Wednesday 28 February 2018


ELYE SEGAL (May 10, 1892-1963)
            He was born in Mariampol (Marijampolė), Lithuania.  He studied in religious elementary schools and for a time with Dr. Y. Klatskin.  He graduated from a Russian state high school in Mariampol and studied medicine at Königsberg University.  He was a cofounder of the academic association named for Theodor Herzl.  At the time of WWI, he returned to Mariampol.  From 1917 until the end of WWI, he was working in a number of hospitals in Vilna.  He was mobilized in 1919 by the Lithuanians opposed to the Poles and Russians.  In 1924 he wrote his doctoral thesis and received the title of doctor from Würzburg University.  He directed the courses for Hebrew teachers (1924-1925) run by Tarbut in Kovno, and also at this time he contributed to Di idishe shtime (The Jewish voice) and Had lita (Echo of Lithuania) in Kovno.  Over the years 1925-1930, he was director of studies, teacher, and doctor at the Riga Hebrew high school.  In 1931 he was a member of the editorial board of Di idishe shtime and Had lita (later, Netivot [Pathways]), and he also wrote for Lithuanian newspapers.  With the invasion of the Soviets (1940-1941), his house became a center of Kovno Jewish leaders.  When the Germans marched into Kovno, he was appointed leader of the social and medical division of the ghetto, and after the great Aktion (the annihilation of 12,000 Jews), he organized a united secret Zionist committee in the underground ghetto.  With the liquidation of the Kovno ghetto, he was deported to Dachau, and from there in 1945 he was liberated by the Americans.  In 1946 he made aliya to the land of Israel.  From 1947 he worked as a doctor in Tel Aviv’s municipal schools.  He published the work “Tatspiyot refuot psikhologiyot betekufat hashoa” (Observations of medical psychology in the era of the Holocaust) in the annual yearbook of the Ḥerut (Freedom) party.  He translated Dr. M. Dukhovni’s “Meḥkar betoldot haam haivri beerets yisrael bamea haḥamishit lesfh”n” (Study of the history of the Jewish people in the land of Israel in the fifth century, C.E.) into Hebrew.  He wrote over 400 medical articles.  He died in Tel Aviv.

Source: D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah lealutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 6 (Tel Aviv, 1955), pp. 2706-7.
Yankev Kahan


URI SEGAL (March 15, 1909-1942?)
            He was born in Sasov (Sasów), Galicia.  He studied in religious elementary school and yeshiva.  He was a leading member of the “Tseire Agudat Yisrael” (Agudat Yisrael youth) in his home city.  In 1928 he began publishing in Lemberger morgen (Lemberg morning), and he continued writing for it until WWII.  His articles would also be republished in other newspapers.  He was murdered in the Złoczów ghetto together with other Sasów Jews.


            He was born in Lyady (?), and he later lived in Vitebsk, Byelorussia.  He was an external student in high school and a fervent Labor Zionist.  He led a struggle against the community leaders of his town for permission to hold a Labor Zionist lecture in a small synagogue.  He worked by filthy channels and lugged bricks and lime in the construction of buildings.  He moved to Argentina and worked there for various householders as an assistant house-painter and lived a very difficult life.  He possessed no more than his work clothes and would attend meetings in them and give Labor Zionist speeches.  He later became the leader of the theorists of Labor Zionism in Argentina.  He wrote political articles for the periodical Broyt un erd (Bread and soil), published 1909-1910.  In 1910 he was arrested in Buenos Aires.  After two months in jail, he was deported from the country.  He went on to live in Soviet Russia.

Sources: Volf Bresler, Antologye fun der yidisher literatur in argentine (Anthology of Jewish literature in Argentina) (Buenos Aires, 1944), p. 934; P. Kats, Geklibene shriftn (Selected writings), vol. 5 (Buenos Aires), p. 103.
Leyb Vaserman


FROYM SARNE (b. 1890)
            He was born in Rovno, Volhynia.  He studied law and economics at the Universities of Kiev and Moscow, where he received his doctoral degree.  He served in the Russian army, and during WWI he fought on the East Prussian front.  Afterward he was living in Russia.  In 1919 he returned to Poland and settled in Lodz, where he practiced law and was in the leadership of the Zionist Revisionist Party of Poland.  He published articles on a variety of topics in: Nayer folksblat (New people’s newspaper) in Lodz; Dos naye leben (The new life) in Bialystok; and Dos folk (The people) and Frimorgn (Morning) in Riga; among other serials.  His memoirs about Jewish lawyers in Russia of the past—published in Nayer folksblat—were republished in the Yiddish press in various countries.  When the Germans occupied Lodz, Sarne fled to the Soviet-held zone of Poland, was subsequently arrested by the Soviet authorities, and spent four years in Soviet camps.  In 1946 he returned to Lodz and took a leading role in the illegal aliya to the land of Israel for the Revisionist Party.  From that point on, there has been no further biographical information about him available.

Sources: Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO) (Warsaw, 1928), see index; information from Shloyme Uri in Israel.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


            He was born in Sandomierz, Kielce district, Poland.  Until WWII he was active in Zionist youth organizations.  Over the years 1940-1945, he survived various Nazi death camps and ghettos, such as the “24th” extermination camp in Lemberg.  He later lived in Cracow, Warsaw, Rovno, and Paris.  He was the author of: In di orems fun toyt (In the arms of death), stories and poems of Jewish resistance against the Nazis in the ghettos of Poland and in the woods (Paris, 1946), 225 pp., with a preface by the author and illustrations by A. Vayts—included in this book were the songs, “Nekome” (Revenge), “Partizaner-lid” (Partisan song), “Ikh zukh a tikn” (I’m looking for redress), and “Vu zayt ir geven?” (Where were you?), which were sung in the ghettos and camps of Poland; Shturem-geviksn (Storm plants) (Tel Aviv, 1958), 485 pp.—“This book,” noted Dr. B. Orenshteyn, “contains a great number of dramatic episodes of physical and spiritual struggle, which WWII brought about.”

Sources: Di tsukunft (New York) (December 1946); Dr. B. Orenshteyn, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (June 30, 1952; September 1, 1958); Biblyografye fun yidishe bikher vegn khurbn un gvure (Bibliography of Yiddish books concerning the Holocaust and heroism) (New York, 1962), p. 164.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


TS. SORIN (1892-1962)
            The pseudonym of Tsipoyre Budish-Vaynman, she was born in Russia.  She received a general education in high school and university.  After WWI she came to the United States.  She translated (for “M. Yankovits Farlag” in New York) from Russian into Yiddish a series of novels, such as: Mikhail Artsybashev, Der letster shtrikh (The last boundary [original: U posledney cherty (Before crossing the line)]), vol. 1 (New York, 1921), 351 pp., vol. 2 (New York, 1922), 312 pp.; Volodymyr Vynnychenko, Ehrikh tsu zikh aleyn (Honesty to oneself [original: Chestnist z soboiu]) (New York, 1923), 319 pp.; Fyodor Dostoevsky, Oreme menshen (Poor folk [original: Bednye liudi]) (New York, 192?, 1953), 165 pp.; Romain Rolland, Zumer, roman in dray teyln (Summer, a novel in three parts [original: L’été (The summer)]), from the French (New York, 1927), 396 pp.; and Ivan Turgenvev, Erev milkhome, roman (Eve of war, a novel [original: Nakanune (The eve)]) (New York: N. M. Mayzel, 1921), 224 pp.  She died in New York.

Source: Information from M. Y. Shelyubski in New York.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


            He was born in Vilna.  He was a graduate of the Vilna Jewish senior high school.  From his earliest years, he demonstrated a talent for writing.  Together with Sh. Reznik, he co-edited the student organ of his high school, Undzer bleter (Our little newspaper), in 1924.  He translated for the choir of his high school a series of songs and opera arias from Russian and German, some of which were published in: “Repertuar fun y. gershteyns khor in vilne” (Repertoire of Y. Gershteyn’s choir in Vilna), in Gershteyn, Lider fun a gemishtn khor (Songs of a mixed choir), first collection (Vilna, 1937), 12 pp. + 24 pp.; and in the concert programs of the choir.  Only a few of his own original songs were published in Vilner tog (Vilna day) (August 7, 1936).  He also translated into Yiddish the comic opera by Robert Planquette: Di korneviler glokn (The Corneville bells [original: Cloches de Corneville]); it was staged by the Vilna Jewish Opera Ensemble on October 18, 1936.  Sarabski worked for a short period of time as a proofreader at Vilner tog.  At some point, he fled to Soviet Russia, where he was arrested and exiled.  In 1936 he was already no longer among the living, though exactly when and where he died remain unknown.
His sister ROKHL was a teacher in the Vilna ghetto schools; she was later deported to Lithuanian concentration camps.  She was the author of poems.  In Sh. Katsherginski’s Lider fun di getos un lagern (Songs from the ghettos and camps) (New York, 1948), some of her poems may be found: “Dinaverker yidn” (Jews in Dinaverk) and “Ven s’kumt der friling” (When spring arrives) (pp. 262-63).  She was shot two days before liberation when she attempted to escape from the camp.  Her mother and another sister Khyene were murdered in 1941 in Ponar.

