Tuesday 5 November 2019


ZELIK SHER (August 10, 1888-November 11, 1971)
            He was the author of stories, born in Rozhinoy (Ruzhany), Grodno region.  His full surname was Shereshevski.  He came from a working-class family.  He attended religious elementary school and yeshivas.  He worked as a weaver.  In 1909 he emigrated to the United States.  He was wounded as a soldier in the United States Army during WWI.  He lived in New York and for a number of years worked in sweatshops.  He was active in the Jewish labor movement and in the socialist territorialist party.
            He debuted in print in 1912 with a story in Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor) in New York.  He went on to publish reportage pieces, stories, and memoirs in: Nayer veg (New way), Di tsayt (The times) (1921-1922), Tog (Day), Naye post (New mail), Gerekhtigkeyt (Justice), Tsukunft (Future), Proletarisher gedank (Proletarian idea), Kinder-zhurnal (Children’s magazine), Kinder tsaytung (Children’s newspaper), Unzer tsayt (Our time), Frayhayt (Freedom), Unzer veg (Our way), and Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper) (Warsaw), among other serials.  From 1926 he was an internal contributor to Forverts (Forward), and for a lengthy period of time he edited its labor page.  He died in Miami Beach.
            His books include: Af alter un nayer erd, dertseylungen (On old and new soil, stories) (New York, 1941), 352 pp.; Azoy iz bashert, dertseylungen (Such is destiny, stories) (New York: Tsiko, 1954), 304 pp.; Fun der alter un nayer velt, zikhroynes (From the old and new world, memoirs) (New York, 1966), 344 pp.  His pen names included: Sh. Zelig, Z. Shevski, Zigmund, A. Veber.
            “Z. Sher’s characters,” noted Nokhem-Borekh Minkov, “are simple, quiet, bewildered people, hurt by life….  So too is his style—simple, quiet, undramatic.”
            “Z. Sher has…developed a style,” wrote Yankev Glatshteyn, “that is well geared for his characters who never soar higher than themselves….  He himself doesn’t fly higher than his own protagonists….  [His] writerly conceptions are modest, and in his modesty he accomplishes what he alone is destined to accomplish.”

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Ab. Cahan, in Forverts (New York) (December 2, 1926); A. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (April 9, 1941); Shmuel Niger, in Tog (New York) (April 19, 1941); Nokhem-Borekh Minkov, in Der fraynd (New York) (June-July 1941); Yitskhok Varshavski [Bashevis], in Forverts (New York) (January 23, 1955); Arn Glants, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (January 21, 1956); Yankev Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (April 20, 1956); Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Berl Cohen

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