Page 184 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 11 (1952-1952)

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(On the Occasion of his 80th Birthday)
By S.
ig e r
EARLY all Yiddish and Hebrew writers who were reared in
Eastern Europe came from small towns. There are, however,
exceptions. One of them is David Pinski, who was 80 years old on
April 5, 1952. He was born, reared and spent all of the eight de-
cades of his life in more or less sizeable cities. Mohilev-on-the-
Dnieper, Moscow, Vitebsk, Warsaw, Vienna, Berlin, New York,
and latterly Haifa — these are the locales which are of interest to
his biographer as well as to himself. They are also of interest to
one who wishes to trace the environmental influences, besides the
more recondite and hereditary ones, that shaped his literary
Pinski’s father, Isaac Mordecai, belonged to that older genera-
tion of Orthodox Jews into whose mediaeval way of life some winds
of modernism had penetrated. This explains why his son David’s
religious education contained some elements of secularism, of
worldliness. He studied Talmud, but also languages — Hebrew
and Russian — and even before he became Bar Mitzvah he was
reading the pamphlets of the Haskalah, or “Enlightenment.”
His worldly horizon became even broader when his father around
1885 took the whole family with him to Moscow. David, the
youngest child, had just become Bar Mitzvah. In Moscow he
continued to study Jewish and general subjects. And when he
reached 17 or 18 years he thought of going abroad to study.
Before he went abroad he spent two years in Vitebsk where his
older brother lived and where he, David, was preparing to enter
a university. He studied and read much. He also became socially
active and remained so throughout his life. Together with Reuben
Brainin, who later became famous as a Hebrew and Yiddish writer,
he founded in Vitebsk a Hovevei-Zionist club which was called
“B’nai Zion.”
These were his years of communal — and even more of literary—
apprenticeship. As a matter of fact, they began even in Mohilev
when he was still a small boy. “As soon as I learned to write,”
* Translated by Philip Rubin.