Sources: Sh. Kahan, “Di operetn-brigade” (The operetta brigade), Vilner tog (August 18, 1936); Lerer yizker-bukh (Remembrance volume for teachers) (New York, 1954), pp. 268-69; Leyzer Ran, 25 yor yung vilne (Twenty-five years of Young Vilna) (New York, 1955); Shmerke Katsherginski, Khurbn vilne (The Holocaust in Vilna) (New York, 1957), p. 254; information from his friend Ezriyahu Dobrushkes in Brussels.
Leyzen Ran

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 398.]


MOTL SAKTSIER (SAKTZIER) (January 11, 1907-1987)

            He was a poet, prose author, and playwright, born in Leove (Leova), southern Bessarabia (now, Moldova). He descended from generations of tailors, but his father, Mortkhe Saktsier, who was a Jewish community leader and vice-mayor of the town, sent him to religious elementary school, a state public school, and a public high school as well. In the mid-1920s he moved to Bucharest, and in 1928 he was studying in the Vienna pedagogical seminary; a year later he was living in Paris where he worked in a factory, before returning to Romania in 1931. He was part of the group “Yung-romenye” (Young Romania) associated with the journal Shoybn (Glass panes) in Czernowitz, under the editorship of Yankev Shternberg, in which he published poetry and elegies. In 1934 he worked as secretary for Di vokh (The week), and he contributed poems, notes, and stories to it and Inzl (Island) in Bucharest; Tshernovitser bleter (Czernowitz pages) and Oyfgang (Arise), among others, in Romania; Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves) in Warsaw; and in Yiddish publications out of Soviet Russia. In late 1936 he left for the Soviet Union, where he taught and worked on building the underground rail line in Moscow. At the time of 1936-1937 show trials, he was purged, arrested, and exiled to the gulag. Freed in 1940, he returned to Bessarabia and took part in the creation of the Yiddish State Theater in Belz, for which he served as literary director and for which he composed the play Royte pomerantsn (Red oranges). In 1941 when the forces of Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, he was evacuated with the theater to Uzbekistan. There he was mobilized into the Red Army and assigned to a construction battalion for one year. Following demobilization, he lived in Alma-Ata and Samarkand and worked in the theater ensemble of Sidi Tal and wrote plays and other stage pieces for it. In 1947 he returned to Bessarabia and was living in Kishinev and later Czernowitz, where he was involved in Jewish cultural work and the Yiddish theater. In 1948 he was charged and convicted of “Jewish nationalism” and sentenced once again in 1949 to deportation to Siberia, this time for ten years. In 1955 (after Stalin’s death), he returned from exile rehabilitated, lived briefly in Moscow, and then settled in Czernowitz and Kishinev, where he returned to literary and theatrical work. In 1972 he made aliya to Israel.

            His literary activities began with poems in the journal Yidish (Yiddish) in Bucharest (1928) and other Yiddish periodicals in Romania. In 1939, in the anthology Byalistoker lebn (Bialystok life), he published the poem “Bay velkhe taykhn” (By which rivers), and in the journal Sovetish (Soviet) and the almanac Heymland (Homeland) in Moscow, and in Ikuf-bleter (Pages from IKUF [Jewish Cultural Association]) in Bucharest, among other serials. From 1953 he was writing for: Yidishe shriftn (Yiddish writings) and Folks-shtime (Voice of the people) in Warsaw; Yidish kultur (Jewish culture), Zamlungen (Collections), and Morgn-frayhayt (Morning freedom) in New York; and Fray yisroel (Free Israel) in Tel Aviv; among others. He became a regular contributor to Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) in Moscow. In Israel, he placed work in: Di goldene keyt (The golden chain), Bay zikh (On one’s own), Yisroel-shtime (Voice of Israel), Folksblat (People’s newspaper), Letste nayes (Latest news), and Yidish-velt (Yiddish world). He devoted many years to writing plays, including: Di sonim af tsu lehakhes (Enemies out of spite) (1945); Lakhn iz gezunt (Laughter is healthy) (1947); and others. His musical comedies: In a guter sho (At a good time) (1959), a comedy in two acts, which was staged in Yiddish theaters in Romania by Sidi Tal’s troupe; Abi men zet zikh (As long as it can be seen) (1963); and Gliklekhe bagegenishn (Happy encounters). He also composed poetry, one-act plays, sketches, and folk images, which were produced by Yiddish stage ensembles in the Soviet Union.

In book form: Derfar, lid un elegye (Therefore, a poem and elegy) (Bucharest: Shoybn, 1936), 96 pp.; Mit farbotenem blayer (With a forbidden pencil), a poetry collection (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1977), 200 pp.; Der shayter baym veg (The bonfire by the road) (Tel Aviv: Nay lebn, 1978), 230 pp.; Toybn af antene (Pigeons on the antenna) (Tel Aviv: Leivick Publ., 1982), 224 pp. His novel Yidishe shnayders (Jewish tailors), about his grandfathers in his hometown of Leova, was lost in the years of his banishment. “His volume of poetry Derfar,” wrote Y. Kara, “bore Leivick’s stamp of ethical-social struggles.” “Characteristic of him and his work,” noted Yitskhok Yanasovitsh, “is the fact that not only the individual experience of the poet takes place in his poems, but also the experiences of his generation. He is consequently, in a major sense, the spokesman of his generation.”

Sources: B. Shnobl, in Oyfgang (Sighet-Marmației) (May-June 1934); Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (October 16, 1936); Y. Yakir, in Literarishe bleter (January 22, 1937); B. Alkvit, Inzikh (New York) 32 (1937); N. Kh., in Eynikeyt (Moscow) (December 2, 1943); Heymland (Moscow) 7 (1948); Y. Yanasovitsh, in Di naye tsayt (Buenos Aires) (January 28, 1954); Dr. Shloyme Bikl, in Naye literarishe bleter (Buenos Aires) (March-April 1954); Bikl, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (June 14, 1958; July 6, 1958; October 12, 1958); Bikl, in Rumenye (Romania) (Buenos Aires, 1961), pp. 286-90; N. Mayzil, Dos yidishe shafn un der yidisher shrayber in sovetnfarband (Jewish creation and the Jewish writer in the Soviet Union) (New York, 1959), pp. 63, 132; Y. Kara, in Ikuf-almanakh IKUF almanac) (New York, 1961), p. 166; Yankev Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (September 29, 1961); Sholem Shtern, in Yidishe kultur (New York) (December 1961); Y. Lyubomirski, in Yidishe kultur (March-April 1962).
Khayim Leyb Fuks

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), cols. 397-98; Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), pp. 259-60.]

Tuesday 27 February 2018


            He was born in Radom, Poland, into an impoverished family.  He studied in religious elementary school, yeshiva, a Russian public school, and later through self-study.  He was a cofounder of “Hazemir” (The nightingale), a drama studio, and Jewish folkloric circles.  At the time of WWI he stood with the Jewish Folkspartey (People’s party) and supported himself by giving private Hebrew lessons.  He published poems in Hatsfira (The siren) in Warsaw, and he compiled a Hebrew textbook.  He was a fervent defender of Yiddish.  He published poetry in: Lodzer tageblat (Lodz daily newspaper), Folksblat (People’s newspaper), and Lubliner togblat (Lublin daily newspaper), among others.  He contributed as well to Leyb Malakh’s Radomer vokhnblat (Radom weekly newspaper) (1921), later to: Dos radomer lebn (The Radom life), Radomer tsaytung (Radom newspaper), and Meyer Horde’s Radomer-keltser lebn (Radom-Kielce life) (1926-1939), in which he placed poems, short stories, and articles.  He was murdered by the Nazis together with many other Radom Jews.

