Thursday 28 February 2019


TSEMEKH KOPELZON (b. February 21, 1869)
            He was born in Vilna.  He was among the Bundist leaders, known by his illegal name Timofey.  In 1905 he founded in Vilna the Bundist publishing house of Di velt (The world).  In 1908 he settled in New York.  He wrote several articles in the illegal Bundist Arbayter-shtime (Workers’ voice), as well as in Forverts (Forward) and Naye velt (New world).  On the history of the Jewish labor movement, his memoirs are very interesting: in the anthologies Dos revolutsyonere rusland (Revolutionary Russia) (New York, 1917) and Arbeter-luekh (Workers’ calendar) (Warsaw, 1922).  He became a Communist and in late 1923 set out for Soviet Russia.  He was killed in an automobile accident (roughly early 1930s).

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; A. Lyesin, Zikhroynes un bilder (Memories and images) (New York: L. M. Shteyn Folks-biblyotek, 1954), pp. 262-65; Y. Sh. Herts, Di geshikhte fun bund (History of the Bund) (New York, 1960), pp. 58, 59, 95ff; Historishe shriftn (Vilna-Paris) (1939), see index; Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Berl Cohen


YISROEL-YEKHIEL KOPELOF (ISADORE KOPELOFF) (September 15, 1858-September 23, 1933)
            He was born in Babruysk, Byelorussia.  He attended yeshivas and was extremely knowledgeable of Talmud, Tanakh, Hassidism, and Kabbala.  Because of his socialism, he suffered persecution from the police, and he thus departed for the United States in 1882.  He took up a variety of trades, until he reached a business which suited him.  In America he was active in the Jewish anarchist labor movement.  He helped to found the journal Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor).  He was a Socialist Revolutionary, later joining the Jewish national-socialist movement.  He helped to establish Chaim Zhitlovsky’s Dos naye leben (The new life) and later the Labor Zionist daily newspaper Di tsayt (The times).  From 1888 he was contributing articles to Fraye arbeter shtime, Arbayter tsaytung (Workers’ newspaper), and from time to time Forverts (Forward), Varhayt (Truth), Dos naye leben, Tog (Day), and Di tsayt.  Kopelof’s greatest achievement was three volumes of memoirs which he published under various titles: Amol is geven (It once was), memoirs of Jewish life in Lithuania in the years 1860-1882 (New York: Max N. Mayzel, 1926), 379 pp.; Amol in amerike, zikhroynes fun dem yidishn lebn in amerike in yorn 1883-1904 (Once upon a time in America, memoirs of Jewish life in America in the years 1883-1904) (Warsaw: Bzhoza, 1928), 464 pp.; Amol un shpeter, di letste yorn fun foriḳn yorhundert biz di tsvantsikste yorn fun heyntikn yorhundert in ameriḳe (Once and later, the last years of the previous century until the 1920s in America) (Vilna: Altnay, 1932), 412 pp.  His book Amoliḳe yorn, iberlebungen fun a idish ingel in der alter heym (Years past, experiences of a Jewish boy in the old country) is a shortened version of his memoirs, published for young people (New York: Matones, 1931), 208 pp.  Concerning Amol in amerike, Moyshe Zilberfarb wrote: “A treasury of Jewish customs, habits, and traditions, a life path which meanders from a religious elementary school in Babruysk through the Shklov yeshiva to the anarchist association in New York.”  Moyshe Shalit noted: “A great deal of material possessing first-class significance.”  He also wrote under the pen names Nakhbi Ben Vafsi and Khayim Shrayber.  He died in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; Shmuel Niger, in Tog (New York) (May 2, 1926); Y. Shatski, in Tsukunft (new York) (November 1926); Moyshe Zilberfarb, in Bikher-velt (Warsaw) (July 1928); Moyshe Shalit, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) 22 (1932); H. Vyernik, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (May 29, 1932); Fraye shriftn (Warsaw) 15 (1933); Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York); American Jewish Yearbook (New York, 1934).
Sh. Apter


            He was born in Kalvarye (Kalvarija), Lithuania.  He was one of the main contributors to the daily Folksblat (People’s newspaper) in Kovno (1`930-1940).  He wrote numerous pieces about matters of international politics.  At the time of the German invasion of Lithuania, he fled from Kovno and was killed along the road.  In book form: Rabindranat tagor, lebn, shafn un gezelshaftlekhe ideologye (Rabindranath Tagore, life, works, and social ideology) (Kovno, 1933), 47 pp.
Berl Cohen

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 476.]


RIVKE (RIVKA) KOPE (January 2, 1910-1995)
            A poetess and storyteller—surnamed at birth: Kopelovitsh—she was born in Warsaw.  She received a traditional education.  She graduated from a trade school run by ORT (Association for the Promotion of Skilled Trades).  In 1931 she made her way to Paris.  She debuted in print in 1937 in the Parisian daily newspaper Naye prese (New press).  She published poetry, stories, and literary essays in: Unzer vort (Our word), Unzer kiem (Our existence), Tsukunft (Future), Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor), Zayn (To be), the almanac Yidish (Yiddish) (New York, 1961), Dorem-afrike (South Africa), Yisroel-shtime (Voice of Israel), and the anthology Khayfe (Haifa), among other serials.  Her works include: Toy fun shtilkeyt, lider (Dew of silence, poetry) (Paris: Oyfsnay, 1951), 91 pp.; A nay lebn, dertseylungen (A new life, stories) (Paris, 1959), 153 pp.; Shtern in mayn shoyb (Stars at my window), poetry (Paris, 1961), 206 pp.; Kolirn un klangen (Colors and sounds), poetry (Paris, 1967), 58 pp.; Intim mitn bukh, mekhabrim, bikher, meynungen (Intimate with a book, authors, books, opinions), essays (Paris, 1973), 312 pp.; Simfonye in vint (Symphony in the wind) (Paris, 1978), 278 pp.; Intim mitn bukh, vol. 2 (Paris, 1983), 270 pp.; Dos broyt fun mayn bager (The bread of my desire) (Paris, 1987), 130 pp.  “Rivike Kope is an original poet,” noted Meylekh Ravitsh, and “her volume of poems Toy fun shtilkeyt…has succeeded in differentiating silence….  Silence can mute its music in all manner of tones, and Rivke Kope’s tone was and is original.”

