YOYNE KREPEL (JONAS KREPPEL) (December 25, 1874-July 21, 1940)
He was born in Drobitsh (Drohobych), Galicia, the descendant of a Hassidic family. He studied until age fourteen with itinerant teachers. He mastered typesetting and somewhere later opened his own print shop. He was an active Zionist and later a prominent leader in Agudat Yisrael. He participated as a delegate to the Czernowitz Language Conference in 1908. He lived in Cracow and Lemberg. In 1914, during the war, he fled to Vienna. For many years he was a political speaker at the Austrian Ministry for Foreign Affairs. After Hitler’s annexation of Austria, he was imprisoned in the Buchenwald Concentration Camp, where he perished shortly before WWII. He began publishing and editing newspapers in German with Jewish lettering—Drohobitsher Zeitung (Drohobych newspaper) in 1896; and Jüdische Volksstimme (Jewish people’s voice) in Cracow in 1899. He later helped establish publications in Yiddish, such as Der yud (The Jew) in Cracow, the Hassidic weekly Der emeser yud (The true Jew), and the monthly Der shtrahl (The beam [of light]), among others. After taking over the Fisher publishing house (the publisher, Y. Fisher, was Krepel’s father-in-law), he brought out the weekly newspaper Di yudishe ilustrirte tsaytung (The Jewish illustrated newspaper) in Cracow (1909-1914), with the humorous supplement Di havdole (The separation [of Sabbath from weekdays]), and the monthly Beys yisroel (House of Israel). At the same time, Krepel recorded his most important press achievement for Yiddish: the founding of the first Yiddish-language daily newspaper in Cracow, Der tog (The day) (December 1909-September 14, 1914, with a separate supplement Oyneg shabes [Enjoyment of the Sabbath]). From 1919 he was the Viennese correspondent for New York’s Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper); therein he published, among other items, several long stories (1922, 1924, 1925). In all the serials he founded, he contributed with literary work.
In book form: Tkhines (Women’s prayers) (Drohobych, 1896); Maks shpitskopf (Max Spitzkopf), a series of detective stories (Cracow: Y. Fisher, 1908), 15 booklets; Kayzer frants yozef (Kaiser Franz Josef) (1908)—the latter two were published anonymously. Krepel published roughly one hundred short novels in the Przemyśl publishing house of Simkhe Fraynd (1924-1927), 32 pp. each. Here we note the storybooks that Zalmen Reyzen records: first series (1924) of historical stories: Der falsher meshiekh (The false Messiah), Der poybst elkhonen (The Pope Elḥanan), Eyn nakht kenig, historishe ertseylung (King for one night, historical story), Di yudishe fohn fun prag, historishe ertseylung (The Jewish banner of Prague, historical story), Di rebe ayzik r’ yekels shul in kroko, a folks mayse (The synagogue of R. Yekel, son Rebbe Ayzik, in Cracow, a folktale), Der rama un der bishop (R. Moses Isserles and the bishop), Der shtadlen fun vien (The intercessor from Vienna), Der kodesh (The holy man), Di terken far di toyern fun vien (The Turks at the gates of Vienna), Yude hamaymen (Judah the believer), Der neyder tsu fohren kin erets yisroel (The vow to travel to the land of Israel), Al naares bovl (By the rivers of Babylon), Rabi menashe ben yisroel (Rabbi Menashe ben Yisrael), Dem sultans laybartst, geshikhte fun rambam (The sultan’s personal physician, the story of Rambam), Rivke abarbanel (Rebecca Abarbenel), In di teg fun inkvizitsye (In the days of the Inquisition), Shabes raptum (Suddenly the Sabbath), Shprintse vital iz mit freyd geshtorben kdey tsu rateven ihr foter un andere yuden (Shprintse Vital died with joy to save her father and other Jews), Di groyzame intrigue (The savage intrigue), and Napoleon un der yidisher rendar (Napoleon and the Jewish lessee); second series of Hassidic tales and legends: Der sultan un dovid hameylekh (The sultan and King David), Tkhies hameysim, oder r’ yankev ashkenazi (The resurrection of the dead or R. Jacob Ashkenazi), Der l”v-nik (One of the thirty-six good men), Der beyzer r’ yoyel (The wicked R. Joel), Der royber dobosh un r’ leyb pistiner (Doboszhe the thief and R. Leyb Pistiner), Gevolt brengen meshiekhn (Bring the Messiah!), Di familye ariel (The family Ariel), Der lulev (The palm branch), Erets yisroel-erd, di geshikhte fun mayn fraynd shloyme, zayn liebe tsum