BERISH EPLBOYM (September 25, 1887-July 1, 1945)
His full first name was Berish-Menakhem, born in Vukin (?), Lublin district, Poland. His father, Yisroel-Leyb, was an old Kotsker Hassid and a ritual slaughterer. At age five he was already studying Talmud and at fifteen he had acquired fame as a prodigy. At fifteen he began learning ritual slaughtering from his father, but Berish was drawn more to Talmudic disputation and speculative texts, and under the influence of the Rambam’s works he turned away from Hassidic piety. He devoured quantities of the novels of Shomer (N. M. Shaykevitsh); he wrote Hebrew rhymed verse and also disputations on tractate Kiddushin. At eighteen he departed for Warsaw, where he suffered a great deal; he studied some Russian and Polish, and half a year later he had to return home. Three years hence he made his way back to Warsaw and took up various kinds of work. He lived for a time in Lodz. He debuted in print in 1912 with a story entitled “Tsvey doyres” (Two generations) in Tageblat (Daily newspaper) in Lodz, edited by U. Uger, and later while he was living in a provincial city, he began to write Hassidic stories and folktales. The first story was published in Unzer lebn (Our life), and other works appeared in: Tageblat, Fraynt (Friend), Haynt (Today), and Berdichev’s Folks-shtime (Voice of the people), among others. With the outbreak of WWI, he roamed as far as Odessa, and there contributed to: Unzer lebn, Dos naye lebn (The new life), and Komunistishe shtim (Communist voice), among others. Around 1920 he returned to Warsaw, placed work in a variety of newspapers, and worked mainly on Yiddish translations for the publishing house Tsentral. In late 1922 he left Poland and settled in New York and later in Philadelphia. He wrote for Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper), later switching to Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal), for which he wrote many sketches, stories, and novels. He wrote longer stories and critical essays in Tsukunft (Future), Feder (Pen), and Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor), among others, in New York. He also wrote in Hebrew for: Haolam (The world), Hazman (The times), and Hatsfira (The siren), among others. He used such pseudonyms as: Dr. B. Grinbloy, A. Vasershteyn, Pensne, and B. Tapuaḥ. His novel Oyfbroyz, fun der shturmisher revolutsye-tsayt in rusland, 1917-1919 (Spurt, from the violent revolutionary era in Russia, 1917-1919) (Warsaw: Vanderer, 1923) was dramatized and staged (1925-1926) in a Kiev studio theater. On October 12, 1929 his work Gerangl, a shpil in 3 akten un 6 bilder (Struggle, a play in three acts and six scenes) was staged by the Vilna Troupe in New York. Under the pen name Ovn-Beys, he wrote weekly theater reviews for the Philadelphia edition of Morgn-zhurnal. He died in Philadelphia. His works in book form: In fryen harbst, dertseylung (In early autumn, a story) (Kovno-Berlin: Yidish, 1921), 58 pp.; Finstere vegn, fun letster ukraine (Dark paths, from Ukraine of late) (Warsaw: Tsentral, 1922), 163 pp.; In geviter (In a thunderstorm) (Warsaw: Tsentral, 1923), 216 pp.; Oyfbroyz [see above], three parts, 168 pp., 128 pp., 136 pp.; Amnon un tamar (Amnon and Tamar) (Warsaw: Tsentral, 1923), 319 pp., a translation of Avraham Mapu’s Ahavat-tsiyon (Love of Zion); Di zind fun shomron (The sin of Shomron) (Warsaw: Tsentral, 1923), 358 pp., a translation of Mapu’s Ashmat shomron (The guilt of Shomron); Zikhroynes vegn mendelen, fun farsheydene shriftshteler (Memories of Mendele, from various writers), an adaptation (Warsaw: Mendele, 1923), 149 pp.; Der vos hot geblondzhet (He who lost his way [original: Hatoe bedarkhe haḥayim]), a translation of a work by Perets Smolenskin, with a biography and characterization of Smolenskin, written by Ruvn Brainin (Warsaw: Sefer, 1927); Afn shvel, roman in dray teyln (At the threshold, a novel in three parts) (Warsaw-New York: Bzhoza, 1928), 382 pp.; Derleyzung (Redeption) (Warsaw: Aḥiasef, 1931), 404 pp.; Brider, roman (Brothers, a novel) (Warsaw: Bzhoza, 1931), 161 pp.; Dem zeydns shkie (Grandfather’s sunset) (Warsaw: Bzhoza, 1931), 113 pp.; Sheydveg (Crossroads) (Philadelphia: Kadima-tsentral, 1935), 308 pp.; Farloshn likht (Extinguished candle) (New York: World Jewish Culture Association, 1944), 171 pp. A number of his novels, such as Mishke yapontshik (Mishke Yaponchik), were not published in book form.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Getzel Kressel, Leksikon hasifrut haivrit badorot haaḥaronim (Handbook of modern Hebrew literature) (Merḥavya, 1966), vol. 1; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934); Shmuel Niger, in Tsukunft (New York) (May 1924); B. Rivkin, in Tsukunft (July 1928); A. Glants, in Tog (New York) (October 19, 1928); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (October 19, 1928); L. Fogelman, in Forverts (New York) (October 26, 1928; July 31, 1931); Meylekh Ravitsh, in Vokhnshriftn far literatur (Warsaw) (April 24, 1931); E. Almi, Mentshn un ideyen (Men and ideas) (Warsaw, 1933), pp. 112-21; Sh. D. Zinger, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (August 13, 1935); Almanakh (Almanac) of the ten-year anniversary of the B. Eplboym reading circle (Philadelphia, 1947); Sh. Slutski, Avrom reyzen-biblyografye (Avrom Reyzen’s bibliography) (New York, 1956), no. 4915.
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