Sunday 17 March 2019


MIKHL KOYFMAN (August 19, 1881-March 23, 1946)
            The son-in-law of Sholem-Aleichem and husband of Lola Koyfman, he was born in Lipkan (Lipcani), Bessarabia.  His father was a wealthy merchant.  He received a Hassidic education, and aside from Talmud he also studied Kabbala and Musar with the local rabbinical judge.  He lived in Kishinev, Berlin, and Odessa, and from 1922 he was in the United States.  He graduated as a medical doctor and practiced medicine in Newark.  He initially wrote in Russian.  By chance, he published a story in Yiddish in Idisher zhurnal (Jewish journal) in London in 1905 and a “legend” in verse in the jubilee anthology for Fraynd (Friend) in 1912.  He was a regular contributor to Yiddish serials in his Odessa years (1914-1922).  He placed poetry and feature pieces in: Unzer leben (Our life) in Odessa; the anthology Undervegs (Pathways); the collection Tsum ondenk fun sholem-aleykhem (In memory of Sholem-Aleichem), edited by Yisoel Tsinberg and Shmuel Niger (St. Petersburg, 1917); and in the American serials: Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor), Nay-idish (New Yiddish), Tsukunft (Future), Feder (Pen), Shikago (Chicago), Fortshrit (Progress) (in which, aside from poems, he wrote medical articles for several years), Tog (Day), Kundes (Prankster) (among other items, a series of authorized translations of Ḥ. N. Bialik’s Shire am [Poems of the people]), and mainly Forverts (Forward).  Koyfman “published over one hundred stories,” according to Zalmen Reyzen, “…interesting and varied by subject matter and written in a fine style of the European novella.”  He died in Newark.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; Y. D. Berkovitsh, in Forverts (New York) (September 18, 1932; December 4, 1918); Dov Sadan, Avne miftan, masot al sofre yidish, vols. 3 (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1972), p. 10.
Berl Cohen

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