heyligen land, tragisher goyrl fun a zun funem tsezeyten un tseshpreyten yudishen folk (The land of Israel, the story of my friend Solomon, his love of the Holy Land, tragic fate of a son of the dispersed Jewish people), Bruder un shvester (Brother and sister), Dos yudishe harts (The Jewish heart), and Di meshumedet (The [female] apostate); third series, stories from the world war: Di krankenshvester, an emese ertseylung (The nurse, a true story), Shimshn hagiber (Samson the strong man), Fergrobener zilber-rubel (The buried silver ruble), Der shpyon, ertseylung fun di teg fun der milkhome (The spy, a story from the days of the war), Der gaysel (The hostage), Kozaken kumen (Cossacks are coming), Tsuzeyt un tsushpreyt (Dispersed), Fun toyt lebedig, ertsehlung fun di milkhome-teg, mir kenen nisht begrayfen gots vinder un dokh zehen mir zey yeden tog (Living from death, a story from the war days, we cannot comprehend God’s wonder and yet we see it every day), and Der gefangener (The prisoner); fourth series, stories of criminals: Der kamf mit di sheydim (The struggle with demons), Der shvartser ferbrekher (The black criminal), Der ekspres (The express), Der fershtelter detektiv (The disguised detective), and Der eydim a merder (The son-in-law, a murderer). In 1927 he published a second editions of these forty-six booklets with new ones: Moyshe kolon, historishe ertselung fun der entdekund fun amerika (Moses Columbus, a historical story of the discovery of America), Senkheribs sof (The end of Sennacherib), Shulamis bas divri (Shelomit, daughter of Divri), Di mesire (The denunciation), Don fernando, ertselung fun di teg fun der inkṿizitsye in shpanyen (Don Fernando, a story from the days of the Spanish Inquisition), Der royber-hoyptman (Main robber), Der kantonist (The young boy pressed into military service for many years), Di goldene royze (The golden rose), R’ uri strelisker (R. Uri Strelisker), R’ nokhum bryansker un di grefn (R. Nokhum of Brańsk and the countess), Di ushpizin (The guests), Di kameye (The amulet), Der bal-tshuve (The penitent), Dos shtetil motele (The town inn), Di goldene kugel (The golden pudding), Di heldishe khane (Heroic Hannah), Der folks-zenger (The folksinger), Di geshenkte yohren (The years given), Khane di shnayderke (Hannah the tailor), Der aynvangerungs-komisar un zayn muter (The commissar of immigration and his mother), A yudishe neshome (A Jewish soul), In a trinkender shif (In a sinking ship), Baym barg sinay (At Mount Sinai), Di tfilin (The phylacteries), Di shpyonin (The spies), Der nikolayski soldat (The Nikolai soldier), Mekimi meafar dal (He raises the needy from the dust), Der legyoner (The Legionnaire), Der ferreter (The traitor), Dos fertribene shtetil (The expelled town), Der sibiryak (The Siberian), Der regiment-artst (The regimental doctor), Der kozak hanigzal (The robbed Cossack), Nokh der shkhite (After the slaughter), Di bkhoyre (The precedent), Der rusisher komendant (The Russian commandant), and Avrom ovinu un zayn mishpokhe (Our father Abraham and his family) (1928). Kepel’s main work in German was: Juden und Judentum von Heute (Jews and Judaism today) (Zurich-Vienna, 1925), 891 pp., an encyclopedic handbook and bibliography concerning contemporary Jewry. He went on to publish books in German and several Hebrew periodicals. Kepel’s story books, according to Moyshe Shalit, “are entirely independent and innovative,…but the greatest surprise…is Kepel’s Yiddish language…. The booklets [are] written in an exquisitely pleasant language.” “Thanks to both of his newspapers [Tog and Di yudishe ilustrirte tsaytung] and his tales of criminals,” wrote Mendl Naygreshl, “Yoyne Krepel succeeded in creating a mass readership in western Galicia and a literary atmosphere. He helped to awaken Jewish Cracow, and he penetrated where the party newspapers…had no access. He also aroused the provinces.” He died in the Buchenwald Concentration Camp.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; Gershom Bader, in Yidishes tageblat (New York) (March 20, 1920); Moyshe Shalit, in Di yidishe velt (Vilna) (March 1928); Mendl Naygreshl, in Fun noentn over (New York) 1 (1955), pp. 341-47; Mikhl Vaykhert, Zikhroynes (Memoirs), vol. 1 (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1960), pp. 197-98; Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).