Aaron Zeitlin

Last updated

Aaron Zeitlin (3 June 1898 – 28 September 1973), the son of the famous Jewish writer Hillel Zeitlin and Esther Kunin, authored several books on Yiddish literature, poetry and parapsychology.



Zeitlin was born in Uvarovichi, Russia (now Belarus). He spent his formative years in Gomel and Vilna. In 1920, he and his brother Elchanan traveled to Palestine, and in 1921 they returned to Eastern Europe, settling in Warsaw.

Zeitlin's literary abilities were apparent already in his youth when he contributed some articles to the Odessa-based children's journal Perachim and Hashachar .

His first publication was a fictional piece that appeared in the journal Di yidishe velt (די ייִדישע װעלט "The Jewish World"), in 1914. His first published books of Yiddish poetry were Matatron (1922) and Shotns oyfn shney (Shadows on Snow; 1923). [1]

In the 1920s to 1930s, he published short stories, as well as many philosophical and journalistic essays, and pieces of literary and cultural criticism. [2]

In 1939, Zeitlin accepted an invitation from Maurice Schwartz, the director of the Yiddish Art Theatre, to come to New York to work on the company's production of his play Esterke; [2] prevented from returning home by the beginning of the Second World War, Zeitlin settled in New York permanently. [1]

His play Chelmer Chachomim had already opened to critical acclaim at the Yiddish Theatre in New York prior to his arrival, and he slowly became a fixture of the Yiddish scene.

For a time, he was also Professor of Hebrew literature at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, in New York.

He was close with other Yiddish literary giants of his day, including Isaac Bashevis Singer who wrote of the former "his greatest vice was literature, religious literature and anything and everything of intellectual value, he was a man possessing vast knowledge, a veritable spiritual giant".

He wrote the famous Yiddish song Donna Donna, whose music was composed by Sholom Secunda.

In 1969 Zeitlin and Abraham Sutzkever were the first recipients of the Itzik Manger Prize for Yiddish letters. [3]

After WWII, Zeitlin married Rachel Wolfowski, a widow who hailed from Vilna. Her son from her previous marriage was famed Jewish philanthropist Zev Wolfson.

Zeitlin died in Queens, New York, at the age of 75. [4]

Published works

Ha-meziut ha-aheret (The other Dimension), Tel Aviv: Yavneh, 1967. Parapsychologia murchevet (Expanded Parapsychology), Tel Aviv: Yavneh, 1973. Poems of the Holocaust and Poems of Faith [ed./trans. Morris Faierstein] (iUniverse), 1-217 (122, emended), 2007


Related Research Articles

Hayim Nahman Bialik Hebrew poet, author, and editor

Hayim Nahman Bialik, also Chaim or Haim, was a Jewish poet who wrote primarily in Hebrew but also in Yiddish. Bialik was one of the pioneers of modern Hebrew poetry. He was part of the vanguard of Jewish thinkers who gave voice to the breath of new life in Jewish life. Being a noted essayist and story-teller, Bialik also translated major works from European languages. Although he died before Israel became a state, Bialik ultimately came to be recognized as Israel's national poet.

Abraham Sutzkever

Abraham Sutzkever was an acclaimed Yiddish poet. The New York Times wrote that Sutzkever was "the greatest poet of the Holocaust."

Uri Zvi Greenberg

Uri Zvi Greenberg was an acclaimed Israeli poet, journalist and politician who wrote in Yiddish and Hebrew. Widely regarded among the greatest poets in the country's history, he was awarded the Israel Prize in 1957 and the Bialik Prize in 1947, 1954 and 1977, all for his contributions to fine literature. Following Israeli indepdence in 1948, he also served in the first Knesset as a member of Menachem Begin's Herut Party. Greenberg's Revisionist orientation had an important influence on both his writings and his politics.

Avraham Shlonsky

Avraham Shlonsky was a significant and dynamic Israeli poet and editor born in the Russian Empire.

Yiddish literature

Yiddish literature encompasses all those belles-lettres written in Yiddish, the language of Ashkenazic Jewry which is related to Middle High German. The history of Yiddish, with its roots in central Europe and locus for centuries in Eastern Europe, is evident in its literature.

Chava Rosenfarb

Chava Rosenfarb was a Holocaust survivor and Jewish-Canadian author of Yiddish poetry and novels, a major contributor to post-World War II Yiddish Literature. Rosenfarb began writing poetry at the age of eight.

Hillel Zeitlin

Hillel Zeitlin (1871–1942) was a Yiddish and Hebrew writer and poet. A leading pre-Holocaust Jewish journalist, he was a regular contributor to the Yiddish newspaper Moment, among other literary activities. He was the leading thinker in the movement of pre-World War II "philosophical Neo-Hasidism".

