Tuesday 29 January 2019


LAZAR KAHAN (January 6, 1885-May 26, 1946)
            He was born in Goldingen (Kuldīga), Courland, the husband of Shoshane Kahan.  His father Shimen was the rabbi in Mitave (Mitava), Latvia, and author of religious texts.  He attended yeshiva in Zager (Žagarė), Lithuania.  He was active in Tseire-Tsiyon (Zionist youth), for a short time with the Sejmists, and finally with the Folks-partey (People’s party).  He was active in literary and drama societies, and as a delegate from the Lodz group “Dramatishe kunst” (Dramatic Art) in 1908 he participated in the Czernowitz Language Conference.  During WWII he roamed through Lithuania, Soviet Russia, Japan, and Shanghai.  He began publishing in 1906 in Warsaw’s Der veg (The way).  He published popular science and journalistic articles in Unzer leben (Our life), Roman-tsaytung (Fiction newspaper), Tsaytlin and Yatskan’s Idish vokhenblat (Jewish weekly newspaper), Moment (Moment), Haynt (Today), Fraynd (Friend), and Hoyzdoktor (House doctor) in which he placed a long series entitled “Berihmte idishe doktoyrim” (Famous Jewish doctors).  He wrote an especially great deal for the newspapers and journals that he edited: Lodzer nakhrikhten (Lodz reports), Lodzer tageblat (Lodz daily newspaper), Lodzer folksblat (Lodz people’s newspaper), Varshover tageblat (Warsaw daily newspaper) with H. D. Nomberg as literary editor, the weekly newspaper Dos folk (The people), the anthology Fayerlekh (Little fires), Faklen (Torches), Gants lodz (All of Lodz) (1913), Oyfboy (Reconstruction) in Lodz-Warsaw, Tshenstokhover tageblat (Częstochowa daily newspaper) (1918), and Varshe (Warsaw) which was an illustrated journal (1930).  From August 1926 until the last days of September 1939, he co-edited Warsaw’s Unzer ekspres (Our express).  For it he wrote feature pieces and reviews of theater and books.  He edited Lodz’s calendar over the course of four years, and with Zalmen Zilbertsvayg he edited (1922-1923) the weekly Teater un kunst (Theater and art) in Lodz.  The press he founded in 1918 brought out the collection Oyfgang (Arise) which published poetry by M. Broderzon, Hershele, and others.  He also published his own and translated newspaper novels, such as Far di toyern fun glik (Before the gates of happiness) in London’s Tsayt (Times) under the title Di sheyne saltshe (The beautiful Saltshe), Afn mizbeyekh fun libe (On the altar of love), Johann von Wildenradt’s Der yudisher firsht (The Jewish duke) in Lodzer tageblat (1914), as well as Georg Gothein’s Di natsyonaliteten-frage in poyln (The nationality question in Poland), Sil-Vara’s Englishe melukhe-mener, askvit un dzhordzh (English statesmen, Asquith and George [original: Englische Staatsmänner]), Karl Schoenherr’s drama Tayvels vayb (The devil’s wife [original: Weibsteufel]) with his wife Shoshane Kahan, and Helena Mniszek’s Metsoyres (Leper [original: Prokazhonnaia]) in Lodz (1920s), 350 pp.  In Shanghai he brought out a lithographed weekly Unzer velt (Our world).  In pamphlet and book form: Di folksbildung bay layten un bay unz (Public education among non-Jews and among us) (Lodz, 1918), 15 pp.; Di lage un di oyfgaben fun yidishn hantverker, yuden als pyoneren fun tekstil-industrye (The condition and tasks of Jewish artisans, Jews as pioneers in the textile industry) (1924), earlier serialized in Moment; Lazar kahans ilustrirter yohrbukh far industrye, handel un finansen (Lazar Kahan’s illustrated annual for industry, commerce, and finances) (Lodz-Warsaw, 1925), 130 pp.; Dis bukh fun libe, an opshatsung fun libe, flirt, laydenshaft un eyferzukht (The book of love, an appraisal of love, flirtation, passion, and jealousy) (Warsaw: L. Tsimerman); Flirt un kushn (Flirtation and kissing) (Warsaw: Bilige bikher, 1927).  Kahan was among the most dynamic men in the Yiddish press in Poland.  Meylekh Ravitsh characterized him as follows: “Kahan loved literature and theater, and he was a good friend of poets in Lodz—what they wanted they could write in his newspaper….  Kahan believed that a writer could write on any theme…because his ease in writing was always entangled with arguments.”  He died in Shanghai.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 3 (New York, 1959); Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 2 (Montreal, 1947); Noyekh Pryłucki, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) 2 (1931); Zusman Segalovitsh, Tlomatske 13, fun farbrente nekhtn (13 Tłomackie St., of zealous nights) (Buenos Aires: Central Association of Polish Jews in Argentina, 1946), p. 106; B. Y. Rozen, Portretn (Portraits) (Buenos Aires, 1956), pp. 171-80; Khayim Leyb Fuks, Lodzh shel mayle, dos yidishe gaystiḳe un derhoybene lodzh, 100 yor yidishe un oykh hebreishe literatur un kultur in lodzh un in di arumiḳe shtet un shtetlekh (Lodz on high, the Jewish spiritual and elevated Lodz, 100 years of Yiddish and also Hebrew literature and culture in Lodz and in the surrounding cities and towns) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1972), see index; Itonut yehudit shehayta (Jewish press that was) (Tel Aviv, 1973), see index; Y. Yeshurin archive, YINO (New York); American Jewish Yearbook (New York, 1947).
Berl Cohen

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