Friday 23 August 2019


SHOLEM SHTERN (December 1907-August 1990)
            He was a poet, born in Tishevits (Tyszowce), Poland, the son of Avrom Shtern.  He studied Pentateuch and Talmud with his father, other subjects on his own.  In 1927 he emigrated to Canada.  For many years he worked as a teacher in leftist Jewish schools in Montreal.  He debited in print in 1929 with a poem in Oyfkum (Arise).  He went on to place work in: Tsukunft (Future), Hemshekh (Continuation), Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), Keneder odler (Canadian eagle), Dos idishe vort (The Jewish word) in Winnipeg, Kamf (Struggle), Hamer  (Hammer), Nayvelt (New world) in New York, and Parizer tsaytshrift (Parisian periodical); and he was a regular contributor to Kanader vokhnblat (Canadian weekly newspaper), Morgn frayhayt (Morning freedom), Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture), and Zamlungen (Collections) in New York.  His work appears as well in: Yitskhok Paner and Leyzer Frenkel, Naye yidishe dikhtung (Modern Yiddish poetry) (Iași: Jewish cultural circle in Romania, 1947); Shmuel Niger, Kidesh hashem, a zamlung geklibene, oft gekritste barikhtn, briv, khronikes, tsavoes, oyfshriftn, legendes, lider, dertseylungen, dramatishe stsenes, eseyen, vos moln oys mesires-nefesh in undzere un oykh in frierdike tsaytn (Sanctification of the name, an anthology selected, often abridged report, letters, chronicles, wills, inscriptions, legends, poems, stories, dramatic scenes, essays, which depict martyrdom in our present and earlier times) (New York: Tsiko, 1947); Shmuel Rozhanski, Kanadish (Canadian) (Buenos Aires, 1974); Nakhmen Mayzil, Amerike in yidishn vort (America in the Yiddish word) (New York, 1955); Shimshon Meltser, Al naharot, tisha maḥazore shira misifrut yidish (By the rivers, nine cycles of poetry from Yiddish literature) (Jerusalem, 1956); Charles Dobzynski, Anthologie de la poésie Yiddish, le miroir d’un people (Anthology of Yiddish poetry, the mirror of a people) (Paris: Gallimard, 1971).  He also wrote literary articles in English.
            His writings include: Noentkeyt, lider (Proximity, poetry) (Toronto: Oyfgang, 1929), 43 pp.; Es likhtikt (It lights up) (Montreal, 1941), 171 pp.; Inderfri (In the morning) (Montreal: Kanader vokhnblat, 1945), 286 pp.; In kanade, roman in ferzn (In Canada, a novel in verse), 2 vols. (Montreal, 1960, 1963), 480 pp., 235 pp.; Dos vayse hoyz, roman in ferzn (The white house, a novel in verse) (New York: IKUF, 1967), 282 pp., Hebrew translation by Shimshon Meltser as Habayit halavan beharim (The white house in the mountains) (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1971), 320 pp., translations also in English and French; Di mishpokhe in kanade, dos hoyzgezind fun profesor sidni goldstin (The family in Canada, the household of Professor Sidney Goldstein), two novellas in verse (Montreal, 1975), 336 pp.; Shrayber vos ikh hob gekent, memuarn un eseyen (Writers whom I knew, memoirs and essays) (Montreal, 1982), 347 pp.
            “Hand in hand go authentic lyric poetry,” noted Dovid Dfard, “and social poetry and artistic condensation [in Shtern]….  [There is in Shtern an] intertwining of deep lyrical feeling with gray, everyday events….  [His In kanade] is a finely measured work…of Jewish life in Canada before the last century, which succeeds in genuine depictions of its developing stages in various environments to generalizations of societal knowledge and ideological charge.”

Sources: Shikago (Chicago) 3 (1930); Khanaye-Meyer Kayzerman, Yidishe dikhter in kanade (Yiddish poets in Canada) (Montreal, 1934), pp. 141-48, 220; Avrom Bik, Vort un tsayt, eseyen (Word and time, essays) (Buenos Aires: IKUF, 1951), pp. 144-49; Ben-Tsien Goldberg, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (October 13, 1957); Zishe Vaynper, Shrayber un kinstler (Writer and artist) (New York, 1958), pp. 261-65; Dovid Sfard, in Yidishe shriftn (Warsaw) 7, 8 (1960); Leyvik Khanukov, Literarishe eseyen (Literary essays) (New York: IKUF, 1960), pp. 170-74; Ber Grin, Yidishe shrayber in amerike (Yiddish writers in America) (New York, 1963), pp. 119-30; Julian Shvarts, in Yidishe kultur (New York) 2 (1977).
Berl Cohen

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 525.]

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