Sources: Dos yidishe radom in khurves (Jewish Radom in ruins) (Stuttgart, 1948), p. 25; information from Nosn-Dovid Korman in Philadelphia.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


            He was born in Radom, Poland.  He received a Jewish and a general education, later becoming a bookkeeper.  He cofounded drama circles.  He authored one-act plays, sketches, and humorous pieces, which he staged in Radom and other towns.  He was the correspondent from Radom to Nayer folksblat (New people’s newspaper) in Lodz (1923-1939).  He published poems and humorous sketches in Leyb Malakh’s Radomer vokhnblat (Radom weekly newspaper) in 1921, Radomer lebn (Radom life), and Radomer-keltser lebn (Radom-Kielce life), among other serials.  He was confined in the Radom ghetto; he later worked in the ammunitions factory of Radom and to a forced labor camp in Częstochowa.  He was murdered by the Nazis in the winter of 1943.

Sources: Dos yidishe radom in khurves (Jewish Radom in ruins) (Stuttgart, 1948), p. 25; information from Sh. Vaysman in Tel Aviv and from N. D. Korman in Philadelphia.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


ARN SOKOLOVSKI (1903-1943)
            The younger brother of Shoyel and Yoysef Sokolovski, he was born in Radom, Poland.  He studied in religious elementary school and public school, later becoming a laborer.  Until WWII he was active in the Labor Zionist movement.  He was one of the Radom writers who gathered around the journal Naye vintn (New winds) (Radom, 1925-1926), and there he published poetry and stories.  He also contributed to: Der yunger dor (The younger generation), Fraye yugnt (Free youth), and Arbeter-tsaytung (Labor newspaper) in Warsaw; and Radomer lebn (Radom life) and Radomer-keltser lebn (Radom-Kielce life); among others.  He was confined in the Radom ghetto, from which he was transported to Majdanek and murdered there.

Sources: Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO) (Warsaw, 1928), see index; Dos yidishe radom in khurves (Jewish Radom in ruins) (Stuttgart, 1948), p. 25; information from Sh. Vaysman in Tel Aviv and from N. D. Korman in Philadelphia.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


NOKHUM SOKOLOV (NAHUM SOKOLOW) (January 10, 1859-May 17, 1936)
            He was born in Vishegrad (Wyszogród), Plotsk (Płock) region, Poland, into a family that drew its pedigree back to Rabbi Natan Nata Shpiro, the “Megale amukot” (Revealer of depths) [1585-1633].  At age three he was already in religious elementary school; at age five he moved with his parents to Płock where he studied under his father’s purview and later in synagogue study hall.  He was studying Talmud with commentaries at age ten, and he soon had gained fame as a prodigy.  His father wanted him to become a rabbi and stood by him earnestly in the Torah world, but in his thirst for knowledge about secular things as well, at age eight Sokolov secretly kept dictionaries and grammars and began to learn foreign languages.  Thanks to a phenomenal memory, he quickly mastered numerous European languages, and under the influence of various people close to him, including among them the governor of Płock, Baron Wrangel, who was acquainted with the Sokolov family, Sokolov’s father and grandfather finally allowed the young Sokolov to take private lessons with professors (tutors) from the Płock high school, when he was free from his synagogue studies.  He thus went through the high school course of study and was always thankful thereafter to his teachers, the Polish professors Maslawski, Debicki, and Schultz, who taught him Latin, Greek, and history.  His teachers wanted him to prepare himself for subsequent examinations for higher education.  This alarmed his father and grandfather, and they decided that there was no time to lose to have him sent away from this heresy-laden Płock.  So he left Płock and began going from one rebbe to another, wrote his own Torah novellae, and was exhaustive with learning.  At the same time he was reading secular books.  When he returned to Płock, he and his friends began to publish a handwritten newspaper, Hashoshana (The rose), in which he placed poems and translations from Schiller and Shakespeare.  At that time as well, he began sending in correspondence pieces to the Hebrew-language press, mainly to Hamelits (The advocate).  He married a relative at age eighteen, Regine Segal, an intelligent young woman from Makov (Maków), who encouraged him greatly in his literary ambitions.  For a certain period of time, he became a wool merchant and to that end traveled to Bukhara and Kavkaz.  In 1874 he debuted in print with a correspondence piece from Płock in the Galician periodical Ivri anokhi (I am Jewish), published in Brody.  In 1877 he published a translation of a handbook of geography, Metsuke erets o yesode yediat hageografiya hativit (The precipices of the earth or basic information on natural geography) (Warsaw, 1877), 96 pp.  He also wrote essays for Hamagid (The preacher), in which he placed (unsigned) his work Letora veleteuda (On Torah and duty), which appeared over time in installments and raised quite a stir.  He published numerous articles in Hakol (The voice) in Königsberg and therein conducted a lengthy polemic with the first writers of the Jewish Enlightenment.  From Maków he also wrote in German, in Rohmer’s literary newspaper and in Allgemeine Zeitung des Judenthums (General newspaper of Jewish affairs) in Bonn; and in French for Archives israélites (Jewish records).  In 1879 he settled in Warsaw, where he became a regular contributor (later, also editor) of Hatsfira (The siren), initially published weekly and later daily.  Through Hatsfira his influence began with his weekly survey of Jewish life, entitled “Hatsofe levet yisrael” (Observer of the House of Israel) and later with his daily political notes entitled “Divre hayamim” (Chronicles).  He also wrote literary critical essays, popular historical and philosophical treatments, and travel narratives; his feature piece “Mishabat leshabat” (From Sabbath to Sabbath)—in the style of the informal French “causerie”—was a huge success with readers.  He also published short novellas and poetry, and he tried as well to write a long novel from Roman times (Neure hanesher or Youth of the eagle).  As a supplement for everyone, he published and edited Haasif (The harvest), an annual Hebrew anthology, to which well-known Jewish scholars, story writers, and poets contributed work—these anthologies, six in all, encompass from 600 to 1,600 pages annually.  Sokolov also published and edited four volumes of Sefer hashana (Yearbook).  He published the books: Erets ḥemda (Desirable country), a history and geography of the land of Israel (Warsaw, 1885) 191 pp.; Sinat olam laam olam (Eternal hatred for the eternal people), on anti-Semitism (Warsaw, 1882), 309 pp.; and Torat sefat anglit (Rules of the English language), a textbook for English (1882).  He began but did not complete an epic of Jewish life in Poland under the title “Napolyon min hageto” (Napoleon of the ghetto); twelve or thirteen chapters of this work were published only after his death.
            His first work in Yiddish was Naye praktishe methode der englishen shprakhe (New practical method for the English language), “to master in a short time without any help from a teacher to write and speak English freely, and a new, very simple system, originally worked out by N. Sokolov” (Warsaw: A. Tsukerman, 1904), 96 pp.—this work went through sixteen editions, each with roughly 10,000 copies.  Characteristic of his ties to Yiddish at this time is the foreword to this book, in which he writes: “As for the method of practical uses to which this may be put for each individual without exception, educated or uneducated, I use in the explanation and in the translation an easy Judeo-German, for with a base zhargon one will be unable to use a living European language to make proper adjustments, and therefore I stand midway, neither to proper German nor to common gibberish.”  Later, though, when Warsaw became, thanks to Y. L. Perets, the center of modern Yiddish literature, Sokolov ceased to think of Yiddish as a “base zhargon” and became a Yiddish writer himself.  He soon turned away from his Germanized gibberish and demonstrated in Yiddish that he was a splendid stylist and spirited feature writer.  His Yiddish debut (using the name Amitai) actually took place in Perets’s Yudishe biblyotek (Jewish library) 3 (1891), pp. 173-91: “Rabi nakhmen krokhmal, a shmues in vagon” (Rabbi Nachman Krochmal, a chat on a train)—a treatment in a semi-fictional form with tendencies toward enlightenment concerning the famed thinker from Żółkiew.  A large portion of his essays in Ishim (Personages) were initially written in Yiddish and then translated into Hebrew, especially the entry for A. Shlonski.  His systematic activities as a writer in Yiddish began in the years around Der telegraf (The telegraph), the daily Yiddish newspaper which he founded in late 1905 in Warsaw after the collapse of Hatsfira.  He would on a virtually daily basis publish articles under various and sundry pseudonyms.  Of these one should tale particular note of his feature “Yidish” (Yiddish), written as an example of how one ought write Yiddish in connection with the polemic that was then going on in literary circles around introducing German words into the Yiddish language.  Living in London in 1906, he also wrote numerous articles for Yudishe velt (Jewish world), the Yiddish supplement to the well-known weekly The Jewish World, published by the Westernized, English community leader Lucian Wolf.  He later contributed to Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper) and Yudishe gazetten (Jewish gazette) in New York, and even later for Haynt (Today) in Warsaw, with articles entitled “Fun mayn literarishn notits-bukh” (From my literary notebook), as well as “A serye brif tsu der yidisher froy” (A series of letters to the Jewish woman).  On several occasions he also came out to defend the Yiddish language against its enemies (he made a particular impression with his article, “Hip-hip keneged hazhargon” [Opposition to zhargon] in Hazman [The times]).  Only a small number of his Yiddish journalistic efforts is included in the volume of his Oysgeveylte shriftn (Selected writings) (Warsaw: P. Kantorovitsh, 1912), 158 pp.  Also, translated into Yiddish—in the daily newspaper Dos yudishe folk (The Jewish people) in Warsaw (1919)—are chapters from his English work, History of Zionism (1918).  Initially, Sokolov took no side with respect to the Zionist movement, was close to the Polish Jewish organ Izraelita (Israelite), and warmly supported (in Hatsfira) emigration to Argentina.  As an opponent of “Ḥibat tsiyon” (Love of Zion), he was publicly opposed Dr. Pinsker’s Selbstemanzipation (Auto-emancipation) and Herzl’s Der Judenstaat (The state of the Jews), but later, after the first Zionist Congress in Basel, he became a firm adherent of Herzl and later (around 1901-1902) he also contributed to the weekly newspaper Di velt (The world), the central organ of the World Zionist Organization.  Sokolov translated Herzl’s Altneuland (Old-New land) into Hebrew.  When Hatsfira closed its doors, Sokolov settled in Köln, and there he served as the main administrator of the movement.  Around 1907 he helped to found the Hebrew journal Haolam (The world).  Several years later, when Hatsfira was revived, he returned to Warsaw.  When WWI broke out, Sokolov—now a leader in the Zionist movement—settled in London.  Following the announcement of the Balfour Declaration (1918), he became the ambassador of Zionism to the world, visited dozens of cities and countries, addressed conferences, gave innumerable speeches and lectures, and engaged in talks with well-known political leaders throughout the world.  He was chairman of the Zionist Executive under the presidency of Dr. Chaim Weizmann, and over the course of four years (1931-1935) he was himself president of the World Zionist Organization.  Even in old age, he remained president of Zionist Congresses, participated in meetings, and traveled on distant assignments.  On the literary front, he remained fresh and cheerful until the last day of his life.  Even at the presidium table at Zionist congresses, he composed one of his life works, Dos hebreishe verterbukh (The Hebrew dictionary).  Sokolov died in London.  In his memory there was built in the center of Tel Aviv a two-story house for journalists, “Bet sokolov” (Sokolov house).  In 1956 his remains (and his wife’s) were transported to the state of Israel and buried with state honors in Jerusalem on Mount Herzl.  The number of his articles numbers in the thousands, and few of them were published in book form.  Aside from those books cited above, he published the following works in Hebrew: Sefer hazikaron lesofre yisrael haḥayim itanu kayom (The book of remembrance for the Jewish writers living as if today), 2 vols., a handbook of the most important writers in the two halves of the nineteenth century (Warsaw, 1889), 208 pp.; Barukh shpinoza uzemano (Barukh Spinoza and his times), a historical-philosophical biography (Paris, 1929), 418 pp.; Tsadik venisgav (Righteous and sublime), a historical novella about Yom-Tov Lipmann Heller (Warsaw, 1882), 72 pp.; Toldot sifrut yisrael (History of Jewish literature); Ishim, 3 vols., essays about personages who excelled in their deeds or literary writings (Jerusalem: Hasifriya hatsiyonit, 1954), first published by Stybl in Tel Aviv (1935), 532 pp.; Hatsofe levet yisrael (Jerusalem, 1960/1961), 586 pp.  A much smaller portion of his work, written first in Yiddish, as well as translated from Hebrew, was published in book form: Naye praktishe methode der englishen shprakhe (sixteenthe printing: Warsaw, 1904), 94 pp., also published under the title Lernt aykh english (Teach yourself English) (Warsaw, 1939), 96 pp.; Di likhtlekh, a gedikht in proze (The little candles, a poem in prose), written in London (London: Jewish National Commission for England, 1916), 16 pp.; Idishe froy (Jewish woman) (London: Zionist Federation, 1917), 22 pp.; Nokhum sokolovs redes in erets-yisroel (Nokhum Sokolov’s speeches in the land of Israel) (London: Head Office, Jewish National Fund, 1926/1927), 24 pp.; Oysgeveylte shriftn, vol. 1 (original work and translations); Vos mir viln, rede gehalten af der tsienistisher folks-konferents in london (What we want, speech given at the Zionist public conference in London) (Warsaw: Histadruth Hatseirim, 1916), 29 pp. (this speech given at a Zionist meeting in London was also published in Yiddish by the local Zionist Federation); Perzenlekhkeytn (Personalities), translation of Ishim from Hebrew by M. Shenderay (Buenos Aires: Central Association of Polish Jews in Argentina, 1948), 254 pp.; Perzenlekhkeytn un folk (Personalities and people) (Jerusalem: Hasifriya hatsiyonit, 1966), 401 pp.—a translation of Ishim by L. Olitski.
            As Shloyme Bikl noted:

