“[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
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. Included in these translations are short biographies, newspaper articles, essays, and other research documents.
Literary Biography in English
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 the 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 Translated into English
Leksikon fun der yidisher literatur, prese un filologye (Biographical Dictionary 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 (Biographical Dictionary 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.
Newspaper Obituaries Translated into English
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.
American Obituaries. Four American Jewish publications, The Jewish Monitor, Jewish Charities, The Sentinel, and The Jewish Forum published reports on Jacob Dinezon’s death and funeral in Warsaw.
Essays and Memoirs Translated into English
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. 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. Translated from the Yiddish by Tina Lunson.
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.” Translated from the Yiddish by Jane Peppler.
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. Translated from the Yiddish by Archie Barkan and transcribed and edited by Robin Bryan Davis, these chapters from Tsitron’s Three Literary Generations: Memories of Yiddish Authors include Tsitron’s description of how he introduced I. L. Peretz to Dinezon in Warsaw in the late-1880s.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Book Entries in English
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.
Letters Translated into English
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 re-published in English in the Washington, D. C. Sunday Star on August 19, 1906.
Jacob Dinezon’s Letter to Sh. Niger. In this reply to a letter from Shmuel Niger, Jacob Dinezon relates his memories about the Yiddish writer, Isaac Meir Dik, and offers insights into his own career as a Jewish writer. Published in Di Tsukunft (The Future), 1929. Translated from the Yiddish by Jane Peppler.
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.
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 for the purpose 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 Sholem Aleichem’s son-in-law, I. D. Berkowitz.
Miscellaneous Items Translated into English
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” [“penny library”]. Translated from the Yiddish by Tina Lunson.
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.
Near and Dear: 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.
Dinezon’s Stories in English
“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 Tina Lunson. Published online by JewishFiction.net.
“Go Eat Kreplach” by Jacob Dinezon. Translated from the Yiddish by Jane Peppler. Published online by JewishFiction.net.
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.