LEO KESNER (April 25, 1888-June 18, 1945)
He was a journalist, humorist, and theater reviewer, born in Berhomete pe Seret (Berhomet), Bukovina. His original family name was Kasner. He came from a Hassidic family and received a traditional education, later graduating from a secular high school in Czernowitz and obtaining a Ph.D. degree from the University of Vienna. He wrote numerous poems, stories, and plays in German which were not published. In 1914 he arrived in the United States and became a contributor and later assistant editor of Der groyser kundes (The great prankster). Over the course of six years there, he published hundreds of poems, sketches, and literary critical articles. He placed work in: Der kibitzer (The kibitzer), Gerekhtikeyt (Justice), Undzer bukh (Our book), Oyfkum (Arise), and for many years Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor). He served as assistant editor, 1920-1228, of Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper). There he published articles, feature pieces, critical essays, humorous sketches, and theater reviews. From 1929 until his death, he was editor of the Forverts (Forward) division in Philadelphia. He edited the book Medem zhurnal (The Medem journal) (Philadelphia, 1933), 96 pp.; and he co-edited Fun fraynt tsu fraynt, a matone heri bergern tsu zayn 50ten geburtstog (From friend to friend, a gift to Harry Berger on his fiftieth birthday) (Philadelphia, 1936), 148 pp. He translated Paolo Mantegazza’s Di kunst tsu heyraten (The art of marriages [original: L’arte di prender moglie (The art of taking a wife)]), in Mantegazza’s Shriftn (Writings), vol. 1 (New York: S. Kantrowitz, 191?). In book form: Geṭrakht un gelakht, a zamlung fun tsayt- un gelegenhayt-lider tsum leyenen, forleyenen, deklamiren, amuziren, un abisele nokhdenken (Considered and laughed, a collection of timely and opportune poems to be read, read aloud, declaimed, amused, and little contemplated) (Philadelphia, 1939), 254 pp. For a special publication, he wrote a satirical song entitled “Oy di kvote” (Oh, the quota), with music by M. Y. Shulman (Newark: M. Manski). His pen names include: Khapt Im, A Dikhter, Grogeret Derabi Tsadok, Menshenfreser, L-er, Leonidas, Dr. K. Lio, Avigdor Fuks, Shloyme Skotslmekumt, and Kimat a Galitsyaner. He died in Philadelphia.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; Forverts (New York) (June 30, 1945); Veker (New York) (Elul 1945); Moyshe Shtarkman, in Hadoar (New York) (Sivan 4 [= May 23], 1947); Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).