PALTIEL ZAMOSHTSHIN (July 21, 1851-1909)
He was born in Odessa, southern Russia, into a well-to-do family. At age twelve he entered the Odessa school of commerce, while simultaneously studying Hebrew with Perets Smolenskin (who lived right near the Zamoshtshins and even dedicated a poem to his student). At age seventeen he left to study architecture at the Berlin Polytechnicum, but because of his father’s declining business, he interrupted his studies in 1870 and returned to Odessa, where he turned to commerce and initially gave up on studying literature. He began writing in Hebrew in 1868. He published poems, essays, and correspondence pieces in: Hamelits (The advocate), Hamagid (The preacher), Hakarmel (The garden-land), Hatsfira (The times), Haboker-or (Good morning), Haor (The light), and other Hebrew publications; but his main activity developed in Yiddish in which he published poetry, plays, stories, and articles in: Kol-mevaser (Herald), Varshoyer yudishe tsaytung (Warsaw Jewish newspaper), Yudishes folksblat (Jewish people’s newspaper), Spektor’s Hoyzfraynd (House friend), and Familyen-fraynd (Family friend)—in the last of these, he excelled with his “Bilder fun lebn” (Images of life); in Spektor’s Varshoyer yudisher familyen-kalendar (Warsaw Jewish family calendar) (1893) and Lamtern (Lantern) (Warsaw, 1894); Sholem-Aleykhem’s Yudishe folks-biblyotek (Jewish people’s library)—a rhymed comedy in one act entitled Nor a doktor (Only a doctor); A. Goldfaden’s Yisroelik; Der yudisher veker (The Jewish alarm) (Odessa, 1887)—a long poem entitled “Shma yisroel” (Hear, Israel); Kleyne yudishe biblyotek (Little Jewish library) (Odessa, 1888); Der kleyne veker (The little alarm) (Odessa, 1890); Rozenblum’s Der folks-fraynd (The friend of the people) (Odessa, 1894); Der yud (The Jew) (Cracow-Warsaw, 1899); Minikes yontef bleter ([Khonen] Minikes’s holiday sheets) (New York). In Odessa, he became a private lawyer and published a pamphlet entitled: Di naye zakones fun pasportn far dvoryanes, tshinovnikes, potshotni-grazhdanes, kuptses, meshtshanes, bale-melokhes, krestyanes un yidn (The new laws on passports for nobles, officials, honored citizens, merchants, petty bourgeois, craftsmen, peasants, and Jews), with supplements translated from no official publications (Odessa, 1895), 48 pp. He also translated into Yiddish Y. L. Gordon’s Bimetsulot yam (In the waves of the sea) and adapted in Yiddish A. B. Gotlober’s play (in one act and two scenes) Der medalyon (The medallion). “Without a doubt,” wrote Y. Shatski, “Zamoshtshin was a gifted poet…. Linguistically very interesting, his language had considerable folkish charm.” His work was also included in Der arbeter in der yidisher literatur, fargesene lider (The worker in Yiddish literature, forgotten poems) (Moscow, 1939). He died in Vienna, almost completely forgotten.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1 (with a bibliography); Z. Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 1; Dr. Shatski, “Umbakante yidishe dramaturgn” (Unknown Yiddish playwrights), Pinkes fun amopteyl fun yivo (Records of the American division of YIVO) (New York) (1927-1928), p. 271; Shatski, “Paltiel zamoshtshins briv tsu sholem-aleikhemen” (Paltiel Zamoshtshin’s letters to Sholem-Aleykhem), Yivo-bleter 11.1-2 (1937); Y. Entin, Yidishe poetn (Jewish poets), vol. 1 (New York, 1927); M. Greydenberg and Y. Riminik, in Tsaytshrift, vol. 5 (Minsk, 1931); R. Granovski, Yitskhok yoyel linetski un zayn dor: derinerungen tsu zayn hundert yorikn geburtstog (Yitskhok Yoyel Linetski and his generation, remembrances on the centenary of his birthday) (New York, 1941); “Briv fun paltiel zamoshtshin tsu mortkhe spektor” (Letters from Paltiel Zamoshtshin to Mortkhe Spektor), Yivo-bleter 29; Dr. Y. Klausner, Historiya shel hasifrut haivrit haḥadasha (History of modern Hebrew literature), vols. 4-5 (Jerusalem, 1954); E. Davidzon, Seḥok pinu (Laughter from the mouth) (Tel Aviv, 1951), p. 293.
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 256.]