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Weinberg, Tsevi Zevulun

(1884–1971), Hebrew author. Born in Praga (near Warsaw), Tsevi Weinberg was one of the most significant Hebrew writers in Poland during the interwar period. He taught Hebrew studies in Augustów and Warsaw, and was among the founders of the Association of Hebrew Authors and Journalists of Poland. With Eli‘ezer Steinman, Weinberg edited the monthly publication Kolot (Voices) in 1923–1924. He also assisted Malki’el Lusternik in founding the periodical Re’shit: Bamah le-‘inyane ha-ḥayim, sifrut u-mada‘ (Beginning: A Forum on Matters of Life, Literature, and Science), published between 1932 and 1934, and served on its editorial board. In 1934, he moved to Palestine and taught at a school in Tel Mond. Weinberg’s departure from Poland triggered a wave of reactions within his literary circle, as it had lost one of the most important voices of contemporary Hebrew literature.

In the period in which the bulk of Hebrew language literary activity shifted to the new center in Palestine and the number of Hebrew readers and writers in Eastern Europe decreased, Weinberg remained one of the most prominent Hebrew writers in Poland. His works include Tsiyurim ve-sipurim (Pictures and Stories, 1913); Bayit u-reḥov: Shenot 1918–1926 (House and Street: 1918–1926; 1931), subsequently revised as ‘Al admat nekhar (On Foreign Land; 1970); Meḥitsot (Divisions; 1943); Bi-Derakhim avelot (Paths of Mourning; 1942), subsequently revised in Darkhe enosh (The Ways of Humanity, 1996); Asher ‘avar (What’s Past [his complete stories]; 1951); Sham u-foh (There and Here; 1953); Eḥad me-hem (One of Them; 1963); as well as articles and critical essays compiled in Adam be-ohalo (A Person at Home; 1955).

The novel Bayit u-reḥov: Shenot 1918–1926 depicts the suffering of Jews persecuted in Poland during the liberation of that country and its war against Soviet Russia. Weinberg positioned the narrator, Michael Sternberg—a pseudonym he used in some of his articles—at the center of his novel, and it is he who provides a firsthand account of the events. Through the use of chronicle form and an eyewitness narrator, the novel describes Polish antisemitism in all its horror. The pseudo-autobiographical prose and personal tone allow him at the same time to avoid adopting an unequivocal ideological stand about the future of Jews in Poland.

Some of Weinberg’s stories suggest the influence of Anton Chekhov, as both writers combine intricate circumstances with restrained language. The stories “Shalosh” (Three; 1914) and “Ben kotle ha-pundak” (At the Inn; 1936–1938) describe the fate of three women who maintain complex relationships with the characters around them. Both stories shift frequently from one perspective to another and establish associations that pass from one idea to its ironic opposite.

Suggested Reading

Ḥanan Ḥever, “Mi-Golah belo’ moledet el moledet belo’ golah: ‘Al ‘ikaron manḥe ba-siporet ha-‘ivrit ben shete ha-milḥamot,” in Ben shete milḥamot ‘olam, ed. Chone Shmeruk and Samuel Werses, pp. 45–72 (Jerusalem, 1997); Aaron Orinowsky (Aharon Ben-Or), Toldot ha-sifrut ha-‘ivrit ha-ḥadashah, vol. 3, pp. 244–251 (Tel Aviv, 1954); Gershon Shaked, Ha-Siporet ha-‘ivrit, 1880–1970, vol. 1 (Jerusalem, 1977); Samuel Werses (Shemu’el Verses), “Kitve-‘et ‘ivriyim le-sifrut be-Polin ben shete milḥamot ‘olam,” in Ben shete milḥamot ‘olam, ed. Samuel Werses and Chone Shmeruk, pp. 96–127 (Jerusalem, 1997).



Translated from Hebrew by Rami Hann