Halpern, Moyshe-Leyb

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HALPERN, MOYSHE-LEYB (1886–1932), Yiddish poet. Born in Galicia, Halpern emigrated to the United States in 1908, after participating in the Czernowitz Yiddish Language Conference, and lived mainly in New York. He associated with Di Yunge, but his style was at odds with their aestheticism. Early influenced by German literature, especially Heine and Expressionism, his first collection of poems, In Nyu York ("In New York," 1919) brought him recognition as a major Yiddish poet, followed by Di Goldene Pave ("The Golden Peacock," 1924). Two volumes entitled Moyshe-Leyb Halpern were published posthumously in 1934. Halpern was a rebel who, refusing to compromise his art, lived in poverty, earning some money by writing for satirical and left-wing Yiddish journals. In his poetry, Halpern invented a series of personae through which he expresses the conflicting ideas inherent in his work: social engagement and political skepticism, nostalgia for his heritage and brutal rejection of it, a tormented relationship to America, lyricism juxtaposed with self-mockery and disturbing language and imagery. His writing expresses his rejection of social injustice, his sympathy for the underprivileged, and his horror of war.


Reyzen, Leksikon, 1 (1926), 769–72; Z. Weinper, Moyshe-Leyb Halpern (1940); E. Greenberg, Moyshe Leyb Halpern (1942); lnyl, 3 (1960), 31–38. add. bibliography: R. Wisse, A Little Love in Big Manhattan (1988); C. Kronfeld, On the Margins of Modernism (1996); J. Cammy, in: S. Kerbel (ed.), Jewish Writers of the Twentieth Century (2003), 218–20.

[Sol Liptzin and

Shlomo Bickel /

Heather Valencia (2nd ed.)]