Sources: Yankev Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (July 10, 1953); D. Volpe, in Dorem-afrike (Johannesburg) (August 1959); Avrom Shulman, in Unzer shtime (Paris) (November 4, 1961); Elye (Elias) Shulman, in Forverts (New York) (1983).
Dr. Noyekh Gris

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 476.]


BENYOMEN KAPMAN (December 25, 1887-December 3, 1965)
            A painter and artist, he was born in Vitebsk.  In 1903 he emigrated to the United States.  He debuted in print in Dovid Ignatov’s Shriftn (Writings) with a mystical-philosophical poem and went on to published poetry and fantastic essays—all in an original style.  He wrote about Jewish artists for: Idisher kunst tsenter (Jewish art center), Frayhayt (Freedom), and Tsukunft (Future), also under the pen name Benvenu.  He added illustrations to a series of Yiddish books.  His images may be found in many museums.  He was a cofounder of the Jewish art section of the World Jewish Culture Congress.  He died in Teaneck, New Jersey.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; Sh. Raskin, in Tsukunft (New York) (March 1917); Y. Likhtenshteyn, Vitebsk amol (Vitebsk in the past) (New York, 1956), pp. 454-55; M. Krishtol, in Forverts (New York) (November 10, 1963); Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Dovid-Noyekh Miler


BOREKH KAPLINSKI (b. April 16, 1913)
            He was born in Vilna.  He studied in a Jewish public school in Zhetel, in a Grodno high school, and law in Vilna.  In 1935 he graduated from the Tarbut teachers’ seminary and was a teacher in several towns.  He was confined in the Vilna ghetto and later in several concentration camps.  After the war he lived for two years in Lodz.  In 1948 he departed for Israel, graduating in law in 1962 from Tel Aviv University and practicing in Tel Aviv as a lawyer.  He published reportage pieces in Haynt (Today) in Warsaw, Bafrayung (Liberation) in Lodz, and later contributed to Bleter far oylim (Pages for immigrants to Israel) in Tel Aviv.  He edited: Pinkes zhetl (Records of Zhetel) (Tel Aviv, 1957); Pinkes hrubishov (Records of Hrubieszów) (Tel Aviv, 1962); Seyfer kozhenits (Volume for Kozienice) (Tel Aviv, 1969).
Ruvn Goldberg


ARN KAPLIN (1874-October 17, 1935)
            The Americanized name of Avrom Kaplanovitsh, he was born in Vornyan (Voroniai), near Vilna; he was the brother of Dan-Pinkhes Kaplanovitsh.  In 1905 he emigrated to the United States and took up journalism.  He contributed for many years to Varhayt (Truth), for a short time to Tog (Day), for several years to Shikager kuryer (Chicago courier), and to Philadelphia’s Idishe velt (Jewish world).  He died in New York.

Sources: Morgn frayhayt (New York) (October 26, 1935); M. Nadir, in Signal (February 1936).
Berl Cohen


            He was born in Vilna Province.  In his childhood he moved with his parents to Minsk.  In 1912 he passed the baccalaureate examinations in Odessa and in 1925 graduated from the Yiddish division of the philological university in Minsk.  He took up teaching in Jewish schools in Minsk and from 1932 in Birobidzhan.  He published pedagogical articles in Birobidzhaner shtern (Birobidzhan star).  In book form: Rusish in der yidisher shul (Russian in the Jewish school) (Moscow: Emes, 1935) and a Russian-Yiddish dictionary (Moscow, 1941) (unseen).

Source: Sovetish heymland (Moscow) 12 (1983).

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 476.


SHMUEL KAPLANSKI (1882-December 18, 1965)
            He was born in Vitebsk.  He attended religious elementary school, and he graduated from a Russian public school in Vitebsk and a trade school in Dvinsk (Dinaburg, Daugavpils).  In 1904 he was deported to Siberia for revolutionary activity.  He escaped and in 1905 left for Argentina.  There he edited (with P. Vald) the socialist Jewish journal Der avangard (Avant-garde) from August 1908 to April 1910.  He later became editor of the Russian socialist journal Argentinskaia zhizn’ (Argentinian life).  He also wrote for Unzer vort (Our word) in Buenos Aires (1911).  He died in Buenos Aires.

Sources: P. Kats, Tsu der geshikhte fun der idisher zhurnalistik in argentine (On the history of Jewish journalism in Argentina) (Buenos Aires, 1929), p. 161; Antologye fun der yidisher literatur in argentine (Anthology of Jewish literature in Argentina) (Buenos Aires, 1944), p. 932; P. Vald, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (December 23, 1965).
Yekhezkl Lifshits


