Born on 10 January 1914 in Lukow, Siedlce
region, Poland. He learned in a cheder and yeshiva. In
1928 he went with his parents to Zhichlin, and from 1930
he lived in Warsaw. In 1939, when Poland was invaded by
the Nazis, he fled to Vilna and during the late war
years lived in Soviet Russia. Then he returned in 1947
Still in 1932 he began his literary
activities with the novel, "In a keler-shtub" in "Undzer
ekspres." Since that time he participated in the Yiddish
periodical with songs, stories, novels and articles
about literature, reportages, and translations. And
after the Second World War in the BANEYTER Yiddish
periodicals in Poland, also in "Yiddish Culture" (New
York), issuing several books. Included was his play
"Professor Shvartsshteyn," a drama on the flag
of Hitlerish destruction in three acts and five scenes
(Warsaw, 1950, 66 pp.), which was staged in the Yiddish
theatre in Poland.
Jacob Mestel writes about the play
"Jakub Zonszajn's 'Professor Shvartstein'
suffers first of all from the unreliable dramatic
technique; the character often goes down from the stage
without a whisper and rushes back to the author's wink
[?], like a 'Deus ex machina' (God From the Machiner--a
sudden non-significant suffering of dealing in the
old-classical tragedy). People say secrets to the ear.
... Pray it is clearly not for whom to watch, except for
the theatre public. ...And the author can do nothing, He
gives his beauties a monologue, or they let them deviate
from the other embellished words "for yourself"
(according to 'Camera Method of the Former Melodrama').
The monologue, in the modern drama, is right only in the
poetic form, which gives the drama an unreal tone, but
in the realistic prose-drama destroyed the monologue,
the illusion of realism thus makes the whole scene
And Jakub Zonszajn has nothing to do. His
dialogue is mostly smooth and human. ...The characters
portray stage technique, although a bit too stalwart.
The naive prefect Professor Shvartstein, who believes
the Germans will not cheat him... is aesthetically
pleasing, and therefore you cannot be the hero of a
drama, already a friend in the title role of the play.
...It leaves the impression that Jakub Zonszajn is
generally under the influence of Kruchovsky's play
("Germans," staged in New York "Ensemble" in Mestel's
translation under the name, "Family Zonenbruch"), but it
is not a disadvantage. He would not just split into
pieces his action on purely individual ones and family
interests. Individual characteristics is enacted to a
degree in a play (as in any case of literature), but the
motivation of the action must be characteristic of the
general environment. If not, the character is minimized
and socialized, in this case, the Yiddish tragedy to an
But it is only wrong when a younger
playwright does not master the language of the dialogue.
There almost does not exist much information about Jakub
Zonszajn's Yiddish. ...However Jakub Zonszajn had a
desire for the stage. The final scene of the drama is
authentically theatrical, even, through the entire
dramatic minutes, swing through the basic idea -- 'The
German Reich' (the Nazi rule then), and the German Nazis
were 'two things' (quotation from Schiller's 'Don
Juan'), only to hope that in his second drama there
would be more character and more OPGEHITN."
Z. also wrote the play, "Fraylakh
in shtetl (Jolly Village?)" (music and stage direction
by Sh. Prizament, staged 1937-8), and "Hershele
Ostropoler," (staged in June 1953 in Breslau under the
direction of Jacob Rotbaum, sets by Alexander
In the publishing house
"Yiddish Book" there was published Z.'s volume of songs,
under the name "Vort un nigun (Word and Melody?)"
(Warsaw, 1959, 131 pp.), and in the same publishing
house (1964) a volume of songs "Yunger vinter (Young
Winter?) (144 pp.), also in the same house (1953, 68
pp.), a book "Der ratsionalizirter yitskhok fetner."
In Vrotslav (1958) there was
published a brochure in Polish of his songs, translated
by the Polish poet Koshutski and Kovalcik, and he also
was in the Polish anthology, "Amiona gefokoyn" (Vrotslav,
1958), and in the German anthology of the new Polish
lyric, "Lektsion der shtile" (1959).
On 7 February 1962 Z.
passed away in Warsaw.
Sh.E. from Moshe Shkliar.
"Lexicon of the New
Yiddish Literature," New York, 1960, Volume 3, pp.
Jacob Mestel --
"Literature and Theatre," New York, 1962, pp.