Research

Jacob Dinezon Research Page
The Jacob Dinezon Research Project

“[Jacob Dinezon] painted the Jewish world not with pity but with love. . . . The person who pities sees hidden paupers everywhere. The person who loves sees an “enchanted prince” through the holes in a pauper’s clothing. Jacob Dinezon traveled through his little Jewish world with this kind of love. —Bal-Makhshoves (“Man of Thoughts”), “Jacob Dinezon,” The Gathered Writings of Bal-Makhshoves, trans. Jane Peppler, (Washington, D.C.: S. Shreberk, 1910), vol. 1, p. 113

English Translations from the Yiddish

Over the past several years, the Jacob Dinezon Project has commissioned English translations of Yiddish documents related to the life and literary career of the Jewish writer Jacob Dinezon. These translations include short biographies, newspaper articles, essays, memoirs, stories, and other research documents.

Jacob Dinezon Literary Biography

Jacob Dinezon: The Mother Among Our Classic Yiddish Writers by Shmuel Rozshanski. An insightful and well-documented biography about the beloved and successful 19th century Yiddish writer Jacob Dinezon. In this thoroughly footnoted volume originally published in 1956, the renowned literary historian Shmuel Rozshanski makes a case for including Jacob Dinezon in the “family” of classic Yiddish writers. Based on his extensive research and review of Dinezon’s major works, Rozshanski concludes that Jacob Dinezon deserves to be recognized as a major figure in the development of Yiddish as a literary language. Translated from the Yiddish by Miri Koral, the entire book is available online for researchers and Yiddish literature enthusiasts.

Bibliographies of Yiddish Books

Online Yiddish books by Jacob Dinezon. A selection of Jacob Dinezon’s books printed in Yiddish and digitized by the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA. These digitized files are available for download from archive.org.

Online Yiddish books About Jacob Dinezon. Shmuel Rozshanski’s Yiddish biography of Jacob Dinezon and additional books with content related to Dinezon. These digital files are available for download from archive.org.

Biographical Entries

Leksikon fun der yidisher literatur, prese un filologye (Lexicon of Yiddish Literature, Press and Philology), 1928. Jacob Dinezon’s entry in Zalmen Reyzen’s important biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers. Translated from the Yiddish by Tina Lunson.

Leksikon fun der nayer Yidisher literatur (Lexicon of the New Yiddish Literature), 1956-1981 A second Dinezon entry in a later Yiddish biographical dictionary edited by Samuel Niger and Jacob Shatzky. Translated from the Yiddish by Ruth Fisher Goodman.

Jacob Dinezon’s Writings

Jacob Dinezon’s “The Yiddish Language and Her Writers.” This review of early Yiddish literature by Jacob Dinezon was published in Mordecai Spector’s Hoyz-Fraynd (House-Friend) in 1888 and includes an autobiographical story about how Dinezon became convinced that the best way to reach a broader Jewish readership was by writing in Yiddish instead of Hebrew. Translated from the Yiddish by Janie Respitz.

Jacob Dinezon’s “Recollections.” In this heart-felt and revealing memoir published in Der Pinkes (The Book of Records) in 1911 and edited by Shmuel Niger, Dinezon reflects on his early childhood years and first attempt at writing. Translated from the Yiddish by Janie Respitz.

Jacob Dinezon’s Introduction to I. L. Peretz’s Bekante bilder (Familiar Scenes). In 1890, Jacob Dinezon published a small book containing three Yiddish short stories by I. L. Peretz, “The Messenger,” “What Is Soul,” and “The Mad Talmudist.” This is the first volume of what Dinezon proposes as a “groshen bibliotek” (a “penny library”). Translated from the Yiddish by Tina Lunson.

Jacob Dinezon’s Letters

Jacob Dinezon’s Letter to the Editor Regarding Avrom Goldfaden. In this letter to the editor of the Yudishe Folks-blat (Jewish People’s Newspaper) in 1888, Dinezon sets the record straight on why Avrom Goldfaden, the great Yiddish theater playwright, director, and impresario, decided to leave Warsaw and travel to America. Translated from the Yiddish by Miri Koral.

