Katz, Aleph

views updated


KATZ, ALEPH (pseudonym of Morris Abraham Katz ; 1898–1969), Yiddish poet. Born in Mlyniv (Mlinov, Volhynia), Katz attended a Russian school before immigrating to the U.S. in 1913. He worked at various jobs while attending City College (New York). His first poems were in Hebrew, but in 1917 he published his first Yiddish poem in Der Groyser Kundes. Encouraged by Jacob *Glatstein, he published his Yiddish lyrics in organs of the *In-Zikh movement and in the journal, Zangen, which he founded and edited in 1920, as well as in dozens of other journals. His first two volumes, A Mayse fun Yam ("A Tale of the Sea," 1925) and Akertsayt ("Plowing Time," 1929), were influenced by the American Imagists and the Yiddish Inzikhists. Following his first pamphlet, Dos Telerl fun Himl ("Heavenly Saucer," 1934), he found his own original tone in the lyrics of Amol Iz Geven a Mayse ("Once There Was a Story," 1944), written under the impact of the Holocaust, and in his play Gut Morgn Alef ("Good Morning, Aleph," 1950), which had as its dramatis personae the scattered but indestructible letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Katz reaffirmed his links with the Jewish people by writing for the children of Yiddish schools. Under the influence of *Naḥman of Bratslav's narrative approach, Katz often hints at a reality beyond observed phenomena, at a mystic realm which can be best expressed in allegorical symbols. His works also include Di Emese Khasene ("The True Wedding," 1967), Der Morgnshtern ("The Morning Star," 1975), and children's books such as Kholem Aleykhem ("Dreams Be with You," 1958). Katz was also a Yiddish editor of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency for more than forty years.


lnyl, 4 (1961), 344–7; B. Rivkin, Yidishe Dikhter in Amerike (1959), 295–302; J. Glatstein, In Tokh Genumen (1960), 335–9; S. Bickel, Shrayber fun Mayn Dor (1965), 95–9.

[Sol Liptzin /

Jerold C. Frakes (2nd ed.)]