Thursday 31 October 2019


YEKHIEL SHNAYD (b. November 2, 1884)
            He was born in Gródek.  He received a traditional Jewish education.  He spent the years 1913-1933 in Berlin.  He then fled to Amsterdam where spent the years of the Holocaust.  In 1947 he emigrated to Santiago, Chile.  From 1905 he published articles and novellas in: Sandzer tsaytung (Sącz newspaper) in 1910, Folks fraynd (Friend of the people) in Sanok, Lemberger togblat (Lemberg daily newspaper), Der ekspres (The express) in London (1912), Der tog (The day) in Cracow, Dos idishe vort (The Jewish word) in Toronto, and elsewhere.  He edited Lemberg’s Folks fraynd (brought by Avrom Shenbakh from Sanok together with its supplements, Der idisher soykher [The Jewish businessman] and Der azes ponem [The insolent one]).  In book form: Di velt, populere astronomy mit ilustratsyes (The word, popular astronomy with illustration) (Lemberg: Folks fraynd, 1912), 71 pp.  Among his pen names: Ish Lizensk, Y. Sh., Y-l Sh-d, and Lats.

Source: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4.
Berl Cohen


            He was born in Tsfat (Safed).  He studied in yeshivas.  Over the years 1924-1944, he taught at the “Shaare Tsiyon” (Gates of Zion) Talmud Torah in Montreal.  He departed for Los Angeles in 1945.  He published lyrical poetry and folk-themed poems in: Keneder odler (Canadian eagle), Kanader zhurnal (Canadian journal), the anthology Kanade (Canada), and Heftn (Notebooks), among others.  In book form: Bay dayne toyern (At your gates) (Montreal, 1943), 92 pp., poems with motifs of the land of Israel.  He died in Los Angeles.

Source: Yisroel Rabinovitsh, Yoyvl-bukh keneder odler (Jubilee volume for Keneder odler) (Montreal, 1932).
Khayim Leyb Fuks


FISHL-SHIYE SHNEURSON (ca. 1887-May 24, 1958)[1]
            He was a research and author of stories and novels, born in Kamianets-Podilskyi, Ukraine.  His father was a rabbi in Repki (Ripky), Starodub, and Homel (Gomel).  He was raised by his grandfather, the Retshitser Rebbe, Rabbi Sholem-Ber, and absorbed Hassidism from his youth.  He received ordination into the rabbinate at age sixteen, and at eighteen he passed the examinations for the baccalaureate degree.  From 1908 he was studying medicine in Berlin, and in 1913 he received his medical degree in St. Petersburg, but he did not pursue a medical practice; rather, he devoted himself to medical research.  In 1920 he was professor of therapeutic medicine at Kiev University.  In 1922 he directed a psychological health station for children in Warsaw, later in Berlin, and from 1927 in New York.  He was active in the field of psychology pedagogy.  In 1933 he returned to Warsaw, and from 1937 he was in Tel Aviv where he was at the forefront of a psychological health laboratory.  Everywhere he was engaged in psychological research.  In his last years he was especially engaged with problems of mentally challenged children.  He debuted in print in 1919 with an article, “Katastrofale gesheenishn un zeyer virkung af der psikhik fun kind” (Catastrophic events and their impact on the psyche of a child), Shul un lebn (School and life) VI and VII.  Some of his other works: “Kinder-shafung als emotsyonale shafung” (Children’s creation as emotional creation), Shul un lebn VII-IX; “Inertsye, geveynheyt un avtomatizm” (Inertia, crying, and spontaneous behavior), Di naye shul (The new school) III-IV (1922); and “Di yidishe shul un di defektive kinder” (The Jewish school and handicapped children), Di naye shul VII (1922); among others.  He published work based on his research in: Shul un lebn in Kiev; Sotsyale meditsin (Social medicine), Globus (Globe), and Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves) in Warsaw; Di naye shul in Vilna; Frimorgn (Morning) in Riga; and Tsukunft (Future) in New York; among other serials.  He edited Mentsh-visnshaft (Human science) (New York) 3 (1930/1931).  He also wrote fictional work.  His stories appeared in Hermann Hakel, Jiddische Geschichten aus aller Welt (Tübingen-Basel, 1967).
            His writings in Yiddish include: Di gezelshaft, di shul un di defektive kinder (Society, school, and the handicapped child) (Warsaw: Shul un lebn, 1922), 31 pp.; Di katastrofale tsaytn un di vaksndige doyres, di virkung fun sotsyale katasṭrofn af der psikhiḳ fun dem normaln un umnormaln ḳind (Catastrophic times and the growing generations, the effect of social catastrophes on the psyche of the normal and abnormal child) (Berlin: Yidisher literarisher farlag, 1923), 243 pp.; Der veg tsum mentsh, di yesoydes fun mentsh-visnshaft un di lere fun nerveishkeyt (The path to man, the bases of human science and the teachings concerning nervousness) (Vilna: B. Kletskin, 1927), 184 pp.; a complementary work to this book, entitled Mentsh-gezelshaft (Human society) (Vilna: B. Kletskin, 1927), 41 pp.; Kholem un shpil (Dream and play) (Warsaw: Unzer prese, 1933), 350 pp.; Intime heyl pedagogik, di bahandlung fun kinder-neyrozn (Personal health pedagogy, the treatment of children’s neuroses) (Warsaw: Tog, 1935), 185 pp.; Yidn un felker psikhologye, di farglaykhendike psikhologye un psikhopatologye fun yidishn lebn (Jews and people’s psychology, comparative psychology and psycho-pathology of Jewish life) (Warsaw, 1936), 222 pp.  His works of fiction include: Khayim gravitser, di geshikhte fun dem gefalenem fun der khabadisher velt (Khayim Gravitser, the story of a dropout from the world of Chabad) (Berlin: Yidisher literarisher farlag, 1922-1926), 2 vols.; Karahod, blonzhenishn fun avrom itsye dem kirzhner (Circle, ramblings of Avrom-Itsye the furrier) (Vilna: B. Kletskin, 1928), 128 pp., published in 1927 in Moment (Moment) and in 1928 in Tog (Day); Grenadir-shtrase, roman fun yidishn lebn in daytshland (Grenadierstrasse, a novel of Jewish life in Germany) (Warsaw: Literarishe farlag, 1935), 236 pp.; Yidishe nekome, fun der ekstern-velt (Jewish revenge, from the outside world) (Vilna: B. Kletskin, n.d.), 207 pp.; Ani maymen, hershele “shma-yisroel” (Credo: Hershele “Hear, O Israel”) (Munich, 1949), 20 pp.  Shneurson wanted to establish a distinct science that would be devoted to philosophical-religious issues (“Religyologye”).  He established and developed the ideas of “human science” and “human society.”  As Arn Tsaytlin put it: “Contrary to Freud, Shneurson sees man in his full form; the old Chabad-Hassidic sense of the world merges here with his own experimental-psychological experience….  The Hassidic ‘raising the sparks,’ the glimpse into decline as a rung of subsequent raising up—all of this underwrites a new image and plays the role of scientific actualization in Shneurson’s system.”  He attempted to embody his ideas on the raising and lowering of the soul in his fictional work.  Many of his books appeared in German and Hebrew, as well as in English and Russian.  He died in Tel Aviv.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Getzel Kressel, Leksikon hasifrut haivrit (Handbook of Hebrew literature), vol. 2 (Merḥavya, 1967); Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 1 (Montreal, 1945); Arn Tsaytlin, in Unzer ekspres (Warsaw) (March 13, 1927); Tsaytlin, in Yidishe velt (Vilna) 1 (1928); Borekh Rivkin, in Tsukunft (New York) 8 (1928); Avrom Golomb, in Yivo-bleter (Vilna) 10.3/5 (1936); Mark Dvorzhetski, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 31 (1958); Ben-Tsien Goldberg, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (June 5, 1958); Arn Glants, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (July 23, 1960); Yekhiel Hofer, Mit yenem un mit zikh, literarishe eseyen (With another and with oneself, literary essays), vol. 2 (Tel Aviv: Peretz Publ., 1964), pp. 474-82; Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Ruvn Goldberg

[1] Getzel Kressel, Leksikon hasifrut haivrit (Handbook of Hebrew literature), vol. 2 (Meravya, 1967) gives a birthdate of June 28, 1895, which is not confirmed by Shneurson’s subsequent course of life.


            He was born in Homel (Gomel), Byelorussia, the son of a rabbi and a descendant of the Lubavitcher Schneersons.  In 1906 he served as a state rabbi in Gorodnye (Horodnye), Chernigov region and in 1908 in the city of Chernigov.  He was one of the well-known Jewish intercessors in Tsarist Russia.  In 1917 he served for a short time as mayor of Ryazan, before departing for Paris where he became a major industrialist.  During the German occupation, he joined the resistance.  He was the principal initiator of the great monument to the “unknown Jewish martyr” in Paris and of the Centre de documentation Juive Contemporaine (CDJC) which published a series of important works in French and English on the Holocaust in Europe.  In book form: Lebn un kamf fun di yidn in tsarishn rusland, 1905-1917, zikhroynes (Life and struggle of the Jews in Tsarist Russia, 1905-1917, memoirs) (Paris: Poliglot, 1968), 645 pp.  He died in Paris.

Sources: Mortkhe Tsanin, in Letste nayes (Tel Aviv) (December 6, 1968); Arn Alperin, in Idishe tsaytung (Buenos Aires) (August 3, 1969).
Berl Cohen



            He was a folklorist, teacher, and playwright, born in Rohatshov (Rahachow), Byelorussia, into the family of a ritual slaughterer who primarily occupied himself as a farmer and gardener. After religious elementary school, he attended yeshivas. In 1919 he moved to Odessa, fell into a Jewish cultural environment, and became acquainted with aim-Naman Bialik.  He received his higher education in Odessa, became a teacher of Yiddish language and literature, and made appearances as a lecturer and public storyteller of works by Yiddish writers, and he organized circles and independent Yiddish theatrical events, adapted plays for the Odessa Yiddish State Theater, collected folklore, worked in the museum of Yiddish culture named for Mendele Moykher-Sforim, and became director of the Yiddish academic library. From his colossal folklore collection, he managed only to publish one booklet on anti-religious themes. Over the course of many years, he was friendly with Shloyme Mikhoels, and when the Moscow Yiddish State Theatre would go on tour and appear in Odessa (and the theater came to Odessa every summer), Mikhoels would disappear within an hour to be with his friend. Fortuitously Mikhoels, when the war started in 1941 and Shneur had to leave Odessa, invited him to Moscow, provided him with a small room in the building of his theater, and Shneur became the literary director of “Goset” (Moscow State Jewish Theatre). With the theater’s collective, he was evacuated to Tashkent. When Goset returned to Moscow, Mikhoels and Shneur began work on a pageant entitled “Freylekhs” (Cheerful tune). Shneur’s folklore collection, his extraordinary artistic taste, and his great erudition were held in fine repute. The pageant enjoyed phenomenal success and was the last flash of Moscow’s Goset; it was consequently the last creative achievement of this writer from Odessa. When the theater was closed, Shneur was arrested and deported to a camp in the North. He never returned from there. His written work: Antireligyeze mayses un vertlekh (Anti-religious stories and sayings) (Moscow: Emes, 1939), 42 pp.

Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), pp. 387-88.


SHLOYME KHAYIM SHNEUR (1884-March 10, 1958)
            He was born in Vilna.  He attended religious elementary school, later graduating from a Russian commercial high school.  He was active in the Zionist socialist movement in Russia and later in Canada.  For a time he studied in Philadelphia, subsequently in Montreal.  He fell ill in 1926 and from then until his death was in hospital.  He wrote short feature pieces and humorous sketches for: Der fraynd (The friend) in St. Petersburg and Warsaw; Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter), edited by Kalmen Marmor, in New York; the weekly Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper) in Montreal; and was an internal contributor to Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal.  In addition to features, he wrote reviews of books and theater for the last of these serials.  He died near Montreal.