Jacob Dinezon’s Letter to Johan Paley, 1906. In this letter written to Johan Paley, editor of the New York Yiddish newspaper, the Jewish Daily News, Jacob Dinezon describes the ongoing military occupation of Warsaw following the failed Russian Revolution of 1905. The letter was republished in English in the Washington, D. C. Sunday Star on August 19, 1906. Dinezon’s letter was translated from the Yiddish by Johan Paley.

An Unpublished Letter from Jacob Dinezon. In this poignant and revealing letter to an unidentified female friend, Dinezon offers insights into his unmarried, “lonely half-ascetic life.” Published in Pinkes: A Fertlioriker Zshurnal far Yidisher Literaturgeshikhte, Shprakhforshung, Folklor un Bibliografie (Pinkos: A Quarterly Journal Devoted to the Study of Yiddish Literature, Language, Folklore and Bibliography), 1928. Translated from the Yiddish by Janie Respitz.

Jacob Dinezon’s Letter to S. An-ski. In this sad and moving letter from Jacob Dinezon to his “one and only remaining friend,” the author, ethnographer, and playwright S. An-ski, Dinezon pours out his deep grief over the passing of I. L. Peretz. Dated “Warsaw, April 26, 1915.” Published in Yosele and The Crisis, 1959. Translated from the Yiddish by Miri Koral.

Two Letters from Jacob Dinezon to S. An-ski at the Beginning of the First World War. Dinezon writes to An-ski thanking him for sending money to support Peretz and himself as the outbreak of the First World War closes banks in Warsaw and causes great hardship in the city. Published in S. An-ski’s Collected Works, 1964. Translated from the Yiddish by Janie Respitz.

Jacob Dinezon’s Stories

“Motl Farber, Purimshpieler” from Memories and Scenes: Shtetl, Childhood, Writers by Jacob Dinezon. Translated from the Yiddish by Tina Lunson.

“Samson Solomon and His Horses” by Jacob Dinezon. Translated from the Yiddish by Miri Koral. Published online by JewishFiction.net.

“Go Eat Kreplach” by Jacob Dinezon. Translated from the Yiddish by Jane Peppler. Published online by JewishFiction.net.

Essays, Articles, and Memoirs

Jacob Dienesohn by Leo Wiener. The first English description of Jacob Dinezon’s contribution to modern Yiddish literature appears in The History of Yiddish Literature in the Nineteenth Century by Harvard professor, Leo Wiener, published in 1899.

Dr. K. D. Hurvitz’s Jubilee Tribute to Jacob Dinezon. A three-part series by K. D. Hurvitz, co-editor of the weekly Yiddish newspaper Yudishe folks tsaytung (Jewish People’s Newspaper), in celebration of Dinezon’s 25th anniversary as a writer. Published in 1902 and translated from the Yiddish by Mindy Liberman.

I. L. Peretz Essay. A literary essay about Jacob Dinezon by his friend and colleague, Isaac Leib Peretz. Peretz offers a story at the end to describe Dinezon’s deep compassion for the Jewish people. First published in 1903 in honor of Jacob Dinezon’s 25th Writer’s Jubilee and republished in Di verk fun Yitshak Leybush Peretz (The Works of Isaac Leibush Peretz) in 1920. Translated from the Yiddish by Jane Peppler.

Bal-Makhshoves Essay. A literary essay by the Yiddish critic, Isidor Eliashev, who wrote under the pen name Bal-Makhshoves. In this tribute to Jacob Dinezon, Bal-Makhshoves calls Dinezon “the optimist of our Yiddish literature.” This essay first appeared in the Yiddish newspaper Der fraynd (The Friend) on May 15, 1903 and republished in Bal-Makhshoves’s Geklibene verk (Gathered Works) in 1910. Translated from the Yiddish by Jane Peppler.

David Frishman Essay. An essay about Jacob Dinezon by his friend, the Yiddish writer and literary critic, David Frishman. This first appeared in the Warsaw Jewish newspaper, Haynt, on September 5, 1919, following Dinezon’s funeral and republished in Ale verk fun Dovid Frishman (All the Work of David Frishman) in 1938. Translated from the Yiddish by Tina Lunson.

