Bickel, Solomon

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BICKEL, SOLOMON (Shloyme ; 1896–1969), Yiddish essayist and literary critic. Born in eastern Galicia, Bickel was an officer in the Austrian army during World War i. As an active Labor Zionist, he was editor of Di Frayhayt (1920–22), the Yiddish organ of the Po'alei Zion of Bukovina, and later editor and co-editor of Yiddish literary periodicals in Romania. Immigrating to the United States in 1939, he served, from 1940, as literary critic of the New York Yiddish daily, Der Tog and in the 1960s as head of *yivo's Commission on Research.

Among his ten books, which appeared between 1936 and 1967, the following are the most significant: A Shtot Mit Yidn ("A City with Jews," 1943, 1960), a survey of the vanished culture of Kolomyya – written with mild irony, deep sympathy, and tolerant understanding – which highlights acts of moral greatness and poetic, joyous moments in the lives of ordinary Jews; Dray Brider Zaynen Mir Geven ("We Were Three Brothers," 1956), further recollections of Kolomyya's Jews; Remenye ("Romania," 1961), which chronicled developments of Jewish cultural life in Romania between the two world wars, intimately experienced by the author; Shrayber fun Mayn Dor ("Writers of My Generation," 2 vols., 1958–65), essays on Yiddish writers.

Bickel was one of the foremost literary critics and essayists, writing significant works on such writers as Isaac *Bashevis Singer, Itzik *Manger, Avrom *Sutzkever, the *Inzikhist movement, and editing a memorial volume for fellow literary critic Shmuel *Niger. He set each writer in his specific environment, defining his uniqueness at the same time. A jubilee volume, Shloyme Bikel Yoyvl-Bukh (1967) summarized and evaluated his role in Yiddish literature, including numerous poetic and prose tributes to him.


lnyl, 1 (1956), 300–2; J. Glatstein, In Tokh Genumen (1956), 473–9; A. Glanz-Leyeles, Velt un Vort (1958), 233–40; S.D. Singer, Dikhter un Prozaiker (1959), 303–12; D. Sadan, in: Avnei Miftan (1962), 279–84; S. Liptzin, Maturing of Yiddish Literature (1970), 230–2. add. bibliography: E. Shulman, in: yivo Bleter, 43 (1966), 309–12.

[Sol Liptzin]