Sources: Shaye Belkin, Di poyle-tsien bavegung in kanade, 1904-1920 (The Labor Zionist movement in Canada, 1904-1920) (Montreal, 1956), see index; B Tsukerman, Zikhroynes (Memoirs) (New York: Idisher kemfer, 1962), pp. 98-100, 125ff.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


ZALKIND-ZALMEN SHNEUR (February 11, 1887 – February 20, 1959)
            A Hebrew and Yiddish poet and prose writer, he was born in Shklov (Škłoŭ, Szkłów), Mogilev district.  He came from the well-known Hassidic Schneerson family.  He received a strict religious education, later studying at the Jewish crown school.  At age eight or nine, he began writing Hebrew and Yiddish poetry.  At thirteen he set out for Odessa with no means of support, and there aim Naman Bialik warmly received him.  There he also became acquainted with Mendele, Lilienblum, and Rabnitski.  He studied as an external student, went hungry, and was compelled to travel to Warsaw because he was at odds with his family.  He worked there for the Tushiya publishing house, served for a short time as personal secretary for Y. L. Perets, while Dovid Frishman became a close friend.  In 1903 he returned to Shklov, and over the years 1904-1906 he lived in Vilna (about which he later wrote in one of most beautiful poems, Vilna).  From 1906 he lived in Switzerland, later in Paris, where he studied philosophy, literature, and natural science in university.  He spent the years of WWI in Berlin, as a Russian citizen in civil captivity.  There he studied medicine.  In 1919 he traveled to the United States, soon returned to Berlin, gave up further study, and in 1924 moved to Paris where he remained until 1941; that year he made his way to America under great duress.  Several times (1925 and 1936), he tried to settle in the land of Israel, but he did not receive the proper assistance to arrange it, and this experience left in him with a profound bitterness against the leaders of the Jewish settlement and Zionism.  In late 1949 he came to Tel Aviv and later did settle in Ramat-Gan.  He lived in the state of Israel for six years, for reasons of health traveled to Europe and America, and there met his death in New York.  In late November 1960 his body was transported to the old cemetery in Tel Aviv.
            Shneur’s principal literary-artistic creative work was in Hebrew poetry, but his main works in prose were in Yiddish.  He also wrote poetry in Yiddish, many of them in a folkish tone, some of them actually sung by people, such as: “Margeritkeler” (Daisy basement), “Karshn” (Cherries), and “Friling” (Spring), among others.  He debuted in print in 1901 with poems in Mortkhe Spektor’s Yudishe folkstsaytung (Jewish people’s newspaper).  In his Vilna years, he frequently wrote for Yiddish serial publications: Der nayer veg (The new way), Dos yudishe folk (The Jewish people) (1906-1907, in which he published his poems: “Fayer” [Fire], “Mayse breyshes” [The story of Creation], “Di frayhayt” [Freedom]; the stories “Nekome” [Revenge], “Af beyde zayten fun dnyester” [On both side of the Dniester], and others), Teater-velt (Theater world) (Warsaw, 1908-1909), Dos naye land (The new land) (New York, 1911), Di yudishe velt (The Jewish world), and Di tribune (The tribune) (Copenhagen, 1916).  He was also a regular contributor to Moment (Moment) in Warsaw and Tsukunft (Future) in New York, among others.  He served as editor of Shvalben (Swallows) (Warsaw, 1908/1909, in which he also published a poem) and for a short time co-edited Parizer morgenblat (Parisian morning newspaper) (1932).  Shneur’s most creative prose era in Yiddish began in 1927, when he became a regular contributor to Forverts (Forward) in New York, and in it he published a series of stories, images, scenes, and bulky novels which from that year were published every week also in Moment, Tsayt (Times) in London, Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal, and Idishe tsaytung (Jewish newspaper) in Buenos Aires, among others.  In Tog-morgn-zhurnal (Day-morning journal), he published in 1965 his novel Evelin (Evelyn).  His work also appeared in: the anthology Dos fraye feld, literarishes zamelbukh (The free domain, a literary collection) (Brooklyn, 1908); Yankev Fikhman, ed., Di yudishe muze (The Yiddish muse) (Warsaw: Velt biblyotek, 1911); Dovid Kasel, ed., Far ovenden un fervaylungen, mustern fun yudisher literatur, fun shatskes biz kobrin (For evenings and entertainment, items from Yiddish literature, from Shatskes to Kobrin) (Warsaw: A. Gitlin, 1918); Morris Basin, ed., 500 yor yidishe poezye (500 years of Yiddish poetry) (New York, 1922); Arye Shamri, ed., Vortslen, antologye fun yidish-shafn in yisroel, poezye un proze (Roots, anthology of Yiddish creative writing in Israel, poetry and prose) (Tel Aviv: Yisroel-bukh, 1966); Shmuel Rozhanski, Di froy in der yidisher poezye (Women in Yiddish poetry) (Buenos Aires, 1966); Perl fun yidisher poezye (Pearls of Yiddish poetry) (Tel Aviv); Joseph Leftwich, ed., The Golden Peacock: An Anthology of Yiddish Poetry (New York, 1961); Leftwich, ed., An Anthology of Modern Yiddish literature (The Hague: Mouton, 1974); Charles Dobzynski, ed., Anthologie de la poésie Yiddish, le miroir d’un people (Anthology of Yiddish poetry, the mirror of a people) (Paris: Gallimard, 1971); and in many Yiddish readers, such as Dos yudishe velt (The Jewish world) (Vilna, 1913).  He also wrote memoirs and articles on Jewish writers—on Mendele, Sholem-Aleichem, Bialik, and others.  Together with Y. Y. Shvarts, he translated Bialik’s “Vinterlider” (Winter songs) in Dos yudish folk (The Jewish people) 2 (1907).  In 1913 he published in Hashiloa (The shiloah) his poem “Yeme habenayim mitkarvim” (The dark ages draw nigh), in which there was a presentiment and prediction of the subsequent dreadful events in Germany, following Hitler’s rise to power, and in 1924 he wrote further “Dvar-ma tame mitraesh beashkenaz” (Something unclean is taking place in Ashkenaz).
            His writings include: Nekome (Revenge), a story (Vilna: Di velt, 1906), 16 pp.; A toydt, shriften fun a zelbstmerder a tiref (A dead man, writings of a suicide, a crazy man) (Warsaw: Hashaar, 1909), 165 pp., later version under the title Ahin, roman (Here, a novel) (Berlin: Yalkut, 1923), 188 pp., Hebrew translation as Lesham in the collection Bametsar (In the straits) (Berlin, 1922/1923); Gezamelte shriften (Collected writings), 3 vols. (Warsaw: Velt-biblyotek, 1909-1911); A matone, poema (A gift, a poem) (Warsaw: Hashaar, 1909), 18 pp.; Proza un lieder (Prose and poetry) (Odessa: Binshtok, 1912), 41 pp., second printing (New York, 1918); Gezamelte shriften (New York: Literarisher farlag, 1918), 247 pp.; Fun dem “zeydns” kval (From “grandfather’s” source), about Mendele (Berlin: Klal Farlag, 1922), 64 pp.; Sholem-aleykhems ondeynken (Memories of Sholem-Aleichem) (Berlin: Klal Farlag, 1922), 60 pp.; Shklover idn (Jews of Shklov), novellas (Vilna: B. Kletskin, 1929), 339 pp.; Feter zhome (Uncle Zhome) (Vilna: B. Kletskin, 1930), 317 pp.; Der shklover ger (The Shklov convert [to Judaism]) (Paris: Pariz, 1934), 60 pp.; Ame-ratsim (Ignoramuses), 5 vols.—1. Noyekh pandre (Noah Pandre); 2. Baym dnyeper (By the Dnieper [River]); 3. Tsurik tsu ostrog (Back to Ostrog); 4. Vant (Wall); 5. Pandres antloyfn (Pandre’s escape)—(Vilna: Tomor, 1939), first part appeared (Warsaw (Yoyvl-komitet, 1938); Fertsig yor, lider un poemen, 1903-1944 (Forty years, poetry, 1903-1944) (New York: Jewish National Labor Alliance, 1945), 317 pp.; Keyser un rebe, historisher roman (Kaiser and rabbi, a historical novel), 5 vols. (New York: Tsiko, 1944-1952), several chapters of which under the same title were published in Bamberg (1947), 45 pp.; Di meshumedeste, roman (The baptized Jewess, a novel) (New York: Yoyvl-farlag, 1948), 392 pp.; A tog oylem-haze, roman (A day in this world, a novel) (New York: Yoyvl-farlag, 1948), 532 pp.; Shklover kinder, dertseylungen (Children in Shklov, stories) (New York: Tsiko, 1951), 307 pp.; Der mamzer in zavulek (The bastard in Zavulek) (New York: Der kval, 1957), 327 pp.; Noyekh pandre (Tel Aviv: Nay-velt, 1956-1970), 5 vols.  He translated himself the majority of his Yiddish novels into Hebrew: Anshe shklov, Pandre hagibor, and Hagaon veharav.  Among his Hebrew-language works: Am shekiat haḥama, shirim, 1900-1906 (At sunset, poetry, 1900-1906) (Warsaw: Tushiya, 1906), 127 pp.; Gesharim (Bridge) (Berlin: Hasefer, 1922), 350 pp.; ezyonot (Vision) (Berlin: Hasefer, 1923), 316 pp.; Vilna (Vilna) (1923); Bametsar (Berlin: Hasefer, 1923), 302 pp.; Pirke yaar (Forest chapters) (New York, 1945), 244 pp.; Kitve z. shneur (Writings of Z. Shneur) (Tel Aviv: Devir, 1959/1960), 438 pp.
            Shneur’s numerous works possess enormous dramatic material.  Very early, he had penned crude dramatic efforts, and in the early 1920s or even earlier there was staged—according to B. Gorin—a play of his in three acts entitled Gegeniber (Opposite).  However, a powerful desire to see his work on the Yiddish or Hebrew stage arose within him in the mid-1930s.  He especially favored his Hebrew translation of Y. Y. Zinger’s Yoshe kalb (Yoshe Kalb) that Maurice Schwartz booked with him.  Schwartz thought earnestly about dramatizing Keyser un rebe and also negotiated with Shneur over producing his original dramas and his dramatization of Dos gezang fun dnyeper (Song of the Dnieper) which was built on Noyekh pandre and staged, under the direction of Dovid Likht, in the Yiddish Art Theater.  Shneur’s play Di varshever gvirim (The wealthy men of Warsaw) was also said to have been produced at the Yiddish Art Theater.  His biblical play Yankev un rokhl (Jacob and Rachel) was performed in Ha-Ohel Theatre.  In the 1950s Shneur prepared a dramatization and translation into Hebrew of Der mamzer in zavulek, Di meshumedeste, and A tog oylem-haze.  He had three completed dramas: Der kop (The head), Der vald (The woods), and Der novi (The prophet), a biblical drama.  It was already, though, too late for Shneur to carry out all of these plans.
            “In his Yiddish works of the first period,” wrote Zalmen Reyzen, “just as in his Hebrew work, Shneur was the poet of the healthy and strong youth which resonates with his despair and loneliness….  He did not take ordinary and natural topics in his first stories, but exceptional themes and with them made ordinary people tragic or tragicomic figures.  The young Shneur was the psychologist of souls, over which only one feeling predominates, one passion….  He later found another poetic expression in his idylls of the shtetl.”
            “Shneur’s creative work,” noted Yankev Botoshanski, “breathed with power and with breadth.  Breadth for him was much more than depth….  His Yiddish songs offered a certain charm, and they were sung and declaimed, but they were rarely united with Yiddish poetry.  They were echoed [mainly] in life….  Shneur received his redress as a Yiddish writer with his ‘tales of Shklov’ (Škłoŭ) which possess originality and freshness.  To a certain extent, Z. Shneur changed his tone—there is more description than clamor in these stories, and if it’s clamor, it comes from within, from the heroes themselves….  He also took people [from the shtetl] to which Sholem-Aleichem scarcely touched and to topics as well which were new….  He became the continuation of Sholem-Aleichem.  His heroic boors, his Noyekh Pandres, had in themselves something of the bullies of the past.”
            “How is Zalmen Shneur’s stetl,” asked Meylekh Ravitsh, “different from the other shtetls?...  It is different in its sanguinity of the people there, with their natural human egoism which is neither warranted nor glorified….  Shneur’s shtetl…meditates very little.  It survives on God and people, as God wished for it.”
            His “personal strength,” wrote Shloyme Bikl, “consisted, it seems to me, in his creation of great figures and never forgetting their realistic vigilance….  Over the broad domain of Shklov Jews, from the Noyekh Pandre saga and the abundant gallery of figures in Keyser un rebe, Zalmen Shneur remained always and thoroughly the long-view, realistic storyteller, who understood how to separate from himself and from us the people created in his imagination, so as to win a place for dramatic maneuvering and so as to bring them closer to us.”
            “All the anxiety of a certain kind of person,” stated Yitskhok Varshavski (Bashevis), “all of his illusions and disappointments, shout out from Shneur’s poetry and novels….  There raged within him a vitality which not even the semblance of death could undercut….  Shneur’s tragedy was the tragedy of a person whose soul is torn on one side, the body, and in another…this transpires for Shneur in a grand scope with wild fortitude.  Shneur was all at once: Jew and gentile, corpulent and refined, man of form and of formlessness, of order and of chaos.  He was a hero, but his evil inclination was also a hero.”

