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Steiman, Beynush

STEIMAN, BEYNUSH

STEIMAN, BEYNUSH (1897–1919), Yiddish poet and playwright. Born in Kreslavka, Latgale, Latvia, Steiman began writing poetry when he was 13. After being trained as a chemist's assistant, he spent two years in Vilna working in a pharmacy. Then he established a Yiddish elementary school in his home town, as well as a dramatic club to finance the school. During that period, in addition to writing poetry, he wrote dramas and dramatical poems. At the end of August 1919 he enrolled at the Kultur-Lige's teachers' seminary in Kiev, but was recruited for defense work in which he was killed. Steiman's works were not published during his lifetime. His first drama Baym Toyer ("Near the Gate") appeared posthumously in the Kiev literary periodical Oyfgang (1919). The dramatic poem Meshiekh ben Yoysef ("Messiah, Son of Joseph") was published in Eygns (vol. 2, Kiev 1920) and was also printed in book form. In 1926 it was produced in New York and in 1927 a Hebrew translation appeared in Jerusalem. Dos Royte Kind ("The Red Child"), his third and last extant work, is included in the volume Dramen ("Dramas," Warsaw, 1921) and was also printed in the first issue of Shtrom (1922). He also completed a translation of Oscar Wilde's Salome (published in 1924). Steiman's plays, which deal primarily with social reform, have religious intensity and motifs. The fundamental and persistent prophetic quality of his writing is manifested in his repeated use of the theme of redemption (the figure of the Messiah appears in all three plays), which is here, however, not drawn from traditional Jewish sources, but rather is a collective character representing the spirit of the people which is given the leading role.

bibliography:

Rejzen, Leksikon, 4 (1929), 578–82. add. bibliography: lnyl, 8 (1981), 613–14; Y. Dobrushin, in: B. Steiman, Dramen (1921), 3–9; N. Meisel, Noente un Vayte, 2 (1926), 214–22.

[Yechiel Szeintuch]

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