Tuesday, 28 June 2016


            He was born in Slonim, Grodno district, Byelorussia, to wealthy parents.  Until age seventeen he studied Talmud with local teachers and foreign languages with private tutors, later attending a commercial school.  He published articles, bibliographical reports, feature pieces, humorous sketches, and stories initially in: Hamelits (The advocate), Hatsfira (The siren), Hamagid (The preacher), and Otsar hasifrut (Treasure of literature); and from 1904 in: Haynt (Today), Moment (Moment), Roman-tsaytung (Fiction newspaper), Der shtral (The beam [of light]), Der humorist (The humorist), Lodzer tageblat (Lodz daily newspaper), and Dos naye lebn (The new life), among others.  He reworked and translated dramas and one-act plays for amateur troupes.  While living in Rovno, he contributed to the local Russian newspaper Volin (Volhynia) and later to the Vilna Russian paper, Severo-zapadnii krai (Northwestern rim).  From 1920 he was an elected vice-mayor of Slonim, where he was also chairman of the Jewish community council and of the Zionist Organization.  He was also the actual editor of the Slonim weekly newspaper, Unzer zhurnal (Our journal) (1923-1924).  He wrote under such pseudonyms as: Ben-Amram, Ben-Tsvi, M. Hirshenzon, Raytseszon, Iktsol Baz, and Emze.  His books would include: Ezra betsara, sipur yesodato beemet (Help in trouble, a story based on reality), a translation concerning Musar (Warsaw, 1893), 48 pp.; Hayitshari (The determined one), with Yosef Mazal, concerning Ts. H. Maslanski, including poetry (Manchester, England, 1896), 71 pp.; Hashoge bezahav (The golden touch), “based on mythology” (Berdichev, 1901), 32 pp. [by Nathaniel Hawthorne]; Otsar ha-psevdonimim, leksikon katsar shel psevdonime hasofrim haivrim (Treasury of pen names, short handbook of pseudonyms of Jewish writers), a listing of the pen names of Hebrew and Yiddish authors (Berdichev, 1902), 32 pp.; Tsekrigt (Embattled), a monologue (London, 1903); Freylekher tashnbukh (Happy pocketbook) (London, 1903); Di akhsanye mit di vantsn (The inn with the bedbugs) (Warsaw, 1906).  Other plays include: Arkhitektor pampushkin (Architect Pampushkin), Di shponke iz shuldok (The cuff link is guilty), and Der man af der probe (The man on trial); reworked one-act plays: A guter retsept (A good prescription), Freylin margarita (Miss Margarita), Dos khanike-lempl (The little Hanukkah menorah) for children, and Der yubilyar on shikh (The shoeless honoree).  He Judaized the dramas: Gitele reb sores (Gitele, Sarah’s daughter), after Jalmar Bergström; Eynzame (Lonely [original: Einsame Menschen (Lonely people)]), after Gerhardt Hauptmann; and Der vorem fun tsveyfl (The worm of doubt), after August Strindberg’s Fadren (Father).  He also translated: Fir zeyere (Their four [original: Ich czworo]) by Gabriela Zapolska; Doktor keri (Doctor Kerry) by Henry James; and Di ere (Honor [original: Die Ehre]) by Hermann Sudermann.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Z. Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 1; E. R. Malachi, in Hadoar (New York) (May 6, 1932); E. Davidzon, Seḥok pinu (Our mouth’s laughter) (Ḥolon, 1971/1972), p. 353; Ḥ. Orlan, in Hadoar (Adar 5 [= March 4], 1960).
Aleksander Pomerants

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