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Getzel Kressel, Leksikon hasifrut haivrit (Handbook of Hebrew literature), vol. 2 (Meravya, 1967); Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 3 (Montreal, 1958); B. Gorin, Geshikhte fun yidishn teater (History of Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1923), p. 277; See also Yosef Klausner, Yotsrim ubonim (Creators and builders), vol. 2 (Jerusalem, 1928/1929), pp. 147-49; Klausner, Yotsrim ubonim, vol. 3 (1929), pp. 176-77; Shmuel Niger, in Tsukunft (New York) 3 (1930); Sh. L. Shnayderman, in Brikn (New York) (1934); Talush, Yidishe shrayber (Yiddish writers) (New York, 1953), pp. 93-120; Ber Shnaper, in Tsukunft 8 (1938); Shemarye Gorelik, Eseyen (Essays) (Los Angeles: Farlag Mayrev, 1947), p. 315; Abba Gordin, Denker un dikhter (Thinker and writer) (New York: IKUF, 1949), pp. 112-34; Dov Sadan, Avne boan (Touchstones) (Tel Aviv, 1951), pp. 91-95; Sadan, Ben din leeshbon (Between law and accounting) (Tel Aviv, 1963); Shmuel Laover, in Yad lekore (A hand to the reader) (Tel Aviv) (1951/1952), pp. 110-26, (1952/1953), pp. 196-208 (bibliography); D. A. Fridman, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 11 (1952); Hillel Rogof, Der “gayst” fun forverts (The spirit of the Forverts) (New York, 1954), pp. 243-48; Shmuel Leshtsinski, Literarishe eseyen (Literary essays), vol. 2 (New York, 1955), pp. 62-77; Dovid Eynhorn, in Forverts (New York) (June 3, 1956); Ravitsh, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (July 15, 1957); Shloyme Bikl, Shrayber fun mayn dor (Writers of my generation), vol. 1 (New York, 1958), pp. 382-86; Yankev Botoshanski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (February 22, 1959); Yankev Glants, in Der veg (Mexico City) (March 7, 1959); G. Preyl, in Tsukunft 7 (1959); Avrom Regelson, in Di goldene keyt 37 (1960); Y. Varshavski (Yitskhok Bashevis), in Forverts (March 13, 1960); Yisroel Emyot, In mitele yorn, eseyen, dertseylungen, lider (In middle age, essays, stories, poems) (Rochester: Jewish Community Council, 1963), pp. 138-42; Yekhiel Hofer, Mit yenem un mit zikh, literarishe eseyen (With another and with oneself, literary essays), vol. 2 (Tel Aviv: Peretz Publ., 1964), pp. 448-53; Moshe Basok, Nofe sifrut (Literary landscapes) (Tel Aviv, 1965), pp. 31-42; Avrom Lis, In skhus fun vort (By virtue of the word) (Tel Aviv, 1969), pp. 182-86; Avrom-Dovid Shub, Fun di amolike yorn, bletlekh zikhroynes (From years past, pages of memoirs) (New York: Tsiko, 1970), 909-12; Moyshe Gross-Tsimerman, Dos vort vos mir shraybn, eseyen un profiln (The word that we write, essays and profiles) (Tel Aviv: Yisroel-bukh, 1971); Moyshe Laks (Lax), Memuaristishe feder-shpritsn (Pen spurts of memoirs) (Bucharest: Kriteryon, 1973); Y. Shneur, in idishe tsaytung (Buenos Aires) (May 17, 1974).
Berl Cohen

Wednesday 9 October 2019


ALTER SHNUR (1910-1944)
            He was a religious poet, born Yisroel-Dov Itsinger in Baytsh (Biecz), Galicia.  He lost both parents in his youth.  He graduated from the Cracow religious teachers’ seminary.  From 1932 he was working in Lodz as a teacher of religion.  Confined in the Lodz ghetto, he secretly taught children and young adults, edited the illegal Geto-shriftn (Ghetto writings) and Min hametsar (From the straits), and wrote scathing poems in it against the Jewish ghetto leaders and their Nazi enforcers.  In the 1930s he contributed to virtually all of the religious periodicals: Beys yankev (House of Jacob), Kinder-gorten (Kindergarten), Dos yudishe togblat (The Jewish daily newspaper), and Der yudisher arbayter (The Jewish worker) in Lodz, among others.  He co-edited Di yudishe arbayter shtime (Voice of the Jewish laborer), and he wrote as well for the Aguda’s Deglanu (Our banner) and other serials.  His work also appeared in: Rute Pups, Dos lid fun geto (The poem of the ghetto) (Warsaw, 1962).  In book form: Geklibene perl (Selected pearls) (Lodz, 1936); and Rabi shloyme ibn gvirol (Rabbi Solomon Ibn Gabirol) (Lodz, 1936).  A portion of the poetry he composed in the ghetto was discovered.  He died at Auschwitz.

Sources: Ber Mark, Umgekumene shrayber fun di getos un lagern (Murdered writers from the ghettos and camps) (Warsaw, 1954), pp. 176-77; Moyshe Prager, Di antologye fun religyeze lider un dertseylungen (The anthology of religious poetry and stories) (New York, 1955); Y. Brisk, in Dorem-afrike (Johannesburg) (March-April 1969); Khayim Leyb Fuks, Lodzh shel mayle, dos yidishe gaystiḳe un derhoybene lodzh, 100 yor yidishe un oykh hebreishe literatur un kultur in lodzh un in di arumiḳe shtet un shtetlekh (Lodz on high, the Jewish spiritual and elevated Lodz, 100 years of Yiddish and also Hebrew literature and culture in Lodz and in the surrounding cities and towns) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1972), see index; Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Yekhezkl Lifshits


SHLOYME (SHLOMO) SHENHOD (October 10, 1912-November 28, 1984)
            A Hebrew and Yiddish poet and translator, he was born in Yezyernye (Ozerna), Galicia.  His Yiddish name was either Sheynhoyt or Shenhoyt.  He studied in religious elementary school, synagogue study hall, and a Tarbut school.  He completed business school in Tarnopol, later studying in the Tachkemoni seminary in Warsaw.  He settled in the land of Israel in 1936.  He composed poetry in Yiddish from 1938 and in Hebrew from 1948.  He debuted in print with a poem in Nayvelt (New world) in Tel Aviv in 1938.  He went on to contribute poetry and translations to: Undzers (Ours), Bleter far literatur un kritik (Pages for literature and criticism), Tsayt (Times), Di brik (The bridge), Heftn (Notebooks), Letste nayes (Latest news), Di goldene keyt (The golden chain), Tsukunft (Future), and Der shpigl (The mirror) in Buenos Aires, among others.  His work appears as well in: Mortkhe Yofe, Erets-yisroel in der yidisher literatur (Israel in Yiddish literature), vol. 1 (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1961); Arie Shamri, Vortslen (Roots) (Tel Aviv, 1966); Shmuel Rozhanski, Di froy in der yidisher poezye (Women in Yiddish poetry) (Buenos Aires, 1966); Yoysef Papyernikov, Yerusholaim in yidishn lid, antologye (Jerusalem in Yiddish poetry, anthology) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1973); and Berish Vaynshteyn, Opklayb (Selection) (New York, 1976).  He edited Heftn (Haifa) (1966, 2 issues).  In 1979 he received the Manger Prize.  He died in Tel Aviv.
            His writings include: Tsvishn bloy un yam, lider (Between blue and the sea, poetry) (Tel Aviv: Fraynt, 1939), 64 pp.; Geveyn af kineret, balade (At the Kinneret, a ballad) (Tel Aviv, 1940), 12 pp.; Mit kholem iber thom, lider (With a dream over the abyss, poetry) (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1961), 223 pp.; Lider fun heylikn eplfeld (Poems of a divine apple field) (Tel Aviv: Yisroel-bukh, 1980), 208 pp.  His translations include: Yehoash, In geveb (In the web) as Bamaarag (Jerusalem, 1957), 181 pp., with A. Presman; Yankev Glatshteyn, Ven yash iz gekumen (When Yash arrived) as Uvehagia yash (Tel Aviv: Devir, 1957), 244 pp.; Glatshteyn, Fun mayn gantser mi (For all my troubles) as Mikol amali (Jerusalem, 1964), 186 pp.; Chaim Grade, Der mames shabosim (My mother’s Sabbath days) as Sbabtoteha shel ima (Tel Aviv: Masada, 1958), 351 pp.; E. Almi, Tsvishn sinay un olymp (Between Sinai and Olympus) as Ben sinai leolimpus (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1960), 265 pp.; and Nokhum Khanin, Berele (Berele) as Berele (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1960), 121 pp.; among others.  He also translated a great deal from Hebrew into Yiddish.
            “Shenhod was one of the last,” wrote Shloyme Bikl, “in the line of spiritual exemplars who were the achievement of Jewish-Galicia prior to the last two generations.”
            In Yankev Gkatshteyn’s view, “Shenhod is brilliant at verse and musicality.  He can play with Yiddish words…whose speech and play have been lost through their disappearing musical quality.”
            “Shenhod’s translations…are so well done,” noted Meylekh Ravitsh, “that it is impossible to state if the original was Yiddish or Hebrew.”

