Zalmen was born on 27 September
1894 in Ozorków,
a town not far from
In 1896 Z.'s father took the family over to Lodz
when Z. was only two years old. There Z.
studied in the rooms of cheders.
Z.'s father was a
merchant, a cultured man, who had written from
time to time for "Hatsfirah", and in 1907 he
published weekly feuilletons under the pseudonym
of "Tzvi"h" in the "Łódź nachrichten
(Lodz News)". Here he became an official
co-editor. As a child Z. was popularly
known in the city as a "shiri-tsyon-zinger
(Songs of Zion singer)."
In 1905 Z. worked in the
first local modern Yiddish bookstore that his father
was the owner of,
where he would surround himself with Hebrew,
Yiddish and translated European literature.
Afterwards he would
study songs of the yeshiva for a half-year, then he
worked for a short time as a laborer on a farm in
privately with a teacher, and he became a trade employee
for various companies.
In 1910 Z. made his
debut under the pseudonym of "Solomon", with a
translation in the "Łódźer
morgenblat" newspaper, as well as various other publications.
Following his inclination
to the theatre, Z. soon completed his
first Yiddish theatre translation for a live-action
play named "Kin". Later he participated in
Hebrew, then later in Yiddish amateur productions, and
he also founded an "amateur circle" in 1912.
From 1915 to 1924 Z.
was a collaborator and later a co-editor at
the "Łódźer tagenblat" and
published many critical articles and reviews of Yiddish
theatre productions. In 1922 he edited and
(together with Lazar Kahan) the
weekly "Theatre and Cinema". Afterwards, Z.
by himself edited and published the weekly page
"Theatre and the Arts". In 1923 (again together with Lazar Kahan)
he translated this weekly
page. In 1924, Z. traveled to
Eretz Yisrael as a correspondent for the Yiddish
Z. was also the editor
or author of more than thirty books relating to
Yiddish culture and history. He is most often
remembered today as the editor of the six-volume "Leksikon
fun yidishn teater (Lexicon of the Yiddish
Theatre)", a compendium of more than 2,800
Yiddish-language biographies and histories of
those individuals and now-defunct theatrical
organizations who were once involved in some fashion with the Yiddish
theatre. Volume 1 was published in 1931; Volume 6 in 1969.
Volume 7 still remains in galley form, as Z.
passed away in 1972, and the hopes of publishing
this last volume faded. Volume 5,
published after World War II, is the Lexicon's memorial
edition, consisting mostly of biographies of
those who were killed during the war at the hands of the Nazis
and their collaborators.