LEYZER (ELIEZER) FRENKEL (August 1, 1920-December 28, 2007)
He was born in Podolay (Podu Iloaiei), near Jassy (Iași), Romania. From 1930 he was living in Iași. He was left an orphan on his father’s side at age twelve and was compelled to break off his education and go to work in a textile factory. He continued studying privately and in 1940 sat for the examination for middle school. That same year he became a teacher of Yiddish and Yiddish literature in the ORT (Association for the Promotion of Skilled Trades) school in Iași. He graduated from the department of literature and history at Bucharest University with a master’s degree. Over the years 1950-1954, he served as literary secretary for the Yiddish theater in Iași, translated plays for the theater, and gave lectures before the theatrical collective on Yiddish and Yiddish literature and drama. He left Romania in February 1962. In July 1962 he made aliya to the state of Israel and worked as a teacher in Ashkelon. He was imprisoned on four occasions in 1939, 1940, and 1941 for political reasons. He initially wrote in Romanian. He published two collections of stories (1938), Tolstoy un der historisher roman (Tolstoy and the historical novel) (1939), and a book (in French) Le problème Juif, vu et solutionné (The Jewish problem, seen and solved) (Iași, 1945). In French he also published a volume on the conception of popular art (Iași, 1947) and a number of essays on Paul Valéry, André Malraux, and Rainer Maria Rilke. In Yiddish in 1941 he published a textbook: Undzer shprakh (Our language), which for conspiratorial reasons carried on its title page: “Warsaw, 1938”; Antologye fun der nayer yidisher dikhtung (Anthology of modern Yiddish poetry) in Romanized transcription, edited with Y. Paner, preface by Yankev Grafer (Iași, 1945), 112 pp.; Tsu der frage vegn tsukunft fun yidish (On the question of the future of Yiddish) (Bucharest, 1946); Naye yidishe dikhtung (Modern Yiddish poetry), with Y. Paner, preface by Yankev Grafer (Iași, 1947), 320 pp.; An ofener briv tsu undzer yidishistisher inteligents, afn rand fun ben-adirs tsavoe-briv (An open letter to our Yiddishist intellectuals, on the margins of Ben-Adir’s testament) (Bucharest, 1947), 31 pp.; Dos yidishe vort, literarishe khrestomatye (The Yiddish word, literary reader) (Iași, 1948), 183 pp.; Yidishe shprakh, far di katedres fun 3-ter yor (Yiddish language for teachers at the third-year level) (Bucharest, 1957); Yidishe shprakh, far di katedres fun 4-ter yor (Yiddish language for teachers at the fourth-year level) (Bucharest, 1958), 135 pp. He also edited the collection Frayland (Freeland) (Iași, 1947). Together with Note Roytman, Itsik Shvarts, and Aleksander Shpiglblat, he prepared for publication a Yiddish-Romanian dictionary, which remains in manuscript form; and he published articles in Afn shvel (At the threshold) and Di goldene keyt (The golden chain), among other periodicals. He also contributed to: Shloyme bikl yoyvl-bukh, ateres shloyme tsu zayn 70stn geboyrntog (Shloyme Bikl jubilee volume, the crown of Solomon on his seventieth birthday) (New York, 1967). He was working on a doctorate, ca. 1965, at the Jerusalem Library on the sources and originality of Leyzer Shteynbarg’s fables—published as “Tsu di mekoyrim fun mikro un khazal in leyzer shteynbargs mesholim” (On the sources from biblical text and our sages in Leyzer Shteynbarg’s fables), Pinkes far der forshung fun der yidisher literatur un prese (Record of research on Yiddish literature and the press) 2 (1972), pp. 214-24 (New York). He was laid to rest in Ashkelon.
Sources: F. Aderca, in Timpul (Iași) (June 14, 1946); Elye (Elias) Shulman, Getseltn (New York) (summer 1946); Y. Paner, in Yankev mansdorf un zayn dor (Yankev Mansdorf and his generation) (Tel Aviv, 1957), pp. 105-6; Shloyme Bikl, Rumenye (Romania) (Buenos Aires, 1961), p. 399; Bikl, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (February 4, 1966); Dov Sadan, Avne miftan, masot al sofre yidish (Milestones, essays on Yiddish writers), vol. 1 (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1961), p. 198.
Elye (Elias) Shulman