Tuesday 13 March 2018


            With the original family name of Shmushkovitsh, he was born in Sharkovshtshizne (Šarkaŭščyna, Sharkovshchina), near Dvinsk (Dinaburg, Daugavpils), Belarus.  His father left for the United States before he was born.  At age nine his mother died, and he was raised by strangers.  At age thirteen he became a local teacher.  In 1924 he departed for Argentina, settled in the Boca Barracas neighborhood of Buenos Aires, and was employed in retail sales.  He began writing in 1926.  His humorous sketches were published in the newspaper Di prese (The press), and he later took charge of the column “Ambo.”  Later still, he wrote stories and after 1930 literary criticism and social-philosophical essays.  He published series of articles on humor, satire, and irony and a lengthy work entitled “Etishe ekvivalentn” (Ethical equivalents).  He reworked for the stage Ilya Ehrenburg’s Dos shturmishe lebn fun lazik roytshvanyets (The stormy life of Lasik Roitschwantz [original: Burnaia zhizn' Lazika Roitshvanetsa]) which was performed in a Buenos Aires theater in 1933.  He edited the almanacs that the Cultural Center of Jewish Youth in Boca Barracas published in 1931 and 1936.  He compiled Antologye fun der yidisher literatur in argentine (Anthology of Yiddish literature in Argentina) (Buenos Aires, 1944), 964 pp.  From 1949 he was the publisher and editor of the quarterly Davke (Necessarily)—first issue July-September 1949—a periodical for philosophy, literature, and criticism.  In special issues over the course of fifteen years, he published important works: Spinoza issue 11-12 (1952) and 46-47 (1962); Bergson issue 14-15 (1953); Rambam (Maimonides) issue 18-19 (1954); Solomon Maimon issue 20 (1954); Yehuda Halevi issue 22-23 (1955); Albert Einstein issue 25 (1955); Philo issue 27-28 (1956); Sigmund Freud issue 30 (1957); Nachman Krochmal issue 32 (1957); Hermann Kohn issue 33-34 (1958); Solomon Ibn Gavirol issue 36 (1958); existentialism issue 37-38 (1958); Moses Mendelssohn issue 39 (1959); Job issue 40 (1959); Saadya Gaon issue 41-42 (1960); Ecclesiastes issue 43 (1960); Book of Genesis issue 44 (1960); Hassidism issue 45 (1961); Prophets issue 50 (October-December 1963).  Working with Y. Yonasovitsh, he edited the work Yankev Botoshanski tsu zayne zekhtsik yor (Yankev Botoshanski at sixty years of age) (Buenos Aires, 1955), 96 pp.  In 1963 he published the volume Di tsvey kvaln fun moral (The two sources of morality) (Buenos Aires: Argentinian division of the World Jewish Culture Congress), 173 pp.  This book (with a forward by the author) is divided into three parts: (1) introduction; (2) relative morality (seven works); and (3) absolute morality (twelve works).  It was awarded the Joseph Hekman Prize from the Argentinian division of the World Jewish Culture Congress.  He later published Likht un shotn in spinozas lebn un shafn, in shayn fun hayntikn visn (Light and shadows in Spinoza’s life and work, in view of contemporary knowledge) (Buenos Aires: Culture Congress, 1977), 158 pp.  He also wrote under the name Shloyme Epshteyn.

Sources: Sh. Rozhanski, Dos yidishe gedrukte vort in argentina (The published Yiddish word in Argentina), vol. 1 (Buenos Aires, 1941), p. 173; Y. Botoshanski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (June 25, 1954; September 19, 1956; November 20, 1963; December 26, 1963; July 17-18, 1964); Botoshanski, in Algemeyne entsiklopedye (General encyclopedia), “Yidn 5” (New York, 1957), p. 381; Botoshanski, in Zamlbukh fun shtriker-fabrikant (Collection from the knitting factory) (Buenos Aires, 1961), pp. 289-90; L. Domankevitsh, in Di prese (February 13, 1955); Yorbukh tsht”v (Yearbook, 1954/1955), p. 235; A. Oyerbakh, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (March 23, 1959); August 26, 1963); Ilustrirte literarishe bleter (Buenos Aires) 1-3 (1959); E. Almi, in Fraye arbeter-shtime (New York) (November 15, 1961; November 15, 1962); Shloyme Bikl, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (December 16, 1961); A. Golomb, in Der veg (Mexico City) (February 17, 1962); A. Vasertsug, in Idishe tsaytung (Buenos Aires) (April 12, 1964); Tsvi Shtok, in Der veker (New York) (June 1, 1964).
Yankev Birnboym

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 401.]

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