NOKHUM SHTERNHEYM (1879-1942)
He was a folk poet, born in Reyshe (Rzeszów), Galicia. He hailed from a Hassidic family. He attended yeshiva until age seventeen. He worked as a business employee, later a poor egg salesman. From 1908 he lived for several years in the United States. He founded drama and music clubs. He composed hundreds of songs with his own melodies. He would sing them alone on various occasions, even in the Rzeszów ghetto where he perished. He wrote his folk poems for: Leybl Toybish’s Vokhenblat (Weekly newspaper), Lemberg’s Togblat (Daily newspaper), Viener morgentsaytung (Vienna morning newspaper), Anzelm Kleynman’s Yudisher literarisher kalendar (Jewish literary calendar), and the collection Yontef-bikher (Holiday books) (Brin, 1917), among others. He published separate editions of his songs with notations (on a sheet or two of paper or on postcards): “Tsiens lider” (Songs of Zion), “In mayn land” (In my country), “Dos yudishe lied” (The Jewish song), “Shlof-lied” (Sleep song), “Dos redel” (The small crowd), “Dos milkhome-yoseml” (The war orphan), “Legyonen-marsh” (March of legions), and “Dos yudishe trinklied” (The Jewish drinking song), among others. His most popular songs included: “Yismakh moyshe” (Moses rejoiced), “Malkele” (Little Malka), “Grine velder” (Green woods), “Hobn mir a nigundl” (We have a little tune), “Der balegole” (The wagon driver), “Tsi gedenkstu” (Do you remember?), and Khanike-lied (Hanukkah song). Many of Shternberg’s songs were sung in Galicia and elsewhere as anonymous folksongs. His songs and couplets were almost all on Jewish motifs and ethnic themes.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 5 (Mexico City, 1966); Mendl Naygreshl, in Fun noentn over (New York) 1 (1955), pp. 351-52; Dov Sadan, Avne miftan, masot al sofre yidish (Milestones, essays on Yiddish writers), vol. 1 (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1961), pp. 139, 218; Yitskhok Koler, Gedenkbukh galitsye (Memory volume for Galicia) (Buenos Aires, 1964); Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).