Letter from Shloyme Bikl to Gruder, 1938. From Shloyme Bikl in Bucharest to "Gruder" in New York, 13 December 1938, about arrangements for Bikl’s emigration to America with his family. Bikl cites Yiddish writers such as Yoysef Opatoshu for having helped him procure a visa. He gives news about other Jewish writers in Bucharest, such as Yankev Shternberg, Moyshe Altman, Kraft, and Shefler, and says that everyone is thinking of emigrating. Yiddish. Romanian letterhead: Dr. S. Bickel, Advocat. RG 107, Letters Collection. Published with permission. (YIVO)

Find more information about

at the Center for Jewish History:

NOTE: you will be redirected
to the Web site for the

Bikl, Shloyme

(1896–1969), Yiddish writer, critic, and journalist. Born in the shtetl of Ustechko, in Austrian eastern Galicia (now Ukraine), Shloyme Bikl (alternately, Bickel), received a traditional Jewish education and then attended high school in Kołomyja (mod. Ukr., Kolomyia). Between 1915 and 1918, Bikl was an officer in the Austrian army, and from 1919 to 1922 he studied law at Chernivtsi University. From 1922 until 1939 Bikl lived in Bucharest, combining his law practice with journalism, publicistics, and literary activity. In 1939, he immigrated to the United States, and died in New York City 30 years later.

Bikl’s first publications appeared in the Chernivtsi newspaper Di frayhayt (Freedom), which he edited from 1920 to 1922. He was the coeditor, with Yankev Shternberg, of a number of literary publications in Bucharest and regularly contributed to the Warsaw weekly Literarishe bleter (Literary Pages), covering Yiddish culture in Romania. After moving to the United States, he continued to write for various Yiddish periodicals in New York, Buenos Aires, and Tel Aviv. In addition to publishing more than 10 books of essays, memoirs, and prose fiction, he also edited a number of studies on Yiddish literature and compiled a volume of the selected works of Moyshe Altman (1955).

A leading essayist and critic, Bikl took an active part in promoting Yiddish culture in interwar Romania. He was the president of the Bucharest Kultur-lige (Cultural League), was a member of the Central Committee of the All-Romanian Federation of Culture, and served as YIVO’s Romanian representative. Upon his arrival in the United States, Bikl became a leading figure in the writers’ circles of New York City. He was a member of the editorial boards of several Yiddish newspapers and periodicals and served on the board of YIVO. From 1956 to 1959 he was president of the Yiddish PEN club.

Bikl’s literary and cultural interests were broad. In his numerous articles he dealt with such topics as the psychology of creative writing; prophecy and lyric poetry; and national motifs in Soviet Yiddish literature. Although focused predominantly on Romanian—and, later, American—Yiddish culture, he also wrote on Petrarch and Friedrich Schiller, as well as Karl Kraus and Heinrich Heine.

Critics have noted the combination of intellectual depth and lyricism in Bikl’s essays, including their broad scope, interest in history, and aphoristic style. In his three volumes of memoirs entitled Shrayber fun mayn dor (Writers of My Generation; 1958, 1970, 1971), his aim was “to convey the poetic and narrative voices of my fellow writers as I heard and recorded them with my own musical notes.” In his review of these memoirs, Isaac Bashevis Singer somewhat sarcastically noted that Bikl “is forgiving towards writers and sees only the beautiful and the good in each of them. . . . He loves literature and likes to uncover hidden intentions. Where there are no such intentions, he makes them up. He is very well read and intelligent, and can make a frame for a literary picture. Where the picture gets dirty and soiled, Dr. Bikl makes a big carved and gilded frame” (Forverts, 24 May 1959).

Suggested Reading

Shlomo Bickel (Shloyme Bikl), Inzikh un arumzikh: Notitsn fun a polemist un kritsihe bamerkungen (Bucharest, 1936); Shlomo Bickel (Shloyme Bikl), A shtot mit Yidn: Zikhroynes un geshtaltn (New York, 1943); Shlomo Bickel (Shloyme Bikl), Dray brider zaynen mir geven (New York, 1956); Shlomo Bickel (Shloyme Bikl), ed., Pinkes Kolomey (New York, 1957); Shlomo Bickel (Shloyme Bikl), Rumenye: Geshikhte, literatur-kritik, zikhroynes (Buenos Aires, 1961); Moshe Shtarkman, ed., Shloyme Bikl yoyvl-bukh . . . : Tsu zayn 70stn geboyrntog (New York, 1966); Volf Tambur, Yidishe prese in Rumenye: Baytrog tsu a monografye, 1877–1977 (Bucharest, 1977).

YIVO Archival Resources

RG 1133, Rudolf Glanz, Papers, 1930s-1970s; RG 1142, Joseph and Chana Mlotek, Papers, 1950-1990; RG 1176, Rivka Kope, Papers, 1960s-1980s; RG 227, Alexander Mukdoni, Papers, 1918-1958; RG 279, Moshe Starkman, Papers, 1942-1973; RG 435, Herman (Chaim) Lieberman, Papers, 1920s-1950s; RG 457, Ezra Korman, Papers, 1926-1959; RG 479, Benjamin Jacob Bialostotzky, Papers, ca. 1929-1963; RG 513, Chaim Bloch, Papers, 1920s-1960s; RG 526, Louis Lamed Foundation for the Advancement of Hebrew and Yiddish Literature, Records, 1940-1960; RG 556, Aaron Glanz-Leieles, Papers, 1914-1966; RG 569, Shlomo Bickel, Papers, 1920s-1969; RG 599, Noah Goldberg, Papers, 1930-1968; RG 601, Leon Feinberg, Papers, 1920s-1968; RG 609, Ephraim Auerbach, Papers, 1924-1969; RG 624, Mordecai Jaffe, Papers, 1909-1960; RG 698, B. Alkwit, Papers, 1920s-1950s; RG 701, I.L. Peretz Yiddish Writers’ Union, Records, 1903-1970s; RG 703, Kadia Molodowsky, Papers, 1950s-1960s; RG 753, Reuben Iceland, Papers, 1906-1954.



Translated from Russian by I. Michael Aronson