Saphire, Saul

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SAPHIRE, SAUL (1895–1974), Yiddish novelist. Born in Vilna and educated at the Lida yeshivah, he immigrated to the U.S. via Japan in 1916, settling in New York, where he devoted himself to teaching and journalism. For more than half a century, he enjoyed great popularity among Yiddish readers through his novels, serialized in the New York dailies Tageblat, Morgen-Zhurnal, and Forverts, and reprinted in other Yiddish organs. He is reputed to have written some 100 novels, of which more than 20 were published. His favored genre was the historical romance based on biblical and post-biblical figures, ranging from the Patriarchs, Joseph, Joshua, Deborah, Samson, Jephthah, Ruth, Saul, David, Solomon, and Esther, to the poets of Spain: Maimonides, Elijah the Gaon of Vilna, the Ba'al Shem Tov, and Solomon Maimon. Several of his novels were translated into English, such as Der Kalif fun Kordova (1927; The Caliph of Cordova, 1929), a romance of Moorish Spain during the Golden Age of 'Abd al-Raḥman ii; Tsivhn Roym un Yerusholayim (1929; A Challenge to Caesar, 1938), dealing with the Jewish revolt against Rome which ended in the destruction of the Second Temple. His novel on Columbus, Kolombus der Yid (1934), dealing with the expulsion of the Jews from Spain and the discovery of America, was translated into Hebrew, Kolumbus ha-Yehudi (1948). Saphire also co-authored with Donovan Fitzpatrick Navy Maverick (1963), a biography in English of the controversial American-Jewish naval officer Uriah Phillips Levy.


lnyl, 6 (1965), 310–11.

[Sol Liptzin /

Jerold C. Frakes (2nd ed.)]