Sokolov did not sit, as he said of himself, by the waters of ideological contradiction….  He was not and did not wish to be an ideological decisor and of course not the ultimate arbiter.  Sokolov also understood the ideas of his opponents and had an organic aversion to extremist ideas and to ideological fanaticism, which clogged up the ears [eyes] so they would not see anything other than their own tears….  Reading Sokolov’s essays, one senses not only his tolerance and generosity as a writer, but there is also revealed to us Sokolov the man; Sokolov, the Leyvi-Yitskhok figure of our national renaissance.  He was tolerant and full of sympathy not because he was by nature a weak, sentimental person and wanted to spare himself alone and to explain this kind of person his ideological sins, but because there lived within him, as in the legendary Leyvi-Yitskhok image, the organic law of cosmic harmony, which equalizes the bad with the good.

Arn Tsaytlin wrote:

Imagine that one poses the question, is there really such a unique person who was called Nokhum Sokolov.  It would seem that the well-known name was borne by hundreds of different men.  All the Sokolovs would, though, every day anew, become one person, one Sokolov….  One thing ties all the Sokolovs together: the strength of their extraordinary, quick, brilliant perception, the strength of knowledge and the ability to acquire it.  Herzl was a man of the wider world in a natural way.  Sokolov mastered the wider world, and without anyone’s help, with the power of an open mind.  What one learns naturally from others (if one is not for himself alone), Sokolov learned “for himself” and by himself….  He could write a poem—when he had to or wished to—but he was not nor did he become a poet.  He understood art but that did not make him an artist.  On the topic of art, even a Sokolov could not demonstrate such wonder as to transcend understanding, to comprehend something—to become that something.  Wonder came to an end here….  The same is true of Sokolov’s Ishim.  Sokolov depicts there well-known personalities whom he knew, describes their lives and works, his meetings with them, and draws their portraits.  It is fascinating.  Sokolov’s language, Sokolov’s wisdom, Sokolov’s amazing memory—all may be found therein.  All these sparkle in Sokolov.  However, more than we see in his physical body, we hear—and with great interest—the writer himself.  Sokolov’s magnitude as a writer generally was not in the least reduced because he was not an author of fiction.  Great literature is not necessarily fiction.  Sokolov, though, was not only a writer, for before all else he was Sokolov the person—Sokolov the phenomenon.

