Lieberman, Chaim

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LIEBERMAN, CHAIM

LIEBERMAN, CHAIM (Herman ; 1890–1963), Yiddish essayist and literary critic. Born in Kolki (Volhynia), he immigrated to the U.S. in 1905. His first articles, on education, appeared in the New York Yiddish daily Yidishes Tageblat. On the eve of World War i, he helped to found the Farband's Yiddish secular schools and its Jewish Teachers' Seminary and taught Yiddish and Yiddish literature while espousing Labor Zionism. Lieberman's critical articles, in the main Yiddish newspapers, on Jewish and non-Jewish writers, combining vast knowledge and enthusiastic, positive appraisals, were collected in three volumes (1923–30). In the 1930s Lieberman underwent a spiritual crisis, became extremely pious, and joined the religious Zionists. His former fervent championship of favored writers gave way to sharp and cutting polemics against writers he disliked. He began with attacks on Jewish pro-communists (Sheydim in Moskve ("Demons in Moscow," 1937)), proceeded to assail Chaim *Zhitlowsky and Shmuel *Niger ("Dr. Kh. Zhitlovski un Sh. Niger, a Debate in Zeks Briv" ("Dr. Ch. Zhitlovski and Sh. Niger, a Debate in Six Letters," 1937)), and reached a climax of vituperation in his articles and books against Sholem *Asch's christological novels (Sholem Ash un kristntum, 1950; English transl. The Christianity of Sholem Asch, 1953). There followed attacks upon Satmar Ḥasidim because of their anti-Zionism (Der Rebe un der Sotn ("Rabbi and Satan," 1959)), against the American Council of Judaism (English trans. Strangers to Glory, 1955), and, finally, ten articles against Ben *Hecht (English transl. in book form, The Man and His 'Perfidy,' 1964).

bibliography:

lnyl, 5 (1963), 66–71; J. Glatstein, In Tokh Genumen (1947), 428–34; A.B. Shurin, Keshet Gibborim (1964), 147–52.

[Shlomo Bickel /

Jean Baumgarten (2nd ed.)]