Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Dr. Avraham Eisen


Born on 15 March 1886 in Brisk D'Lita. Until age thirteen he learned in a cheder. In 1903 he immigrated to America, where in 1912 he graduated as a dentist in New York.

After 1907 he debuted with a song in the "Fraye Arbeter Shtime," later published in print songs in "Varhayt," "Kunds," "Tsukunft," "Forverts," "Literarishe bleter," "Yidisher kemfer," "Oyfkum," "Di feder," "Vochenblat," "Der amerikaner," where he also published around eighty biographical sketches about American and English poets with the muster of his creations.

In 1920 he mostly turned in translations of English, American and other classicists and poets, and earlier parts of them he published in print only in periodical editions others later also in book forms, such as "Der gefangener fun shilan" by Lord Byron (New York, 1925, 32 pp.), "Di rubiat" by Omar Khayyam, (New York, 1926, 63 pp.), "Yidishe melodies," by Lord Byron (New York, 1928, 30 pp.), "Enoch Orden" by Lord Tennison (New York, 1930, 62 pp.), "Kin," a mystery by Lord Byron, ("Oyfkum," N.Y., June-October 1928), published in book form, Vilna, 1932, 124 pp., "25 Lider" by H. W. Longfellow (New York, 1933, 46 pp.), "25 Lider" by Walt Whitman (New York, 1934, 64 pp.), "25 Lider," by Thomas Moore (New York, 1935, 32 pp.), "Ale 54 sonetn fun shekspir" (New York, 1944, 176 pp.), "Kenig lir" by William Shakespeare, (published in print in "Chicago," September 1935 -- December 1936, and in book form it was published in New York, 1947, 188 pp.), and the book, "Dr. Israel Levintal's Yhdus-identum," (New York, 1949, 237 pp.)

On 14 August 1965 E. passed away in New York.

Dr. Shlomo Seiman characterized him as such:

“He always appeared clean and tidy. His tie complimented his suit and his jacket was always buttoned correctly. Even in the hottest days I never saw him without a jacket or in a frayed shirt collar. I never heard him raise his voice or lose his patience. He was always calm, patient and correct. He socialized with left and right wingers, with observant Jews and with free thinkers. He graduated Dental School in 1912. Who among the professionals of that time did not become wealthy? He, however, did not become a rich man. He did not pursue wealth. He balanced the necessity of the flesh with that of the spirit. When he was a student and had to earn money for his upkeep he did not lose any time away from his literary work and reading, rather he found time for spiritual sustenance. He wrote and publicized songs about “truth”, “art”, “renaissance”, “progress.” Wherever they printed his poems.

He possessed an outstanding, well developed literary instinct. He was convinced that despite the fact that his poems were widely printed, he was not a great poet. In the 1920s he devoted himself more and more to the translation from English to Yiddish. He translated mostly classical works: Byron, Tennyson, Walt Whitman, Shakespeare, The Rubbaiyat and poems by Milton. He only translated the classics, because it suited his spirit, which loved order, moderation, and not the unexpected. His translations were not overly poetic but truthful to the text both in rhythm and in meaning.

The Bible…During his last years he devoted himself to translation of parts of the Bible. He translated almost the entire book of Proverbs, which was a text which suited his serenity. He translated portions of Psalms and Ecclesiastes. In his translation of Ecclesiastes he demonstrated great brilliance. He chose to use the acrostic design based on the Hebrew alphabet in Ecclesiastes. His faithfulness to the original was beneficial. If ever there existed a collective translation of the Bible, he would have been a strong participant.

A. Glantz wrote:

"Avraham Eisen loved the artistic word. His love started early. None-the-less, just as early as it began, he was too late in his chosen field of endeavor which was the translation and importation of the artistic work of American/English literature into Yiddish.

A word, a printed page, an idiom is mainly a living thing. Every living thing is constantly changing, in fact it changes every second. A word, today, a certain word in one language, can easily be translated with the fullest meaning into another language, but in five years, who’s talking about ten or twenty years, it can differ completely. …He frequently had interruptions, when working on his translations, he changed them, improved them, and edited them countless times. The results were not all the same due to his piety to artistic publishing, his urge to capture a true kernel of the second language in all of its attire."

Sh.E. from Khayim-Leyb Fuks.

  • "Lexicon of the New Yiddish Literature," New York, 1956, Vol. 1, p. 79.

  • Dr. Shlomo Seiman -- Dr. avraham eisen e'h, "Tog-blat," N.Y., 18 August 1965.

  • A. Glantz -- Tsu avraham eisen's matzeva-oyfdek, "Tog-blat," N.Y., 15 June 1966.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 6, page 5204.

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