SHLOYME KAPLANSKI (March 6, 1884-December 7, 1950)
            He was born in Bialystok.  He studied in religious elementary school, public school, and high school.  He graduated as an engineer from the Vilna polytechnic.  He was a theoretician of Labor Zionism and one of its leaders.  He took on important positions in the Zionist world movement.  From 1932 he was director of the Haifa technical school.  He wrote in Russian, German, and Hebrew.  In Yiddish he also contributed to: Arbayter-tsaytung (Workers’ newspaper) in Warsaw and Czernowitz; Arbayter-vort (Workers’ word) in Cracow (1921); Di naye gezelshaft (The new society) in Warsaw (1927); and elsewhere.  He published books in several languages; in Yiddish: Doktor benyomen theodor hertsl, zayn lebn un zayne maysim farn yudishen folk (Dr. Benjamin Theodor Herzl, his life and deeds on behalf of the Jewish people), under the pen name Elye Ben Berakhel (Podgórze-Kraków: Zionist People’s Library, 1904), 61 pp.; Vos iz azoyns natsyonale oyṭonomye? (What is this national autonomy?) (Warsaw: Arbayter heym, 1918), 15 pp.; Vifil menshen kon oyfnemen erets-yisroel (How many men the land of Israel can take in) (Warsaw: Zionist Organization in Poland, 1920), 24 pp.; Di kolonizatorishe oyfnamsfeikeyt fun erets-yisroel (The land of Israel’s capacity to take in colonizers) (Warsaw, 1931), 23 pp.; Fun onzog tsu farvirklekhung (From promise to realization) (Warsaw, 1932), 416 pp., appearing in 1950 under the title Ḥazon vehagshama (Vision and fulfillment), 517 pp.  He translated D. Pasmanik’s Di theorye un praktike fun’m poyle-tsienizmus (The theory and practice of Labor Zionism) (Cracow, 1906), 110 pp.  He died in Haifa.

Sources: Getzel Kressel, Leksikon hasifrut haivrit (Handbook of Hebrew literature), vol. 2 (Meravya, 1967); Sefer haishim (Biographical dictionary) (Tel Aviv, 1936/1937), p. 440; L. Shpizman, Geshtaltn (Images) (Buenos Aires, 1962), pp. 68-75; Y. Zerubavel, Geshtaltn (Images) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1967), pp. 60-72; Berl Loker, Mikitov ad yerushalayim (From Kitov to Jerusalem) (Jerusalem, 1969/1970), pp. 23, 74-92; M. Zinger, Shelomo kaplanski (Shelomo Kaplansky) (Jerusalem, 1971); A. Rays, Shelomo kaplanski (Shelomo Kaplansky) (Tel Aviv, 1972)
Ruvn Goldberg


G. KAPLANSKI (January 28, 1889-March 1, 1971)
            He was born in Vitebsk.  In 1912 he emigrated to Argentina.  His publishing house brought out Yiddish textbooks, among others: the first elementary booklet, Ershte bletlekh, ilustrirte alef-beys (First pages, illustrated ABCs) by B. Heler and Y. Roze (Buenos Aires, 1930-1931, 2 parts, which went through six printings; M. Alperson’s Draysik yor in argentine (Thirty years in Argentina); and Y. Y. Zinger’s (I. J. Singer), Yoshe kalb (Yoshe Kalb); among others.  He died in Buenos Aires.
Yoysef Horn


            He wrote a doctoral dissertation at Harvard University in 1951 on the linguistic relations in Yoysef Herts’s Ester oder di belonte tugend, ayne posse in fir abshniten yidish-daytsh mundart als baylage tsum shalakhmones an purim (Esther or the rewarded virtue, a farce in four parts, Judeo-German dialect as supplement to Purim treats) (Fürth, 1828).  The dissertation is a significant contribution both to research on Jewish Enlightenment literature in the Yiddish language and to linguistic research of a dialect of Western Yiddish, very close to the time of the decline of Yiddish in Germany.  A portion of the thesis was published in an expanded form, with the co-author Nathan Süsskind: The Language of Herz’s Esther: A Study in Judeo-German Dialectology (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1976), XIV + 439 pp.

Source: Max Weinreich, in Yude a. yofe-bukh (Judah A. Joffe book) (New York, 1958), pp. 163, 179.
Dovid Katz

Wednesday 27 February 2019


DAN-PINKHES KAPLANOVITSH (December 12, 1880-September 26, 1932)
            A storyteller, feuilletonist, and translator, he was born in Vornyan (Voroniai), Vilna region.  He was orphaned early on and raised in poverty.  He attended religious elementary school and the Smargon yeshiva.  In 1899 he moved to Vilna and took up a general education as an external student.  He passed the examinations for four years of high school and became a private tutor.  Over the years 1903-1905, he was deported to Siberia for his revolutionary work.  He debuted in print in 1904 in St Petersburg’s Fraynd (Friend) with an image of life in exile.  He went to published there stories, sketches, and impressions, as well as in other serials: Dos yudishe folk (The Jewish people), Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper), Yudishe virklikhkeyt (Jewish reality), Lekoved peysekh (In honor of Passover) in 1908 (edited by H. D. Nomberg), Leben un visenshaft (Life and science), Di yudishe velt (The Jewish world), Tsukunft (Future), and Dos naye leben (The new life) in New York, among others.  In 1901 he began writing, under the pen name DON, weekly features in the Vilna dailies Der tog (The day) and Der shtern (The star).  He published, 1911-1912, in Odessa’s Der id (The Jew) and Tsaytigs (Mature).  In 1913 he edited Byalistoker togblat (Bialystok daily newspaper); in 1914 he co-edited the Vilna daily Dos folk (The people); over the years 1916-1918, he was one of the principal contributors to Vilna’s Letste nayes (Latest news), for which he wrote feature pieces and articles on political and Jewish community topics, as well as numerous translations.  He later wrote for Unzer fraynd (Our friend) in Vilna and from 1924 for Di tsayt (The times) of which he was the actual editor.  His books include: Shriften (Writings), stories and sketches (Vilna: Di velt, 1909), 130 pp., second edition (Warsaw, 1910); Eynzame mensh, dertseylungen un humoreskes (Lonely man, stories and humorous sketches) (Vilna, 1920), 80 pp.; Khaveyrim (Friends), a story (Vilna: B. Kletskin, 1920), 24 pp.; In a fargliverte shtot, vilne unter di daytshn, bilder un humoreskn (In a hardened city, Vilna under the Germans, images and humorous sketches) (Vilna, 1921), 128 pp.  Kaplanovitsh’s comedy Di yerushe (The inheritance) was staged in Vilna in 1918.  His translations include: Zikhroynes fun a nikolayever soldat (Memoirs of a Nikolas soldier) (Vilna: B. A. Kletskin, 1921), 106 pp.; E. Pimenov, In dem land fun eybikn ayz (In the country of eternal ice) (Vilna: B. A. Kletskin, 1922), 94 pp.; Mark Twain, Yunge gazlonim (Young thieves [original: Tom Sawyer]) (Warsaw: B. Shimin, 1923), 140 pp.  Many of his translations appeared in Vilna’s Letste tsayt: Hermann Sudermann, Geshikhte fun a shtiler mil (Story of a silent mill [original: Die Geschichte der stillen Mühle]); Arthur Conan Doyle, Der hunt fun baskervil (The Hound of the Baskervilles); Peter Kropotkin, Zikhroynes fun a revolutsyoner (Memoirs of a revolutionary); stories by Chekhov, Stefan Żeromski, de Maupassant, and others.  In the words of Zalmen Reyzen: “As a storyteller, Kaplanovitsh belongs to the realistic strain in Yiddish literature….  His stories depict the…lives of little people from small Jewish towns or big cities with their troubles, with their loneliness, with the entire sadness of their commonplace lives.  He has an acute eye, a sincerity of tone, and a sense of humor.”  He died in Vilna.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; Reyzen, in Leben un visenshaft 5 (1909); M. Shalit, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) 56 (1925); D. Tsharni (Daniel Charney), in Tsukunft (New York) (December 1935); Itonut yehudit shehayta (Jewish press that was) (Tel Aviv, 1973), see index; Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Leyzer Ran