V. Medem’s Memories of Jacob Dinezon. Bund and Yiddishist schools activist Vladimir Medem’s eulogy for Jacob Dinezon published in Fun mayn natits-bukh (From My Notebook) in 1920. Translated from the Yiddish by Mindy Liberman.

S. L. Tsitron Remembers Jacob Dinezon. Yiddish author, critic, and memoirist S. L. Tsitron describes his personal recollections of Jacob Dinezon during Dinezon’s early years as an author. These chapters from Tsitron’s Dray literarishe doyres: Zikhroynes vegn Yidishe shriftshteler (Three Literary Generations: Memories of Yiddish Authors) published in 1920 include Tsitron’s description of how he introduced I. L. Peretz to Dinezon in Warsaw in the late-1880s. Translated from the Yiddish by Archie Barkan and transcribed and edited by Robin Bryna Evans.

Alter Kacyzne’s Essay, “The Problem—Dinezon.” Photographer and author Alter Kacyzne, who was present at Dinezon’s deathbed, evaluates Dinezon’s place in Yiddish literature and compares him favorably to Sholem Aleichem as a true folk-writer. Translated from the Yiddish by Miri Koral from Literarishe bleter (Literary Pages), March 10, 1924.

S. An-ski’s Memories of Peretz and Dinezon. Yiddish ethnographer, author, poet, and playwright S. An-ski relates his memories of I. L. Peretz’s friendship with Jacob Dinezon and Peretz’s techniques as a writer. Translated from the Yiddish by Miri Koral from An-ski’s Collected Works, Volume 10, 1928.

Mikhl Natish’s “Elements of Dinezon’s Personality.” This chapter of a longer work by the poet Mikhl Natish ((Michael Shutan) was written while he was a research fellow at the YIVO Institute in Vilna and published in YIVO bleter (YIVO Pages) in 1936. Unfortunately, Natish’s dissertation was never completed due to his untimely death in 1937. PDF files numbering several hundred pages of Natish’s handwritten notes of his extensive research are available for download at The Edward Blank YIVO Vilna Online Collections. Translated from the Yiddish by Mindy Liberman.

Nakhmen Mayzel’s Chapter from Peretz’s Life and Creativity. Nakhmen Mayzel’s chapter on the unique relationship between I. L. Peretz and Jacob Dinezon from his literary history Perets: Lebn un shafn (Peretz: Life and Creativity), published by B. Kletskin in 1931. Translated from the Yiddish by Janie Respitz.

Nakhmen Mayzel’s Chapter from Jacob Dinezon to Hirsh Glick. Nakhmen Mayzel’s chapter on Jacob Dinezon from his literary history Noente un eygene: fun Yaakov Dinezon biz Hirsh Glik (Near and Dear: From Jacob Dinezon to Hirsh Glick), published by Yiddisher Kultur Farband in 1957. Translated from the Yiddish by Mindy Liberman.

Nakhmen Mayzel’s Introduction to The Dark Young Man. Literary historian and editor Nakhmen Mayzel provides an introduction to the commemorative edition of Jacob Dinezon’s The Beloved and Pleasing, or, The Dark Young Man published in 1928. Translated from the Yiddish by Tina Lunson.

I. D. Berkowitz’s Chapter “In Jacob Dinezon’s Room.” In this memoir by Sholem Aleichem’s son-in-law I. D. Berkowitz, the author recalls his first encounter with Jacob Dinezon in Warsaw as a poor and struggling young writer and ten years later as the supervisor of Sholem Aleichem’s collected works. Translated from the Yiddish by Mindy Liberman from Unzer rishonim: zikhroynes-dertseylungen vegn Sholem-Aleichem un zayn dor (Our Forebears: Memories-Stories about Sholem-Aleichem and His Generation), 1966.

