Yosef Meir Opatowski

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Yosef Meir Opatowski

Also Known As: "Joseph Opatoshu"
Birthdate: (68)
Birthplace: Mława, Poland
Death: October 07, 1954 (68)
New York, NY, United States
Place of Burial: New York, NY, United States
Immediate Family:

Husband of Adele Opatowski
Father of David Opatoshu

Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About Yosef Meir Opatowski

Joseph Opatoshu (born Yosef Meir Opatowski) was a Polish-born Yiddish novelist and short story writer.

He was born to a Hasidic family in the Polish town Mława. His father was a Jewish Maskil, who sent Yosef to Russian and Polish schools. At the age of 19 he went to study engineering in Nancy, France. However, privation sent him to the USA in 1907, where he settled in New York City, where his name became Joseph Opatovsky, and he later took the professional name of Joseph Opatoshu.

In New York he dedicated himself to writing, beginning with short stories that he published for several years in magazines and newspapers. He earned his initial fame as a writer from the trilogy In Polish woods (אין פוילישע וועלדער). Excerpts from this (as In Polish Forests) had previously been published in The Pagan, a magazine produced by the bookshop owner, linguist, and teacher Joseph Kling, in 1917. It was published in 1921 in Yiddish, and was translated to several languages, among them a 1938 English translation. It is a broad historical novel, describing the decline of Hasidism.

In 1928 he published a 14-volume collection of his works.

Opatoshu's hundreds of works include descriptions of his many travels to various Jewish communities around the world. In particular, he is well known for his rejection of the pacific tenor of his contemporary "classical" Yiddish writers. This can be found, for example, in his description of the Jewish criminal underworld in Eastern Europe, in his book Romance of a Horse Thief. In this approach Opatoshu was influenced by Micha Josef Berdyczewski. His works were translated to several languages, including English and Hebrew.

Joseph Opatoshu died on Yom Kippur of 1954 (The Jewish year ה'תשט"ו), and is buried in the old Arbeter Ring (אַרבעטער-רינג – The Workmen's Circle) cemetery in New York City, alongside Sholem Aleichem, Yehoash and others.



   * אין פוילישע וועלדער, 1921; translated to English from the Yiddish by Isaac Goldberg: In Polish woods, The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1938
   * ראמאן פון א פערד גנב, 1917; Romance of a Horsethief
   * The last revolt, the story of Rabbi Akiba; translated from the Yiddish by Moshe Spiegel, The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1952
   * א טאג אין רעגעסבורג, Di Goldene Pave Paris 1955; translated to English from the Yiddish by Jacob Sloan: A day in Regensburg; short stories, The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1968

A Movie

   * A movie based on "Romance of a Horsethief" was released in 1971. His son, David Opatoshu wrote the screenplay and it was Directed by Abraham Polonsky. The cast includes, among others, Yul Brynner as Captain Stoloff, Eli Wallach as Kifke, Jane Birkin as Naomi, and his son David as Schloime Kradnik.
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Yosef Meir Opatowski's Timeline

Mława, Poland
January 30, 1918
Age 32
New York, NY, United States
October 7, 1954
Age 68
New York, NY, United States
New York, NY, United States