Sources: Getzel Kressel, Leksikon hasifrut haivrit (Handbook of Hebrew literature), vol. 2 (Meravya, 1967); Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 3 (Montreal, 1958); Shloyme Bikl, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (December 28, 1958); Chaim Grade, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (December 31, 1958); Yitskhok Varshavski (Bashevis), in Forverts (New York) (March 4, 1962); Yankev Glatshteyn, Mit mayne fartogbikher (With my journals) (Tel Aviv: Peretz Publ., 1963), pp. 126-33; Yankev-Tsvi Shargel, Fun onheyb on, tsvishn shrayber un verk (From the beginning, among writers and works) (Tel Aviv: Yisroel-bukh, 1977), pp. 98-103; Yisroel Cohen, in Bay zikh (Tel Aviv) 16 (1980).
Berl Cohen

Tuesday 8 October 2019


            In 1877 he owned a guesthouse in Zimnish (Zimnicea?), Romania, and he later lived in Bucharest.  He was the author of Aheym, yuden aheym! (Home Jews, go home!) (Bucharest, 1884), 32 pp.  He called upon Jew to go to the land of Israel.
Berl Cohen


BER SHNAPER (1906-1939)[1]
            He was a poet, born in Lemberg.  He came from a poor family and studied over the years 1926-1930 in the Vienna Hebrew teachers’ seminary.  In 1932 he moved from Lemberg to Warsaw.  He wrote poetry for: Yidish (Yiddish) in Vienna (1928), Vokhnshrift far literatur (Weekly writing for literature), Foroys (Arise) in Warsaw, and Tsushteyer (Contribution) in Lemberg, among others.  Shnaper’s poems in Sovetishe literatur (Soviet literature) 1 (1940) and Sovetish (Soviet) 11 (1940) were either submitted earlier or the date of his death is incorrect.  His work also appeared in: Yitskhok Paner and Leyzer Frenkel, Naye yidishe dikhtung (Modern Yiddish poetry) (Iași: Jewish cultural circle in Romania, 1947); 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); and Hubert Witt, Der Fiedler vom Getto: Jiddische Dichtung aus Polen (The fiddler of the ghetto, Yiddish poetry from Poland) (Leipzig, 1966).  His books of poetry include: Opshoym (Dregs) (Vienna: Kultur-farayn, 1927), 31 pp.; Mayn shtot un andere lider (My city and other poems) (Lemberg: Tsushteyer, 1932), 61 pp.; Mayse in lid (A story in poetry) (Warsaw, 1934), 94 pp.; Bloe verter )Blue words) (Warsaw: Hutner, 1937), 141 pp.

Sources: Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 1 (Montreal, 1945); Y. Bernshteyn, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) 3 (1938); Yitskhok Bashevis, in Tsukunft (New York) (August 1943); M. Valdman, in Tsukunft 2 (1949); Mendl Naygreshl, in Tsukunft (1950); Ber Mark, Umgekumene shrayber fun di getos un lagern (Murdered writers from the ghettos and camps) (Warsaw, 1954), p. 205; Rokhl Oyerbakh, in Ilustrirte literarishe bleter (Buenos Aires) (September-October 1957); Yankev Botoshanski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (December 31, 1957); A. Slutski, in Letste nayes (Tel Aviv) (January 2, 1970); Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Berl Kagan

[1] Meylekh Ravitsh give a birthdate of 1903.  According to Shiye Shlayen-Shiloni, he died in or near Lemberg.

Monday 7 October 2019


BERL SHNABL (1909-1972)
            He was a poet, born in Siget (Sighetu Marmației), Romania.  He attended religious elementary school and yeshiva.  His parents were very religious.  In 1930 he settled in Bucharest.  After the death of his only son at Auschwitz, he lapsed into a severe illness.  In 1961 he departed for Israel.  He composed proletarian poetry and articles.  He contributed to: Oyfgang (Arise) in Sighetu Marmației (1933-1938, with interruptions), Ikuf-zhurnal (IKUF journal) in Bucharest, and Bukareshter zamlbikher (Bucharest anthologies) (1947, co-editor).  He edited Der shtern (The star) in Sighetu Marmației (1933, 4 issues) and co-edited Unzer lebn (Our life) in Sighetu Marmației (1947).  His work also appeared in: Yitskhok Paner and Leyzer Frenkel, Naye yidishe dikhtung (Modern Yiddish poetry) (Iași: Jewish cultural circle in Romania, 1947).  His works include: Milner-gas, lider (Millers’ street, poems) (Bucharest: Sholem-aleykhem 1936), 61 pp.; Yeshive-lider (Yeshiva poems) (Bucharest: Yidishe biblyotek, 1942), 108 pp. He died in Nahariya, Israel.
            “Shnabl radical break with his religious home,” wrote Shloyme Bikl, “impeded both the fictional and the stylistic harmony of both of Berl Shabl’s books of poetry.”

Sources: Yitskhok Paner, in Tsukunft (New York) (September 1966); Shloyme Bikl, Rumenye (Romania) (Buenos Aires, 1961), pp. 364-68; Natan Mark, Sifrut yidish berumenya (Yiddish literature in Romania) (Tel Aviv, 1973), see index; Julian Shvarts, Literarishe dermonungen (Literary reminiscences) (Bucharest: Kriteryon, 1975), pp. 208-11; Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Y. Kara


ARIE SHAMRI (April 22, 1907-March 13, 1978)
            He was a poet, born with the surname Riba in Kalushin (Kałuszyn), Poland.  He studied in yeshiva, later with his Hassidic father and grandfather.  He experienced the Hassidic-kabbalistic cravings to reform the world and for social ideals, and he found his way in the pioneer movement.  In 1929 he moved to the land of Israel and from 1930 was a member of the kibbutz Ein Shemer—from whence comes his adopted surname.  He debuted in print in 1936 with a poem entitled “Leyzer tsipres” (Leyzer Cypress) in Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves).  He began writing in Hebrew but stayed with Yiddish as well.  He published poems—from time to time, essays as well—in Israeli serials: Shtamen (Tribes), Bleter far literatur (Pages for literature), the collection Erets-yisroel shriftn (Writings from the land of Israel) (1937), Undzers (Ours), Vortslen (Roots), Di goldene keyt (The golden chain), Folksblat (People’s newspaper), Almanakh (Almanac) (Tel Aviv, 1967); Amerikaner (American), Opatoshu-leyvik-zamlbikher (Opatoshu-Leivick anthologies), Tsukunft (Future), Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture), and Getseltn (Tents)—New York; and Literarishe zamlungen (Literary collections) in Chicago; among others.  His work appeared as well in: Yitskhok Paner and Leyzer Frenkel, Naye yidishe dikhtung (Modern Yiddish poetry) (Iași: Jewish cultural circle in Romania, 1947); Lider fun khurbn, t”sh-tsh”h (Poetry from the Holocaust, 1939-1945) (Tel Aviv, 1962); Moshe Basok, Mivḥar shirat yidish (Selection of Yiddish poetry) (Tel Aviv, 1963); Yoysef Papyernikov, Yerusholaim in yidishn lid, antologye (Jerusalem in Yiddish poetry, anthology) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1973); Y. Kh. Biletski, Mame in yidishn lid (Mother in Yiddish poetry) (Tel Aviv, 1980); Charles Dobzynski, Anthologie de la poésie Yiddish, le miroir d’un people (Anthology of Yiddish poetry, the mirror of a people) (Paris: Gallimard, 1971); and Irving Howe and Eliezer Greenberg, A Treasury of Yiddish Poetry (New York, 1969).
            He edited anthologies entitled: Lo emut ki eye (I shall not die for I will live) (Meravya, 1957); Vortslen, antologye fun yidish-shafn in yisroel, poezye un proze (Roots, anthology of Yiddish creative writing in Israel, poetry and prose) (Tel Aviv: Yisroel-bukh, 1966); Seyfer kalushin ([Remembrance] volume for Kałuszyn) (Tel Aviv, 1961); and Pinkas novi-dvor (Records of Nowy Dwor) (Tel Aviv, 1965).  He was a recipient of the Fikhman Prize, the Manger Prize, and other awards.  His books (of poetry) include: L”v shirim al leyzer tsiprus (Thirty-six poems for Leyzer Cypress), trans. from Yiddish by A. Shlonski (Meravya, 1939), 84 pp.; In toyer fun teg (At the gates of days) (Meravya, 1947), 167 pp.; In vokhikn likht (In watchful light) (Meravya, 1953), 125 pp.; A shtern in feld, lider un poemes (A star in the field, poetry) (Tel Aviv: Goldene keyt, 1957), 156 pp.; Di funken fun tikn, poeme (The sparks of improvement, a poem) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1960), 173 pp.; Trit in gan odem (Step in the garden) (Meravya, 1965), 218 pp.; Dos yingl fun dizhon (The lad from Dijon) (Tel Aviv: Yisroel-bukh, 1968), 155 pp.; Gezangen in shayer (Songs in the barn) (Meravya, 1970), 700 pp.; Ringen in shtam (Links in the tribe) (Meravya, 1975), 233 pp.; Af grinem parmet (On green parchment) (Meravya, 1977), 172 pp.; Gan adam (Garden) (Meravya, 1980), 149 pp., rendered into Hebrew by various translators; Eynzamlung, eseyen, ophandlungen, redes (Collection, essays, treatments, speeches) (Tel Aviv: Yisroel-bukh, 1982), 248 pp.  He died in Ein Shemer, Israel.
            As the jury for the Manger Prize noted: “The poles of his poetic creation are destruction and redemption—the tragic downfall of European Jewry and the heroic rise of the state of Israel…on the one hand adorned with symbols of kabbala and Hassidic allusion and on the other with colors in relief and rhythms of pioneers’ labor.”
            Shamri’s poetry, as Yitskhok Yanasovitsh noted, “captivated us with its new gamut of feelings and with the new scale of visions…expressed in innovative, deeply original colors and images.”
            Shamri’s “poetry of personal sorrow,” commented Shloyme Bikl, “the poems of rebelliousness against God and man, the poems of love for the Israeli soil and also for the Yiddish poem…[speak] to us in imagery clear and simple and with words robust and quiet, even when a scream is torn from them here and there.”
            “Shamri is expressive,” noted Froym Oyerbakh, “his lines very often revelatory, the rhythm song-like, and mainly he possesses a poetic disposition to which he is able artistically acquaint us.”

Sources: Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 3 (Montreal, 1958); Benyomen Grobard, in Literarishe zamlungen, vol. 5 (Chicago, 1948); A. Mukdoni, in Tsukunft (New York) (July-August 1953); Yankev Glatshteyn, In tokh genumen (In essence) (New York, 1956); Glatshteyn, Mit mayne fartog-bikher (With my daybreak books) (Tel Aviv, 1963); Avrom Sutskever, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 28 (1957); Shloyme Bikl, Shrayber fun mayn dor (Writers of my generation), vols. 1-3 (New York: Matones, 1958-1970); Arn Glants, Velt un vort (World and word) (New York, 1958), pp. 297-300; Mordekhai alamish, in Al hamishmar (Tel Aviv (May 23, 1958); Yisroel-Khayim Biletski, Masot bishvile sifrut yidish (Essays on Yiddish literature), vol. 2 (Tel Aviv: Gazit, 1963), pp. 186-94; Moyshe Gros-Tsimerman, Intimer videranand, eseyen (Intimate contrast, essays) (Tel Aviv: Peretz Publ., 1964), pp. 274-80; Nosn Fodemberg, Shafer un boyer, eseyen vegn shrayber un bikher (Creators and builders, essays on writers and books) (New York: IKUF, 1964), pp. 156-67; Yitskhok Yanasovitsh, Yitskhok Yanasovitsh, Penemer un nemen (Faces and names), vol. 1 (Buenos Aires, 1971), pp. 357-67; Dov Sadan, Heymishe ksovim, shrayber, bikher, problemen (Familiar writings, writers, books, issues), vol. 1 (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1972), pp. 140-44; Froym Oyerbakh, Af der vogshol, esey (In the balance, essay), vol. 1 (Tel Aviv, 1975), pp. 312-17; Y. Shpigl, in Di goldene keyt 73 (1975); Yankev-Tsvi Shargel, Fun onheyb on, tsvishn shrayber un verk (From the beginning, among writers and works) (Tel Aviv: Yisroel-bukh, 1977), pp. 51-61.
Ruvn Goldberg

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 530.]

