KOPL EPSHTEYN (KOPEL EPSTEIN) (November 20, 1860-May 5, 1931)
He was born in Vitebsk, Byelorussia. His father, although a great scholar, was lured by the Jewish Enlightenment (he was a friend of Avraham Mapu). His mother passed him off to be raised by his grandfather (her father), the rabbi of Vitebsk, R. Yeshaya Etin. In 1878 Epshteyn left for St. Petersburg, supporting himself by giving Hebrew lessons, and for a short time translated news for Dr. Kantor’s Hayom (Today). He was, however, living in St. Petersburg without residency rights, and the police expelled him, and he began wandering through towns of the Pale of Settlement. His principal means of sustenance was teaching. Under the pseudonyms of Ben-Arn and Ben-Menakhem, he wrote pieces for Der fraynd (The friend); in the 1920s his “Zikhroynes” (Memoirs) were published in Vilner tog (Vilna day). He wrote a number of storybooks or “fiction of the highest interest” in the style of Shomer (N. M. Shaykevitsh). A number of these were published, and it appears that a number were lost somewhere. We know only that he sold the manuscripts to a published in Berdichev—“A shtub mit grine lodn” (A house with green shutters) and “Fleysh fun a sirkhe” (The flesh of a lung adhesion). The published booklets were: Der karelsbader khosn, oder der ferhoster geliebter (The bridegroom from Karlsbad, or the despised beloved) (Vilna, 1893), 31 pp.; Der ferlarener brif oder a toes in pshat (The lost letter or literally an error) (Vilna, 1927), 32 pp.; Di untraye kale (The unfaithful bride) (Vilna: Rozenkrants and typesetter, 1893), 32 pp.; Leybe klots (Leybe the blockhead) (Vilna, 1912), 32 pp.; Familyen-bilder oder libe un gloybn (Family pictures or love and belief) (Odessa, 1900?).
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol.2; Vilner tog (Vilna) (March 11, 1931).