Eulogies for Jacob Dinezon

Haynt (Today)

7 Elul, 5639, parshas teytsa
Tuesday, 2 September, 1919
Warsaw, Poland
Translated from the Yiddish by Tina Lunson

[[Due to legibility issues there are several missing words in this translation. We would be grateful to anyone who can help us “fill in the blanks.” This issue of Haynt is available online at Historical Jewish Press.]


In deepest grief we bow our heads and bewail the death of Yankev Dinezon, beloved folks-writer and friend of the Yiddish Theatre. —Professional Union of Jewish Artist in Poland

In deepest grief and sorrow, we lament the death of our beloved friend, the unforgettable folks-writer, Yankev Dinezon. —The Vilne Troupe and the Union of Dramatic Artists in Vilne

Y. L. Peretz on Y. Dinezon

[Introductory paragraph includes impossible to read words, but says that the paper is reprinting Peretz’s essay about his friend. Peretz’s essay on Dinezon is here.]

On the Funeral of Yankev Dinezon z”l (of blessed memory)

There is a constant stream of sympathy letters to the Yiddish Writers’ and Journalists’ Society from organizations and societies outside Warsaw, as well as from the general public beyond the city. . . .

Many of the delegates who took part in the funeral with imprinted ribbons, have sent their ribbons to the Society. These have been arranged around the picture of the deceased that hangs in the _____ salon, enveloped in sorrow. _____ so this room would be decorated in mourning for the memorial evening that will be held right after the shive week. . . .

The following delegations took part in the funeral:

From the Warsaw Yiddish Writers’ and Journalists’ Society and the Vilne Yiddish Writers’ and Journalists’ Society (_____); Lodz Yiddish Writers’ and Journalists’ Society; the Central Council of the Jewish People’s Party in Poland; _____ Council of the People’s Party; _____ of the Shul Youth Organization “Peretz”; editorial staff of the “Lebensfragen” [?]; the Children’s Home named after Bronislav Groser; the Workers’ Club named after Bronislav Groser in Warsaw; _____; _____; the Free Union of Jewish Sejm Delegates; the Warsaw committee “Fareynikt”; the Zionist Club “Merkaz”; the Warsaw “Poaley Tsioin”; the editorial staff of the “Arbeter Tsaytung”; the Workers’ Home; the _____ Workers’ Home; the Children’s Homes, Folks-shuln sponsored by the Workers’ Home; Borokhov Library; the Professional Union of Jewish _____ in Manufacture-_____; The Central Small Business Society; the Jewish Social Democratic Organization “Yugend”; the shul-youth “Borokhov”; the Jewish Academic Home; the Society for Newspaper Employees; the Jewish/Yiddish Teachers’ Union (Solna 1); Professional Union of Jewish Artists; the Vilne Troupe; Union of _____; the Warsaw Committee of the “Tsirey Tsion”; the Central Council of the Jewish Handworkers’ Union in Poland; Central Handworkers’ Council in Warsaw (Nalewki 20); Central Handworkers’ Council (Leszno 12); Union of Expert Hat-makers and Merchants; the Jewelers’ Union; “Maccabi”; “Ber _____”; the academic youth organization “Progress”; the folks-shuln “Sholem Aleichem”, “Kadima”, “Peltsovoyzner Folks-hoyz” [?], “Hador Hatsair”, “Hertslia”.

Over the open grave and in the name of the Yiddish Literati Society, the _____ Mr. Shalkovitsh made the following short speech:

“We mourn Dinezon as a writer, as a person, and as a friend. As a writer he occupied the most honorable place among our veterans who laid the foundation stones for our new Yiddish literature.

“Work such as Dinezon’s cannot be measured only by its important artistic size, but must also be measured in terms of historical perspective; and as such, Dinezon’s work was _____ the model for the Yiddish/Jewish reader and [the relationship?] to the Yiddish folk-language and its literature.

“As a person Dinezon was tender, mild, kind-hearted, affable and sweet, almost motherly protective and concerned. And he had so much love for the child that he devoted himself body and soul to his beloved children’s homes and his beloved children whom he loved as a father and who loved him as a father; and even in the last hours of his life he did not stop being concerned about his children’s homes.

“As a friend he was truly exemplary. He literally went all out in his friendship and his companionship, and he completely forgot his ‘I’ and made sacrifices for his friends.

“His friendship towards the great writer Peretz did not lessen before his death. In the last years and in his last hours he expressed his passionate wish that he be buried in a grave next to Peretz’s grave. [Rakhmones in plural]”

After that Mr. S. An-ski spoke:

“It is a difficult and bitter task to speak at the grave of one who is still alive to me, who for all of us is not dead. A great and beautiful poem has ended, the heart stands still that lived for the people, that rejoiced in its joys, and that suffered with its frequent troubles.

“He is gone who stood with Peretz for the truth/reality of our developing and _____ literature, who worried, worked, and lived for it.

“He was close to us—he was so close and affable and devoted to every one of us that we did not notice him, we did not understand him, because we only notice those who take from us, not those who give.

“He spent his sixty-eight years of pure life, like a sacrifice, like a saint, a romantic and an idealist in his writing, and in his life he was exactly the same. The ideal of “ha-ne’ehovim v’ha-neimim” (the beloved and the pleasant), with which he entered our literature, was also the ideal which he exemplified in his life, to which he devoted his life.

“He was always with those who suffered, for whom things were going badly, who needed something, who needed help. He gave away everything to them, he did not worry about himself, he asked for nothing. He was satisfied with his small room on a narrow street, in a quiet courtyard. Whenever you saw a smile on his face it was not about something done for him, but because he had given something to someone else.

“And he gave us everything. Our entire literature was brought up on his lap. He _____ for each new writer, he had something for each one, and within each one of us there lies a piece of Dinezon.

“Perhaps the most precious gift that God gave him, his talent, he also gave away. So he was with us, not with himself.

“And now we stand before his open grave lost and sorrowful. We have only taken from him, and until now not given anything back. Now he does not need anything, but there is a debt on us that we must not continue to owe. We must weave a garland from that in us which is his, that will show his brilliance and goodness. May the children, the grandchildren of those very orphans who were reared under his careful supervision, later know of the luminous person who we once had among us.

“In the name of his friends, in the name of his family, in my name and in all our names, I bow, beloved Dinezon, to you.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: What is especially interesting to note, in addition to the confirmation of Jacob Dinezon’s kindness to Jewish writers and his devotion to Jewish children, is S. An-ski’s mention of Dinezon’s age: sixty-eight. This is consistent with the statement in the Haynt on August 31, 1919, that “Yankev Dinezon was born in 1851 in Zhager, Kovne gubernia.” If this indeed is correct, this would place Dinezon’s birth date five years earlier than most biographers suggest. It would also make Dinezon much closer in age to his dear friend Peretz, who was also born in that year.

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