Born in 1868 in Vilna,
Polish-Lite. Until age twelve he learned in cheders.
After attending a Vilna gymnasium, later on five years a
folks teacher in Vilna, and since 1896 a teacher in the
school of "Khaverah m'sivta haskalah" in Peterburg, his
literary career began in Yiddish in 1892 in Peretz's "Yudishe
bibliotek," but under the works of the Russian-Yiddish
writer I.L. Levanda, who spoke to him about writing in
Yiddish, "because it is a decent language, and because
we live in Russia." He went over to Russian and
published stories and songs in Russia's "Voskhod." A
part of the local Arbeter Ring in 1907 issued in
Petersburg a book, "Yevreskim dietat" (for Jewish
children). R. went back to write in Yiddish for Ayzik
Meyer Dik, who he motivated with "You can understand
every Jewish woman....Yiddish is still the
language of the brighter masses."
With the publication of
"Fraynt (Friend)," he continued to write in Yiddish, and in the
span of five years there published a series of stories
of poor Jewish life, as well as songs, also working in
other periodical editions, quite especially under the
pseudonym of "Motele," in he joke page, "Der shaygets"
in "Der bezim." He became popular with the book, "Dem
zaydens meshulim" (Peterburg, 1908, "Free and entirely
Yiddish adapted after Krilov"), which in 1918 was
published in a improved and revised edition, and a
selction from them in 1919 issued for children for the
commissar of Jewish issues in Peterburg.
Nachman Maysel knows that in
a "song collection for the Yiddish school and family,"
there was assembled by Z. Kiselgoff
1911) to songs with notes of the oratorio "Megadl
Babel," two songs from the opera, "Macabre,"
Glino's and Kukalinik's "A Yiddish Song" from
the tragedy, "Kniaz cholmski," and a song from
Mussogorsky's oratorio, "Yehoshua Ben Nun," all
translated into Yiddish by R.
R. used to
participate in amateur productions for which he
R. wrote the plays:
was played through the Kaminski troupe under
the name of "Yidishe glikn,' and through the
Vilna Troupe in Vilna
(staged through the Kaminski troupe)
"R' Meier bel hns"
Besides this an
entire series of children's plays in Russian,
most adapted for the Jewish holidays (issued by
the publishing house "Ezra" in Peterburg). After
the Revolution in 1917, there was a tour by the
formerly founded Yiddish Theatre Society in
Petersburg and was translated for Moscow's
Jewish State Theatre Gutzkoff's "Uriel Acosta."
He also published in a collection book, "Yevrieski
lietopis," his memoirs and bagegenishn
for the years 1915-1917, with a series of
Yiddish, Russian-Yiddish and Hebrew writers.
Dr. Israel Tsinberg
writes about him:
half-assimilated, in the Jewish environment the
Jews still prayed, those who had lived in the
Russian Peterburg, R. was actually a treasure,
the embodiment of popularity, from good-natured
humor and merriment, a living reservoir of juicy
Vilna Yiddish, from popular jokes, puns,
grammatical combinations, and we had laughed
from jokes from his false Kirov parables, songs,
declamations, theater scenes and humorousness.
He had passionate love for the scene, the old
folks scenes with the precarious repertoire, and
the old-fashioned manner of capturing, knew his
audience, who paid him with love and
recognition, and a large audience had
accompanied him to his eternity."
On 9 May 1924 R.
passed away in Leningrad.
-- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature," Vilna,
1929, Vol. 4, pp. 325-329.
Maysel -- Yidish tematik un yidishe melodies
bay barimte kompozitorn, "Yiddish Culture,"
N.Y., N' 2, pp. 6, 8.