Sunday 6 October 2019


SHOMER (December 26,1846[1]-November 24, 1905)
            The author of novels, plays, and stories, “Shomer” was the pen name of Nokhum-Meyer Shaykevitsh, a pen name drawn from the last letters of his birth name.  He was born into a wealthy family in Nesvizh, Minsk district.  His father was unfit to lead a practical life.  Until about seventeen years of age, Shomer attended religious primary schools and yeshivas.  In spare moments he covertly read: Josephus, Shaarit yisroel (The remnant of Israel), Kalman Schulman’s translation of Mistere pariz (The mysteries of Paris [original: Mystères de Paris]) [by Eugène Sue], and Avraham Mapu’s Ahavat tsiyon (Love of Zion) and Ashmat shomron (Shomron’s fault), which he received from a rabbi in Kapulye (Kopyl, Kapyl), where his father was working for several years.  From Moses Mendelssohn’s translation of Tanakh, he mastered German, and he also began reading Russian books.  At a young age he wrote a novel in four parts entitled Ahavat kedem and a volume of poems entitled Hare bashamayim (Mountains in the sky).  At age twenty he married and lived with his father-in-law Mikhl Bertshinski in Pinsk, where he befriended the local followers of the Jewish Enlightenment: Moyshe-Arn Shatskes, A. D. Dubzevitsh, Tsvi Hacohen Shereshevski, Tsvi-Hirsh Maslyanski, and Avrom-Khayim Rozenberg.  In the summer of 1869, he debuted in print in Hamelits (The advocate) with an article, “Okhele perot shukhane etsim” (Fruit eaters, tree dwellers).  He also published there translations of popular science articles and correspondence pieces from Pinsk (1871-1872).  After losing his dowry on a failed lumber business, he moved in 1876 to join his rich uncle Vigodski in Vilna.  The publisher Shmuel-Yoysef Fin (Fuenn) had read his Hebrew novel Zevae hainkvizitsiya (Sacrifices of the Inquisition), but he asked Shomer to write a chapbook in Yiddish.  The very next morning he brought in the story A toyter beoylem-haze (A dead man in this world), 24 pp., which he signed Shomer for the first time.  In nine days he completed nine chapbooks, which were all published, and S. Y. Fin paid him the high price for that period of three rubles per booklet.  At the time he found work with his uncle—as a military contractor in Oran (Varėna), Lithuania, later in Yanove (Jonava), Lublin district, and at the time of the Russo-Turkish War as a provider of butter and dairy to the Russian army in Romania.  In Bucharest he came to know Avrom Goldfaden in his only recently founded Yiddish theater, which made a huge impression on him.
            Shomer’s first chapbooks were dispersed over the entire Pale of Settlement and Galicia, and their author became widely popular.  Yiddish publishers quarreled over publishing his books.  The great Vilna firm of the “Widow and Brothers Romm” concluded a contract for him to provided novels.  He also wrote for the Vilna publisher “Mats” and for publishing houses in Warsaw, Berdichev, Odessa, and elsewhere.  Literature had now become Shomer’s means of support.
            For the sake of the Yiddish theater, he settled in Odessa, began writing plays, initially for the Yoysef-Yude Lerner’s troupe and later for his own organized troupe, and toured through a variety of cities in southern Russia and Bessarabia.  In the summer of 1881, he launched a Yiddish theater in Kishinev, in 1882 again in Odessa in a theatrical partnership with Goldfaden and Lerner.  From 1885 he spent several years in Warsaw, where a number of his plays were staged.  In 1888 he returned to Pinsk and directed a Yiddish theater there.  At the request of Yiddish stage actors in New York, he traveled there in 1889.  The Yiddish press and Yiddish theatrical world received him triumphally, and the plays he directed enjoyed enormous success.  Due to his impracticality in his own economic state of affairs, he at first suffered badly, though he was later restored materially, especially after he began writing novels in booklets for Sapirshteyn, the publisher of Morgn zhurnal (Morning journal).
            Shomer wrote stories, novels, poems, essays, epigrams, humorous sketches, translations, and satirical verse.  Aside from Hamelits, he placed work in: Avrom-Ber Gotlober’s Haboker or (Morning’s light), Hamodia laadashim (The monthly herald) (1900-1901), and other Hebrew newspapers; and Morgn zhurnal for which he was a regular contributor, Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper), Di idishe bihne (The Yiddish stage), Minikes yohrbukh (Minike’s annual) (1904-1905), and Yudishes folksblat (Jewish people newspaper) in St. Petersburg, among others.  He also wrote a great deal for the periodicals that he published himself, periodicals in which he often wrote the lion’s share of the text: Der litvak oder der talmed khokhem (The Litvak or the learned man) (Odessa, September 15-October 16, 1883) and Bilder fun’m leben (Scenes from life) (Odessa, 1883-1884); in New York, Der menshenfraynd, beletristishe vokhnshrifṭ fir nayes, literatur, kunst und unterhaltung (The philanthropist, fiction weekly for news, literature, art, and conversation) (1889-1891, 51 issues), Der nayer telefon (The new telephone) (1890-1891), Der vegvayzer in der amerikaner biznes velt (Guide to the American business world) (1892), Der land khokhem (The extraordinarily wise man) (1893-1894, 12 issues, with different titles for different issues: 1-5. General title; 6. Der shrayer [The yeller]; 7. Der afikomen [The afikomen]; 8. Der griner [The greenhorn]; 9. Der gan eydn [Paradise]; 10. Der kolboynik (The rascal); 11. Der shoyfer [The shofar]; 12. Der esreg [The citron]), Der yudisher pok (The Jewish Puck) with Moyshe Zayfert (1894-1896, 20 issues, in which he placed, aside from other items, a novel about a greenhorn scholar, Der geler gilgl [The yellow transformation]); and other holiday and monthly papers, such as Der homen-tash (The Purim pastry) (1897), Der nayer khad gadye (The new only kid) (1898), Di naye megile (The new scroll) (1898), Di kneydl (The dumpling), Der lulev (The lulav), Yontef blumen (Holiday flowers), Der seyder (The Passover seder), Der klaper (The rattle), Der shalakhmones (The presents exchanged on Purim), and Di natsyon (The nation) (August 1901-July 1902, entitled Di idishe natsyon [The Jewish nation] August 1902-January 1903) with Moshe Hakohen Goldman.  His pen names include: Ben Yitskhok, Dr, Morison, Dr. Nathan, Dr. Pinski, Horeson, N. M., Shemen, and Shimen-Khayim Kritishov.  His work appeared in: Nakhmen Mayzil, Amerike in yidishn vort (America in the Yiddish word) (New York, 1955); and Otto Best, Mameloschen (Mother tongue) (Frankfurt, 1973), pp. 171-72.  He died in New York.
Dr. Eugene Orenstein

