Tuesday 3 September 2019


MOYSHE SHIFRIS (April 5, 1897-February 13, 1977)
            He was a poet and author of stories, born in Kisnitse (Kisnytsya), Podolia.  He grew up in Belz, Bessarabia, where his father was a ritual slaughterer.  He was orphaned in his youth.  He studied in yeshivas until age fifteen.  In 1914 he emigrated to the United States.  In 1918 he joined the Jewish Legion in the land of Israel and in 1919 returned to New York.  He worked as a cap-maker and later as a teacher in Sholem Aleichem Folkshuls; from 1927 he was a teacher in schools of the Jewish Fraternal People’s Order.  He wrote poetry, stories, children’s tales, children’s songs, and a number of stage plays.  He debuted in print with poems in Brooklyn’s weekly Progres (Progress) (January 1917).  He went on  place work in: Winnipeg’s Onheyb (Start), Di tsayt (The times), Forverts (Forward), Kundes (Prankster), Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor), Amerikaner (American), Tog (Day), Morgn zhurnal (Morning journal), Di feder (The pen), Proletarishe shtime (Proletarian voice), Bruklin-bronzvil post (Brooklyn-Brownsville mail), Vegetarishe velt (Vegetarian world) which for several years he wrote a weekly story, Oyfkum (Arise), Oyfgang (Arise), Kinder-zhurnal (Children’s magazine), Kamf (Struggle) in Montreal, Poezye (Poetry), Hamer (Hammer), Signal (Signal), Naylebn (New life), Ikor (Yidishe kolonizatsye organizatsye in rusland [Jewish colonization organization in Russia]), Funk (Spark), Ineynem (Altogether) in Chicago, Frayhayt (Freedom), Morgn frayhayt (Morning freedom), Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture), and Zamlungen (Collections), among others.
            His work was also reproduced in: Moyshe Shtarkman, Hamshekh antologye (Hamshekh anthology) (New York: Hamshekh, 1945); Nakhmen Mayzil, Amerike in yidishn vort (America in the Yiddish word) (New York, 1955); Shmuel-Yankev (Samuel Jacob) Imber, Modern Yiddish Poetry: An Anthology (New York, 1927).  He edited Di berg-shtime (The voice of the mountains) in Liberty, New York (23 issues, 1922).  He compiled: Arbeter-shul (Workers’ school), with Y. Kamenetski, a textbook (New York: International Labor Order, 1934), 208 pp.; Mayn bukh (My book), with Itshe Goldberg, a textbook (New York: Yidisher kooperativer folks-farlag, 1939), 231 pp.  In the last years of his life, he published in Morgn frayhayt a series of memoirs entitled “Fun belts keyn nyu-york” (From Belz to New York) and “A mol in nyu-york” (Once upon a time in New York).  His book-length writings include: Lider (Poetry) (New York: Kultur, 1922), 72 pp.; Rakhama un andere lider (Rakhama and other poems) (New York: Di feder, 1925), 64 pp.; Nisht geshtoygn, nisht gefloygn, kinder mayses (Entirely untrue, children’s tales) (Toronto: Oyfgang, 1928), 64 pp.; Tsigl (Little goat), stories (New York: Harlem Progressive Youth Club, 1929), 224 pp.; Milkhome-teg (War days), poetry (New York: Signal, 1937), 77 pp.; Di mame vokh mit di zibn teg (Mother week with her seven days) (New York: Yungvarg, 1941), 76 pp.; Mayn yidish bukh, tsvey (My Yiddish book, two) (New York: Jewish Fraternal People’s Order, 1945), 149 pp., several further editions; Foygl kanarik un andere mayses (The canary and other stories) (New York, 1950), 104 pp.; Unter eyn dakh, naye un geklibene lider (Under one roof, new and selected poems) (New York: IKUF, 1971), 160 pp.; Yo, yidish (Yes, Yiddish) (New York: IKUF, 1975), 77 pp.  He also wrote a number of stage and children’s plays, as well as literary critical articles.  Using the pseudonym Moyshele or Moyshele Kibetser, he was in charge of the humor division of Bruklin-bronzvil post.  He also translated from English: John L. Spivak, Georgia Nigger; Anna Louise Strong, Children of Revolution: Story of John Reed Children's Colony of the Volga; E. S. Levin, Third Degree.  He died in New Jersey.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Aleksander Pomerants, in Proletpen (Kiev, 1935), 244 pp.; Zishe Vaynper, in Yidishe kultur (New York) (5-6 (1941); R. Yuklson, in Morgn frayhayt (new York) (March 17, 1947); Moyshe Katz, in Morgn frayhayt (March 5, 1950); Itshe Goldberg, in Zamlungen 47 (1970); Ber Grin, Fun dor tsu dor (From generation to generation) (New York, 1971); Yidishe kultur 2 (1977), a biography and bibliography of Shifris.
Yekhezkl Lifshits

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