Wednesday 30 January 2019


SHIMSHN KAHAN (December 1905-July 1941)
            He was born in Vilna.  He graduated from the Vilna Jewish senior high school in 1925.  He was a teacher in Jewish schools and a prompter for traveling Yiddish theatrical troupes.  He became accustomed to the Gypsy lifestyle, folklore, and song.  He was a cofounder of the writers’ group “Yung vilne” (Young Vilna).  From 1929 he was a regular contributor to Vilner tog (Vilna day), for which he wrote poetry, features, reportage pieces, and theatrical criticism under such pen names as: Sh. K., Sh. Kh., Kof, and Reb Samson.  He contributed: “Araynmarsh fun yung-vilne in der yidisher literatur” (The festive entry into Yiddish literature of Young Vilna), Vilner tog (October 11, 1929); to the five collections of Yung-vilne (1934-1940); to the Almanakh (Almanac) of the Vilna Yiddish Literature and Journalists’ Association (1938); to Vilne emes (Vilna truth) and Kovne emes (Kovno truth); and to the Communist weekly Kurts (Brief), also published with the title Nayes (News) (1934/1935).  With D. Kaminski, M. Pups, and L. Strilovski, he compiled Birebidzhanish (Of Birobidzhan) (Vilna: B. Kletskin, 1935), 32 pp.  He composed revue numbers for the ensemble “Sambatyon,” “Azazel,” and “Ararat.”  He translated V. Kirshon’s comedy Der vunderlekher geshmelts (The wonderful alloy [original: Chudesnyi splav]), and he prepared for publication a booklet of translated Gypsy songs under the title Gildene podkoves (Golden horseshoes), a small dictionary entitled Ganeyvim-shprakh in yidish (Thieves language in Yiddish), and a book of his own poems.  A selection of his poems and reportage pieces, assembled by Leyzer Ran, remains in manuscript.  He was murdered in Ponar.

Sources: Sh. Beylis, in Vilner almanakh (Vilna almanac) (Vilna, 1939); Shmuel Niger, in Tog (New York) (October 29, 1939); Elye (Elias) Shulman, Yung vilne, 1929-1939 (Young Vilna, 1929-1939) (New York, 1946); Shmerke Katsherginski, Khurbn vilne (The Holocaust in Vilna) (New York, 1947); Leyzer Ran, 25 yor yung vilne (Twenty-five years of Young Vilna) (New York, 1955).
Leyzer Ran

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