                                            ca. 1890                                           later in life

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2, with a bibliography; D. Frishman, Tsvey tsaytungen un zhurnaln (Two newspaper and journals), vol. 3 (Warsaw-New York: Progres, 1911), pp. 96-99; Frishman, in Tsukunft (New York) (January 1928); Y. L. Perets, in Haynt (Warsaw) (July 30, 1912); A. Goldberg, Nokhum sokolov, zayn byografye un kharakteristik (Nokhum Sokolov, his biography and character) (Warsaw, 1912), 28 pp.; Goldberg, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (August 11, 1931; September 3, 1931); Goldberg, in Poylishe yidn (Polish Jews), yearbook (1936); A. Kretshmer-Izraeli, in Tsayt (New York) (November 13, 1921); Avrom Reyzen, Epizodn fun mayn lebn (Episodes from my life), part 2 (Vilna, 1935), pp. 148-50; A. Reyzen, in Di tsukunft (1936); A. Reyzen, in Di feder (New York) (1949); Bal-Makhshoves, Geklibene shrftn (Selected writings), vol. 4 (Warsaw, 1929), pp. 151-56; H. D. Nomberg, Mentshn un verk (People and works) (Warsaw, 1930), pp. 195-99; H. Lang, in Forverts (New York) (July 16, 1931); Sh. Yudson, in Morgn-zhurnal (December 30, 1931; July 22, 1932); Sh. Bernshteyn, in Tog (New York) (December 31, 1931; April 14, 1932; March 22, 1935); B. Ts. Goldberg, in Tog (January 7, 1932); M. Dantsis, in Tog (February 13, 1932); B. Ts. Kats, in Morgn-zhurnal (June 26, 1932); Tsvi-Hirsh Maslyanski, in Tog (September 30, 1932); N. Mayzil, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (April 7, 1933); Mayzil, in Haynt (March 8, 1935); Mayzil, Y. l. perets vesofre doro (Y. L. Perets and writers of his generation) (Merḥavya, 1960), pp. 280-301; Sh. Roznfeld, in Tog (February 9, 1935); M. Ribalov, in Hadoar (New York) (May 22, 1936; June 19, 1936); A. R. Malachi, in Hadoar (June 19, 1936; August 7, 1942; December 28, 1951); Malachi, in Bitsaron (New York) (Kislev [=November-December] 1960); Sh. Shnitser, Nokhum sokolov (Nokhum Sokolov) (Warsaw, 1936), 60 pp.; Dr. Sh. Ravidovitsh, in Di tsukunft (September-December 1938); Sh. Kruk, Plotsk (Płock) (Buenos Aires, 1945), pp. 128-30; M. Ginzburg, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (May 31, 1946); Sh. N. (Shmuel Niger), in Yivo-bleter (New York) 28 (1946), pp. 204-5; L. Finkelshteyn, in Der veker (New York) (August 1, 1949); Dr. Y. Tsinberg, Kultur-historishe shtudyes (Cultural-historical studies) (New York, 1949), pp. 341-43; Aharon Ben-Or, Toldot hasifrut haivrit haadasha (History of modern Hebrew literature), vol. 2 (Tel Aviv, 1951), pp. 65-70; Y. Mastboym, in Letste nayes (Tel Aviv) (May 7, 1954); Y. Fikhman, in Di naye tsayt (Buenos Aires) (June 11, 1954); F. Sokolov, in Unzer vort (Paris) (May 10, 1954-September 14, 1954); Zalman Shazar, Or ishim (Light of personalities) (Tel Aviv, 1955), pp. 78-86; Dr. Shloyme Bikl, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (May 20, 1956); Bikl, in Di tsukunft (July-August 1960); Igfrot harav nisnboim (Letters of Rabbi Nisnboym) (Jerusalem, 1955/1956); Shlomo Shreberk, Zikhronot hamotsi laor (Memoirs of a publisher) (Tel Aviv, 1954/1955), pp. 130-31, 146-47; Getzel Kressel, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 28 (1957); Kressel, Naḥum sokolov, darko vepoalo (Nokhum Sokolov, his way and deeds) (Jerusalem, 1960/1961), 97 pp.; Kessel, in Sefer hashana shel haitonaim (Yearbook for journalists) (Tel Aviv, 1961/1962), pp. 179-88; Y. Grinboym, Pene hador (The face of the generation) (Tel Aviv, 1959), pp. 70-95; Grinboym, Fun mayn dor (From my generation) (Tel Aviv, 1959), pp. 102-37; Moyshe Shtarkman, in Keneder odler (November 29, 1959); Dr. M. Z. Sole, in Hapoal hatsair (Tel Aviv) (March 15, 1960); Arn Tsaytlin, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (May 13, 1960); D. Perski, in Hadoar (Sivan 15 [= June 10], 1960); Dr. M. Vaksman, in Bitsaron (Sivan-Tamuz [= May-July] 1960); Simcha Kling, Nachum Sokolow, Servant of His People (New York: Herzl Press, 1960), 205 pp.; Sh. Grinshpan, Yidn in plotsk (Jews in Płock) (New York, 1960), pp. 61-92; Grinshpan, in Keneder odler (June 5, 1961; June 6, 1961; June 7, 1961); B. Kruzo, in Sefer hashana shel haitonaim (Tel Aviv, 1960), pp. 269-72; M. Gros-Tsimerman, in Der veg (Mexico City) (March 25, 1961); M. Ungerfeld, in Davar (Tel Aviv) (October 13, 1961); Dr. Y. Aviad-Volfsberg, Deyoknaot (Portraits) (Jerusalem, 1961/1962), pp. 251-59; A. Alperin, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (January 6, 1963); B. G. Zak, in Keneder odler (March 10, 1963); Dov Sadan, Ben din leḥeshbon (Between law and accounting) (Tel Aviv, 1963), pp. 345-47; Floryan Sokolov, Mayn foter nokhum sokolov (My father, Nokhum Sokolov), trans. Naftali Zilberberg (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1972), 311 pp.
Leyb Vaserman

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 397.]

Sunday 25 February 2018


MIKHL-BER SOKOLOV (1902-September 1942)
            He was born in Konskevolye (Końskowola), Lublin district, Poland.  He studied with his father in religious elementary school in Warsaw, and later until he was thirteen years of age with his grandfather in Vishegrad (Wyszogrod) and until the end of WWI in the Saratshaver.  In 1924 he joined the Hassidic pioneer movement and later was secretary to the Yabloner Rebbe and traveled with him to the land of Israel.  In the Hassidic colony of “Naḥalat Yaakov” (Inheritance of Jacob), he performed a number of tasks.  He left Israel in late 1926, lived for a time in Paris and Germany, and then returned to Warsaw where he lived until WWII.  He began writing stories about pious small town life in his father’s (N. L. Vayngot’s) Dos yudishe vort (The Jewish word) (1918-1919), later in Der yud (The Jew), both in Warsaw.  In Israel he was a contributor to the Aguda periodical Kol yisroel (Voice of Israel), in which he published stories, sketches, and reportage pieces of Hassidic and pioneer life in Israel.  He also placed work in: Beys-yankev-zhurnal (Beys Yankev journal) and Yudishe arbayter-shtime (Voice of Jewish labor) in Lodz; Ortodoksishe yugend-bleter (Orthodox youth pages) in Warsaw; and the Hebrew-language Menora (Menorah), Darkhenu (Our way), and Deglanu (Our banner), among others, in Warsaw.  When Dos yudishe togblat (The Jewish daily newspaper) was founded in Warsaw in 1929, he was one of the principal contributors to the newspaper.  During the Nazi occupation, he was confined in the Warsaw Ghetto, and he worked in a soup kitchen run by the Jewish literary association and also wrote.  With the Aktion of September 1942, he was taken to the Umschlagplatz (the collection point in Warsaw for deportation) and sent to Treblinka where he was murdered.  A number of his stories, sketches, and poems are included in M. Prager’s Antologye fun religyeze lider un dertseylungen (Anthology of religious poems and stories) (New York, 1955), pp. 313-74.  He also published in Hebrew: Haayara hayehudit bepolin (The Jewish town in Poland) (Jerusalem, 1958), 112 pp.; Demuyot (Characters) (Jerusalem, 1961), 177 pp.

Sources: Yidisher gezelshaftlekher leksikon (Jewish communal handbook) (Warsaw, 1939), p. 745; M. Prager, in Tsukunft (New York) (November 1946); Prager, in Fun noentn over (New York) 2 (1956), pp. 483, 487; Prager, Antologye fun religyeze lider un dertseylungen (Anthology of religious poems and stories) (New York, 1955), pp. 40-41; Dr. Hilel Zaydman, in Ela ezkera (These I remember), vol. 2 (New York, 1957), pp. 32-37; Rabbi Yaakov Murakovski, in Hamodea (Jerusalem) (Sivan 18 [= June 6], 1958); private information from Rabbi Dr. Meyer Shvartsman in Winnipeg.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


SHOYEL SOKAL (December 3, 1888-September 6, 1964)
            He was born in Czernowitz, Bukovina.  He studied in religious elementary school, high school, and university.  He graduated as a lawyer.  Over the years 1914-1918, he served in the Austrian army.  He lived in Vienna (1919-1938); he moved to London in 1938 and to the United States in 1939.  He took part in the Czernowitz language conference (August 1908).  He was one of the leaders in the struggle for state recognition of Yiddish in the popular press in 1910 in Bukovina and Galicia (at that time, in Austria).  In his early youth he was already a Labor Zionist, later a member of the central committee of the party.  Together with B. Loker and Z. Rubashov (Zalman Shazar), he ran the Labor Zionist office in Vienna.  In 1936 he participated in the founding conference of the World Jewish Congress in the United States.  In 1907 he began publishing in the Labor Zionist organ, Der yudisher arbayter (The Jewish worker) in Lemberg.  From 1909, he was publishing work in Geverkshaft problemen (Union issues) and in the German Jewish Wochenblatt (Weekly newspaper) of Dr. Nosn Birnboym (Nathan Birnbaum) and Die Freistatt (The free state) in Vienna.  He later revived Der yudisher arbayter in Vienna.  In America he placed work in Der idisher kemfer (The Jewish fighter) in New York.  He also contributed to a volume by Nekhemye Robinzon (Nehemiah Robinson), Dictionary of Jewish Public Affairs and Related Matters (New York: World Jewish Congress, 1958).  He died in New York.

