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Rosin, Shmuel

(1890–1941), Yiddish poet and short-story writer. Born in Shumiachi, Belorussia, into the family of a village trader and coachman, Shmuel Rosin received a traditional Talmudic education, but around 1905 was influenced by socialist ideas and became involved in the Bundist movement. He settled in Ekaterinoslav (mod. Dnipropetrovs’k) and worked as a painter and tinsmith. Subsequently, in the second decade of the 1900s, he spent time in Odessa, Kharkov, Penza, and Jewish agricultural colonies in southern Russia.

Following his poetic debut in 1917 in the Minsk Bundist newspaper Veker (Alarm Clock), Rosin wrote poems for periodicals. His first two poetic collections appeared in 1919: Moyerkeplekh (Seashells), published in Kharkov, and his children’s book Bobe-mayses (Fairy Tales), published in Ekaterinoslav. His play Di oyfvakhung (The Awakening) was staged by a Kharkov theater in 1919. Rosin also contributed to the Komsomol-sponsored collection Yugnt (Youth; 1922), produced by Arn Kushnirov, who had been his roommate in Kharkov in 1919 and 1920.

Rosin’s most active period began in 1921 when he moved to Moscow. That September, he was elected to the managing committee of the Moscow Circle of Yiddish Writers and Artists. He wrote prose and poetry on various topics. In 1926, the Kharkov literary journal Di royte velt (The Red World) published his story “Gesheens” (Events), whose heroes participate in the revolution. Shortly thereafter, that journal featured some of Rosin’s apolitical poems, including one about a stag with golden antlers. Still, it was the revolution and civil war that dominated his writings, as reflected in the poem “Shayn” (Light; 1921)—which he would later regard as his first mature work—and other poems and stories written in the 1920s.

Soviet critics generally hailed Rosin’s literary output, though they noted that his heroes had difficulty balancing their personal quests with the needs of the revolution. According to Yekhezkl Dobrushin, who in 1925 edited the Moscow almanac Nayerd (New Land), to which Rosin contributed, Rosin’s poetic collection Tsu ale, tsu undz (To Everyone, to Us; 1929) marked the writer’s complete transformation into a proletarian literary figure.

In addition to publishing a dozen of his own volumes, Rosin contributed to numerous collections. In 1932, he settled accounts with his Bundist past by taking part in the anti-Bundist almanac Der veg fun farat (The Road to Treason), edited by Kushnirov and Yoysef Rabin. For the almanac Sovetish (Soviet), published in 1934 on the eve of the First Congress of Soviet Writers, Rosin poeticized the story of the non-Jewish revolutionary Mishka, who was born out of wedlock after his mother was impregnated by her employer, a landowner. Indeed, illegitimate children were typically regarded as a good reservoir of revolutionaries. That same year, Rosin’s poem “Zin un tekhter” (Sons and Daughters) also appeared in unabridged form.

Rosin collaborated with Shmuel Halkin on a Yiddish translation of the Armenian epic David of Sasun in 1940. In his final long poem, Trayhayt (Loyalty), published the following year, he portrayed a young Jewish worker who matures as a soldier of the revolution. Rosin volunteered for the Red Army in July 1941 and was killed in action that October.

Suggested Reading

Aron Kushnirov, “Shmuel Rosin,” Heymland 2 (1947): 144–149; Boris Mogilner, ed., Di lire (Moscow, 1985).