Tuesday 23 April 2019


LEON KRISHTOL (1894-August 21, 1954)
            He was a journalist, theater critic, and translator, born in Shargorod (Sharhorod), Podolia.  He studied in religious elementary school and with private tutors.  In 1910 he left for Odessa, where he was an external student and took up teaching.  In 1914 he made his way to the United States.  His first two years there, he worked in factories and in the evenings studied at the Cooper Union Institute.  In 1919 he became secretary, later manager, of the Maurice Schwartz Yiddish Art Theater, and his entire life was then tied to the Yiddish stage.  In 1916 he debuted in print with stories in Tog (Day) and translated poetry in Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor) for which he later became the regular theater critic.  From 1922 he was an internal contributor to Forverts (Forward).  There he wrote about contemporary affairs, Yiddish theater, reportage pieces about world travels, and from time to time literary criticism.  He published a series (1942-1943) there entitled “Lebens geshikhte fun president ruzvelt” (The biography of President Roosevelt).  He also contributed to: Groyser kundes (Great prankster), Tsayt (Times), Tsukunft (The future), Onhoyb (Beginning), and Goldfaden-bukh (Goldfaden book) (New York, 1926), among others.  He was the first Yiddish journalist to bring—after a trip to Moscow in 1956—news of the murder of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union, written in a series of articles for Forverts (March-July 1956).  He translated plays for the Yiddish theater in New York: Sven Lange, Shimshn un delile (Samson and Delilah [original: Samson og Delila]); Leo Tolstoy, Di makht fun finsternish (The power of darkness [original: Vlast' t'my]); Lord Dunsany, A nakht in kretshme (A Night at an Inn), a one-act play; Molière, Don zhuan (Don Juan); Osip Dymov, Di shklafn fun folk (An enslaved people); Dymov, Dem rebns khasene (The rebbe’s wedding); William Shakespeare, Der koyfman fun venedig (The Merchant of Venice); Frank Wedekind, Frilings ervakhn (Spring awakening [original: Frühlings Erwachen]); and Luigi Pirandello, Zeks kharakters vos zukhn a farfaser (Six characters in search of an author [original: Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore]).  He dramatized Dostoevsky’s novel Der idyot (The idiot [original: Idiot]) and (with Harry Lang) Eva Lazarof’s (Harry Lang) novel Di umgliklikhe kale fun sofolk strit (The unhappy bride of Suffolk Street).  All of these plays were staged.  He also edited the monthly Unzer teater (Our theater) for the Yiddish Art Theater (1921, 2 issues).  His pen name: G. Rivesman.  His died in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 4 (New York, 1963); N. B. Linder, in Tog (New York) (October 30, 1931); H. Rogof, Der gayst fun forverts (The spirit of the Forverts) (New York, 1954), pp. 263-65; Y. Tikman, Tsili adler dertseylt (Celia Adler explains) (New York, 1959), see index; M. Shvarts, in Forverts (New York) (August 28, 1959); Y. Varshavski (Bashevis), in Forverts (December 18, 1964; March 27, 1965); Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Berl Cohen

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