SHLOYME SAYMON (SOLOMON SIMON) (July 4, 1895-November 8, 1970)
He was born in the town of Kalinkovitsh (Kalinkavičy), Minsk district, Byelorussia. His father was a cobbler, his mother a baker. He studied in religious primary schools, in the Krementshug (Kremenchuk) and Lida yeshivas, and at the Chofets-Chaim’s yeshiva in Radin. For one and one-half years he was a village schoolteacher. In 1913 he moved to New York, was an operator and a presser, and he worked cleaning clothing and repainting houses. For a time he was also a wagon driver. In 1916 he was active in the aid for war victims in Europe. In 1918 he served as a volunteer in the American army. He was subsequently a Hebrew teacher in various towns in New Jersey as well as New York, where at the same time he attended a public school. Over the years 1920-1924, he studied dentistry at New York University. He was an active member (1925-1926) of the dentists’ organization in New York. He cofounded Yiddish schools, and over the course of decades, starting in 1926, a devoted school leader in the Sholem Aleichem Folk Institute, in which he initially held the position of vice-president and over the years 1940-1955 often served as president. He was also (1947-1950) vice-president of the Jewish Ethical Society in New York. From 1930 he was a leader of the Ḥevra Tanakh (Society of the Bible) in Brooklyn. His writing activities began in 1912 with an “Epigram” in a Hebrew-language children’s magazine which appeared in Lugansk under the editorship of Y. B. Levner. In America he published his first story, “A griner italyener” (A new immigrant from Italy), in Tog (Day) in New York in 1915, later contributing stories and articles to: Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor), Di tsayt (The times), Tog, and Dos idishe folk (The Jewish people)—all in New York. Over the years 1928-1951, he published stories for children in Kinder-zhurnal (Children’s magazine), edited by Shmuel Niger, and he was assistant editor (1948-1951) of the magazine. He was co-editor (1937-1943) of Shulblat (School paper), published by the Sholem Aleichem Folk Institute. From 1935 he contributed to Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter) in New York, and from 1951 he was regular contributor to Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal) and later to Tog-morgn-zhurnal (Day-morning journal) in New York. From 1950 he was regular contributor to Di prese (The press) in Buenos Aires. He also placed work in Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves) in Warsaw. He published critical and journalistic articles in: Oyfkum (Arise), Oyfgang (Arise), Unzer tsayt (Our time), Di tsukunft (The future), and Idishe shriftn (Yiddish writings)—in New York; Kiem (Existence) in Paris; Der veg (The way) and Afn shvel (At the threshold) in Mexico City; Grininke beymelekh (Little green trees) in Buenos Aires; and Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal. He also wrote for the almanac Yidish (Yiddish) in New York, among other serials. His books would include: H. leyviks goylem (H. Leivick’s artificial man) (New York: Idish lebn, 1927), 31 pp.; Shmerl nar, di geshikhte fun an umbakante held (Shmerl the fool, the story of an unknown hero), illustrated by A. Gudlman (New York: Matones, 1931), 104 pp.; Dos kluge shnayderl (The smart little tailor), illustrated by Y. Fridlender (New York: Matones, 1933), 127 pp.; Mayses fun agadete (Stories from Aggada [homiletical material in the Talmud]), with Khayim Shoys (New York, 1936), 92 pp.; Kinder-yorn fun idishe shrayber (Childhood years of Jewish writers) (New York: Matones, 1936), 200 pp., vol. 2 (New York: Matones, 1945), 208 pp.; H. leyviks kinder-yorn, loyt mundlekhe mitteylungen un loyt zayne lider (Childhood years of H. Leivik, according to oral information and according to his poems) (Vilna: Naye yidishe shul, 1938), 24 pp.; Roberts ventures (Robert’s adventures), drawings by Note Kozlovski (New York: Matones, 1938), 192 pp.; Khumesh far kinder, loyt yehoyesh (The Pentateuch for children, following Yehoash) (New York: Matones, 1940), 270 pp., second edition edited by Yudel Mark (New York, 1944); Di heldn fun khelm (The heroes of Chelm), drawings by Y. Likhtenshteyn (New York: Matones, 1942), 151 pp.; In di teg fun di neviim (In the days of the prophets) (New York: Matones, 1947), 256 pp.; Yidn tsvishn felker (Jewish among other peoples) (New York: Jewish Ethical Society, 1949), 121 pp.; Medines-yisroel un erets-yisroel (The state of Israel and the land of Israel) (Buenos Aires: Unzer bukh, 1950), 233 pp.; Shiye un shoyftim (Joshua and Judges), compiled and translated (New York: Matones, 1952), 112 pp.; Amolike yidn (Jews of the past) (Buenos Aires: Yidbukh, 1952), 188 pp.; Tokh-idishkeyt (Basic Judaism) (Buenos Aires: Yidbukh, 1954), 340 pp.; Vortslen (Roots) (Buenos Aires: Yidbukh, 