Sources: Shloyme Bikl and B. Loker, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (December 19, 1958); Bikl, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (October 3, 1964); M. Noy, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (January 23, 1959); Idisher kemfer (January 31, 1964); P. Shteynvaks, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (October 1, 1964); Shteynvaks, in Idisher kemfer (October 9, 1964); V. B., in Idisher kemfer (October 23, 1964).
Leyb Vaserman


HORACY SAFRIN (January 11, 1899-August 23, 1980)
            He was born in Stanislav (Stanislavov), eastern Galicia.  He graduated from the Stanislav high school and the University of Vienna; he also studied theatrical arts.  As a youth, he was active in Hashomer Hatsair (Young guard).  He debuted in print in Polish with a collection of poems entitled Poezja (Poetry) (Stanislavov, 1913), 98 pp.  A second collection of his poems, also in Polish, appeared in 1917.  In 1920 a Viennese publisher brought a book of his poems in German, and a few years later B. Kletskin Publishers published his volume of poetry entitled Fun got un fun mentsh (Of God and man) (Warsaw, 1926), 58 pp.  In the 1930s he contributed to the Lemberg magazine Tsusheyer (Contribution), and, together with the directors Dovid Herman and Mark Arnshteyn, he founded the Goldfaden Club in Stanislav, which staged plays from the Jewish and European repertuare.  In 1940-1941, under the Soviet Russian authorities, he was the manager of the “People’s Art House” in Stanislav, and he was awarded with an honorary diploma during the All-Soviet Theatrical Festival.  After WWII he was selected several times to positions in the association of Polish writers, and he served as secretary of the Yiddish Literary Association in Lodz, where (from 1955) he led the Yiddish drama circle and was literary director of variety programming.  He published poems, epigrams, fables, articles, and theater reviews in: Folks-shtime (Voice of the people) and Yidishe shriftn (Yiddish writings) in Warsaw; and Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture) in New York; among others.  He also authored: Przy szabasowych świecach (At the Sabbath candles) (1963); Głupcy z Głupska (Fools from Glupsk), folklore (1962); Afn berditshever mark (In the Berdichev market) (Warsaw: Yidish bukh, 1966), 61 pp.; and other works in Polish.  He also published Kain i Hewel (Cain and Abel) (Lodz, 1963), 54 pp.—a collection of poems on biblical motifs and motifs of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.  He was a regular contributor to Polish newspapers and magazines.  For a time he edited a literary magazine in Polish entitled Mosty (bridge), in which he published essays and translations from Yiddish literature.  He also translated poems from Yiddish and Hebrew into Polish.  For his many-sided literary and cultural activities, he received in 1956 a Mickiewicz Medal and in 1958 an award from the Ministry of Culture in Poland.  His work appeared in Salcia Landmann’s German anthology Jiddisch, das Abenteuer einer Sprache (Yiddish, the adventure of a language) (Olten, 1962).  He also took part in a number of cultural broadcasts over the radio in Lodz.  He died in Lodz.

Sources: B. Mark, in Yidishe shprakh (Lodz) (June 1949); M. Naygreshl, “Der letste dor yidishe poetn in galitsye” (The last generation of Yiddish poets in Galicia), Tsukunft (New York) (September 1950); editorial notice in Folks-shtime (Warsaw) (August 7, 1958); Sh. Veb, in Folks-shtime (January 17, 1963).
Benyomen Elis

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 397.]

Friday 23 February 2018


            He came from Russia, and after WWI moved to Philadelphia where he was a private Hebrew teacher and a religious man.  He was the author of: Tsofnes paneakh (Revealer of secrets), “this book uncovers new secrets of nature which will bring about a revolution in astronomy” (Philadelphia, 1930), 64 pp., with a preface by the author, in which he explains a bit about himself.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


KHANE (HANNAH, CHANE, ANNE) SAFRAN (b. January 4, 1902)
            She was born in Shedlets (Siedlce), Poland.  She graduated from a municipal school and attended evening Hebrew courses.  At age ten she began to learn a trade.  In 1916 she arrived in the United States, where she worked by day and studied in the evenings.  She debuted in print with a poem “Bist far mir a vunder” (You’re a wonder to me) in Nay lebn (New life) in New York (1936), and from that point her poetry appeared in: Morgn-frayhayt (Morning freedom), Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture), Yidish amerike (Jewish America), and Zamlungen (Anthologies)—in New York; Naye prese (New press) in Paris; and Yidishe shriftn (Yiddish writings) and Folks-shtime (Voice of the people) in Warsaw.  Her poems were also published in the anthology Amerike in yidishn vort (America in the Yiddish word) (New York, 1955).  In book form: Nitsokhn (Triumph), poetry (New York: Khane Safran Book Committee, 1946), 128 pp.; Haynt (Today), poetry (New York: IKUF, 1950), 144 pp.; Likhtike shtromen, lider un poemes (Bright currents, poetry) (New York: IKUF, 1960), 190 pp.; Dos lebn ruft (Life calls) (New York: IKUF, 1968), 190 pp.  In addition, Morgn-frayhayt published her novels—Di tentserin (The female dancer) (1952), Vivyen un ire fraynt (Vivian and her friend) (1954), and Eltern un kinder (Parents and children) (1971-1972)—and her memoir Ikh gedenk, fun mayne ershte zeks yor in amerike (I remember, from my first six years in America).  She also published stories and travel impressions.  She kept a diary (1914-1916), published [in Polish] in 2011 as: Dziennik Anny Kahan: Siedlce, 1914-1916 (Anna Kahan’s journal: Siedlce, 1914-1916) (Siedlce: Stowarzyszenie Tutajteraz, 2011), 410 pp.  She also wrote two dramas: Dos hekhste gezets (The highest law, 1932) and Dos fayer fun lebn (The ardor of life, 1952).  In 1957 she settled in Miami Beach.  In 1961 she received an award for her song “Eybrehem linkoln” (Abraham Lincoln) in a competition run by the Jewish music association in New York.  In 1962 she visited the state of Israel, Soviet Russia, and Poland.  Her poems were also republished in various newspapers and journals outside of the United States.  She also wrote in English: The Fireborn (New York: Vantage Press, 1963), 270 pp.  Her poems in English translation by A. Schmuller are included in her work Crossing the Borderland: Poems, Prose Poems, and Poetical Translations (London, 1959) and in Three contemporary Poets: Delina Margot-Parle, Aaron Schmuller, Grace Gilombardo Fox (New York, 1960).  She was last living in Miami Beach.

Sources: A. Pomerants, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (June 23, 1946); Sore Kindman, “Der mame-motiv bay amerikaner yidishe dikhterins” (The mother motif among American Yiddish poetesses), Yidishe kultur (New York) (1947), pp. 54-55; B. Ts. Hibel, in Undzer veg (Munich) 235 (1948); Moyshe Kats, in Morgn-frayhayt (December 3, 1950); Z. Vaynper, in Yidishe kultur (April 1957); Y. B. Beylin, in Morgn-frayhayt (August 28, 1960); Kh. Slutska-Kestin, in Fraye yisroel (Tel Aviv) (September 1, 1960); A. Shklyar, in Folks-shtime (Warsaw) (April 25, 1961); Y. Furmanski, in Naye prese (Paris) (June 10, 1962); Biblyografye fun yidishe bikher vegn khurbn un gvure (Bibliography of Yiddish books concerning the Holocaust and heroism) (New York, 1962); Sh. Almanzov, in Zamlungen (New York) 31 (1964).
Benyomen Elis

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 397.]