(According to Kalmen Marmor, Shomer published in Yiddish roughly 205 novels and stories and fifty plays, and in Hebrew some fifteen novels and numerous poems and stories.  Zalmen Reyzen made a great beginning in his Leksikon, but he admitted that “the listing…is only a portion of the whole corpus.”  The same may be said of our list [below].  Even the titles and their spelling are often impossible to check, all the more so for the noted editions.  A fuller list of Shomer’s plays may be found in Zalmen Zilbertsvayg’s Leksikon fun yidishn teater [Handbook of the Yiddish theater], but altogether this is still far from a complete and precise Shomer bibliography.)
            His works would include: Khosn damim, oder di blutiger liebe, a historisher roman (Bloody groom, or the bloody love, a historical novel) (Vilna: Sh. Y. Fin, 187?), later edition (Warsaw, 1889—in Hebrew, Mot yesharim o kayin [The death of the righteous or Cain], original title Zevae hainkvizitsiya); Di printsesin in vald oder dos vald-kind (The princess of the forest, or the child of the woods) (Vilna: L. Mats, 1876), 28 pp., later editions, (1877, 1881, 1886, 1895, 1912, 1919 [New York]); Khatskil der bobes zon, zeyer asheyne geshikhte, vos iz givezin, zi iz zeyer gishmak tsum lezin, mi ken funir lustig verin, un oykh fergyesen taykhin trerin, asheyner muser iz in ir faran far dem vos iz nisht keyn bulvan (Khatskl, grandma’s son, a beautiful story which took place, it is tasteful to read, one may be made cheerful from it, and also forget deep tears, a lovely moral there is therein for one who is no cretin) (Vilna: Sh. Y. Fin, 1876), 30 pp., later editions (1893, 1913, 1927); Mekhutonim fun sonim, akurtser roman (In-laws of enemies, a short novel) (Vilna: Rozenkrants-Fin, 1876), 40 pp., later editions (1893, 1913, 1927); A mieser toes, a satirishe ertseylung (A disgusting error, satirical story) (Vilna: Fin, Rozenkrants un Shrifzetser, 1876), 24 pp., later editions (Warsaw, 1910; Vilna, 1913, 1927); Atoyter beoylem-haze (A dead man in this world) (Vilna: Fin, Rozenkrants un Shrifzetser, 1876), 24 pp., later editions (1892, 1913, 1927); Tsvey teg un tsvey nekht, tsvey sheyne ertseylungen (Two days and two nights, two lovely stories) (Vilna: L. Mats,1876), 36 pp.; An ungerikhter glik (An injudicious joy) (Vilna: Rozenkrants-Shrifzetser, 1877), 24 pp., later editions (1913, 1923, 1927); Di gan eydn feygele (The bird of paradise) (Vilna: Shventsaner, 1878, 1981, 1888, 1894), (Vilna: L. Mats, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1919), 32 pp., (New York, 1919); Der katorzhnik (The convict) (Vilna, 1878), later editions (Vilna: Funk, 1881; Vilna: Romm, 1888, 1889, 1910), 144 pp.; Der baron de agilar, roman (The Baron de Aguilar, a novel) (Warsaw: Heym un perets bletnitski, 1878), 74 pp., later editions (1884, 1890); Di dray kameyes (The three amulets) (Vilna: Y. L. Mats, 1878, 1879, 1898), 30 pp.; Der ferlorener zohn mit di zaydene hemdele (The bewildered son with the silken shirt) (Vilna: Shventsaner, 1878), 32 pp., (Vilna: Mats, 1912, 1913); Der blutiger “adye!” oder gift in gliksbekher (The bloody “good-bye!” or poison in a cup of happiness) (Vilna, 1879, 1911), 88 pp., later editions (Warsaw: Y. Breyzblat, n.d.); Der gliklikher pastukh, a vahre geshikhte (The happy shepherd, a true story) (Vilna, 1879), 40 pp., later editions (1887, 1888, 1893; Warsaw, 1894); Roshkele kozak oder aklap nokh aklap, akharakterisṭishes ertseylung fun yudishen lebin, ṿelkhes kon dinen als shpigel far shlekhte froyen (Roshkele the Cossack, or one blow after another, a characteristic story of Jewish life, which can serve as a mirror for bad women) (Vilna: Y. L. Mats, 1879), 32 pp., later editions (1887, 1912, 1913); Shoded yashar oder der frumer merder (Honest robbery, or a pious murderer) (Vilna: Y. L. Mats, 1879), 134 pp., later edition under the title Der frumer merder (The pious murderer) (Vilna: Romm, 1888, 1894); Der bal-tshuve oder der falsher khosn (The penitent, or the false bridegroom), a novel in two parts (Vilna: Widow and Brothers Romm, 1880), 170 pp., later edition (1890); Der kosherer yud oder tsvey kets in eyn zak, a roman (The kosher Jew, or two cats in one bag, a novel) (Vilna, 1880), 190 pp., later editions (1884, 1900, 1911); Der gemakhter yoyresh, a historisher roman (The contrived heir, a historical novel) (Warsaw: Yoysef Unterhendler, 1881), 111 pp.; Di hayntmodishe kale (The fashionable bride) (Vilna: Mats, 1881, 1887), 56 pp., (Warsaw, 1888/1889); Di ayzerne froy oder dos ferkoyfte kind (The iron woman, or the purchased child) (Vilna: Y. L. Mats, 1882), 156 pp., later edition (1903/1904); Di ungliklikhe liebe oder der kosherer mamzer (The unhappy love, or the kosher bastard), a novel in two parts (Warsaw, 1882, 1907/1908, 1908/1909); Di khalitse, roman (Release from levirate marriage obligation, a novel) (Warsaw: Borekh Kopelovitsh, 1883), later editions (1884, 1893); Der tiranisher bruder oder der apekun (The tyrannical brother, or the tutor) (Warsaw: Gins, 1883, later edition (Warsaw, 1888/1889); Fayner yungermantsik, ertseylung (Fine little young man, a story) (Lemberg, 1883); Der ungetrayer khosn oder der modner lehrer (The unfaithful husband, or the strange teacher), a novel in three parts (Vilna: Romm, 1884, 1888), 90 pp. + 86 pp. + 88 pp.; Der oytser oder der kalter gazlen (The treasure, or the cold thief) (Vilna: Romm, 1884, 1885), 84 pp., 78 pp.; Aget mit akhasene (A divorce with a wedding) (Vilna: Romm, 1884); Der gebildeter amorets, historisher roman (The educated ignoramus, a historical novel) (Vilna: Romm, 1884, 1890, 1893), 108 pp., also published by Borekh Kopelovitsh in Dvinsk (Daugavpils), Latvia; Der khokhem, roman (The wise man, a novel) (Vilna: Romm, 1884; Warsaw, 1890); Der podryatshik, roman (The entrepreneur, a novel) second printing (Warsaw, 1884, later edition (1888/1889); R’ danyel der bal nes, a vare gishikhte (Reb Daniel the miracle worker, a true story) (Vilna, 1884), 32  pp., later editions (1886, 1895, 1912, 1914, 1919); Der antlofener soldat (The fugitive soldier), a novel in two parts (Warsaw, 1884); Di yudishe kenigin (The Jewish queen) (Warsaw, 1884); Akhasene ohn akale (A wedding without a bride) (Vilna: Borekh Kopelovitsh, 1884), 56 pp., (Warsaw, 1892); Der dertrunkener in taykh vaysil, roman (The drowned man in the Vistula River, a novel) (Warsaw, 1885); Di gliklikhe inzl oder dos derkenen zikh (The happy island, or the one who revealed himself) (Warsaw, 1884/1885); Di tsitkonyes oder gut shabes yakhne, ertsehlung (The pious women, or good sabbath Yakhne, a story) (Vilna: Y. L. Mats, 1885, 1886), later edition (Warsaw: Y. Breyzblat, n.d.); Der shreklikher merder rikhard oder der ziegel (The frightening murderer Richard, or the seal) (Vilna: Y. L. Mats, 1885), later editions (1912, 1914); Di ferkoyfte kale, roman (The purchased bride, a novel) (1886, 1888/1889); Gvald vu iz mayn bord, roman (Help, where is my beard, a novel) (Vilna: Y. L. Mats, 1886), 79 pp., later editions (1895, 1911); Tayfel khapt dem melamed (The devil grabbed the teacher) (Vilna, 1886); Di raykhe yerushe oder amayse ohn asof (The rich inheritance, or a story without an ending) (Vilna, 1885/1886); Der spekulyant oder tsvey gehen tantsin (The speculator, or two went dancing) (Vilna, 1886), 43 pp.; Khatskele kotsin, aparodye oys dem daytshen (Khatskele, the regurgitator, a parody of the Germans) (Vilna, 1885/1886), 80 pp.; Dos redele dreyt zikh (The wheel rotates) (Vilna, 1886); Der shlimazldiger hoz (The luckless hare) (Vilna: Y. L. Mats, 1886), 68 pp., later edition (1908/1909); Di goldene kelber oder der katsef in salon, roman (The golden calves, or the butcher in the parlor, a novel) (Vilna: Romm, 1887), 2 vols., later edition (1890); Der gebentshter patsh, ertsehlung (The blessed smack, a story) (Vilna, 1887, 1888); Amensh als got (A man as God) (Vilna: Romm, 1887, 1888, 1892), 73 pp.; A patsh fun zayn liben nomen, roman (A smack from the good Lord, a novel), second printing (Warsaw: Gins, 1887), 33 pp., later edition (1894); Der puster meyukhes, ertsehlung (The idle aristocrat, a story) (Vilna: Romm, 1887), 58 pp.; Paltiel oks der antloffener kassir (Paltiel Ox the treasurer who ran off) (Vilna, 1887), 167 pp., later editions (1888/1889; Vilna: Brothers Bletnitski, 1909), 107 pp.; Tsvishn tsvey flamen oder der hefker-yung (Between two flames, or the wanton youth), a novel in two parts (Vilna: Romm, 1887), 128 pp. + 141 pp., later editions (1888, 1912); Asheyne mayse nor akurtse, ertsehlung (A lovely tale, though a short one, a story) (Vilna: Romm, 1887); Ashprung in himel oder oys gvir vayter shnayder, roman (A leap into the sky, or from a wealthy men a tailor once again, a novel) (Vilna: Y. L. Mats, 1886/1887, 1887/1888, 1888/1889); Der durkh geyogter khosn (The hunted bridegroom) (Vilna, 1886/1887), 32 pp.; Der yunger por (The young pair) (Vilna, 1886/1887), 32 pp.; Der khosn hit zayn vort, roman (The bridegroom watches his word, a novel) (Vilna, 1886/1887), 32 pp.; Akluge eytse (A wise piece of advice) (Vilna, 1886/1887), 31 pp.; Dos antikel oder di koshere metsie, roman (The antique, or the kosher bargain, a novel) (Vilna: Y. L. Mats, 1888); Der falsher prints, historishe ertsehlung (The fake prince, a historical story) (Vilna: Romm, 1888), 72 pp., later editions (1891, 1892); Halb mentsh halb affe, oder vu zukht man dem emes, ertsehlung (Half-man, half-ape, or where to look for the truth, a story) (Vilna: Romm, 1887/1888, 1888/1889), 66 pp.; Honig fun aleyb oder ordentlikh betsahlt, ertsehlung (Honey from a lion, or properly remunerated, a story) (Vilna, 1888), 32 pp., later editions (1889, 1896, 1914); Di khatsufe oder an iberkerenish (The impudent woman, or an upheaval) (Vilna, 1887/1888); Di mume toltse, roman (Aunt Toltse, a novel) (Vilna, 1888, 1888/1889; Warsaw: Y. Breyzblat, n.d.); Di tsvey gorendige liebe oder gefelt aykh mayn shviger (The two-storey love, or you like my mother-in-law) (Vilna: Romm, 1888), 78 pp.; Di shlimazldige knishiklekh (The luckless little knishes), a supplement to Yudishe folksblat (1888), 16 pp.; Der goldener foygel (The golden bird) (Warsaw, 1888), 48 pp.; Akale fun dray khasanim, historisher roman (A bride for three grooms, a historical novel) (Vilna, 1887/1888), 61 pp. (Vilna, 1891/1892); Der shlimazldiger mazl-tov oder adele (The luckless congratulations, or Adele) (Vilna, 1888), 46 pp.; Kalmen un zalmen (Kalmen and Zalmen) (Vilna, 1889), later editions (1895, 1912, 1913), 32 pp.; Fun gehenem in gan eydn oder der kholem (From hell to paradise, or a dream) (Vilna, 1889), later editions (1889/1890, 1912, 1913, 1914), 32 pp.; Oys kale vayter moyd, a vahre ertsehlung (From bride to unmarried woman, a true story) (Vilna: Y. L. Mats, 1888/1889, 1895, 1912), 32 pp.; Ongefayft (Cheated) (Vilna, 1889), 32 pp., later edition (1912); Akhosn af avayle, ertsehlung (A bridegroom for a while, a story), second printing (Vilna, 1888/1889), later editions (1899, 1912); Der khosn kumt, ertsehlung (The bridegroom comes, a story) (Vilna, 1888/1889, 1912); Atate fun yene velt (A father from the other world) (Vilna: Funk, 1888/1889, 1895); Der yeshive-bokher, humoristishe ertsehlung (The yeshiva lad, a humorous story), second printing (Vilna, 1888/1889, 1912); Akale af prokat, ertsehlung (A bride for rent, a story), second printing (Vilna: Mats, 1888/1889, 1912), under the title Di geborgte kale (The borrowed bride) (New York, 1919); Alung un leben oder di eyshes-ishnitse (A lung and a life, or the adulteress) (Vilna, 1889), 32 pp., later editions (1895, 1912); Gelt far petsh, ertsehlung (Money for smacks, a story) (Vilna: Y. L. Mats, 1889, 1912), 32 pp.; Di madam plotke, ertsehlung (Madame Plotke, a story) (Vilna, 1889, 1895, 1912), 32 pp., later editions (Warsaw: A. Kahana, n.d.); Der egiptisher homen oder di lange nez, historishe ertsehlung (The Egyptian Haman, or the long noses, a historical story) (Vilna: Romm, 1889), 52 pp.; Di posele heshayne oder akhasene mit gvald (The invalid hosanna, or a wedding by force) (Vilna: Mats, 1914), 32 pp., (Warsaw, n.d.); Dos fardreyenish (The bother) (Vilna, 1887/1888); Fon kleyn tsu der kreyn (From youth to the crown), a historical novel in two parts, second printing (Vilna, 1889), 134 pp. + 132 pp.; Arefue far der make (A remedy for the scourge), second printing (Vilna, 1887/1888); Ashpitsel fun ashadkhn, ertsehlung (A matchmaker’s prank, a story) (Vilna: Y. L. Mats, 1889, 1889/1890, 1912, 1913), 31 pp.; Yokl mops oder fun leyd in freyd, ertsehlung (Yokl Mops, or from suffering to joy, a story) (Vilna, 1889/1890), 32 pp., later editions (1896, 1912, 1913); Di shlang in gan eydn, roman (The snake in the Garden of Eden, a novel) (Vilna: Romm), 75 pp.; Der bal moyfes oder der gilgl (The miracle worker or metamorphosis) (Vilna, 1889/1890); A zohn fun tsvey mames (A son of two mothers) (Vilna, 1889/1890); Der mord oys liebe, historisher roman (Murder out of love, a historical novel) (Vilna, 1889.1890), 2 vols., “[it] can serve as the continuation to my novel Fon kleyn tsu der kreyn”; Bihnen arum honig oder di raykhe mume (Bees around honey, or the wealthy aunt), a novel in three parts (Vilna: Romm, 1890), 92 pp. + 96 pp. + 94 pp.; Homens mapole oder der psak, ertsehlung (Haman’s downfall, or the verdict, a story) (Vilna: Mats, 1889/1890), 32 pp.; Nisht geshtoygen un nisht gefloygen, ertsehlung (Completely untrue, a story) (Vilna, 1890); Kugel, ertseylung (Pudding, a story) (Vilna, 1890); Der shtrenger feter oder fun toyt lebedig (The stern uncle, or the living dead), a novel in two parts (Vilna: Rom, 1890), 128 pp. + 158 pp.; Anar fun bod aroys, ertsehlung (A fool from the bath, a story) (Vilna: Mats, 1889/1890, 1912), 32 pp., (Warsaw: A. Kahana, n.d.); Der kortenshpieler, roman (The card player, a novel) (Warsaw: Gins, 1892), 39 pp.; Geyrush portugal oder der falsher hertsog, historishe ertsehlung (The expulsion from Portugal, or the false duke, a historical story) (Warsaw: Brothers Blotnitski, 1892), 79 pp., (Warsaw, 1895; Odessa, 1902), 79 pp.; Der poymanik oder dos heldishe medkhen (The young Jewish draftee [compelled to serve for many years], or the heroic girl) (Vilna: Romm, 1892, 1897), 42 pp.; Der id un di grefin, oder yudele der velt berimter khudoznik, roman fun di rusishe emigranten in amerika (The Jew and the countess, or Yudele, the world-renowned artist, a novel of the Russian immigrants in America), in four parts (Vilna: M. Katsenelenboygen, 1892?); Der ormer millyoner (The poor millionaire)—according to Shomers mishpet (The judgment on Shomer), rehashings of Sue’s Mystères de Paris and Dumas’s Le Comte de Monte-Cristo—(Warsaw, 1893); Nit toyt nit lebedig, ertsehlung fun dem batlen yudke shmerkes (Neither dead nor alive, a story about the idle Yudke, son of Shmerke) (Vilna: Fin-Mats, 1893), 72 pp.; Der tiran, a roman fun der hayntiger tiranisher regierung fun rusland (The tyrant, a novel of the present tyrannical government of Russia) (New York: Yankev Sapirshteyn, 1893), perhaps the same as Nikolai der ershter (Nikolai I); Der treyfnyak (The miscreant), a novel in two parts (Vilna, 1893/1894), 88 pp. + 92 pp.; Yekhiel buf (Yekhiel the bouffant) (Vilna, 1894), 31 pp.; Di naye velt oder der idesher leben in amerika (The new world, or Jewish life in America), a novel in four parts (Vilna: M. Katsenelenbogen, 1893/1894), 62 pp. + 62 pp. + 66 pp. + 63 pp.; Di agune, roman (The deserted wife, a novel) (Vilna, 1894), 2 vols., later edition (Warsaw, 1902); Der ferflekter yikhes oder fun der khupe tsum toyt (The tarnished pedigree, or from the wedding canopy till death), a novel in two parts (Warsaw, 1894), 120 pp.; Der raykher betler (The wealthy beggar), a novel in two parts (Vilna: Romm, 1894); Rikhard tsvishen shpanishe royber (Richard among the Spanish thieves) (Vilna: Rozenkrants-Shriftzetser, 1894), 32 pp., later edition (1927); Der blutiger kenig, historisher roman (The bloody king, a historical novel) (New York, 1895); Di amerikanisher glikin, roman (American happiness, a novel) (Vilna: Romm, 1895), 5 vols., later edition (Vilna: M. Katsenelenboygen), 4 vols.; Fun vaser in fayer (From water to fire) (Vilna: L. Mats, 1895, 1912, 1913), 32 pp.; Brayndele oder shlekht spekulirt (Brayndele, or poorly speculated) (Vilna: L. Mats, 1896, 1912, 1914), 32 pp.; Ashnel in noz, ertsehlung (A flick on the nose, a story) (Vilna, 1896, 1912), 31 pp.; Goldhendler, roman (Gold merchants, a novel) (Vilna: Bletnitski, 1896, 1908/1909), 40 pp.; Der shtern-zeher, roman fun yudish-amerikanisher leben (The stargazer, a novel of Jewish