1956), 316 pp., recipient of the Mortkhe Stolyar Prize for 1957; Der goyrl fun undzere yidishistishe shuln (The fate of our Yiddishist schools) (New York, 1956), 15 pp.; Khakhomim, akshonim un naronim, mayses fun alerley felker (Wise men, stubborn men, and fools, stories of many different peoples) (Buenos Aires: Alter Rozental fond, 1959), 123 pp.; In di teg fun di ershte neviim (In the days of the first prophets) (Buenos Aires: Kiem, 1959), 268 pp., recipient of the Tsvi Kessel Prize for 1960; Iluzye un vuntsh (Illusion and desire), on ideas concerning God (New York, 1960), 4 pp.; Tsvaygn (Branches), an autobiographical novel, part two of Vortslen (Buenos Aires: Yidbukh, 1960), 375 pp.; Dos meglekhe un ummeglekhe (The possible and impossible), offprint from the almanac Yidish (New York, 1961), 30 pp.; Af eygene drokhim, a kheshbn-hanefesh fun modernem yidn (Along one’s own pathways, a spiritual stocktaking of modern Jewry) (Buenos Aires: Yidbukh, 1962), 335 pp.; Emune fun a dor, eseyen (Faith of a generation, essays) (New York: Matones, 1970), 190 pp.; Kluge hent, a folkstimlekher roman (Smart hands, a novel of ordinary people) (New York: Tsiko, 1973), 183 pp. Several of his more insightful works appeared earlier in Morgn-zhurnal and Tog-morgn-zhurnal in New York and in Di prese in Buenos Aires. In English (mostly translated by his son, David Simon): The Wise Men of Helm and Their Merry Tales (West Orange, NJ: Behrman House, Publishers, 1996?), 136 pp., six printings; The Wandering Beggar, or the Adventures of Simple Shmerel (New York: Behrman’s Jewish Book House, 1942), 118 pp., five printings; My Jewish Roots (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1956), 274 pp.; and In the Thicket (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1963), 273 pp. His work also was represented in Danny Kaye’s Around the World Story Book (New York: Random House, 1961) and Anthology of World Folklore and other English-language anthologies. He also wrote about dentistry in Dental Outlook (1931). He contributed to the English-language children’s magazines: Young Judaean, World Over, and Judaism. He assisted in editing Khayim Shoys’s Dos yontef bukh (The holiday book) (New York, 1933) and volume one of Neviim (Prophets) (New York, 1942). He also published numerous polemical articles on Jewish education, Yiddish, and Yiddish literature. He was prepaing in the 1960s a Pentateuch with commentary and a “Tanakh book” for teachers. He gave public lectures in various cities in the United States and Canada. He was active in a number of Jewish cultural organizations. From 1962 he served as a teacher of Tanakh in the Jewish teachers’ seminary in New York. In 1949 and 1963 he made voyages to the state of Israel. He also published under a variety of pseudonyms. He died in Miami Beach, Florida.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; H. Akerman, in Refleksn (New York) (April 1932); Shmuel Niger, in Unzer shul (New York) (March 1933); Niger, in Der tog (New York) (January 5, 1941); Niger, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (November 29, 1953); Avrom Reyzen, in Di feder (New York) (1949); Y. Bronshteyn, Yo, un nisht neyn (Yes, and not no) (Los Angeles, 1953), pp. 200-7; Y. Botoshanski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (July 15, 1954; September 4, 1956; March 18, 1959; January 2, 1963); A. Golomb, in Der veg (Mexico City) (October 16, 1954); A. Gordon, in Fraye arbeter-shtime (New York) (April 22, 1955; May 6, 1955); Gordon, in Yidishe shriftn (New York) 7 (1955); Y. Zilberberg, in Tog (October 29, 1955); Zilberberg, in Kultur un dertsiung (New York) (December 1959); Zilberberg, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (November 2, 1956); E. Naks, in Di tsukunft (New York) (October 1955; November 1956); Kh. Yofe, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (May 27, 1956); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (November 4, 1956); Y. Varshavski, in Forverts (New York) (September 30, 1956); Z. Yefroykin, in Kultur un dertsiung (March 1959); Y. Glants, in Der veg (January 9, 1960); A. Roshanski, in Der veg (February 9, 1960); M. Shenderay, in Di idishe tsaytung (Buenos Aires) (September 2, 1960; April 29, 1962; December 9, 1962; February 1964); Z. Berebitshez, in Der veg (January 2, 1961; December 8, 1962); G. Vaysman, in Lebns-fragn (Tel Aviv) (July 1961; August 1963); Meylekh Ravitsh, in Tsukunft (February 1962); F. Lerner, in Di prese (January 2, 1963); A. Menes, in Forverts (January 19, 1963); B. Shefner, in Forverts (March 23, 1963); M. Tshemni, in Eygns (Ramat Gan) (September 1963); Tshemni, in Di idishe tsaytung (February 11, 1964); Charles Angoff, in Congress Bi-Weekly (New York) (October 21, 1963); Who’s Who in World Jewry (New York, 1955), pp. 721-22.
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 406.]