            She was a cofounder of “Hazemir” (The nightingale) in Lodz and Warsaw.  She published articles in Unzer lebn (Our life) and Haynt (Today).  She composed a libretto for an opera entitled Tsien (Zion).  In pamphlet form: Froyen-problem (Women’s issue) (Warsaw, 1927), 20 pp.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3 (under “Yisroel Mereminski”); N. Sokolov, in Sefer haishim (Biographical dictionary) (Tel Aviv, 1936/1937), p. 340.
Berl Cohen


PEYSEKH KAPLAN (September 4, 1870-1943)
            He was a Hebrew and Yiddish writer, born in Stavisk, Lomzhe region, Poland.  In 1883 he was brought to join his father in Horodishtsh (Gorodishche).  He studied in religious elementary school and yeshivas.  From 1888 he was living in Bialystok.  He turned his attention to teaching, and in 1897 he graduated from the teachers’ training course in Grodno and opened a city school in 1900.  He later devoted himself entirely to journalism and editorial work.  He was initially a Zionist, later switching to territorialism, and finally (in 1918) to the Folkspartey (People’s party); and he was a councilman in the Jewish city council of Bialystok.  He did good work on behalf of Jewish music and published several songbooks in Hebrew and Yiddish.  He debuted in print in 1889 in Hamelits (The advocate) and contributed to other Hebrew periodicals as well.  He was a fierce opponent of Yiddish, calling it “safa bazuya” (a despised language), but after starting 1904 by writing for Tog (Day) and Fraynd (Friend) in St. Petersburg, he grew closer to Yiddish, and from 1914 he was tied in his literary journalistic career to it.  He published articles, feature pieces, stories, reviews, and from time to time poetry in M. Shiva’s Di hayntige tsayt (Contemporary times), Dos byalistoker vort (The Bialystok word) which he edited (1913-1914, initially a weekly and later a daily), and other serials in Bialystok; correspondence pieces in Haynt (Today), Moment (Moment) using the pen name Z. Vaynshteyn, and Forverts (Forward) under the pen name Tsemekh.  His most productive literary-journalistic work, though, was connected to the daily newspaper Dos naye lebn (The new life), which he founded in 1919 and existed (in the early 1930s under the title Unzer lebn [Our life]) until the outbreak of WWII.  Almost every day, he wrote for this newspaper an article, feature, fictional item, theater or film review, using such pseudonyms as: P. K., Khonen, M. Fuksman, B. Ts-n, Z. Goldshteyn, and Yedidye.  He also edited Byalistoker vort (Bialystok word) in 1917 (initially a weekly, later a daily) and Byalistoker almanakh (Bialystok almanac) (1931), and co-edited Byalistoker leksikon (Bialystok handbook) (1935), among other works.  Kaplan’s ghetto poems were published in Shmerke Katsherginski’s Lider fun di getos un lagern (Poems of the ghettos and concentration camps) (New York, 1948), Moyshe Prager’s Min hametsar karati (From the depths I read) (Jerusalem, 1956), B. Marks’s Der oyfshtand in byalistoker geto (The resistance in the Bialystok ghetto) (Warsaw: Jewish Historical Institute, 1950), and Hubert Witt’s Der Fiedler vom Getto: Jiddische Dichtung aus Polen (The fiddler of the ghetto, Yiddish poetry from Poland) (Leipzig, 1966, 1978).  One of Kaplan’s last ghetto poems, entitled “Rivkele di shabesdike” (Rivkele the Sabbath [girl]), was published in Folks shtime (Voice of the people) in Warsaw (August 17, 1960).  In Yad Vashem in Jerusalem there may be found copies of his Byalistoker yudnrat (Bialystok Jewish council) and Geyresh byalistok (Expulsion of Bialystok).  In book and pamphlet form: Di yudishe natsyonal biblyothek in yerusholaim (The National Jewish Library in Jerusalem) (Odessa: Zionist kopek library, 1911/1912), 18 pp.; Yapanishe mayselekh (Japanese stories) (Bialystok, 1921), 91 pp.; Gezang-oytser far shul un heym (Treasury of songs for school and home), 108 new Yiddish songs with notation (Kaplan’s own songs which he wrote while running a children’s home, 1914-1915) (Bialystok, 1924), 105 pp. + 64 pp.; Byalistoker zamelheft, leṭoyves der biliger un umzister kikh (Bialystok anthology, on behalf of the inexpensive and free kitchen), 3 vols. (Bialystok, 1933-1938).  