Page 208 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

Basic HTML Version

200
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
some Jewish life and types he had known in his youth, (
Bi-Gevulot
Lita
[In Lithuania’s Borders], 1909), as well as the problematics o f
contemporary living. His Yiddish comedies reveal the true na­
ture o f the Jewish society in Lodz, its middle class and young in­
telligentsia.
Already at the age o f 18, after he forsook his various occupa­
tions which he had pursued with little interest or success and
after he had published his first poems in the children’s magazine
Olam Katan
and in
Ha-Zofeh
(1903), Katzenelson became a
teacher o f Hebrew and Bible and devoted himself to writing.
At the age o f 16 or 17 Katzenelson took a trip to Lithuania, his
country o f birth, and on the way stopped in Warsaw. There he
was accorded a favorable reception by the writer Abraham
Reisen because o f his Yiddish poetry. His first meeting with
Peretz in Warsaw at that time strengthened his attachment to the
Yiddish language and literature. His writings in Hebrew saw
publication during this period in Frischman’s
Ha-Dor
and in
Ha-
Zeman
o f Vilna and
Ha-Shiloah
o f Odessa.
EARLY ACT IV IT IES
Katzenelson ’s first book o f Hebrew poems,
Dimdumin
(Glimmerings), appeared in Warsaw in 1910. In 1911 he organ­
ized the first Hebrew theatrical troupe in Lodz, as part o f his ac­
tivity in behalf o f the Hebrew rebirth and his pedagogical work.
Following the successes o f the troupe in Lodz, Katzenelson un­
dertook a theatrical tour through Poland and Lithuania. The
performances met with wide acclaim.1Even prior to World War I
he started a model Hebrew school, beginning with the kindergar­
ten. He devoted himself to teaching and educational work and
became virtually the first Hebrew kindergartner. He developed
as a highly innovative educator who was able to combine teaching
with literary creativity, in Hebrew and Yiddish, for children and
youth. Katzenelson was the author o f many textbooks and chil­
dren’s books in Hebrew and Yiddish and in this field as well he
opened up new vistas in Jewish education.2
1 On Katzenelson as a dramatist see Gershon Shaked,
The Hebrew Historical
Drama in the Twentieth Century
(Hebrew), Jerusalem, 1970.
2 For biographical data on Katzenelson up to 1914 see his sister, Zipporah
Katzenelson-Nachumov,
Yitzhak Katzenelson; His Life and Works
(Yiddish), Bue­
nos Aires, 1948.