-zhurnal a series of memoiristic articles about the Yiddish press in America. He was active in national religious educational institutions. He also used the pen name: Ben Shloyme. He died in New York.
“The book Miracle Men,” wrote Menashe Unger, “reads like a modern version of Shivḥe habesht (In praise of the Bal Shem Tov) in English. Each story that Mekler recounts has a source in Shivḥe habesht, Kahal ḥasidim (Congregation of the pious), Adat tsaddikim (Congregation of the holy), and other Hassidic stories about the Bal Shem Tov [Besht]. Mekler, however, did not turn the stories into literature, but only stylized them, gave them an artistic lift, and where the stories were written in brief, he only perfected them with hints …. This book Miracle Men, written with an ardent pen, is a much needed book. It reads easily and thrillingly, and it is a particularly important book for the young, English-reading generation in America to acquaint it with the great personality of the Besht and his students and with the doctrines of Hassidism.”
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (October 6, 1931); Sh. Erdberg, in Tog (New York) (November 28, 1931); D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah leḥalutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), pp. 3726-27; Menashe Unger, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (May 15, 1964); Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. 7 (New York); Who Is Who in World Jewry (New York, 1955).