Thursday 31 January 2019


SHLOYME-LEYB KAVA (1889-1940s)
            A critic and essayist whose real name was Moyshe-Yoysef Dikshteyn (Moses Joseph Dickstein), he was living in Warsaw from 1896.  He studied for a short time in religious elementary school.  He extended his education on his own.  Over the years 1909-1912, he was secretary to Y. L. Perets.  He served as vice-chairman of the association of Jewish writers and journalists in Warsaw, and he was the founder of the publishing house “Literatur-fond” (Literature fund) and of the central press bureau of the association to service provincial newspapers.  At age fourteen he compiled (for the Warsaw bookdealer Dovid Sova) two issues for humor and satire entitled Dos yudishe vokhenblat (The Jewish weekly newspaper) and Der ashmeday (Ashmedai or Asmodeus).  He debuted in print in 1905 with his first fictional piece in N. Sokolov’s Telegraf (Telegraph).  In 1907 he edited Nay-tsayt (New times), in which he published many young writers (three issues appeared in print).  He also edited the anthology Melave-malke (Evening meal at the end of the Sabbath), for occasional literary pieces and the first twenty-seven lessons of Wilhelm Ostwald’s Di shul fun khemye, ershter araynfir in khemye (The school for chemistry, initial introduction to chemistry [original: Die schule der chemie]), translated by A. Raynharts and Sh. Mendelson (Warsaw: Kultur-lige, 1924), 220 pp.  He wrote poetry, mood pieces, and criticism—many under the pen name M. Vanvild—in: Nay-tsayt (among others, a critical essay on Sholem-Aleichem’s Der mabl [The flood]), Tsaytlin’s Yudishes vokhenblat (Jewish weekly newspaper), Unzer leben (Our life), A. Mukdoni’s Di yudishe yugend (Jewish youth), Avrom Reyzen’s Eyropeyishe literatur (European literature), Unzer zhurnal (Our journal), Fraynd (Friend) including numerous translated short stories from European literature, Varshaver tageblat (Warsaw daily newspaper) (1916/1917, using the pen name Ts. Broyde), Dos folk (The people) edited by Sh. Y. Stupnitski, and Unzer veg (Our way) (using the pen names Eykish, Eyb, and Gido).  In Moment (Moment) (1913), he published a pamphlet (under the pen name Daniel Tebimo) entitled Geboyrene plagyatoren (Born plagiarists).  In 1919 he tried to publish a Saturday newspaper, Letste nayes (Latest news)—two issues appeared.  In book form: Di idishe prese bay yatskan-hokhberg in di hend (The Yiddish press of Yatskan-Dikshteyn in hand) (Warsaw: Yugend, 1908), 15 pp.; Vegen idish, notitsen un bemerkungen (About Yiddish, notes and observations), using the pen name M. Vanvild (Warsaw: Yugend, 1908), 38 pp.; Aleynlehrer fun daytsh (Teach yourself German), using the pen name Dr. A. Shtiglits (Warsaw, 1915); Aleynlehrer fun der daytsher shprakh (Teach yourself the German language), with Fishl Lakhover—four of eighteen planned notebooks published; Daytsh-idishes verterbukh (German-Yiddish dictionary), with A. Y. Trivaks, one-sixth of the sixty printer’s sheets published (Warsaw: Unyon, n.d.); A klasiker fun der yudisher literatur, a shṭikel obshatsung fun sholem aleykhems literarisher tetigkeyt (A classic writer of Yiddish literature, a brief evaluation of Sholem-Aleichem’s activity) (Lodz: Lazar Kahan, 1918), 36 pp.; Pseydo-kunst un pseydo-kritik (Pseudo-art and pseudo-criticism), on Sh. An-ski’s Dibek (Dibbuk) and his director Dovid Herman (Lodz: Kultura, 1921), 42 pp.; Tsi iz shoyn faran a yidishe literatur? (Is there already a Yiddish literature?) (Warsaw, 1929), 38 pp.  Kava’s more valuable work was his collection of folklore and philology, Bay unz yuden (For us Jews) (Warsaw: P. Graubard, 1923), 217 pp.—one of the more important publications concerning Jewish folklore.  He translated Ludwig Jacobowski’s novel Verther der yud, roman (Werther the Jew, a novel [original: Werther, der Jude]) (Warsaw: B. Shimin, 1913), 320 pp.  In his irregular journalistic-literary work, he also used such pen names as: Shayke Lets, Z. Efras, P. Goldflam, and N. Benediktus.  He died in the Warsaw Ghetto. “He toppled the great ones,” wrote Y. Varshavski [Bashevis], and “he judged everything from his own standpoint, paying no heed to any authorities….  He was a serious critic, although too fierce and with demands too great for the present world.”

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 5 (Mexico City, 1966); Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 2 (Montreal, 1947); B. Mark, Umgekumene shrayber fun di getos un lagern (Murdered writers from the ghettos and camps) (Warsaw, 1954), p. 59; Elkhonen Tsaytlin, In a literarisher shtub, bilder, bagegenishn, epizodn (In a literary home, images, meetings, episodes) (Buenos Aires, 1946), pp. 52, 100-1; A. Mukdoni, In varshe un in lodzh (In Warsaw and in Lodz), vol. 1 (Buenos Aires, 1955), pp. 237-40; A. Kaganovski, Yidishe shrayber in der heym (Yiddish writers at home) (Paris: Oyfsnay, 1956), pp. 9-13, 20-24ff; A. Zak, In onheyb fun a friling, kapitlekh zikhroynes (At the start of spring, chapters of memoirs) (Buenos Aires: Farband fun poylishe yidn, 1962), pp. 72-73; Y. Varshavski (Y. Bashevis), in Forverts (New York) (May 15, 1964; December 6, 1979; December 7, 1979; December 13, 1979; December 14, 1979).
Berl Cohen

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