Rashkin, Leyb

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RASHKIN, LEYB (Leib Raskin , born Shoyl Fridman ; 1905–1942), Yiddish writer. Born in Kazimierz Dolny (Kuzmir), Poland, where he managed a cooperative bank and was a hardwareman, Rashkin started writing stories in his early youth. His major work is a searingly satirical anatomy of the shtetl Godlbozhits (patently the author's Kuzmir) between the two world wars. Completed in 1934 and published in Warsaw in 1935, Di Mentshn fun Godlbozhits ("The People of Godlbozhits") is an epic portrait of the disintegrating Polish Jewish shtetl. The author draws his townsfolk with acerbic pungency, animating a large crosscut of the town's inhabitants in a broad-canvas comedie humaine. The Polish Jewish Pen Club divided the 1938 Peretz Prize among Aaron *Zeitlin, Joshua *Perle, and Rashkin. Y.-Y. *Trunk wrote of the novelist: "Er iz geven … di letste atraktsye fun a nayem yidishn shriftshteler in Poyln" ("He was the last new Jewish writer to attract attention in Poland"). The novel still attracts readers, one recent study hailing it as "a lasting work of European literature" (Clifford). His ershtling ("firstling"), as he calls his novel in a dedication to Abraham *Reisen (University of Haifa Library copy), had no fellows since he was killed by the Nazis in the Brest ghetto extermination while still in the prime of life. A daughter survived and raised a family in Israel.


D. Clifford, in: G. Estraikh and M. Krutikov, The Shtetl: Image and Reality (2000), 115–32; Ch. Shmeruk, in: Polin, 1 (1986), 176–95; Y.-Y. Trunk, Di Yidishe Proze in Poyln (1949), 97–101; N. Meisel, in: Literarishe Bleter, 4 (Jan. 1938), 56–7.

[Leonard Prager (2nd ed.)]