David Vogel (author)

David Vogel was a Ukrainian-born Jewish poet, novelist, and diarist.

Avoth Yeshurun

Avoth Yeshurun, also Avot Yeshurun, was an acclaimed modern Hebrew poet. Winner of the Israel Prize for literature in 1992.

Karen Alkalay-Gut Israeli poet, professor, and editor

Karen Alkalay-Gut is a poet, professor, and editor who lives in Israel and writes in English.

Aaron Kramer was an American poet, translator, and social activist. A lifelong poet of political commitment, he wrote 26 volumes of poetry, three of prose, and ten of translations between 1938 and 1998. Kramer taught English at Dowling College in Oakdale, Long Island, New York.

Rajzel Żychlińsky was a Polish-born writer of poetry in Yiddish. She published seven collections over six decades. Her first two collections were published in Warsaw in 1936 and 1939, just prior to World War II. She survived the war by fleeing eastward to the Soviet Union, but many members of her immediate family were murdered in the Holocaust. Her postwar poetry, mostly written in the United States, was strongly influenced by these events.

The Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Awards were a Canadian program of literary awards, managed, produced and presented annually by the Koffler Centre of the Arts to works judged to be the year's best works of literature by Jewish Canadian writers or on Jewish cultural and historical topics.

Cemach Feldstein

Cemach Feldstein ([t͡ʃɛɱɑħ fɛldstajn]; sometimes spelled Tzemach; Hebrew: צמח פלדשטיין‎; Yiddish: פעלדשטיין‎; Lithuanian: Feldsteinas; Russian: Семён Григорович Фельдштейн, Semyon Grigorovitch; December 30, 1884 - December 29, 1944 was a Lithuanian educator, author, an education reformist, a culture Zionist activist. As an educator he was served as the director of several Jewish gymnasiums, the most notable of which was the Hebrew Real-Gymnasium in Kaunas, Lithuania, where most of the subjects were taught in Modern Hebrew.

Alexander Bogen Jewish artist and partisan

Alexander Bogen was a Polish-Israeli visual artist, a decorated leader of partisans during World War II, a key player in 20th century Yiddish culture, and one of the trailblazers for art education and Artists' associations in the emerging state of Israel.

Kadia Molodowsky

Kadia Molodowsky was a Belarusian-Jewish-born American poet and writer in the Yiddish language, and a teacher of Yiddish and Hebrew. She published six collections of poetry during her lifetime, and was a widely recognized figure in Yiddish poetry during the twentieth century.

Rivka Basman Ben-Hayim is a Yiddish poet and educator. She was the recipient of the Itzik Manger Prize in 1984. Basman was also awarded the Chaim Zhitlowsky Prize in 1998.

Rokhl Auerbakh Yiddish and Polish author

Rokhl Auerbakh was an Israeli writer, essayist, historian, Holocaust scholar, and Holocaust survivor. She wrote prolifically in both Polish and Yiddish, focusing on prewar Jewish cultural life and postwar Holocaust documentation and witness testimonies. She was one of the three surviving members of the covert Oyneg Shabes group led by Emanuel Ringelblum that chronicled daily life in the Warsaw Ghetto, and she initiated the excavation of the group's buried manuscripts after the war. In Israel, she directed the Department for the Collection of Witness Testimony at Yad Vashem from 1954 to 1968.

Benjamin Harshav

Benjamin Harshav, born Hrushovski ; June 26, 1928 – April 23, 2015 was a literary theorist specialising in comparative literature, a Yiddish and Hebrew poet, and an Israeli translator and editor. He served as professor of literature at the University of Tel Aviv and as a professor of comparative literature, Hebrew language and literature, and Slavic languages and literature at Yale University. He was the founding editor of the Duke University Press publication Poetics Today. He received the EMET Prize for Art, Science and Culture in 2005 and was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


  1. 1 2 "Zeitlin, Aaron." Encyclopaedia Judaica. 2nd ed. Edited by Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. Vol. 21, p. 496. Retrieved via Gale eBooks database, May 22, 2020.
  2. 1 2 Krutikov, Mikhail, and Pinsker, Shachar (June 27, 2011). "Zeitlin Family." YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe. Retrieved May 22, 2020.
  3. Weisgal, Meyer (1971). Meyer Weisgal ... so far; an autobiography. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. p. 320. ISBN   9780394475943.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. "Aaron L. Zeitlin, a Jewish Writer". nytimes.com. The New York Times. 30 September 1973. Retrieved 7 August 2020.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)