PINSKI, DAVID

PINSKI, DAVID (1872–1959). Yiddish author. Born in Mogilev, Russia, Pinski moved to Moscow with his family at 14. He received not only a traditional but also an excellent secular education. He early became interested in literature and in socialism. After living briefly in Vitebsk, he pursued university studies in Vienna and later Berlin, also living in Warsaw, where writer I.L. Peretz became his mentor. Pinski published his first stories in mordecai spector 's Der Hoyzfraynd and Peretz's Yontif Bletlekh in 1894. Pinski's early writing introduced the Jewish proletariat as a subject in Yiddish literature. He wrote his first full-length play, Ayzik Sheftl (1907), which Martin Buber later translated into German, shortly before moving to New York to edit the Socialist Labor Party's Yiddish newspaper Abend Blat with labor leader josephschlossberg . He also pursued a Ph.D. in German at Columbia University. Pinski married Hudl (Adele) Koyfman in 1897, with whom he had three children, including a son who died at age seven. Hudl helped support the family as a masseuse while Pinski pursued his careers as a Yiddish author, editor, and activist. As activist, Pinski initially sympathized with the Jewish Labor bund . In 1912, he joined the Labor Zionist movement, helping to found that movement's North American branch, the Farband, in 1913 and served as its president (1918–21 and 1933–49). He played a role in organizing the Czernowitz Language Conference of 1908 and long proclaimed the slogan "Yiddish but also Hebrew for the Diaspora; Hebrew but also Yiddish in Ereẓ Israel." Pinski served as an editor of Der Arbeter (1904–1911), Yidishe Vokhnshrift (1912), and later the Farband newspaper Der Yidisher Arbeter Shtime, Po'alei Zion's Der Yidisher Kemfer, Di Tsayt; and the literary journal Di Tsukunft. One of his most famous protégés was the humorist Jacob Adler. Pinski also edited the 13-volume collected works of Peretz. He cofounded CYSHO (the Central Yiddish Cultural Organization) in 1941 and the All-World Jewish Culture Congress in 1948. In 1948, he served as president of International PEN's Yiddish section. Pinski wrote over 25 full-length plays, three novels, scores of short stories and one-act plays, two volumes of travel essays, a screenplay, and one of the first histories of the Yiddish theater. Until the 1940s, he was perhaps the world's most frequently and widely translated Yiddish author. Key plays include Di Familye Tsvi ("The Tsvi Family" or "The Last Jew," 1904), written following the Kishinev pogrom, published and smuggled into Russia by the Bund; Yankl der Shmid ("Yankl the Blacksmith," 1907), his most frequently performed work, which he adapted into a film for director Edgar G. Ulmer in 1938; and Der Oytser ("The Treasure," 1908; Eng. 1915), perhaps his greatest work, a dark comedy about greed in a Jewish town that critic George Pearce Baker compared in achievement to Ben Jonson's Volpone. Yankl der Shmid, depicting a married blacksmith's relationship with his neighbor's wife, is considered the Yiddish theater's first exploration of illicit sexual passion. Pinski's plays were produced by some of the world's leading theatrical companies. Der Oytser was first produced by Max Reinhardt at Berlin's Deutsches Theater in 1911. The Theater Guild produced it in English translation by Ludwig Lewisohn in 1920, as well as Dos Letste Sakhakl ("The Last Reckoning," 1926). Konstantin Stanislavski selected Pinski's one-act Der Eybiker Yid ("The Eternal Jew") for the Habimah Theatre's inaugural performance in 1918. Other companies to produce Pinski's plays included the Provincetown Players, the Yiddish Art Theater, the Folksbine, and the Vilna Troupe. Pinski revisited three major themes throughout his dramatic career, often in combination: Jewish history (including dramas about such figures as Noah, King David, Mary Magdalene, and the Baal Shem Tov), the lives of humble or working-class folk (e.g., Der Oytser), and the psychology of sexual desire (e.g. Yankl der Shmid; Profesor Brenner, 1918). Pinski's early drama employed naturalism: the play Ayzik Sheftl, about a frustrated inventor trapped in a factory job drew stylistic   comparison with Die Weber by Gerhart Hauptmann, whom Pinski knew in Berlin. Later Pinski employed techniques of symbolism as well. Though he never abandoned an ethical viewpoint in his work, his characterization and action relied on psychological exploration rather than mere moral or political preaching. His first two novels, Arnold Levenberg (serialized in Der Tog in 1926; book 1938; Eng. 1928) and Dos Hoyz fun Noyakh Edon (1938; The Generations of Noah Edon, 1931), were well received in English translation and deal with assimilation in American Jewish life prior to the Depression. The second novel depicts the erosion of Jewish knowledge and practice in three generations of immigrant Noyakh Edon's family, the tragic emptiness in his children's lives, though they become well-educated and affluent Americans, and his grandson's belated suspicion that Judaism could have filled a void in his own life. In 1949, Pinski settled in Haifa, Israel, where a street is named for him. His 80th birthday was a major state event. He continued to write until paralyzed by a stroke in 1956 and died a few months after his wife in 1959. While some critics find the quality of much of Pinski's prolific body of work to be uneven, he remains a major figure in the history of Yiddish literature, and Chaim Zhitlovski, among others, has classified Pinski as the fourth classic writer of Yiddish literature after Sh.Y. Abramovitsh , sholem aleichem , and I.L. Peretz . -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Rejzen, Leksikon 2 (1927), 885–98; S. Niger, Dertseyler un Romanistn (1946), 282–319; Z. Zylbercweig, Leksikon fun Yidishn Teater, 3 (1959), 1762–806; M. Singer (ed.), David Pinski Zikhrono li-Verakhah (1960); S. Liptzin, Flowering of Yiddish Literature (1963), 118–30; C. Madison, Yiddish Literature (1968), 182–96, list of English translations, 525. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY. M. Shtarkman and L. Rubenshtayn (eds.), Dovid Pinski: Tsum Tsentn Yortsayt (1969); Sh. Rozhanski, in: Di Goldene Keyt, 135 (1993), 5–13; N. Sandrow (ed. and tr.), God, Man and Devil: Yiddish Plays in Translation (1999), 20–4, 184–9. (Moshe Starkman / Ben Furnish (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • Pinski, David — (1872 1959)    Born in Poland, David Pinski began his playwriting life in Warsaw before immigrating to the United States in 1899, where he wrote most of his 38 plays for Yiddish theatre companies. He demonstrated impressive versatility in style… …   The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater

  • Pinski, David — ▪ Israeli author Pinski also spelled  Pinsky   born April 5, 1872, Mogilyov, Russia [now in Belarus] died Aug. 11, 1959, Haifa, Israel       Yiddish playwright, novelist, and editor.       Reared in Moscow, Vitebsk, and Vienna, Pinski moved as a… …   Universalium

  • Pinski, David — (1872–1959)    Yiddish writer. Pinski emigrated from Poland to New York in 1899, and became a leading Yiddish editor, novelist and playwright. He was also active in the Far band Labour Zionist Organization. His comedy Oitzer (‘The Treasury’) was… …   Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament

  • Pinski, David — (1872 1959)    American Yiddish dramatist and novelist. He was born in Mohilev on the Dnieper, and lived in Warsaw. In 1899 he emigrated to the US, where he wrote for the Yiddish stage. His early works deal with Jewish suffering in Russia, but… …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • David Pinski — (selten auch: David Pinsky; Pseudonym als Sachbuchautor zeitweise: D. Puls; * 5. April 1872 in Mogilew; † 11. August 1959 in Haifa) war ein jiddischer Erzähler, Dramatiker und Journalist, der sich besonders sozialer Themen annahm und den Typus… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • David Pinski — For the media personality player, see Dr. Drew. David Pinski Born April 5, 1872(1872 04 05) Mahiliou, Russian Empire Died August 11, 1959 …   Wikipedia

  • DAVID — (Heb. דָּוִד), youngest son of Jesse of the Ephrathite family that lived in Beth Lehem in Judah (I Sam. 16:1; 20:27–28; I Chron. 2:13–15; cf. Micah 5:1). In the Bible SOURCES I Samuel 16–II Kings 2 is our main source for David, supplemented by I… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • HERMAN, DAVID — (Nathan David; 1876–1937), Yiddish theater producer. Born in Warsaw, Herman had a traditional education, studied dramaturgy in Warsaw, wrote initially in Polish and Hebrew, but turned to Yiddish when he joined the bund . He organized a dramatic… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • KESSLER, DAVID — (1860–1920), Yiddish actor. He was one of the leading actor managers of the New York Yiddish theater during its heyday early in the twentieth century. Born in Kishinev, at the age of 20 he joined the troupe of Judel Gold faden (brother of Abraham …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Yiddish literature — Introduction       the body of written works produced in the Yiddish language of Ashkenazic (Ashkenazi) Jewry (central and eastern European Jews and their descendants).       Yiddish literature culminated in the period from 1864 to 1939, inspired …   Universalium

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