His translations include: M. Mandelshtam, An ofene brief tsu di rusishe tsienistn (An open letter to the Russian Zionists) (Vilna: Widow and Brothers Romm, 1904/1905), 16 pp. (several printings); Y. Zangwill, Der teritoryalizm un zayne gegner (Territorialism and its opponents) (Warsaw: Medine, 1905/1906), 32 pp.; Lieder-bukh, a zamlung fun gezangen far khor un solo (Songbook, a collection of songs for chorus and solo), translated from classical poems with music by Felix Mendelssohn, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, and others, with seven original pieces (Warsaw: Bikher-far-ale, 1912), 160 pp., second edition (Warsaw, 1914); Krilovs mesholim (Krykov’s fables) (Bialystok: Kultur-lige, 1918), 78 pp., full edition (Bialystok: A. Albek, 1921-1922), three parts in 2 vols., 146 pp.; V. Korolenko, On a loshn (Without a language [original: Bez yazyka]) (Bialystok: Dos bukh, 1921), 202 pp.; Heinrich Mann, Di orime, roman (The poor [original: Die Armen: Roman] (Bialystok: A. Albek, 1921), 258 pp.; Dmitry Mamin-Sibiryak, Khaneles mayselakh (Hannah’s tales), under the pen name Yedidye (Bialystok: Kultur-lige, 1921), two parts in one volume; Rudyard Kipling, Der keml un zayn horb (The camel and his hump [original: “How the Camel Got His Hump”]) (Bialystok: Dos bukh, 1921), 15 pp.; Der alter kongur (The old kangaroo [original: “The Sing-Song of Old Man Kangaroo”]) (Bialystok: Dos bukh, 1921), 16 pp.; Shir hashirim (Song of Songs) (Bialystok: A. Albek, 1922), 27 pp.; Rambam in yidish, geklibene shriftn (Maimonides in Yiddish, selected writings) (Bialystok: Unzer prese, 1935), 160 pp.  Kaplan also translated plays, opera, and operettas which were staged 1912-1914 in Yiddish theaters: Shoshane di tsnue (Shoshana the chaste woman), Khave (Eve), Tsigayner-libe (Gypsy love), Puptshik (Little guy), and Meydl-mark (Girl market).  Two of them were published: Pietro Mascagni, Di dorfishe ere (Village honor [original: Cavalleria Rusticana (Rustic chivalry)]) (Warsaw: Bikher-far-ale, 1912/1913), 22 pp.; Ruggero Leoncavallo, Di payatsn (The clowns [original: Pagliacci]) (Warsaw: Bikher-far-ale, 1912), 35 pp.  In his first period, Kaplan not only contributed to many Hebrew-language periodicals, but he also published a series of books in Hebrew, largely translations, and he also translated from Hebrew into Yiddish, such as: Dovid Pinski, Gliksfargesene (Happily forgotten), 16 pp.; Osip Dimov, Shma yisroel (Hear, O Israel), 50 pp.; M. Ornshteyn, Dos eybike lid (The eternal song)—all: Bialystok: Habima, 1913.  He died in the Bialystok ghetto.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; Getzel Kressel, Leksikon hasifrut haivrit (Handbook of Hebrew literature), vol. 2 (Meravya, 1967); Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) 23 (1924); Unzer lebn (Bialystok) (October 14, 1938); Zusman Segalovitsh, Tlomatske 13, fun farbrente nekhtn (13 Tłomackie St., of zealous nights) (Buenos Aires: Central Association of Polish Jews in Argentina, 1946), p. 187; R. Rayzner, Umkum fun byalistoker geto (The destruction of the Bialystok ghetto) (Melbourne, 1948), p. 155; Avrom Shmuel Hershberg, Pinkes byalistok (Records of Bialystok), vols. 1-2 (New York, 1949-1950), see index; B. Marks, Der oyfshtand in byalistoker geto (The resistance in the Bialystok ghetto) (Warsaw: Jewish Historical Institute, 1950), pp. 143-44; 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. 206-9; E. R. Malachi, in Al admat besarabya (On Bessarabian soil) (Tel Aviv, 1962/1963), pp. 16-21; Itonut yehudit shehayta (Jewish press that was) (Tel Aviv, 1973), see index; YIVO archives (New York).
Berl Cohen

Tuesday 26 February 2019


            He was the first editor of Der idisher fihrer (The Jewish leader) which began to appear in print in 1925 in Lynn, Massachusetts, later moving over to Boston.  There he published it for a short period of time as a daily newspaper, later a biweekly and weekly, until it shut down with issue 412 on October 5, 1926

Sources: S. Brokhes, Di geshikhte fun der yidisher prese in masatshuzets (The history of the Yiddish press in Massachusetts) (New York, 1939), p. 29.
Berl Cohen


