Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Ezriel Natan Frank

Born in 1863 in Vodzislav, Kielce Gubernia, Poland, into a well-to-do Chasidic family. He received a traditional Jewish education. In his early youth he took to Haskalah, learned languages and traveled out to Warsaw. According to Sh. Rozenfeld, F. in his youth belonged to a National Polish revolutionary organization and translated Polish revolutionary literature. Later he approached Jewish society, and for twenty years he began his journalistic activity in the Hebrew press. In Yiddish he debuted in two volumes of Peretz's "Yudishe biblikotek," and since then he wrote in both languages. There were issued several books in Hebrew and Yiddish, including in complete Yiddish translations the novel "Preh" by Bolesław Prus, and "Mirtala" by Eliza Orzeszkowa.

F. left over in a manuscript several dramas in Yiddish, and a incomplete historical drama, "Temerl," with the Zbitkover family as the main heroes, of which the first act was published in a collection of "Today" (1924, pp. 94-98).

Zalmen Reisen remarked that F. never stopped writing in Yiddish. He used to attack Yiddish in Yiddish.

On 1 February 1924 F. passed away in Warsaw.

Z. Tigiel, portrayed the Yiddish assimilator in Polish, characterizing him as such:

“…E. N. Frank was a child of these purveyors of assimilation…born…of fanatically pious parents, his early education, in Polish, naturally, was provided by these assimilationists.

…Even after becoming a recognized Hebrew author, working with leaders in the Zionist and Jewish- nationalist movement, he was never able to liberate himself from the assimilationist education that he had received. …Though he wrote in Yiddish and knew and enriched the Yiddish language, he hated Yiddish with fundamental abhorrence.

…A strangely interesting fact will perhaps clarify the foregoing. E. N. Frank would often, both in private conversation and in published writing, speak out against Yiddish and against certain creations in the Yiddish language merely because they were written in Yiddish. So it happened that once, when he published a sharp attack on Yiddish in Ha’tsfirah, a young man came up to the editorial offices of Ha’tsfirah and delivered several blows to his head with a cane. I am certain that when that same slugger read Pharoah by Boleslaw Prus in a wonderful Yiddish translation by that very same Frank, he must have regretted his overwrought act because it is beyond doubt that through the translation of Pharoah, a masterwork in world literature, the Yiddish language was extremely enriched. Not only did Yiddish literature gain a great new work, but the translation proved that E. N. Frank could write Yiddish masterfully.”

  • Z. Reisen -- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature," Vilna, 1929, Vol. 3, pp. 228-237.

  • Z. Tigiel -- "Geshtaltn," New York, 1928, pp. 135-144.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 6, page 5336.

English translation courtesy of Hershl Hartman and Steven Lasky.

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