Eulogies for Jacob Dinezon

Haynt (Today)

Tuesday, September 2, 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 Jacob Dinezon, beloved folk writer and friend of the Yiddish theater. —Professional Union of Jewish Artists in Poland

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

I. L. Peretz on J. Dinezon

[The 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 Jacob 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 shiva week. . . .

The following delegations took part in the funeral:

From the Warsaw Yiddish Writers and Journalists Society and the Vilna 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 Vilna 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 chairman, 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 Jewish reader’s 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 and said the following:

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

“He is gone who stood with Peretz for the truth of our developing and widespread literature, who concerned himself, worked, and lived for it.

“He was close to us—he was so close and genial 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.

“For sixty-eight years he spun out his pure life, like a sacrifice, like a saint, a romantic and 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 Pleasing), 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 was not concerned about himself, he allowed nothing for himself. 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 fostered on his lap. He was concerned about each young 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. This is how much he was devoted to others, not himself.

“And now we stand before his open grave, lost and sorrowful. We have only taken from him and, up to now, not given anything back. Now he no longer needs anything, but we are left with a debt that we are not permitted to owe him any longer. We must weave a garland from that in us which is his, that will show his brilliance and beauty. May the children and grandchildren of those same little orphans who were reared under his careful supervision later know of the beautiful and luminous person who we once had among us.

“In the name of his friends, in the name of Peretz’s family, in my name, and in all our names, I bow, beloved Dinezon, before 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 “Jacob 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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