American life) (New York, 1896); Ester (Esther) (Vilna, 1896/1897), 42 pp.; Di farkerte velt, roman fun yudishen leben in amerika (The world reversed, a novel of Jewish life in America), in four parts, a sequel to Di amerikanisher glikin (Vilna: M. Katsenelenbogen, 1897); A shreklikhe geshikhte (A terrifying story) (New York, 1897); Getraye muter, roman (Faithful mother, a novel) (Warsaw, 1897); Di sheyne malye, roman (The lovely Malye, a novel) (Warsaw, 1897), 44 pp.; Der prezident oder der idisher lebin in rumenyen (The president, or Jewish life in Romania) (Vilna: M. Katsenelenboygen, 1898), 4 vols.; Der zhentelman oder sof ganef letlie (The gentleman, or the end of the thief at the gallows), a novel in five parts, “of American…Romanian Jewish life” (Vilna: Romm-Katsenelenboygen, 1899, 1899/1900); A funk yudishkeyt oder der blut bilbl (A spark of Jewishness, or the blood libel), “a novel in four parts of American and Romanian Jewish life” (Vilna: Romm, 1899); Nikolai der ershter (keyzer fun russland) (Nikolai I, Czar of Russia) (New York: Hebrew Publishing Co., 19--), 96 pp.; Der peddler, roman (The peddler, a novel) (New York: Hebrew Publishing Co., 19--), 137 pp.; Di geheyme yuden, roman fun der yudisher geshikhte in shpanyen (The secret Jews, a novel of Jewish history in Spain) (New York: Hebrew Publishing Co., 1901), 116 pp.; Rothshild (Rothschild) (Brooklyn: Hebrew Publishing Co., 1902), 84 pp.; Der baron un di markize, roman (The baron and the marquess, a novel) (Odessa: Brother Bletnitski, 1902), 74 pp.; Der kheyrem, roman (The excommunication, a novel) (Warsaw, 1902), 144 pp.; Di naye hagode far amerikaner smoker (The new Haggadah for American smokers) (New York, 1902?), 12 pp.; Di blinde yesoyme oder tsvishen tigern, roman (The blind orphan [fem.], or among tigers, a novel) (Vilna, 1903/1904), 156 pp., later editions (1911, 1915); Der nayster prints mit zeks fersholtene damen oder der ring fun shloyme hameylekh (The newest prince with six accursed women, or the ring of King Solomon) (Warsaw, 1903/1904); Rebe shmuel mit zayn shene tokhter oder khosn kale trefen zikh in valdl (Rebbe Shmuel and his lovely daughter, or groom and bride meet in the woods) (Warsaw: Leyb Morgenshtern, 1903/1904), 14 pp.; Di briderlikhe liebe in di groyse stepes fun dem vilden afrika (Brotherly love on the great steppes of wild Africa) (Warsaw: Leyb Morgenshtern, 1903/1904), 8 pp.; Der kenig kazimir, historisher roman (King Casimir, a historical novel) (Warsaw: Ginz, 1905), 40 pp.; Der shreklikher merder krifan, roman (The terrifying murderer Krifan, a novel) (Warsaw, 1908); Gebliben bay di latkes (Left with the potato pancakes) (New York: Hebrew Publishing Co., 1909), 16 pp.; Der letster yudisher kenig, historisher roman (The last Jewish king, a historical novel) (Vilna: M. A. Katsenelenbogen, 1910/1911), 2 vols.; Di sheyne rokhele, a mayse fun der inkvizitsye-tsayt in portugal (The lovely Rachel, a tale from the era of the Inquisition in Portugal) (Vilna: Mats, 1912), 32 pp.; Itsikl oder dos yudish glied (Little Isaac, or the Jewish member) (Vilna: L. Mats, 1912, 1914), later editions (Warsaw: Y. Breyzblat, n.d.); Di shabesdige petsh, ertsehlung (The Sabbath smack, a story) (Vilna: L. Mats, 1913), 32 pp., later edition (Warsaw: A. Kahana, n.d.); Ashed in zak, ertsehlung (A demon in the bag, a story) (Vilna: L. Mats, 1914), 32 pp.; Der nayer noged oder di shlekhte shtifmuter (The nouveau-riche, or the evil stepmother) (Vilna: L. Mats, 1915), 37 pp., (New York: Hebrew Publishing Co., 1919); Yudke shmerkes fohrt keyn amerika (Yudke, son of Shmerke, travels to America) (New York: Hebrew Publishing Co., 1917), 65 pp.; Di shreklikhe geheymnis, roman (The frightening secret, a novel) (New York: Hebrew Publishing Co., 1925), 154 pp.; Goles moskva, roman (Exile in Moscow, a novel) (New York: Hebrew Publishing Co., 1928), 2 vols. (2440 pp.); A man mit dray vayber, roman (A man with three wives, a novel), reworked from the German (Warsaw: Y. Breyzblat, 1929/1930), 68 pp.
            The following is a listing of novels and stories for which we do not have full bibliographic information: Di tsvey yesoymim (The two orphans) (Vilna); Di ungliklikhe rokhl (Unhappy Rachel), Di ungliklikhe sheyndele (Unhappy Sheyndele), Di blutige liebe (The bloody love)—Warsaw; Fun trohn tsu eshafot, roman (From the throne to the execution scaffold, a novel), 2 vols.; Der shteynerner mensh, roman (The stone man, a novel), 463 pp.; Yudke shmerkes gliken in amerika (The good fortune of Yudke, son of Shmerke), 71 pp.; Liebe un rakhe oder falsh beshuldigt (Love and revenge, or falsely accused), Der shreklikher shabes (The terrifying Sabbath), Der border in nets oder borg makht zorg (The boarder enmeshed, or credit leads to worry), Di ferkishefte tsieg (The enchanted goat), 8 pp.; A zohn a doktor, a siper hamayse in metrishe ferzen (A son, a doctor, a plotline in metrical verse) in Yidishes tageblat; Der antlofener fun sibir (The escapee from Siberia), three notebooks; Der guter tayfel (The good devil), twenty-two notebooks; Tsvishen liebe un rakhe (Between love and revenge), forty-five notebooks; Vide fun an arestant (Confession of a prisoner); Der toyter gast (The dead guest), initially in notebooks, later in seven volumes; Shreklikhe geshikhte (Terrifying story); and Grosfirsht konstantin (Grand Duke Constantine)—many of the above published by the Hebrew Publishing Company in New York.
            Shomer was also the author of numerous plays and operettas, such as: Der neyder oder akive mit di 24 toyzend talmidim (The vow, or Akiva with his 24,000 students), Der shkontist (The discount banker), Der volf in shofen fel (The wolf in sheep’s clothing), Di nekome oder yudes (The revenge, or Judith), Tsilye oder geretet durkh a kind (Celia, or saved by a child), Esterke oder di yudishe polnishe kenigin (Esther, or the Polish Jewish queen), Himl (Heaven), Erd un shvindel (Land and fraud), Yude haleyvi (Judah Halevi) which Moyshe Zayfert plagiarized as his own play under the title Shoymer yisroel (Guardian of Israel), Shoshane di blum fun yerikhe (Shoshana, the flower of Jericho), Di getoyfte malke oder di yuden freser (The baptized queen, or the Jewish glutton), Kapitan drayfus (Captain Dreyfus), Dvoyre hanevie oder yoyel un sisro (The prophetess Deborah, or Jael and Sisera), Der yudisher graf oder dos ferbitene kind (The Jewish count, or the replaced child), Rivke oder a funk yudishkeyt (Rebecca, or a spark of Jewishness), Di merderin (The murderess), Di laykhtzinige oder froyenfarfirer (The frivolous man, or the seducer of women), Titus haroshe (The evil Titus), Der gelt kenig (The money king), Di iden-freser oder di getoyfte malke (The Jewish glutton, or the baptized queen), Di idishe emigranten oder der bigamist (The Jewish immigrants, or the bigamist), Amerikaner yudishkeyt (American Jewishness), Di lustige kavalyeren (The cheerful cavaliers), Shprintse di meklerin (Shprintse the [female] broker) which may be the same as Kokete damen (Flirtatious women), A idish kind (A Jewish child), Dem rebetsins tokhter (der yudishe graf) (The daughter of the rabbi’s wife, the Jewish count), Di grine oder der feter fun amerika (The greenhorns, or the uncle from America), Di goldene medine (The golden country), Dem kenigs shpiegel oder ani shloyme (The king’s mirror, or I am Solomon), Der muser (The moral), Der parazit (The parasite), Der pasha (The pasha), and Der plimenik (The nephew), among others.  A number of Shomer’s plays were never performed.  Some of them may be found in the YIVO archives in New York.  Many of them were dramatizations of his novels with their titled frequently changed.
            Published plays (almost all of them staged) include: Der revizor (The inspector-general), “a comedy freely reworked from the well-known Russian comedy Revizor” (Odessa: A. Shultse, 1883), 56 pp.; Der lebediger toyter (The living corpse), a comedy (Odessa, 1883); Der shreklikher blut bilbl fun tisa esler (in ungaren) oder di naye megiles ester (The terrifying blood libel in Tiszaeszlár, Hungary, or the new Scroll of Esther), a translation (Odessa, 1884), 90 pp.; Der idisher porets (The Jewish lord), “a drama in five acts and ten scenes” (Vilna, 1888, 1897, 1909), 72 pp.; Di shpanishe inkvizitsyon (The Spanish Inquisition), a tragedy (New York: B. Rabinovits, 1900), 72 pp., “culled from my own novel Khosn damim (Bloody groom),” a comedy, later edition (1913); Di kokete damen (The flirtatious women), a comedy (Odessa, 1882), 78 pp., (New York: B. Rabinovits, 1900; New York: Hebrew Publishing Co., 1910); Tsveyter homen, historishe operete (Second Haman, a historical operetta) (Warsaw: Warsaw Yiddish Theater, 1906/1907), 58 pp., later edition (Warsaw, 1908); Moyshe soldat (Moses, the soldier), a drama (Przemyśl: Amkroyt et fraynd, 1912/1913), 64 pp.  One-act plays that appeared Der yudisher pok in New York: Redaktor und redaktorikhe (Editor and editorial) 5, 6, 8-11; Lebedige meysim (Living corpses) 19, 20 (1895); Der nihilist (The nihilist) 2. 2-10 (1895).
            His whole life Shomer also wrote in Hebrew.  Among his books in that language: Aarit tsadikim (End of the righteous), Taut goy (Gentile mistake), Keviya taat keviya (Burn below burn), and Mumar lehakhis (Convert to spite)—all Warsaw (1881); Hanidat (The rejected one) (Vilna-Warsaw, 1885/1886-1886/1887); Mot yesharim o kayin (Warsaw, 1886/1887); Pinkas patua (Records closed) (Vilna, 1901/1902); Rael hayafa (The beautiful Rachel), trans. Ḥ. Sh. Shpiro (Jerusalem,  1903/1904); Shire shomer vezikhronotav (The poems of Shomer and his memoirs) (Tel Aviv, 1951/1952).  The Hebrew series of stories involving “Yudka, son of Shmerke” was translated by Sh. Mandelkern and published in Allgemeine Zeitung des Judenthums (General newspaper of Jewry).
            Shomer also published several letter-writing manuals: Shomers briefenshteller (Shomer’s letter-writing manual) (Vilna: The Widow and Brothers Romm, 1898/1899); Shomers briefenshteller, alerhand brief fir kleyn un fir groys, fir orim un fir raykh (Shomer’s letter-writing manual, for young and old, for poor and rich) (Vilna: Yoysef Reznikovski in Slonim, part 1, 1900?, part 2 (including various stories, fables, epigrams, letters, and important matters concerning America), 1902, later editions (1912, 1913, 1914)—over fifty editions; Shaykevitsh’s nayer briefenshteler (Shaykevitsh’s new letter-writing manual) (New York: Hebrew Publishing Co., 1905), 189 pp., later editions (New York, 1927, 1928), 189 pp. + 31 pp., “with a supplement of selected letters for children’s writings”; Shomers briefenshteler (Berdichev, 1907/1908), 96 pp.  He also published Di yudishe calendar (The Jewish calendar) (Vilna, 1886/1887).
            Because of Shomer’s enormous popularity, a gang of imitator emerged, who through various twists of his name sought to delude purchasers of chapbooks and “highly interesting novels.”  One such using the name Shomer [spelled slightly differently] brought out a series of storybooks.  Another published a story entitled Malyater ganef (The malicious thief) (Vilna, 1885) under the name “Shaykevitsh son of Shomer.”  Yet other writers racked their brains and published their names in small letters and added in large letters: “In place of Shomer.”
When Shomer was at the peak of his popularity among Yiddish readers, a fierce literary campaign was launched against him, saying that his books were trash.  His critics were: Aleksander Tsederboym, Shiye-Khone Rabnitski, Shimen Dubnov (Kritikus), and Dovid Frishman, but the sharpest intervention against him was the work of Sholem-Aleichem.  In his pamphlet Shomers mishpet (The trial of Shomer) (1888), Sholem-Aleichem laid out his accusations (in slightly different language): 1. Almost all of Shomer’s novels were drawn from foreign literature; 2. they were all of one form; 3. they were not a true picture of Jewish life; 4. they thus had no relationship to Jews; 5. they stoked the fantasies but offered no moral whatsoever; 6. there was in them obscenity and cynicism; 7. their construction was terrible; 8. the author was probably an ignoramus.  Sholem-Aleichem’s recommended that Shomer’s novels not be given to boys and grown girls and “that it would be a great mitzvah if one were to be rid of him and all his wild and bizarre novels in Yiddish by means of a pure and upright critique.”  Sholem-Aleichem’s “mishpet” (trial) proved a decisive blow to Shomer’s literary name, but it had scarcely any impact on the circulation of his books.  Shomer sharply replied to his critics in the prefaces to his novels, and ten years after the “mishpet” he brought out a special pamphlet entitled Yehi or oder a literarisher kampf (Let there be light, or a literary struggle) (New York, 1898), second edition (New York, 1899, bearing the subtitle: Peysekhdige kneydlekh, far mayne kritiker [Passover dumplings, for my critics]).
In subsequent years Shomer’s work acquired more positive evaluations.  The main point emerged in Avrom Vevyorke’s book Revizye (Revision) (1931).  He emphasized that Shomer “wrote a…great number of short stories that bore no relationship at all either to trash or to the tabloid press….  [Some of them] were rich in imagery drawn from Jewish ways of life at the time,…drenched in…folklore and poignant folk humor.”  Kalmen Marmor wrote: “His stories of Jewish ways of life were saturated with folklore.  Their defects notwithstanding, his novels enriched the Yiddish language with new words and concepts.  He was also…teaching the backward Jewish masses to read Yiddish and as such prepared the ground for modern Yiddish literature.”
Zalmen Reyzen argued that “Shomer was after [Ayzik-Meyer] Dik the first to begin to provide reading materials for the Jewish folk masses, and he was the first who not only supplied chapbooks for them but also created the thick volume, the novel….  He was one of the first in Yiddish literature to make use in his work of subjects drawn from Jewish history….  If it is actually difficult—from a purely literary standpoint—to find merit in Shomer’s novels, one must nonetheless acknowledge that, in the short stories that he mostly wrote in the first years of his writing, Shomer elevated them to a certain literary level, and some of them…contain full living depictions of old-fashioned Jewish ways of life, often imbued with a good-natured, folk humor.  One cannot dismiss him with his profound knowledge of Lithuanian Yiddish, and with certain reservations his work is a treasury of Yiddish folk expression.”
“Yiddish literature,” noted Yankev Glatshteyn, “owes Shomer a great debt.  He created the [male] Yiddish reader, but more than this—he created as well the female Yiddish reader….  Such a phenomenal literary manufacturer, who composed ‘best sellers’ in his time, cannot be completely kicked out of the literary palace….  Neither readers nor writers have a right to put on airs against Shomer.  If Mendele is our great-grandfather, then Shomer is a great uncle, with a talent for storytelling and [more] storytelling….  He belonged to our vineyard during his lifetime, and he certainly belongs to our Yiddish vineyard after his death.”
Another view was expressed by Shmuel Niger: “Everyone admits that there were many men and women readers that Shomer’s novels had to teach them to read chapbooks….  The trouble was for every reader was that Shomer was only the first step, and after that there came a second—such that they were freed from Shomerism.  Many of them have remained Shomer-readers, and this is both for their internal development of Yiddish literature and for the improvement of the Yiddish reading public’s taste a great obstacle….  With his popularity, Shomer could at best inscribe—and he did in fact inscribe—his name in the history of the Yiddish reading public and their taste, not in the history of literature—in particular, of the literature which earlier boasted such writers as Mendele Moykher-Sforim and which was already, as it were, ‘expectant’ with a Sholem-Aleichem, with a Perets, with a Frishman, with a Rabnitski….  It would be a distortion of historical facts to state that before Shomer in the mid-1870s arrived with his storybooks, there was no such thing as a great Yiddish reading public.”  Such an entity did exist.  Even before Shomer appeared in the book market, Yiddish publishers in Vilna, Warsaw, and elsewhere were eager to publish chapbooks or novels suitable to the tastes and spirit of the “great Yiddish reading masses” (letter from Ayzik-Meyer Dik to Yankev Dinezon).

