Letter from Israel Joshua Singer to Dovid Eynhorn, 1927. From Israel Joshua Singer in Warsaw to Dovid Eynhorn in Paris (?), 8 November 1927. Singer has just completed a novel and when he has written something shorter, he will send it to Eynhorn for publication. He refers to a literary journal that Eynhorn and Lyakhover want to get off the ground in Warsaw and says that, in his opinion, it will not succeed unless the editorial board is based in Warsaw. Lyakhover will not be able to edit it from afar. Though the honoraria the journal will offer will be attractive to out-of-work Jewish writers in Warsaw and there is a need for a new journal of Yiddish literature, the venture has little chance of succeeding and will require a great deal of capital. Yiddish. RG 277, David Einhorn Papers, F20. (YIVO)

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Eynhorn, Dovid

(1886–1973), poet and publicist. Dovid Eynhorn was born in Karelitsh and educated in Wołkowysk (now Volkovysk, Belarus) in part by his father Binyomin, a military physician who had “returned to the faith” and become a government-appointed rabbi. In his younger years, Eynhorn wrote in Hebrew. His first Yiddish poems were published mainly in the Bundist press. The failure of the 1905 Revolution was a pivotal point in his life, since he came to perceive literature as a reply to politics.

In 1908, Eynhorn contributed to Literarishe monatsshriften (Literary Monthly Journals), which proclaimed a renaissance of Yiddish literature. His first book, Shtile gezangen (Quiet Songs; 1909) adopted a lyrical-romantic style and received enthusiastic reviews; many of the poems were then set to music. Eynhorn, who placed great importance on the external appearance of Yiddish books, helped to found the Kletskin publishing house in Vilna in 1910; in the same year, he worked as secretary to Sholem Yankev Abramovitsh (Mendele Moykher-Sforim).

As a result of Eynhorn’s connections to the Bund, he was imprisoned in 1912 for half a year in Vilna and was later exiled. His volume Mayne lider (My Poems; 1913) included messianic and nationalistic motifs and was praised by the critics. He traveled to Paris and in 1913 moved to Bern; while in the latter city, he audited university courses on art history, philosophy, and Germanic studies. In this period, he also published children’s stories in Grininke beymelekh (Little Green Trees) and translated the Book of Psalms into Yiddish. He wrote mainly for the Vilna publication Di yudishe velt (The Jewish World) and, when it closed, sought to publish in the American Yiddish press.

In 1916, Eynhorn edited the biweekly Di fraye shtime (The Free Voice), published in Bern and Geneva, expressing his credo as a Jewish refugee from Eastern Europe. In 1917, after depositing his literary archives in Bern (discovered in 1996), he settled first in Radom and then in Warsaw. Concurrently he published Tsu a yidisher tokhter (To a Jewish Daughter; 1917), composed as a wedding gift to his wife. In 1919, he participated in discussions in Warsaw on a commemoration for Y. L. Peretz (Eynhorn had been critical of Peretz’s interest in Hasidism, though he recognized Peretz as the “father of Yiddish literature”).

As a critic and essayist—publishing in, among others, the collection Di teyve (The Ark; 1920), which Eynhorn produced with Alter Kacyzne—he condemned the notion of creativity for its own sake and called for a clear and logical classical writing style that would preserve grammatical rules. Against this background, a controversy between Eynhorn and Melech Ravitch developed, which Ravitch published in the booklet Melekh Ravitsh kegn dem kritiker Dovid Eynhorn (Melech Ravitch against the Critic Dovid Eynhorn; 1920).

From Henryk Erlich in Warsaw to Dovid Eynhorn in Paris, 7 December 1931, saying that he and other Bundist leaders are very pleased with the lyrics to a new Bundist anthem that Eynhorn has sent, at Erlich's request, in honor of the 35th anniversary of the Bund. Now they are trying to decide, in terms of the music, whether a hymn or a march would be more useful. Erlich thinks a march would be better because in recent years, the Bund has engaged in more and more marches in the streets, and "marching to the music and words of Di shvue (The Oath, the Bundist anthem) is very difficult." Yiddish. Polish and Yiddish letterhead: The Bund in Poland, Central Committee, Warsaw. RG 277, David Einhorn Papers, F30. (YIVO. Published with permission.)

As early as 1920, Eynhorn warned about the destruction of Europe. He moved to Berlin, was hired to write for the New York Forverts (Forward), and worked as a translator. Due to his fears of a coming catastrophe in Germany, he relocated to Paris in 1924. Eynhorn published descriptions of his travels, emphasizing historical and cultural motifs; in particular, the description of his journey from Berlin to San Francisco dealt with relations between Europe (especially Russia) and America. He expressed his disappointment with communism in “An ofener briv tsu Olgin” (An Open Letter to Olgin [editor of the Communist Yiddish newspaper Frayhayt]; 1924).

Eynhorn also edited the monthly publication Di epokhe (The Era; 1928), devoted to literature, art, and society. In 1934, he was asked to contribute to the Algemeyne entsiklopedye (The General Encyclopedia), and wrote the entries on the Wandering Jew as well as on the Iliad. In Paris, he wrote a column for the Bundist Undzer shtime (Our Voice). Escaping occupied France in 1940 and settling in the United States, he continued to write poems (among them, “Av harakhmim” [Father of Mercy]; 1943) and essays. Eynhorn’s works appeared in many publications, sometimes under the pseudonyms Monokarmus, A. Lezer, Akher, Shigyon le-Dovid, and others. Among his topics were the fate of modern Judaism, the idea of returning to the faith, and the destruction of European Jewry. Some of his writings were translated into other languages.

Eynhorn did not believe that Jewry could exist without the synagogue; accordingly, he fought against assimilation and called for the preservation of Jewish traditions. The Yiddish language embodied for him the essence of Jewish heritage and he feared its being overridden by Hebrew. Although he recognized the state of Israel, he thought that maintaining Jewish culture was not dependent on a national territory.

Suggested Reading

David Einhorn, “‘Izavon, 1900–1917,” literary archive, primarily in Yiddish (found in Switzerland 1996, transferred to YIVO, not yet cataloged); David Einhorn, “Tsvishn tsvey veltn,” Forverts (4 January 1956–17 March 1957), this column appeared weekly from 29 April 1956, except for 23 and 30 September; Khayim Leyb Fuks, “Eynhorn, Dovid,” in Leksikon fun der nayer yidisher literatur, vol. 1, cols. 73–76 (New York, 1956); Shifra Kuperman, “Ha-Arkhiyon ha-avud shel David Enhorn,” Ḥulyot 8 (2004): 177–188; Zalman Reisen (Rejzen), “Eynhorn Dovid,” in Leksikon fun der yidisher literatur, prese un filologye, vol. 1, cols. 81–86 (Vilna, 1926); A. Weiter, David Einhorn, and Zalman Anokhi, Fun dor tsu dor, ed. Shmuel Rozhanski (Buenos Aires, 1974).



Translated from Hebrew by Carrie Friedman-Cohen