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Welcome, as you know, if you have been following my post, I am celebrating Polish-American month with a post about some of their writers.
The last one I choose for this month is Isaac, born in Leoncin, Congress Poland, Russian Empire, as Icek Hersz Zynger on November 21, 1902. A few years later, he moved with his family to Radzymin. Though his birth date had been quoted July 14, 1904, it was most likely made up to avoid the draft.
The family moved in 1907 to the Court of Rabbi of Radzymin. A year later, the Yeshiva building burned down, so the family moved to a flat in Warsaw. There were hard times for him as his father served as a rabbi. His father often being called to serve as judge, arbitrator, religious authority, and spiritual leader for the Jewish Community.
World War I
Due to the hardship of the war, the family had to split up. Isaac moved with his mother and younger brother Moshe to her hometown of Bilgoraj. It wasn’t until his father became the village rabbi again in 1921 that Isaac returned to Warsaw. Where he entered into the Tachkemoni Rabbinical Seminary. It didn’t take long for him to realize that neither the school nor the profession suited him.
Isaac returned to Bilgoraj, where he worked to give lessons in Hebrew. Unfortunately, this didn’t pan out. He ended up going back to his parent’s considered himself a failure.
In 1923 his older brother Israel arranged for Isaac to move to Warsaw to work as a proofreader for the Jewish Literarische Bleter. Israel was the editor.
He moved to the United States in 1935, four years before the Nazi invasion, fearful of the growing threat in Germany. Isaac left behind his common-law first wife, Runia Pontsch, and son Israel Zamir. They emigrated to Moscow, then Palestine. He met up with them again in twenty years later in 1955.
Settled in New York City, he found work as a journalist for The Jewish Daily Forward, a Yiddish language newspaper.
He used his mother’s name as his pen name Bashevis Singer (Bathsheba’s Singer). Both his older brother Israel Joshua Singer and sister Esther Kreitman also became writers.
Isaac met Alma Wassermann nee Haimann, a German-Jewish refugee from Munich in 1938. Two years later, they married. Their union seemed to rejuvenate his energy. He returned to prolific writing. He also used the pen name Warszawski during World War II.
Talented Isaac won the National Jewish Book Award for The Human Season in 1963. The Itzik Manger Prize in 1973,
After several years’ things started to be bleak for Isaac, he wrote the book Lost in America in 1974, written in Yiddish. It wasn’t until 1981 that it had been published in English. He won the National Book Award (United States), 1974.
It was 1978, when Isaac won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Many years later, in 1981, Isaac delivered a commencement at the University of Albany and was presented with an honorary doctorate.
Written 18 novels, 14 children’s books and a number of memoirs, essays and articles. Isaac is best known as a writer of short stories, which have been published.
While Isaac visited Surfside, Florida, he had a series of strokes that led to his death on July 24, 1991. Buried a Cedar Park Cemetery in Emerson, New Jersey.
To honor this man, a street in Surfside, Florida, has been given his name. As well as a city square in Lublin, Poland. The University of Miami had also done a full academic scholarship for undergraduate students in his honor.
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