Page 20 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 27

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14
J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
Groper began to write Yiddish poetry while still a student of
law at Jassy University and while serving in the Balkan War
in 1913. His poems appeared in periodicals and anthologies since
1914, but not until 1934 were they collected in a slender volume,
In the Shadow of a Stone (In Shutn Fun A Shtein). The poems
are romantic in tone and replete with youthful melancholy. The
poet wants to grasp the glad moments of spring’s blossoming be­
cause he is aware that cold winds will soon nip the blossoms and
it will be too late to be glad. He sees his bright dreams dissolving
and his heart filled with pain. But he is still young enough to
wait for the flowering of new dreams and for the heart to re­
capture its buoyancy. Groper’s lyrics, once on the lips of Ru­
manian Jewish youth both in the Yiddish original and in Ru­
manian translation, are today forgotten. They did, however, help
raise the prestige of Yiddish. His admirer, the literary critic
Shlomo Bickel, said of him: “As a creator of Yiddish Jacob Gro­
per was in Rumania the start, as a Jewish intellectual he was the
zenith, as a spiritual personality he was the full day of the Old
Rumanian Jewish community.”
Jacob Botoshansky participated in the upsurge of Yiddish in
Rumania from 1914 to 1926 as critic, essayist, journalist and dra­
matist before immigrating to Buenos Aires. There he edited Ar­
gentina’s most influential Yiddish daily Die Presse, and for more
than a third of a century he was a central figure in Jewish cul­
tural activities. His survey of Rumanian Yiddish literature in the
volume Mame Yiddish (1949) anticipated the more detailed an­
alysis in Shlomo Bickel’s volume Rumania (1961).
Bessarabia, Bukovina and Transylvania, with their large Yid­
dish speaking populations, were added to Rumania after World
War I. Only then did a reading public arise of sufficient mag­
nitude to support quality journals and Yiddish publishing ven­
tures. From these newer provinces rather than from Old Rumania
stemmed most Yiddish writers of the next half century. The single
town of Lipcani in Northern Bessarabia was the birthplace of
the fabulist Eliezer Steinbarg (1880-1932), the dramatist Jacob
Sternberg (b. 1890), and the novelist Moishe Altman (b. 1890).
Writer of Fables in Yiddish
Steinbarg, the most original writer of fables in Yiddish, attained
international fame posthumously. His fables which had appeared
solely in periodicals during his lifetime were collected in a Yiddish
volume. It had a large vogue, and was translated into Hebrew and
into half a dozen European languages. His Tales for Children
(Meiselekh, 1936), combining Yiddish folk treasures, imaginative
animal lore, light humor and simple vocabulary, provided attrac-