Monday 1 October 2018


LEYB (LEON) FOREM (b. July 7, 1902)
            He was born in Zamość, Lublin district, Poland, to poor parents.  He studied in religious elementary school and later in the municipal school.  He was mobilized in 1919 into the Polish army.  He served for several weeks under the worst conditions and then fled.  For almost a year, he wandered through Polish and Galician cities with a fake name.  In early 1921 he came to the United States and underwent all the hardships of an immigrant.  He worked in a sweatshop.  He began to write while quite young.  He debuted in print in Frayhayt (Freedom) in New York on December 3, 1922 with an impressionistic piece, “Iber vilyamsburger bridzh” (Over the Williamsburg Bridge).  He went on to publish these from time to time images from Poland and America.  He contributed to the journal Yung-kuznye (Young smithy) in New York, organ of the worker-writer association, and later he became an active contributor to Forverts (Forward) in New York; in 1960 he published a series of articles there (under the pen name F. Elmar) on famous trials; over the years 1964-1966, he visited on a special journalistic assignment the South African Jewish communities and carried out research on Jewish life there.  From 1971 he was living in Los Angeles.  His books would include: Rost, dertseylung (Mildew, stories) (New York: Yunge, 1926), 201 pp.; Buzhe reynarski, 1897-1914 (Buzhe Reynarski, 1897-1914) (New York, 1938), 319 pp.; Karmen un andere dertseylungen (Carmen and other stories) (Mexico City, 1939), 226 pp.; Frenklin d. ruzvelt, a byografye (Franklin D. Roosevelt, a biography) (New York: G. L. Eydelman, 1945), 252 pp.; Boyer fun a yishev, meksike (Builder of a settlement, Mexico) (Mexico City, 1947), 124 pp.  In Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal) in New York, he published a novel entitled Harlem (Harlem) in 1936, using the pen name L. Merof.  He published other serialized novels in Forverts in New York: Shturemdike yorn (Violent years), beginning on November 21, 1956; Sharlot (Charlotte), starting on March 23, 1962, under the pen name Lili Margolis; Unter a nayem himl (Under a new heaven), from November 12, 1965; Libes fun a tentserin (Loves of a dancer), beginning August 30, 1968; and Esperantsas tokhter (Esperanza’s daughter), from August 15, 1969.  In recent years he wrote solely in English.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; Y. Gertler, in Der veg (Mexico City) (February 11, 1938); Y. Vinyetski, in Der veg (December 10, 1938); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Der veg (December 17, 1938; July 8, 1939); Y. Glants, in Der veg (January 28, 1939).
Leyb Vaserman

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), cols. 438, 549.]

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