Skip to main content

Adler, Jacob


ADLER, JACOB (1872?–1974), Yiddish poet and humorist, often writing as B. Kovner . Adler was born in Dinov, Austria-Hungary (now Dynow, Poland), but in 1894 immigrated to the United States where he worked in sweatshops, agitated for socialism, and wrote nostalgic poems about the "old country" for various journals, especially his mentor David Pinski's Der Arbeter. These poems were collected in his first volume, Zikhroynes fun Mayn Haym ("Memories of My Home," 1907), with an introduction by Pinski. They are full of nostalgia for the Jewish milieu of his childhood, which he views as carefree and idyllic, despite its poverty: the festive Sabbaths and holidays, spent in the sweet comfort of the synagogue; the pure yearnings of first love; the final, sad parting from family and birthplace. The volume ends with a lament for himself, sick and weak though young, his life ebbing away in an alien land. He sought relief from the misery of existence in sardonic humor, contributing under various pseudonyms to the popular humorous periodicals Der Groyse Kundes and Der Kibetser, and co-editing Der Yidisher Gazlen with Moyshe Nadir. In 1911, Abraham Cahan, editor of Forverts, invited him to join his staff and assigned him the pseudonym of B. Kovner, thus enabling him to exchange a former pseudonym "Der Galitsiyaner" for a new identity as a "Litvak." Kovner's humorous feuilletons immediately became a success and his characters, such as the shrewish busybody Yente Telebende, her henpecked husband Mendl, Moyshe Kapoyer, and Peyshe the Farmer soon became household names in American Yiddish homes. His anecdotes and witticisms circulated widely. His characters inspired many songs and stage routines. Many of Adler's humorous sketches were collected in six Yiddish volumes between 1914 and 1933 and two in English translation (Laugh, Jew, Laugh, 1936, and Cheerful Moments, 1940). His Lider ("Poems," 2 vols., 1924), which appeared at the height of his fame, revealed the sadness and loneliness of the humorist. These poems were grouped into cycles with such titles as "Alone" and "Between Gray Walls." Even the few poems designated as humorous were bitterly satiric. He continued to write prolifically until his late nineties.


Rejzen, Leksikon, 1 (1928), 42–44; lnyl, 1 (1956), 24f.; M. Nadir, Teg fun Mayne Teg (1935), 220–273; H. Rogoff, Der Gayst fun "Forverts" (1954), 257–259.

[Sol Liptzin /

Ben Furnish (2nd ed.)]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Adler, Jacob." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . 20 Mar. 2019 <>.

"Adler, Jacob." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . (March 20, 2019).

"Adler, Jacob." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved March 20, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.