Thursday 29 August 2019


            He was a Yiddish and Polish poet, born in Lemberg.  In 1930 he moved to Warsaw.  He was confined in the Lemberg ghetto and possibly thereafter in Warsaw.  For many years he published poetry solely in Polish and was embraced in Polish literature.  In 1931, 1932, and 1935, he published three volume of poems in Polish.  In 1930 he began writing in Yiddish as well and published poetry in Globus (Globe) and other Yiddish periodicals in Poland.  Two of his poems were published in Sovetishe literatur (Soviet literature) (Kiev) 3 (1940).  His work also appeared in Binem Heler, Dos lid iz geblibn, lider fun yidishe dikhter in poyln, umgekumene beys der hitlerisher okupatsye, antologye (The poem remains, poems by Jewish poets in Poland, murdered during the Hitler occupation, anthology) (Warsaw, 1951); Yitskhok Paner and Leyzer Frenkel, Naye yidishe dikhtung (Modern Yiddish poetry) (Iași: Jewish cultural circle in Romania, 1947); Shimshon Meltser, Al naharot, tisha maḥazore shira misifrut yidish (By the rivers, nine cycles of poetry from Yiddish literature) (Jerusalem, 1956); Moshe Basok, Mivḥar shirat yidish (Selection of Yiddish poetry) (Tel Aviv, 1963); and Hubert Witt, Der Fiedler vom Getto: Jiddische Dichtung aus Polen (The fiddler of the ghetto, Yiddish poetry from Poland) (Leipzig, 1966).  His works include: Mir iz umetik (I’m sad) (Warsaw: A. B. Tserata, 1937), 93 pp.; Mir kenen zikh nisht, oder neplen iber london (We’re unacquainted, or fog over London), a comedy (in manuscript).
            “Many of his poems in Yiddish,” wrote Meylekh Ravitsh, “were on motifs of mother.  A mother complex characterized him from childhood, and his return to Yiddish was a return to his mother.”

Sources: Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 1 (Montreal, 1945); Ravitsh, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (April 21, 1967); Shiye Tenenboym, in Idishe zhurnal (Toronto) (June 30, 1957); Yoysef Papyernikov, Heymishe un noente, demonungen (Familiar and close at hand, remembrances) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1958), pp. 260-62; A. Slutski, in Letste nayes (Tel Aviv) (October 3, 1969); Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York); Perlmuter archive, YIVO (New York).
Berl Cohen

[1] This date according to Shimshn Meltser in Al naharot.  Meylekh Ravitsh (Mayn leksikon, vol. 1) writes that Shimel fled to Byelorussia in 1941 and died there somewhere.  In Ber Mark’s Umgekumene shrayber fun di getos un lagern (Murdered writers from the ghettos and camps) (Warsaw, 1954), p. 205, it is noted that Shimel was in the Lemberg ghetto, but no mention is made of the Warsaw Ghetto.

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