(The Jewish Daily News)
“The American Newspaper Printed in Yiddish”
September 3, 1919, Page 1, New York
Translated from the Yiddish by
Beloved Yiddish Novelist and
Community Activist Dead in Warsaw
Warsaw, Wednesday. — The beloved Yiddish novelist and community activist Jacob Dinezon died here at the age of 63. His death made a painful impression on every Jewish circle. The Jewish orphans of Warsaw, for whom he was a father throughout the war and since then, especially feel the great loss that his death means to them. He founded and attended to the Dinezon Jewish Elementary Schools (folkshulen) in Warsaw, where masses of Jewish children received free education and meals.
Jacob Dinezon was the creator of the Yiddish sentimental novel. He was born in the year 1856 in Nay Zhager, Kovno Province in an impoverished prestigious family. He was educated in Mohilev-on-the-Dnieper at the home of his uncle Isaac Eliashev who was well-known in the city as an excellent mathematician. Receiving his early education in kheder, Dinezon later studied Talmud in the study house, dedicating himself at the same time to the Hebrew language. His first literary endeavors were in Hebrew, and in addition to a few letters to Ha-Magid and Ha-Melitz, he published several articles in Smolenski’s Ha-Shahar. The desire to enlighten the masses who do not understand Hebrew led him to switch to the Yiddish language. His first novel Beoven avos (For the Sins of the Fathers) was banned by the censors and never published. His second novel Der shvartser yungermantshik (The Dark Young Man) was a huge success.
This novel, like Dinezon’s next novel, Even negef, oder a shtein in veg (Stumbling Block, or, A Stone in the Road), was written in a sentimental tone. The author is above all else a moralist and a critic of mores. His main goal is to enlighten the simple reader, to awaken in them good feelings, love and sympathy for the weak, respect for a loving heart. On the other hand, he attempted to make evil and false people unattractive in the eyes of the community, describing them in black colors.
Dinezon’s virtues were even more pronounced in his third novel Hershele (first published in the Yudishe Bibliotek (Yiddish Library), which he published together with his close friend I. L. Peretz.) It stands on a higher level with regard to realistic description. Beginning in the 90s, Dinezon’s work became artistically more complete. He moved from large novels to stories and sketches written in soft and tender tones. His best-loved heroes were simple Jewish women and poor Jewish children. His most beautiful work Yosele tells the fate of an unfortunate, forlorn orphan. A longer story, Alter, and the series Kindershe neshomes (Children’s Souls) were also about the lives of children. In addition, Dinezon published in various Yiddish publications (Yud, Yidishe folks-tsaytung, Fraynd, and others) a whole series of novellas, among which, Falik and His House and Yosl Algebrenik excel.