AVROM SAFRO (1888-1965)

           A Soviet poet, prose writer, and journalist, he was born in Alt-Bikhov (Bychaw), Mohilev district, Byelorussia. His grandfather was a Torah scribe, and his father, Yisroel-Ayzik, was a teacher of Tanakh and Talmud, but he was also a bit of a follower of the Jewish Enlightenment and ran a modern Talmud Torah. His mother ran a haberdashery shop in the marketplace. At age four he began studying Hebrew with his father, at age five Torah with Rashi’s commentary with a teacher, and at age eight the Talmud. From early on he was studying foreign languages and was an assiduous self-learner, mastering Hebrew, Russian, German, and English. In 1903 he attempted (with his grandfather in Zhukhovtsy) to learn the family profession and become a scribe. Under the influence of the Labor Zionist (later, Bundist), Moyshe Notkin, in 1904 he turned to leather tanning, but after several years he left due to poor health. He went on to work as a teacher in his father’s Talmud Torah and later as an employee in an insurance business. Around 1903 he began writing poetry in Hebrew. He debuted in print (using the pen name “Martsius”) with a correspondence piece from Alt-Bikhov in Der nayer veg (The new path) in Vilna (1903). Using the same pseudonym, he went on to publish articles, translations, poems, and stories in a variety of venues. He also used the pen names: Asa, Ban-krot, and A Gabentshter. He also published an article in the name of his deceased friend Khayim Starobinyets in Der shtern (The star) in Minsk-Vitebsk in 1920. In 1913 he settled in Vilna and worked for Vilner togblat (Vilna daily newspaper), edited by Dan Kaplanovitsh, as a translator, proofreader, and editorial board secretary. After the Revolution, he lived in Vitebsk and worked in the culture and education division of the local Jewish Section and as secretary to the editorial board of the weekly newspaper Der frayer arbeter (The free worker), edited by Shmuel Agurski, from 1918. In 1919 he assumed the same post for the newspaper Der shtern. That same year he published “Briv fun vitebsk” (Letters from Vitebsk) and stories in Komunistishe velt (Communist world) in Moscow. He published poems and stories in: Khvalyes (Waves) in Vitebsk (1920); Kultur un bildung (Culture and education) in Moscow; Der royter shtern (The red star) in Vitebsk (1921); the bulletin Kamf mitn kheyder (Struggle against the religious elementary school) (twelve issues appeared in print in Vitebsk); and the anthology Tsum ondeynken fun y. l. perets (To the memory of Y. L. Perets) (Vitebsk, 1921); among others. In 1922 he became a member of the government’s department of nationalities in Vitebsk and published a weekly bulletin, Yedies (News). With help from the department of nationalities, he established in Vitebsk the first Yiddish-language court in the Soviet Union and served as its secretary. He described the work of this court in an article, “Der ershter folks-gerikht af yidish” (The first people’s court in Yiddish), in Arbeter-kalendar af 1924tn yor (Labor calendar for the year 1924), published in Moscow (Central Western Publisher, People’s Commissariat for Ethnic Affairs) in 1923. That same year he moved to Moscow and served as editorial secretary for the newspaper Der emes (The truth). He was also active as a translator. Two of his translations were published in 1931: Sergei Tretiakov, Den shi khuas matone (Deng Xihua’s gift [original: Den Shi Khua]) (Moscow: Central Publ.), 56 pp.; and Petr Smidovitsh, Di arbeter-masn in di 90er yorn, zikhroynes fun an altn bolshevik (The laboring masses in the 1890s, memoirs of an old Bolshevik) (Moscow: Der emes), 63 pp. His name disappeared in the early 1930s and then reappeared in 1957—his memoirs appeared in the Warsaw newspaper Folks-shtime (Voice of the people).

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index.

Leyzer Ran

[Additional information from: Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), p. 259.]

Thursday 22 February 2018


ITE SAFMAN (b. 1873)
            She hailed from Odessa.  As Y. Dobrushin recounts, this Odessan woman of the people (already over sixty years of age) began writing about her experiences during the evacuation from Odessa to Uzbekistan in Soviet Central Asia.  “The steamer, may it rest in peace, and Yiddish prayers from my old grandmother”—thus she began one of her rhymed stories about a ship packed with evacuees on the Black Sea, which was bombed by German airplanes.  In another rhymed chapter, she recounts: “When Hitler came to power, night fell on Czechoslovakia.  It became dark—a lament, and shorter was the day.  Black clouds swarmed over the sky, the wind gave its word that it would make the storm clouds move from their place, and the sun would rise again.”  She also narrated the story of her husband, the sixty-year-old partisan who stayed with the other fighters in the Odessa catacombs, and the Germans seized him and hanged him with his sister who was a writer.  “As for every folk creator,” wrote Y. Dobrushin, “there sprang up in her the poetic word, and soon side-by-side it was with a melody….  In her songs she is more a storyteller.  She thus needs a means of innovative, folkish trope, which attends to every word and line and construes and explains and underscores the sorrow and the joy of an awakened folk soul.”

Source: Y. Dobrushin, in Eynikeyt (Moscow) (June 26, 1945).
Benyomen Elis


H. SAFYAN (b. 1898)
            He was born in Chernobyl, Kiev district, Ukraine.  He attended religious elementary school.  In 1913 he moved to Kiev, worked in a beer brewery, and prepared to enter secondary school.  In 1915 he moved to Ekaterinoslav and worked there with a locksmith.  After the February Revolution of 1917, he studied at the Kiev people’s university.  He was manager of the division of extra-curricular education and library use.  He attended the pedagogical course of study in Kiev, and after graduating he became the administrator of a Jewish trade school and an evening school in Kiev.  In 1924 he graduated from the medical teaching faculty of the Institute of People’s Education and was hired as an assistant in the psychopathology department in the All-Ukrainian Institute of Hygiene.  From 1927 he was secretary of the pedagogical office of the Jewish section in Kiev, where he was in charge of translating textbooks for Jewish schools.  In 1930 he moved to scholarly work at the Kiev Institute for Jewish Proletarian Culture and turned his attention of psychological methods and experimental pedagogy.  Together with Zingerman, Faynerman, Kruglyak, and Ravinski, he compiled Lenins ruf, lernbukh far veynik-ivredike (Lenin’s call, textbook for the few Yiddish speakers) (Kiev: All-Ukrainian Committee to Eliminate Illiteracy, 1926), 227 pp.—Safyan wrote for this textbook: “Anatomye un fizyalogye fun mentsh” (Anatomy and physiology or man).  Two of his writings—“Tsu der frage vegn ratsyonalizirn di limudim-reshime in eltern kontsentr” (On the issue of rationalizing the list of subjects in the higher stage of second education) and “Vegn tsveyt-yorikeyt in shul” (On the second year in school)—were published in the Y. Reznik’s collection Di lernarbet in shul, zamlung (The work of teaching in school, anthology) (Kharkov-Kiev: Pedagogy Section, Ukrainian Academy of Science, 1933), 212 pp.  Together with Reznik and Ester Shnayderman, he collaborated on the work Heymfargebungen (Homework), issues from experience in school (Minsk: Institute for Jewish Proletarian Culture, 1935), 109 pp.  Safyan published a project of a text to measure the literacy level of readers in Ratnbildung (Soviet education) and a project to gauge intellectual accomplishments in Spivavtor (Co-author) in Ukrainian in 1943.  In 1935 he was signed to publish by the Ukrainian Labor Institute a booklet on “job profiles for locksmiths, turners, blacksmiths, and coppersmiths.”  Safyan disappeared in the 1930s during the liquidation of Yiddish writers and cultural leaders in the Soviet Union.

Sources: Autobiographical notes: M. Flakser, A. Pomerants, and Leyzer Ran, “Biblyografye fun der yidisher literatur in ratnfarband, 1918-1948” (Bibliography of Yiddish literature in the Soviet Union, 1918-1948), a manuscript held at YIVO in New York; Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index.
Leyzen Ran


YANKEV SAPIRO (February 28, 1888-September 29, 1963)
            He was born in Vilkovishki (Vilkaviškis), Lithuania.  He studied in religious elementary schools and later graduated from a middle school in Kovno and the technical college at the University of Manchester (England).  He went on to work as a textile chemist in Manchester, Lodz, and Moscow.  In 1922 he moved from Russia to Germany, and from there to France, and in 1941 he arrived in the United States.  He was active in socio-political affairs of the Zionist socialist workers’ party, the Zionist socialist party, and the Bund.  In America he was involved with the Russian Social-Democratic Party (Mensheviks), Erlikh-Alter branch 313 of Workmen’s Circle, and the Algemeyne entsiklopedye (General encyclopedia) in Yiddish.  He wrote for Russian- and English-language journals on technical issues.  He first began writing in Yiddish in America and in 1947 debuted with a poem in Der amerikaner (The American) in New York.  In book form, he published: Shtile vegn, lider (Quiet lanes, poems) (Paris, 1953), 128 pp.; Shtimungen, lider (Moods, poems) (New York, 1958), 102 pp.; Siluetn, lider (Silhouettes, poems) (New York, 1963), 88 pp.  He died in New York.
            “In each poem,” wrote Shmuel Niger, “one feels a lyrical tone and something of a natural musicality.”  “To the thoroughly straightforward poets,” noted Y. Varshavski, “belongs Y. Sapiro.  One can say of his book Shtile vegn that it lives up to his name.  When readers will tire of all poetic revivals, perhaps one may return to this sort of simplicity.”  As Yankev Glatshteyn put it, “in the poems there is a truthfulness.  Even a certain dexterity and a fine tone.  Everywhere one sees Yankev Sapiro’s refined, nostalgic approach.”

