Friday, 24 March 2017


ZH. (SHNEUR-ZALMEN) LEYBNER (b. September 28, 1880)
            He was born in Pantshe (Panciu), Romania, the son of a businessman.  He studied in religious elementary school and later in a high school.  Early on he became interested in literature and in Yiddish literature.  In 1898 he began journalistic activities with Bucharest’s Revista Ideei (Idea magazine), edited by P. Muşoiu, in which he also published Romanian translations of Perets, Mendele, and Sholem-Aleykhem.  In 1903 he moved to the United States and studied for two years at Industrial College in Leclaire, Illinois.  In 1904 he moved to Chicago, where together with Leon Zolotkof and H. L. Meytus he founded the Yudishe rekord (Jewish record), a weekly newspaper (1910). But his principal activity as a writer was tied to Chicago’s Idisher kuryer (Jewish courier) (from 1915).  For a time he also left the newspaper, but in 1918 he returned, initially as a news editor and later as executive editor.  He wrote—using such pen names as Ben-Dovid, Shneur-Zalmen, and others—articles, sketches, and images drawn from life.  His weekly features, “Der yid mit di nislakh” (The Jew with the nuts) and “Tsharli der polismen” (Charlie the policeman), and his column “Koolshe bime” (Community pulpit), were well known among the readership.  “Leybner…writes in a fluid style…,” noted Tashrak, “possessing a striking intuition, a clear eye.”  Over the years 1933-1938, he served as editor of the Chicago weekly, Der ekspres (The express).  He translated Ronetti-Roman’s play Menashe (Manasse), which was staged in 1904 by a Yiddish troupe in Chicago.  In 1926 he celebrated in Chicago the twenty-fifth anniversary of his journalistic career.  Leybner was also president of the Chicago Y. L. Perets Writers’ Union from 1926, “Commissioner of the Style Normal Schools in Illinois,” and also know by the English name of James Bernard Loebner.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2, with a bibliography; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934); M. Ḥizkuni (Shtarkman), in Pinkes shikago (Records of Chicago) (1951/1952); H. L. Meites, History of the Jews of Chicago (Chicago, 1924), pp. 361-64; P. P. Bregstone, Chicago and Its Jews (Chicago, 1933), pp. 334, 336-38; Who’s Who in American Jewry, vol. 3 (1938-1939), p. 678.
Zaynvl Diamant

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