NEKHEMYE (NATHAN) KAPLAN (b. August 1881)[1]
            He was born in Bialystok.  He studied in yeshivas, later in a Russian middle school.  His father, Kasriel, was a pioneer follower of the Jewish Enlightenment in Bialystok.  In 1906 he made his way to New York.  He began writing in 1910, also using the pen name Ben Khorin, in: Yudishe emigrant (Jewish immigrant) in St. Petersburg, Der idisher imigrant (The Jewish immigrant) in New York, Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper), Haynt (Today), Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor), and Kinder-zhurnal (Children’s magazine), among others.  He served as editor of Idisher kunst zhurnal (Jewish art journal) in New York.  In book form: In blumen-land, dramatishe fantazye in eyn akt un dray stsenes (In the land of flowers, a dramatic fantasy in one act and three scenes) (New York: Matones, 1925), 9 pp. + 38 pp.; Simfoni muzik, kurtse derklerung iber dem inhalt fun di vikhtigste simfonis (Symphony music, short explanations of the content of the most important symphonies) (New York, 1925), 210 pp.; Shtimungen, lider (Moods, poetry), with Yitskhok Finkel (Vilna: F. Garber, 1930), 13 pp.; Lernbukh fun esperanto (Esperanto textbook) (New York), 96 pp.  His translations include: Oscar Wilde, Poezi in proze (Poetry in prose) (New York, n.d.), 44 pp.; Geklibene perl fun tanakh (Selected pearls from the Tanakh) (New York, 1913), 78 pp. + 62 pp.; Ethel L. Voynich, Der shtekhediger, historisher roman (The gadfly, a historical novel) (New York: Literarisher ferlag, 1917), 265 pp.; Rabindranath Tagore, Tshitra (Chitra) (New York, 1919), 36 pp.; Stanisław Przybyszewski, Ametisten (Amethysts) (New York, 1919), 19 pp.; Maurice Maeterlinck, Di shvester bitris (Sister Beatrice [original Soeur Béatrice]) (New York: Literarishe perl, 1919), 47 pp.  Kaplan’s translation of Mikhail Artsybashev’s play Dos gezets fun vildn (The law of the savage) was staged by Maurice Schwartz.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; Byalistoker shtime (New York) (October 1924); Byalistoker leksikon (Bialystok handbook) (Bialystok, 1935); autobiographical notes (gives birth date as August 1881); Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Yekhezkl Lifshits

[1] Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3, claims it was September 1880.


            He was the author of Khokhmes oves, al masekhet oves, enṭhalṭ fiele vikhtige un interesante droshes fir ale gelegenheyten (Wisdom of the father, on tractate Avot, including many important and interesting sermons for every opportunity) (New York, 1949), 122 pp.; and Teyves noyekh, al khamishe khumshey toyre, enthalṭ fiele vikhṭige un interesante droshes fir ale gelegenheyten (Noah’s Ark, on the five books of the Torah, including many important and interesting sermons for every opportunity) (New York, 1946), 5 vols.
Berl Cohen


            He served as co-editor of the weekly Volkovisker lebn (Wołkowysk life) (1926-1939).  Several of his poems were published in Der shtrahl (The beam [of light]) and Leben un visenshaft (Life and science) 11 (1910).  He kept a diary in the Volkovisk (Wołkowysk) ghetto, which was lost.  He died in the Wołkowysk ghetto.

Source: Volkovisker yizker-bukh (Wołkowysk remembrance volume), vol. 1 (New York, 1949) pp. 507-12.
Berl Cohen


MORTKHE-ARN KAPLAN (b. September 3, 1889)
            He was born in Medvedits (Medveditsa?), Minsk region.  In 1908 he emigrated to the United States.  He was rabbi in various parts of New York.  He contributed articles to Morgn zhurnal (Morning journal), Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper), Varhayt (Truth), Tog (Day), Dos yudishe likht (The Jewish light), Der idisher vekhter (The Jewish sentry), and Der idisher vegvayzer (The Jewish guide).  In book form: Taares-hamishpokhe (Marital fidelity), in Yiddish and English (New York, 1922/1923), 36 pp. + 90 pp.; Der natsyonaler redner, a zamlung fun droshes, redes un leḳṭshurs iber shabes, yomim neroim, ale idishe yontoyvim (The national speaker, a collection of sermons, speeches, and lectures for the Sabbath, High Holidays, all Jewish holidays) (New York: Hebrew Publishing Company, 1929), 358 pp.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; Who’s Who in American Jewry (New York, 1926).
Yekhezkl Lifshits


            He was publisher, born in Sernik (Serniki), near Pinsk.  In 1908 he founded in Warsaw the publisher Hashaar (The dawn), which brought out books in Yiddish by Mortkhe Spektor, Zalmen Shneur, Rokhl Faygenberg, D. Pinski, and a collection entitled Shvalben (Swallows) in 1919 (30 pp.).  In 1910 he merged with the publisher Progres (Progress) of Yankev Lidski.  He later initiated the publishing syndicate Tsentral (Central) and in 1926 was one of the founders of the cooperative Bikher (Books).

