Page 179 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

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of the outstanding Israeli Yiddish writers would have to include,
among many others, Abraham Sutzkever, Jacob Friedman,
Aryeh Shamri, Abraham Lev, Jacob Zvi Shargel, Joel Mastboym,
Rikuda Potash, Mendl Mann, Moshe Yungman, Mordecai
Tsanin, Rivka Basman, Rokhl Fishman, Rokhl Boymvol, Hirsh
Osherovitsh, Dovid Sfard, Hadassah Rubin, Eli Schechtman,
Shlomo Roytman and Joseph Kerler.1
Joseph Papiernikov is recognized as the first Yiddish poet
to come and remain in Eretz Yisrael with the express purpose
of continuing his work as a Yiddish writer there. For over six
decades he lived and worked in what he has called “the land
of our second beginning” and has produced a body of work
encompassing numerous aspects of life in the Land. Papiernikov
has published ten volumes of poetry in Israel, four outside Is­
rael, three volumes of prose, an anthology of Yiddish poems
about Jerusalem, and a translation of the Russian poet Sergei
Yesenin into Yiddish. Three volumes of his poems in Hebrew
translation have also appeared.
It is related that when Hayyim Nahman Bialik examined
Papiernikov’s first book of poems
In Zunikn Land
(In the Sunny
Land, 1927) he exclaimed: “When you turn the little book’s
pages quickly and you catch only single words, you have all
of Eretz Yisrael before your eyes!”2 Daniel Leybl, a Yiddish
critic who reviewed
In Zunikn Land
when it was first published
in Warsaw in 1927, was later to write: “Even before the book
was published, thousands of workers and pioneers in the coun­
try derived pleasure from the poems during evening gatherings
and celebrations. Suddenly they felt themselves, their country,
their achievement and their struggle celebrated and exalted.
I don’t know many Yiddish writers who have been privileged
to such a degree of personal gratitude, to such warm approval
and confirmation as J. Papiernikov in Eretz Yisrael during those
years. His poetry also made its way to the Diaspora where it
was borne by the left wing of the Poaley Zion party, absorbed
1. Cf. M. Tsanin, “Der Yidisher Shrayber in Yisroel,”
Almanakh fun di Yidishe
Shraber in Yisroel,
Tel Aviv, 1962, pp. 15-20; and M. Tsanin, “Di Yidishe
Literatur in Medinas Yisroel,”
Di Goldene Keyt,
no. 66, Tel Aviv, 1969, pp.
30-36. See Also A. Lis,
Heym un Doyer,
Tel Aviv, 1960, pp. 7-20 and A.L.
Tsvishn Yo Un Neyn,
Tel Aviv, 1986.
2. Quoted by D. Leybl, “Vegn Papiernikovn,” in the collection o f tributes
Yor Papiernikov in Eretz Yisroel,
Tel Aviv, 1965, p. 10.