Sunday 24 June 2018


(DOVID)-SHIMSHN (SAMSON) ERDBERG (October 22, 1891-July 12, 1962)
            He was born in the town of Lubin (Łabuń), near Vlotslavek (Włocławek), Poland, into a Hassidic family.  He studied in religious elementary schools and with rabbis.  In private he also studied secular subject matter and foreign languages.  He went on to study (1913-1914) in Berlin and Paris.  In 1915 he moved to New York, where he worked as a Hebrew teacher.  He was also the manager and organizer of a teachers’ union.  In his youth he wrote a play in Hebrew about the Maharal of Prague [Judah Loew, 1520-1609].  He debuted in print with a story entitled “Tsvey shvester” (Two sisters) in the Warsaw newspaper Di idishe vokh (The Jewish week) in 1913.  He went on to published stories, feature pieces, and articles about Jewish education, theater, and literature in: Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper) for which he was also a co-editor, Tog (Day), Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter), Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal), Amerikaner (American), Dos idishe folk (The Jewish people), Kundes (Prankster), Idisher kongres (Jewish congress), Pinkes (Records), Gerekhtikeyt (Justice), and Feder (Pen)—all in New York; and in Hebrew, Lua aiasef, Meḥag leḥag (From holiday to holiday), Haivri (The Jew), Hauma (The nation), Hatoran (The duty officer), Haam (The people), Hadoar (The mail), and Sefer hashana leyehude amerika (American Jewish annual)—all in New York.  Over the years 1916-1918, he also contributed to Varhayt (Truth) in New York.  From 1919 he served as a member of the editorial board of Yidishes tageblat, in which he published a Hebrew column.  He was the editor of Far idish (For Yiddish) in 1930, which was published by the National Council of Young Israel to prevail upon the younger generation to speak and read Yiddish.  He also wrote for Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture) in New York and Di goldene keyt (The golden chain) in Tel Aviv, as well as for a number of English-language Jewish publications.  In book form, he published: a translation of George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda (New York: Kantorovitsh, 1920), 2 vols., 946 pp.; Idishe geshikhte in romanen un ertsehlungen, zikhroynes lebeys dovid (Jewish history in novels and stories, memoirs from the House of David), freely adapted from Hermann Reckendorf and Abraham Shalom Friedberg, Die Geheimnisse der Juden (The secrets of the Jews), 6 vols. with illustrations (New York, 1924)—(1) with a number of appendices from various sources, from the destruction of the First Temple until the destruction of the Second Temple; (2) the destruction of Jerusalem; (3) Bar Kokhba, Rav and Shmuel, Emperor Julian the Apostate’s letters, the Jewish queen of Yemen, Mohammed, the Jewish nuns, and the Kuzari; (4) the Crusades, David El Rey, the forced wearing of the yellow patch, and the poisoned wells; (5) expulsion from Spain and the Chmielmicki massacres; and (6) Shabbatai Tsvi and the French Revolution—this six-volume work was earlier published serially in Idishes tageblat; Fort a yid nokh erets-yisroel, rayze-bilder (A Jew goes to the land of Israel, a travel narrative) (New York, 1926), 253 pp.; Mortkhe emanuel noyekh, ṭroymer fun geule in amerike, roman (Mordecai Manuel Noah, dreamer of redemption in America, a [historical] novel) (New York-Buenos Aires, 1953), 485 pp.  He also wrote a great deal about Jewish history, American history, a series of articles on “Hassidism in America” (the first description of Hassidism and rebbes in the New World), and “Di sfardishe yidn in amerike” (Sefardic Jews in America [Spanish, Greek, Arabic, Yemeni]).  He also wrote a series of works entitled “Vi yidn hobn oyfgeboyt bronzvil” (How Jews built Brownsville), the “Jewish wonder city” of that time.  From his early youth he was active in the Zionist labor movement.  During WWII he was secretary in the committee in New York for relief for Jews in the Soviet Union.  He also published under the names: Sh. Rubinzon, Sh. Sorkes, Sherber, R. Shimshn, and Sh. Berg, among others.  He died on Long Island, New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934); B. Shefner, in Folkstsaytung (Warsaw) (October 2, 1925); A. Glants, in Tog (New York) (March 20, 1925); Ts. Cohen, in Dos yidishe folk (New York) (August 27, 1926); P. Novik, in Morgn-fhrayhayt (New York) (January 26, 1931); Y. Rapaport, in Vokhnshrift (Warsaw) (June 2, 1931); L. Finkelshteyn, in Tog (April 22, 1941); M. M. Gutlib, in Hadoar (New York) (December 12, 1941); B. Ts. Goldberg, in Tog (December 29, 1944; January 12, 1946; December 2, 1948; April 3, 1954; August 7, 1954; July 17, 1962; May 8, 1963; March 15, 1964); D, Perski, in Hadoar (January 25, 1954); Shmuel Niger, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (April 3, 1954; October 31, 1954); Moyshe Shtarkman, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (September 6, 1954); A. Mukdoni, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 19 (1954); Mukdoni, in Tsukunft (New York) (January 1955); G. Kressel, Leksikon hasifrut haivrit badorot haaḥaronim (Handbook of modern Hebrew literature), vol. 2 (Tel Aviv, 1967), p. 144; J. Shatzky, in In Jewish Bookland (New York) (September 1954).
Benyomen Elis

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