Hurwitz, Chaim

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HURWITZ, CHAIM (Haykl ; 1749–1822), Yiddish writer and pioneer of the *Haskalah in Russia. Born in Uman (Ukraine), he was a lumber merchant who made frequent trips to Germany, where he came into contact with the followers of the German Haskalah. In 1817 he published a free Yiddish adaptation of Joachim Campe's Entdeckung von Amerika ("Discovery of America") which he called Tsofnas Paneakh ("Revealer of Secrets") in three parts and 52 stories, the primary purpose of which was to inform the Jewish readers about the New World; thus he eliminated non-essential material and concentrated on facts only. According to the memoirs of A.B. Gottlober, the book was popular among the Jews of Russia, Poland, and Galicia. It is written in a colloquial style and constitutes an important work of the pre-classical period of Yiddish literature. Only a single copy of the work is extant, at the British Museum.


M. Weinreich, Bilder fun der Yidisher Literatur Geshikhte (1928); Rejzen, Leksikon, 1 (1926), 810–11; I. Zinberg, Geshikhte fun der Literatur bay Yidn, 7:2 (1943), 267–75, 324–7; S. Niger, Dertseyler un Romanistn (1946), 25–27; Schlosberg, in: YIVO Bleter, 12 (1937), 546–58; Waxman, Literature, 4 (19602), 476. add. bibliography: lnyl, 3 (1960), 106–9; M. Pines, Di Geshikhte fun der Yidisher Literatur bizn Yor 1890 (1911), 86–88; B. Dimyen, Der Pinkes (1913), 338–40.

[Elias Schulman]