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Getzel Kressel, Leksikon hasifrut haivrit (Handbook of Hebrew literature), vol. 2 (Meravya, 1967); B. Gorin, Geshikhte fun yidishn teater (History of Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1923), pp. 176-77 (with some plays unnoted in our text); Sholem-Aleichem, Yudishe biblyotek (Yiddish library) (Kiev, 1888/1889), with a listing of Shomer’s books in 1888, and his “Shomers mishpet” (Trial of Shomer) (Berdichev, 1888); Ben-Tsien Ayzenshtadt, Dor rabanav vesofrav (A generations of rabbis and authors) (New York, 1902/1903), pp. 104-6; A. Litvin, in Lebn un visnshaft 10 (1910); Kalmen Marmor, in Frayhayt (New York) (December 20, 1923); Marmor, in Morgn frayhayt (New York) (November 25, 1930); Leon Kobrin, Derinerungen fun a yidishn dramaturg (Remembrances of a Jewish dramatist) (New York, 1925), pp. 65-80; Yerukhem Riminik, in Teater-bukh (Theater book) (Kiev, 1927); Ber Orshanski, in Oktyabr (Minsk) (July 4, 1927); Y. Blum, in Tog (New York) (February 13, 1928); Z. R[eyzen], in Arkhiv far der geshikhte fun yidishn teater un drame (Archive for the history of Yiddish theater and drama) (Vilna-New York, 1930), pp. 459-60; Reyzen, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (May 24, 1930); Max Weinreich, in Forverts (New York) (November 4, 1930); Y. Y. Sigal, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (November 9, 1930); Avrom Vevyorke, Revizye (Revision) (Kharkov-Kiev, 1931); Farn leninishn etap in der literatur-kritik, barikht funem plenum fun der litsektsye 25-30 aprel, 1932 (Toward the Leninist stage in literary criticism, report from the plenum of the literary section, April 25-30, 1932) (Kharkov-Kiev, 1932), pp. 41-66; Shmuel Klitenik, in Emes (Moscow) (June 2, 1932); Meyer Viner and Aron Gurshteyn, Problemes fun kritik (Problems of criticism) (Moscow, 1933), pp. 132ff; Shoyel Ginzburg, in Tsukunft (New York) (January 1947; February 1947; April 1947); Roza Shomer-Batshelis, Unzer foter shomer (Our father Shomer) (New York: IKUF, 1950), Hebrew translation as Avinu shomer (New York, 1953); Yidishe kultur (new York) 9 (1950); Shire shomer vezikhronotav (The poems of Shomer and his memoirs) (Tel Aviv, 1951/1952); Menashe Halpern, Parmetn, zikhroynes un shilderungen (Parchments, memoirs and depictions) (São Paolo, 1952), pp. 14-66ff; Sholem Perlmuter, Idishe dramaturgn un teater kompozitors (Yiddish playwrights and composers) (New York, 1952); Yisroel Shtern, Lider un eseyen (Poems and essays), comp. H. Leivick (New York: L. M. Shteyn, 1955), pp. 168-81; Shmuel Niger, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (Passover, 1955/1956); Ben-Tsien Goldberg, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (July 2, 1961); Dov Sadan, Avne miftan, masot al sofre yidish (Milestones, essays on Yiddish writers), vol. 1 (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1961), pp. 22-25; L. Domenkevitsh, Verter un vertn (Words and values) (Tel Aviv, 1960), pp. 116-22; Borekh Shefner, in Forverts (May 28, 1966; June 4, 1966; June 11, 1966); Yankev Glatshteyn, Prost un poshet, literarishe eseyen (Plain and simple, literary essays) (New York, 1978), pp. 130-34; Y. Tsinberg, in Rusish-yidishe entsiklopedye (Russian Jewish encyclopedia), vol. 10 (St. Petersburg), p. 289; Perlmuter and Yeshurin archives, YIVO (New York); Leo Wiener, History of Yiddish Literature in the Nineteenth Century  (New York, 1972); Miriam Shomer-Zunser, Yesterday (New York, 1939, 1978).
Berl Cohen

[1] This birth date according to Getzel Kressel.  Other dates: Miriam Shimer-Tsunzer, December 18, 1946; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, December 18, 1847; Sefer zikaron lesofre yisroel (Memorial volume for Jewish authors) (Warsaw, 1888/1889), December 28, 1848; Zalmen Reyzen, December 18, 1849; Shomer’s autobiography, December 7, 1850.