BEN-TSIEN EPSHTEYN (BENZION EPSTEIN) (b. July 8, 1912-1990)
He was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Until age ten he studied Yiddish and until sixteen general subject matter. Over the years 1928-1949 he lived in Buenos Aires. He was a laborer and a leader in the Jewish community and its cultural life. He cofounded the pioneer youth organization Gordonia in Argentina. From 1949 he was living in the state of Israel. From an early age he began to write poetry. He debuted in print in Der shpigl (The mirror) in Buenos Aires in 1928. From that point, he published poetry, sketches, stories, reportage pieces, and sections of his novels in: Kolonist-kooperator (Colonist cooperative), Di idishe tsaytung (The Jewish newspaper), Oyfsnay (Afresh), Di prese (The press), Di naye tsayt (The new times), Tsaytshrift (Periodical), and Yugnt veg (Youth way)—a publication of Gordonia (irregular, 1930-1936) of which he was also editor—among others in Buenos Aires; and Letste nayes (Latest news), Heymish (Familiar), and Davar (Word) in Tel Aviv. In book form: Shprotsungen (Sprouts), poetry (Buenos Aires, 1930), 64 pp.; Under di shotns fun “ombu,” dertseylungen, lider, portretn (Under the shadows of Ombú, stories, poems, portraits), foreword by B. Vaynshtok (Buenos Aires, 1936), 108 pp.; Velt in flamen (World in flames), a poem about the Spanish Civil War (Buenos Aires, 1937), 26 pp.; Zangen afn vint, roman (Stalks in the wind, a novel), part 1 of a trilogy, with a preface by A. Tartakover (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1961), 321 pp., winner of the Joseph Hekman Prize from the Jewish Culture Congress in Argentina (1962), Hebrew translation by Yaakov Eliav as Shibolim haruaḥ, roman (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1966), 247 pp.; Durkh dem grinem toyer (Through the green gate), part 2 of the trilogy, with a preface by an Israeli ambassador (Tel Aviv, Perets Publ., 1962), 320 pp., Hebrew translation by Yaakov Eliav as Bashaar hayarok (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1967), 238 pp.; Bearvot hapampa (In the wilderness of the Pampas) with drawings by M. Rozen (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1965), 200 pp.; Di zun iz fargangen in dorem (The sun set in the South), part 3 of the trilogy (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1968), 290 pp., Hebrew translation by Israel Zmora as Hashemesh shaka badarom (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1970), 175 pp.; Meever lagiva, masa el erets haetmol (Beyond the hill, a journey to the land of yesterday) (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1974), 105 pp.; Dima baagam hamar, masa el erets goshen (A tear in the bitter lake, a journey to the land of Goshen) (Tel Aviv: Etgar, 1976), 112 pp.; Derekh vekokhavim, sipurim (Road and stars, stories) (Tel Aviv: Etgar, 1978), 164 pp.; Raglayim kalot basufa, roman (Light feet in a storm, a novel) (Merḥavya: Etgar, 1982), 157 pp. Prior to his death, he lived in Kibbutz Dovrat. He was the first Yiddish prose writer born in Argentina, and he depicted in his works the epoch of Jewish life in the YIKO (Jewish Cultural Organization) colony.
Sources: Sh. Rozhanski, Dos yidishe gedrukte vort in argentina (The published Yiddish word in Argentina) (Buenos Aires, 1941), pp. 140, 173; Volf Bresler, Antologye fun der yidisher literatur in argentine (Anthology of Jewish literature in Argentina) (Buenos Aires, 1944), p. 921; Y. Tsudiker, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (August 2, 1961); Y. Botoshanski, in Di prese (August 14-16, 1961; November 21, 1963); M. Kushnir, in Omer (Tel Aviv) (November 24, 1961); Yoysef Horn, in Idishe tsaytung (Buenos Aires) (April 15, 1962; September 14, 1966); Yoysef Menselson, in Idishe tsaytung (January 18, 1965); G. Sapozhnikov, Pinkes tsu der forshung fun der yidisher literatur un prese (Records to research on Yiddish literature and the press) (New York, 1965), pp. 212-13; M. Ḥalamish, in Mikan umikarov (From here and from nearby) (Merḥavya, 1966); Y. Ben Mikhal, in Hapoel hatsayir (Tel Aviv) (Elul 2 [August 18], 1966).
Khayim Leyb Fuks
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 418.]
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