Sources: H. Abramovitsh, in Unzer shtime (Paris) (November 28, 1953); Yankev Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (January 8, 1954); Kh. Sh. Kazdan, in Unzer tsayt (New York) (March 1954); A. Trotski, in Di idishe tsaytung (Buenos Aires) (April 25, 1954); A. Leyeles, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (July 7, 1963); obituary notices in the Yiddish press in New York.
Yankev Kahan


            She was a partisan in Bilak’s brigade in the woods around Deretshin (Derechin, Dziarechyn), near Slonim, Byelorussia.  Shmerke Katsherginski’s Lider fun di getos un lagern (Songs from the ghettos and camps) includes three songs of hers: “Shtey oyf” (Rise up!), “Afn postn” (In position), and “Der kemfender shvester” (The fighting sister), reported by Yitskhok Tsukerman.  Further information is unknown.

Source: Shmerke Katsherginski, Lider fun di getos un lagern (Songs from the ghettos and camps) (New York, 1948), pp. 312, 336-37.
Yankev Kahan


SHOYEL SAPIR (SAUL SAPHIRE) (December 15, 1895-August 15, 1974)
            He was born in Vilna.  He attended religious elementary school, the butchers’ synagogue in Vilna, and later the Lida yeshiva.  In 1916 he arrived in the United States, lived initially in Seattle, Washington, moved from there to Springfield, Massachusetts, where he worked as a Hebrew teacher, and later still he moved to New York and worked as a Hebrew teacher and school director in Brooklyn.  Over the years 1922-1926, he studied in the history and philosophy departments at Columbia University in New York.  He began writing back in Vilna in 1913.  He debuted in print with a story in the Hebrew-language newspaper Hazman (The times).  In America he published in Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper), and later in Der amerikaner (The American) and Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal) in New York, in which he placed stories, novels, and articles.  In 1926 he became a contributor, and later an editor, of Der amerikaner.  From 1950, when Morgn-zhurnal merged with Tog (Day), Sapir began working for Forverts (Forward) in New York, in which aside from fiction, he also wrote a weekly column entitled “Barimte mentshn un epizodn in der yidisher geshikhte” (Celebrated people and episodes in Jewish history).  Starting in 1939, his novels were reprinted in Idishe tsaytung (Jewish newspaper) in Buenos Aires.  He also wrote under such pen names as: Ben-Kish and Sh. Ripas.  In book form, he published: Der kalif fun kordova, historisher roman fun der yidisher ‘goldene epokhe’ in shpanye unter di muren (The Caliph of Cordova, a historical novel of the Jewish “Golden Age” in Spain under the Moors) (New York, 1927), 286 pp.—translated into English as The Caliph of Cordova: Historical Romance of Moorish-Spain during the Golden Age of Abdul-Rahman III (New York: Bloch Pub. Co., 1929), 204 pp.; Tsvishn roym un yerusholaim, historisher roman fun der tsayt fun khurbn fun dem tsveyten bes-hamikdesh (Between Rome and Jerusalem, historical novel from the time of the destruction of the Second Temple) (New York, 1929), 512 pp.—translated into English as A Challenge to Caesar: A Historical Romance (New York, 1938), 384 pp.; Dovid hameylekh, historisher roman fun der tsayt fun di ershte idishe mlokhim (King David, a historical novel from the era of the first Jewish kings), 2 vols. (New York, 1930), 628 pp.—translated into English as A Tale of Two Kings: A Modern Novelization of the Lives and Times of David and Saul, Kings of Israel, Whose Loves and Lusts, Triumphs and Defeats, Are Indelibly Engraved in the Annals of History (New York: United Pub. Co., 1935), 355 pp.; translator of Norbert Jacques, Doktor mabuze, roman (Doctor Mabuse, a novel [original: Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler (Dr. Mabuse, the gambler)]) (Warsaw: S. Goldfarb, 1930), 351 pp.; Der prints fun mitsraim, biblisher roman fun yoysef un zayne brider (The prince of Egypt, biblical novel of Joseph and his brothers), 2 vols. (New York, 1931), 706 pp.; Shloyme hameylekh, historisher roman (King Solomon, a historical novel) (New York, 1931), 512 pp.; Avroms eyniklekh, biblisher roman fun der tsayt fun di oves (Abraham’s grandchildren, a biblical novel from the time of the forefathers) (New York, 1931), 615 pp.; Ester hamalke, biblisher roman (Queen Esther, a biblical novel) (New York, 1932), 349 pp.; Di tokhter fun midber, origeneler biblisher roman fun der tsayt fun moyshes yugend un goles mitsraim (The daughter of the desert, original biblical novel from the era of Moses’ youth in Egypt) (New York, 1934), 236 pp.; Fertsik yor in midber, origineler biblisher roman fun der tsayt fun “yetsies mitsrayim” un di vanderung fun di iden in dem midber (Forty years in the desert, an original biblical novel of the era of the “exodus from Egypt” and the wandering of the Jews in the desert) (New York, 1934), 366 pp.; Kolombus der id, origineler historisher roman fun der tsayt fun der inkvizitsye, geyresh shpanyen un entdekung fun amerika (Columbus, the Jew, original novel of the era of the Inquisition, expulsion from Spain, and the discovery of America) (New York, 1934), 415 pp.—translated into Hebrew as Kolumbus hayehudi (Columbus the Jew) (New York, 1948), 272 pp.; Moyshe rabeynus nokhfolger (shiye), origineler biblisher roman fun der tsayt fun eroberung fun erets yisroel (Our teacher Moses’ successor, Joshua, original biblical novel from the era of the conquest of the land of Israel) (New York, 1935), 330 pp.; Rambam, rabeynu moyshe ben maymen, origineler historisher roman fun 12ten yorhundert (Rambam, Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, original historical novel from the twelfth century) (New York, 1935), 496 pp.; Shimshn hagiber, origineler biblisher roman fun der tsayt fun di shoftim (Samson the strong man, original biblical novel from the era of the Judges) (New York, 1935), 304 pp.; Dvoyre, biblisher roman fun der tsayt fun di shoftim (Deborah, biblical novel from the era of the Judges) (New York, 1936), 199 pp.; Rus, biblisher roman fun der tsayt fun di shoftim (Ruth, biblical novel from the era of the Judges) (New York, 1936), 293 pp.; Yiftokh un zayn tokhter, biblisher roman fun der tsayt fun di shoftim (Yiftaḥ and his daughter, biblical novel from the era of the Judges) (New York, 1937), 324 pp.; Der dikhter fun toledo, historisher roman fun der tsayt fun di ershte idishe natsyonale dikhter fun shpanyen, rabi yude haleyvi un avrom ibn ezre (The poet of Toleda, historical novel from the era of the first national Jewish poets from Spain, Rabbi Judah Halevi and Abraham Ibn Ezra) (New York, 1938), 270 pp.; Der ger-tsadek fun vilne, historisher roman (The holy convert from Vilna, a historical novel) (New York, 1942), 336 pp.; Der vilner balebesl, origineler historisher roman fun nayntsenter yorhundert (The little Vilna householder, an original historical novel of the nineteenth century), 2 vols. (New York, 1947), 730 pp.; Der bal-tshuve, origineler historisher roman arum der tsayt fun vilner goen un dem bal shem tov (The penitent, an original historical novel around the time of the Vilna Gaon and the Baal-Shem-Tov) (New York, 1948), 339 pp.; Shloyme maymon, historisher roman (Solomon Maimon, a historical novel) (New York, 1954), 428 pp.  He also wrote in English (together with Donovan Fitzpatrick) a novel entitled Navy Maverick: Uriah Phillips Levy (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1963), 273 pp.  He died in Miami Beach, Florida.

Sources: P. Vyernik, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (May 10, 1931; November 22, 1931; April 10, 1932; November 20, 1932; November 11, 1934; December 30, 1934; March 24, 1935); A. Hamer, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (January 16, 1935).
Leyb Vaserman