Source: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3.
Berl Cohen

Monday 25 February 2019


MIKHL (MITCHELL) KAPLAN (February 28, 1882-October 15, 1944)
            He was a popular poet, born in Chernobyl, Ukraine.  He lived for several years in Kremenchuk.  In 1905 he survived a pogrom there which greatly shook him up, and that same year he left for the United States.  For many years he worked as a pharmacist in Brownsville, [Brooklyn,] New York, and later in Newark.  His entire life, he assembled a few Hebrew books and manuscripts in Yiddish and other languages, and in the early 1940s donated them to New York University.  He debuted in print in 1899 with a poem in Yud (Jew).  He published features, sketches, and mostly poems, from time to time articles on rabbinical texts—textual interpretation, Musar, Jewish law, and homiletics.  He contributed to: Di yudishe folkstsaytung (The Jewish people’s newspaper), edited by M. Spektor; Fraynd (Friend) in St. Petersburg; Tsukunft (Future); Forverts (Forward); Fraye gezelshaft (Free society); Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor); Literatur (Literature); Humor un satire (Humor and satire); Dos naye land (The new country); Kibitser (Kibitzer); and Groyser kundes (Great prankster).  His work also appeared in: Morris Basin, Finf hundert yor yidishe poezye (500 years of Yiddish poetry), vol. 2 (New York, 1917); Nakhmen Mayzil, Amerike in yidishn vort (America in the Yiddish word) (New York, 1955); Y. A. Rontsh, Amerike in der yidisher literatur (America in Yiddish literature) (New York, 1945).  He withdrew from literary work around 1916.  Only in 1940-1941 did he publish a column entitled “Fun mayn bikher-shrank” (From my bookcase) in Nyu-yorker vokhnblat (New York weekly newspaper), edited by Y. Libman.  With B. Botvinik, he edited Unzer shrift (Our writing) in New York (1912), a small collection in Romanized text to campaign for the idea of introducing the Roman alphabet for Yiddish.  His books include: A fidil, etlikhe lirishe shirim (A fiddle, several lyrical poems) (Berdichev: Y. Sheftil, 1900), 28 pp.; Gheto-klangen (Ghetto sounds), poetry (New York: International Library, 1910), 64 pp.; Gezamelte shriftn, lider, dertseylungen, eseyen un ophandlungen ṿegen zelṭene sforim (Collected writings, poetry, stories, essays, and treatments of rare religious texts) (Newark: Mitchell Kaplan Yugnt-kultur-grupe, 1947), 488 pp.  Several English-kanguage Jewish poets have translated sixty poems by Kaplan and published them in: East Side Ballads and Lyrics (New York, 1927), 159 pp.  “Popular with a very simple sad-humorous tone,” wrote Zalmen Reyzen, “…Kaplan’s poems are highly popular on the American Jewish street, and a portion of them are included…in the repertoire of all manner of actors and reciters of poems.”  “An interesting poet with a tone all his own,” noted N. B. Minkov, “and path all his own,…his important accomplishment was to introduce into Yiddish poetry the immigrant Jewish way of life.”  “Mikhl Kaplan as a poet,” stated Avrom Reyzen, “assumed a distinctive place in Yiddish poetry in America.  As social as he is in every poem, he is far from every trend….  [It is] the poetry of poor folk and also suffering Jewish people, to whom he dedicated a great portion of his creative writing.”  He died in New York.

Sources: S. Shnefal, in Tsukunft (New York) (February 1910); Yoyel Entin, Yidishe poetn, hantbukh fun yidisher dikhtung (Yiddish poets, a handbook of Yiddish poetry), vol. 1 (New York: Jewish National Labor Alliance and Labor Zionist Party, 1927), pp. 163-66; Dovid Ignatov and N. B. Minkov, in Tsukunft (December 1944); Avrom Reyzen, in Di feder (New York) (1949); Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York); H. Schneiderman, in Jewish Book Annual (New York) (1945/1946).
Berl Cohen


MOTL KAPLAN (b. 1909)

            He was a poet, born in Minsk into a laboring family. Over the years 1926-1927, he worked as a carpenter in Minsk construction work and studied in evening school. After graduating, he became an actor in a wandering Yiddish theater in Byelorussia. He began writing poetry for Der yunger arbeter (The young laborer) in Minsk in 1931, and went to publish jottings and further poetry, and in the early 1930s he worked for its editorial board. He later went back into construction work. He contributed to: Oktyabr (October) in Minsk, the journal Shtern (Star), and the almanac Atake (Attack) (Minsk, 1934), among other serials. Since the purges of the mid-1930s, he withdrew from Yiddish writing circles. During WWII he fought at the front. In 1948 he graduated from the Minsk polytechnical institute and worked as a construction engineer. One of his most important works was entitled “Di tseshisene” (Those shot).

Khayim Maltinski

[Additional information from: Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), p. 321.]


LEYVI KAPLAN (b. 1887)
            He was born in Stepyen, Volhynia, with the surname Krepl—in Argentina, Kreplyak.  He had come to Argentina prior to 1914.  He wrote articles in Argentina’s Tog (Day), poems and stories in Kolonist (Colonist) in Mozesville and Di idishe tsaytung (The Jewish newspaper) in Buenos Aires.  He later made his way to Philadelphia.  In book form: A nayer oyrn-koydesh, a dertseylung in 3 teylen un 24 kapitlakh (A new Holy Ark, a story in three parts and 24 chapters) (n.p., n.d.), 47 pp.; Farreter, vonderlekhe interesante un shpanende geshikhtes fun farreter un farrat in tsvey teyln mit humor un satire (Traitors, wonderful, interesting, and exciting stories of traitors and treason in two parts with humor and satire) (Philadelphia, 1955), 62 pp.; Guzmes un guzmes (Exaggerations) (New York, 1951), 135 pp.; Respekt far di ayrishe, geshikhtes fun a vunderlekh folk mit humor and satire (Respect for the Irish, stories of a wonderful people with humor and satire) (Philadelphia, 1955), 99 pp.; Motivn fun gezang (Song motifs).  He also wrote under the pen name Rebe Loyve.

