Wednesday 24 April 2019


            He was born in Minsk (perhaps Vilna).  He was ordained into the rabbinate.  Over the years 1872-1880, he served a gabbai and administrator of a Talmud Torah in Oshmene (Oshmiany).  In 1882 he opened a “Bet-sefer letora veleteuda” (School for Torah and customs) in Bialystok, and he later directed a “cheder metukan” (improved religious elementary school) in Lodz.  Aside from his religious writings in Hebrew, he wrote books in Yiddish: Khates hakool, oder di sheyne drezele (Sins of the community, or the beautiful girlfriend), “a magnificent, extremely moving novel, in two parts, by A. Y. Safir, a man of Minsk” (Vilna: Rozenkrants un Shriftzetser, 1881), 103 pp. and 133 pp., with a preface and a poem in Hebrew, republished several times thereafter, such as in 1888, 1891, and 1910; Der kleyner katerznik oder der flasher yoysher (The little convict or false justice), “a splendid and extraordinary novel” (Vilna: Avrom-Tsvi Shvintsyaner, 1883, 1888, 1895), 48 pp.; Di idishe tragedye (The Jewish tragedy) (Lodz, 1891), 48 pp., new edition (Warsaw: Haor, 1907), 90 pp.—a drama with a Zionist bent.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2 (under A. Y. Sapir/Safir); N. Sokolov, ed., Sefer zikaron (Remembrance volume) (Warsaw, 1888/1889), p. 102; A. Levinson, Ketavim (Writings) (Tel Aviv, 1955/1956), pp. 153-55; Khayim Leyb Fuks, Lodzh shel mayle, dos yidishe gaystiḳe un derhoybene lodzh, 100 yor yidishe un oykh hebreishe literatur un kultur in lodzh un in di arumiḳe shtet un shtetlekh (Lodz on high, the Jewish spiritual and elevated Lodz, 100 years of Yiddish and also Hebrew literature and culture in Lodz and in the surrounding cities and towns) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1972), p. 260; Getzel Kressel, in Hatsofe (Tel Aviv) (May 26, 1974).
Berl Cohen

[1] Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3, has him under the name “A. Y. Safir,” which was his pen name.  The same error may be found in an entry herein under “A. Y. Sapir.”  Here we shall offer the correct name in the proper place with more details and bibliography.

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