Shtern, Israel

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SHTERN, ISRAEL (1894–1942), Yiddish poet, essayist, and literary critic. Shtern was born in the small Russian-Polish town of Ostrolenka and educated in the musar yeshivot of Lomzshe (Lomza) and Slovodka. In 1914 he moved to Vienna and spent three years in Austrian internment as an enemy alien. Here he became familiar with the newest currents of literature in the Hapsburg realm. In 1917 he settled in Warsaw. His first poems appeared in 1919 in Vokhn Blat and Dos Folk. Later on he continued to publish poems in the major Yiddish periodicals in Warsaw. His book reviews appeared regularly in the dailies Haynt and Moment. His basic theme is that God mirrors Himself in the poor, the suffering, the brokenhearted, the victims of social injustice. Shtern always stood on the periphery of Warsaw's literary circles. He spent most of his days among the Ḥasidim or poring over the Talmud. He remained poor and embittered both before World War ii and during his years in the Warsaw ghetto. According to one report, he starved to death in the ghetto but, according to another report, he perished in the gas chambers of Treblinka. After his death, when his only published volume appeared, Lider un Eseyen ("Poems and Essays," 1955), edited by H. *Leivick, he became recognized as one of the most important Yiddish poets between the two world wars.


Rejzen, Leksikon, 4 (1929), 626ff.; S. Bickel, Shrayber fun Mayn Dor (1958), 52–8. add. bibliography: I. Howe and E. Greenberg (eds.), A Treasury of Yiddish Poetry (1969) 225–6; G. Pomerantz, Geshtaltn fun Mayn Dor (1971); Y. Kahan, Oyfn Tsesheydung (1971), 231–45; Y. Goldenkorn, Heymishe un Fremde (1973), 33–9; Y. Turkov, in: Di Goldene Keyt (1973), 79–80; lnyl, 8 (1981), 645–8.

[Shlomo Bickel /

Itay Zutra (2nd ed.)]