HORACY SAFRIN (January 11, 1899-August 23, 1980)
He was born in Stanislav (Stanislavov), eastern Galicia. He graduated from the Stanislav high school and the University of Vienna; he also studied theatrical arts. As a youth, he was active in Hashomer Hatsair (Young guard). He debuted in print in Polish with a collection of poems entitled Poezja (Poetry) (Stanislavov, 1913), 98 pp. A second collection of his poems, also in Polish, appeared in 1917. In 1920 a Viennese publisher brought a book of his poems in German, and a few years later B. Kletskin Publishers published his volume of poetry entitled Fun got un fun mentsh (Of God and man) (Warsaw, 1926), 58 pp. In the 1930s he contributed to the Lemberg magazine Tsusheyer (Contribution), and, together with the directors Dovid Herman and Mark Arnshteyn, he founded the Goldfaden Club in Stanislav, which staged plays from the Jewish and European repertuare. In 1940-1941, under the Soviet Russian authorities, he was the manager of the “People’s Art House” in Stanislav, and he was awarded with an honorary diploma during the All-Soviet Theatrical Festival. After WWII he was selected several times to positions in the association of Polish writers, and he served as secretary of the Yiddish Literary Association in Lodz, where (from 1955) he led the Yiddish drama circle and was literary director of variety programming. He published poems, epigrams, fables, articles, and theater reviews in: Folks-shtime (Voice of the people) and Yidishe shriftn (Yiddish writings) in Warsaw; and Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture) in New York; among others. He also authored: Przy szabasowych świecach (At the Sabbath candles) (1963); Głupcy z Głupska (Fools from Glupsk), folklore (1962); Afn berditshever mark (In the Berdichev market) (Warsaw: Yidish bukh, 1966), 61 pp.; and other works in Polish. He also published Kain i Hewel (Cain and Abel) (Lodz, 1963), 54 pp.—a collection of poems on biblical motifs and motifs of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. He was a regular contributor to Polish newspapers and magazines. For a time he edited a literary magazine in Polish entitled Mosty (bridge), in which he published essays and translations from Yiddish literature. He also translated poems from Yiddish and Hebrew into Polish. For his many-sided literary and cultural activities, he received in 1956 a Mickiewicz Medal and in 1958 an award from the Ministry of Culture in Poland. His work appeared in Salcia Landmann’s German anthology Jiddisch, das Abenteuer einer Sprache (Yiddish, the adventure of a language) (Olten, 1962). He also took part in a number of cultural broadcasts over the radio in Lodz. He died in Lodz.
Sources: B. Mark, in Yidishe shprakh (Lodz) (June 1949); M. Naygreshl, “Der letste dor yidishe poetn in galitsye” (The last generation of Yiddish poets in Galicia), Tsukunft (New York) (September 1950); editorial notice in Folks-shtime (Warsaw) (August 7, 1958); Sh. Veb, in Folks-shtime (January 17, 1963).
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 397.]