Sholem Aleichem’s 25th Jubilee Letters

Sholem Aleichem’s Letter to Jacob Dinezon, March 7/8, 1909. In this typewritten Yiddish letter to Jacob Dinezon, Sholem Aleichem relates plans for his wife, Olga, to visit Warsaw as a way of speeding up the transfer of his copyrights following his 25th Jubilee as a writer. Translated from the Yiddish by Mindy Liberman.

Sholem Aleichem’s Letter to Jacob Dinezon, March 12, 1909. This typewritten Yiddish letter from Sholem Aleichem to Jacob Dinezon describes the ongoing negotiations regarding the transfer of Sholem Aleichem’s copyrights following his 25th anniversary as a writer. Translated from the Yiddish by Mindy Liberman.

Jacob Dinezon’s Letter to Sholem Aleichem Returning Copyrights to the Author, (No exact date; most likely mid-March 1909). On the occasion of his 50th birthday and 25th anniversary as a writer, the Yiddish author Jacob Dinezon wrote this handwritten letter to Sholem Aleichem on behalf of the committee that purchased Sholem Aleichem’s copyrights from his previous publishers with the intent of transferring them back to the author. Translated from the Yiddish by Mindy Liberman.

Sholem Aleichem’s Letter to Jacob Dinezon, March 27, 1909. This thank you letter to Jacob Dinezon is in response to Dinezon’s efforts to help secure Sholem Aleichem’s copyrights from his former publishers. Here Sholem Aleichem describes his friend as “Uncle Dinezon.” Translated from the Yiddish by Miri Koral.

Newspaper Accounts of Dinezon’s Illness and Death

Haynt (Today)

Haynt, August 27, 1919. The first report of Dinezon’s serious illness appears in the Haynt’s column “What’s Happening in Warsaw.” Translated from the Yiddish by Mindy Liberman.

Haynt, August 28 and 29, 1919. Two additional reports on Dinezon’s worsening health condition appear in the Haynt’s column “What’s Happening in Warsaw.” Translated from the Yiddish by Mindy Liberman.

Haynt, August 31, 1919. The announcement of Jacob Dinezon’s death on Friday, August 29, 1919, at his home at Karmelica 29, Warsaw, Poland. Tributes are offered by literary colleagues, and a detailed report is provided of Dinezon’s final hours on his deathbed. Translated from the Yiddish by Tina Lunson.

Haynt, September 1, 1919. A description of Jacob Dinezon’s funeral on Sunday, August 31, 1919, including the path of the procession to the Okopowa Street Jewish Cemetery, the thousands of mourners who lined the streets to pay their respects, and the conflict between the honorary and the regular burial attendants over who will prepare the body for interment. Translated from the Yiddish by Tina Lunson.

Haynt, September 2, 1919. Eulogies presented over Jacob Dinezon’s grave by Avraham Shalkovitsh and S. An-ski. Dinezon’s age is given as 68, thus challenging the date of his birth in most biographical entries. This would indicate that Dinezon was born in 1851 or 1852, not 1856, five years earlier than previously believed. Translated from the Yiddish by Tina Lunson.

Der moment (The Moment)

Der moment, August 27, 28, and 29, 1919. Brief reports on Jacob Dinezon’s declining health condition in the Warsaw Yiddish newspaper Der moment (The Moment).

Der moment, August 31, 1919. A detailed summary of Jacob Dinezon’s death and preparations for his funeral that afternoon. Included in this issue of Der moment are tributes and announcements from Dinezon’s family, I. L. Peretz’s wife, Helene, and several prominent members of Warsaw’s literary community. Translated from the Yiddish by Mindy Liberman.

Der moment, September 1, 1919. Comprehensive coverage of Jacob Dinezon’s funeral and burial, including a list of the participating groups and associations, the funeral procession to the Jewish cemetery, and the emotional internment service. Translated from the Yiddish by Mindy Liberman.

Der moment, September 7, 1919. In a piece titled “Dinezon the Letter-Writer,” the literary historian Shmuel Niger offers his perspective on Dinezon’s writing career and how he channeled his later literary aspirations into a profusion of letter-writing. Niger advocates for the preservation and publication of Dinezon’s letters for their historical and literary value.