Source: Autobiographical notes.
Yekhezkl Lifshits


YISROEL KAPLAN (April 2, 1902-October 4, 2003)
            The son of Shiye Kaplan, he was a rabbi and author, born in Volozhin, Byelorussia.  He attended religious elementary schools and yeshivas.  From 1919 he was living in Kovno.  In 1921 he graduated from the teachers’ training course and received his degree from Kovno University as a historian.  From 1921 he was a teacher in various Hebrew schools.  He survived the Slabodka and Riga ghettos as well as the Kaiserwald (near Riga) and Dachau concentration camps.  After being liberated, he helped found in Munich the Central Historical Commission of survivors to research Holocaust-Europe.  From 1949 he was living in Tel Aviv.  He debuted in print in 1926 with a feature piece in Kovner tog (Kovno day).  He went on to publish stories, features, and articles in: the Kovno dailies Idishe shtime (Jewish voice) and Dos vort (The word), as well as all the local anthologies of the years 1930-1940: Mir aleyn (We alone), Toyern (Gates), and Ringen (Links), among others; Frimorgn (Morning) in Riga; the survivors’ press in Germany; Unzer veg (Our way), Dos vort, and Idishe tsaytung (Jewish newspaper), among others; Di goldene keyt (The golden chain) and Letste nayes (Latest news) in Tel Aviv; Afrikaner idishe tsaytung (African Jewish newspaper) and Dorem-afrike (South Africa) in Johannesburg; among others.  In Munich he began his research work into the Holocaust, edited the collections Fun letstn khurbn (Of the recent destruction) (1946-1948, ten issues in all), and continued to amass materials on the mass killings in Jewish Lithuania.  His notes on the Kovno ghetto have not been found.  He co-edited several volumes of Yahadut lita (Jews of Lithuania) (Tel Aviv).  His work has appeared as well in: Vortslen (Roots) (Tel Aviv, 1966), M. alamish’s Mikan umikarov, antologya shel sipure yidish beerets yisrael (From near and from far away, anthology of stories in Yiddish in Israel) (Meravya, 1966), and Anthology of Holocaust Literature (Philadelphia, 1969).  He also wrote in Hebrew and published Hebrew school books.  Among his pen names: Kol-Boynik, Valozh, and Yulin.  His books include: In der tog-teglekher historisher arbet (In the daily historical work) (Munich: Central Historical Commission, 1947), 24 pp.; Dos folks-moyl in natsi-klem (The people’s mouthpiece in Nazi predicament) (Munich, 1949), 62 pp.  And, stories: Shlyakh un umveg (Dirt road and detour) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1964), 319 pp.; Geshlayder (Tel Aviv: Elat, 1970), 282 pp.; Tsaytshnit, dertseylungen (Time-cut, stories) (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1976), 256 pp.  In Hebrew: Gur yerushalmi, veod sipurim (Jerusalem puppy and other stories) (Tel Aviv: Reshafim, 1980), 219 pp.  Kaplan’s themes are colorful: from Kovno University to the pious Jews in Jerusalem.  He is “a first-class connoisseur and depicter,” noted Arn Tsaytling, “of destroyed Jewish Lithuania.”  His writings, in the words of Kh. N. Shapiro, “excel in their artistic observations, juicy folkishness, and warm, good-hearted humor.”  He died in Jerusalem.

Sources: Kh. N. Shapiro, in Dos vort (Kovno) (February 23, 1938); H. Leivick, Mit der sheyres-hapleyte (With the survivors) (New York: Leivick Jubilee Fund through Tsiko, 1947), pp. 199-201; Eliezer Shteynman, Habeira beerets habeira (The choice of the chosen land) (Tel Aviv, 1956), p. 92; Arn Tsaytlin, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (August 6, 1965); A. Lis, In skhus fun vort (By reason of word) (Tel Aviv, 1969), pp. 48-53; Y. Yanasovitsh, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (September 12, 1970); Y. Mark, in Dorem-afrike (Johannesburg) 4 (1978).
Ruvn Goldberg


YISROEL KAPLAN (February 25, 1876-April 10, 1926)
            He was born in Koydenev (now, Dzyarzhynsk), Byelorussia.  He was the rabbi in Srednik (Seredžius), Lithuania.  He was the first army rabbi in independent Lithuania.  He wrote mainly for Hebrew-language periodicals.  He co-edited the Mizrachi Unzer vort (Our word) in Kovno (1923-1925).  In it he published, among other items, a series of articles on Spinoza.  He died in Seredžius.

Source: Ben-Tsien Ayzenshtadt, Dor rabanav vesofrav (A generations of rabbis and authors), vol. 2 (New York, 1901), pp. 39-40.
Eliezer-Refoel Malachi


YITSKHOK KAPLAN (October 20, 1878-May 7, 1976)
            He was a journalist and member of an agrarian cooperative, born in Svislotsh (Swislocz), Grodno Province.  Raised in a religious home, he and his family were brought in 1895 by YIKO (Jewish Cultural Organization) to the Baron Hirsch colonies in Argentina.  There he became a farmer.  He was among the initial founders, theoretical and practical, of agrarian cooperatives in Argentina and a pioneer in local Jewish colonization.  He was among the Zionist precursors in the country and also active in general Jewish life.  From 1909 he was writing for: Der yudisher kolonist in argentine (The Jewish colonist in Argentina), Idishe tsaytung (Jewish newspaper), Di idishe velt (The Jewish world), Argentiner yivo-shriftn (Argentinian YIVO writings), and from 1953 Di prese (The press).  His books include: Opklangen fun altn kheyder (Echoes of the old religious elementary school) (Buenos Aires, 1858), 348 pp., entitled in Hebrew Tselile haḥeder hayashan (Tel Aviv, 1964), 296 pp.; Yidishe kolonyes in argentine, zikhroynes fun an agrar-kooperativist (Jewish colonies in Argentina, memoirs of an agrarian cooperativist) (Buenos Aires, 1966), 576 pp.; Recuerdos de un agrario cooperativista, 1895-1925 (Memoirs of an agrarian cooperativist, 1895-1925) (Buenos Aires, 1969).  He also brought out a series of pamphlets: Der kooperativizm in der tsukunft (Cooperativism in the future) (Buenos Aires, 1943), 38 pp.; Unzer bayshtayer tsu der farshpreytung un farfestikung fun kooperativizm (Our contribution to the spread and bastion of cooperativism) (Buenos Aires, 1944), 36 pp.; Hant-bikhl fun kooperativizm (Handbook of cooperativism) (Buenos Aires, 1945), 32 pp.; and Di noytikeyt fun gaystiker opfrishung (The necessity of spiritual renewal) (Buenos Aires, n.d.), 32 pp.; among others.  Over the years 1921-1946, he served as editor of the journal Kolonist-kooperator (Colonist-cooperative member), to which he contributed articles in subsequent years as well.  He died in Buenos Aires.

Sources: L. Zhitnitski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (October 19, 1966); Goldener bukh fun yidishn argentine (Golden book of Jewish Argentina) (Buenos Aires, 1973), p. 49.
Yoysef Horn