WEITER, A. (pseudonym of Eisik Meir Devenishski ; 1878–1919), editor, political agitator, and Yiddish writer. Born in a village near Vilna, Weiter early joined the revolutionary movement, becoming active in the Jewish Labor *Bund. Imprisoned in 1899 and in 1902–04, he participated in the 1905 Revolution. In 1910 he became the first editor of the Vilna-based Boris Kletzkin Yiddish publishing house. He proposed its strictly non-profit character and aspiration to maximize the author's royalties. In 1912, he was exiled to Siberia, where he remained until the outbreak of the 1917 Revolution. He then lived in Petrograd and Nizhni Novgorod and at the end of 1918 settled in Vilna, where he was shot by the Polish Legionnaires who occupied the city in 1919.
Weiter wrote plays, short stories, and essays. In his early period (1898–1906), most of his writings were of a political nature, but in his second period (1906–19) his plays were free of any political motifs. In his blank-verse play, Fartog ("Dawn," 1907), he displayed in symbolic form the moods of the Jewish intellectuals on the eve of the 1905 Russian Revolution. In his second play, In Fayer ("In Fire," 1910), Weiter expressed the alienation and loneliness of the younger generation and their longing for a full and creative Jewish life. In his third drama, Der Shtumer ("The Mute," 1912), he portrayed the suffering of his generation, whose expectations of a new freedom were not fulfilled. Weiter was one of the first writers to give expression to the estranged Jewish intellectual's longing to return to Jewishness and to his renewed search for Jewish roots and Jewish values.
In 1908, A. Weiter, together with S. Gorelik and Samuel *Niger, edited and published the Literarishe Monatshriftn, a journal which became a rallying point for the young writers who believed in a renaissance of Jewish life and letters and a revitalized Jewish culture. Among the works that Weiter translated were Gorki's My Childhood and Max Halbe's In Stream (together with Z. *Rejzen). Weiter's works were published in a one-volume edition in Vilna (1923), edited, with a full biography, by A.J. Goldshmidt.
Rejzen, Leksikon, 1 (1926), 929–38; lnyl, 3 (1960), 338–43; S. Liptzin, Flowering of Yiddish Literature (1963), 162–4; Weiter-Bukh (1920); Bikher-Velt, 1 no. 4–5 (Kiev 1919), 118–20.add. bibliography: E. Gordon-Mlotek, in: yivo Bleter, New Series, vol. 2 (1994), 43–66.
[Elias Schulman /
Gennady Estraikh (2nd ed.)]