Ilustrirte Velt (Illustrated World)

Ilustrirte Velt, September 4, 1919. Warsaw’s weekly Yiddish illustrated newspaper, the Illustrated World, announces the death of Jacob Dinezon. The portrait accompanying the eulogy states 1851 as the author’s birth year, five years early than most biographical entries. Translated from the Yiddish by Mindy Liberman.

Ilustrirte Velt, September 11, 1919, Part I. Warsaw’s weekly Yiddish illustrated newspaper, the Illustrated World, pays tribute to Jacob Dinezon in words and pictures. The first entry in this number is a short story by S. An-sky, “A Person’s Life.” Several drawings by various artists and photographs by Alter Kacysne are featured throughout the edition. Translated from the Yiddish by Mindy Liberman.

Ilustrirte Velt, September 11, 1919, Part II. Warsaw’s weekly Yiddish illustrated newspaper, the Illustrated World, continues to pay tribute to Jacob Dinezon with reflections on Dinezon’s commitment to Yiddish by author and publisher A. L. Shalkovich (Ben-Avigdor), and an essay about Dinezon’s devotion to children by “M.” Translated from the Yiddish by Mindy Liberman.

Ilustrirte Velt, September 11, 1919, Part III. Warsaw’s weekly Yiddish illustrated newspaper, the Illustrated World, concludes its tribute to Jacob Dinezon with letters by Dinezon to his friend Meir Fried and the Yiddish writers Sholem Asch, Reyzen, and Pinski. Translated from the Yiddish by Mindy Liberman with assistance from Agnes Romer Segal and Eliezer Segal.

Additional Yiddish Newspapers

Dos naye lebn, August 31 and September 1, 1919. The announcement of Jacob Dinezon’s death in the Bialystok, Poland Yiddish newspaper Dos naye lebn (The New Life) and a moving tribute by the newspaper’s founder Peysekh Kaplan. Translated from the Yiddish by Mindy Liberman.

Der tog, September 3, 1919. The front page story about Jacob Dinezon’s death that appeared in the American Yiddish newspaper Der tog (The Day) from their Warsaw correspondent A. Goldberg. Translated from the Yiddish by Mindy Liberman.

Forverts, September 3, 1919. The report of Jacob Dinezon’s death in the Yiddish newspaper Forverts (Forward) published in New York City. The newspaper included comments from the Yiddish author Sholem Asch who first met Dinezon in Warsaw at the beginning of the twentieth century. Translated from the Yiddish by Mindy Liberman.

English Language Publications

American Obituaries. Four American Jewish publications, The Jewish Monitor, Jewish Charities, The Sentinel, and The Jewish Forum published reports about Jacob Dinezon’s death and funeral in Warsaw.

Dinezon-Related Online Resources

J. J. Trunk’s “Peretz at Home: A Young Writer Meets the Great Yiddish Litterateur.” The Yiddish author Y. Y. Trunk describes his experiences meeting I. L. Peretz and Jacob Dinezon in Peretz’s famed Warsaw apartment. Translated from the Yiddish by Lucy Dawidowicz. Published in Commentary Magazine, March 1950.

YIVO Biographical Entry. The online entry for “Yankev Dinezon” in the YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe written by Jeremy Dauber.

Yiddish Leksikon Biographical Entry. The online entry for “Yankev Dinezon (Jacob Dineson)” in Yiddish Leksikon, Joshua Fogel’s English translation of Leksikon fun der nayer yidisher literatur (Biographical Dictionary of Modern Jewish Literature) published by the Congress for Jewish Culture. Learn more about Fogel’s remarkable accomplishment here.

Jacob Dinezon’s Wikipedia Page. The online entry for “Jacob Dinezon” in Wikipedia created by Anna Bonazzi in 2021.

Jacob Dinezon Lecture

On September 3, 2019, Jacob Dinezon’s 100th yortsayt (the 100th anniversary of his death), Scott Hilton Davis delivered a lecture on Dinezon’s life and literary legacy at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. A video of the talk is available here.