TSANIN, (Yeshaye) MORDKHE (1906– ), Yiddish writer. Born in Sokołow-Podlaski (Poland), he settled in Warsaw (1920), where he had a traditional and secular education and became a writer and cultural organizer (publications in Oyfgang, which he also edited, and Naye Folksysaytung) until the Nazi invasion, when he fled to Vilna (1939), Japan (1940), and Palestine (1941). After several years of manual labor, he worked full-time as a journalist and writer. His consistent and adamant advocacy of Yiddish in Israel was of signal importance. His Iber Shteyn un Shtok: a Rayze iber Hundert Khorev - Gevorene Kehiles in Poyln ("Through Thick and Thin: A Journey through 100 Destroyed Jewish Communities in Poland," 1952) collected his columns from the Forverts (for which he was also the Israeli correspondent, 1947–56), based on his postwar travels through Poland, posing as a gentile (1945–6). He contributed to Yiddish newspapers and periodicals throughout the world, including Tsukunft, Di Goldene Keyt, Davar, and edited Ilustrirte Veltvokh (1956– ) and founded and edited Letste Nayes (1949– ), Israel's first Yiddish daily, where the first part of his magnum opus, Artopanus Kumt Tsurik Aheym ("Artopanus Comes Home") began to appear serially; it was published in six volumes: Yerusholayim un Roym ("Jerusalem and Rome," 1966), Fremde Himlen ("Foreign Skies," 1968), Libshaft in Geviter ("Love during a Storm," 1972), Di Meride fun Mezhibozh ("The Revolt of Mezhibozh," 1976), Der Yardn Falt Arayn in Yam Hamelekh ("The Jordan Flows into the Dead Sea," 1981), and Der Gzar-Din ("The Verdict," 1985). The epic series of historical novels traces the history of Jews and Jewish culture from the Roman conquest of Judea up to the present as a series of cycles of persecution, survival, exile, and personal memory that comes to function as cultural memory and cultural tradition, projecting a moral and intellectual code that transcends individuals and even historical periods. It is one of the great achievements of Yiddish narrative, especially in post-war literature. Among his other books are Vivat Lebn! ("Live!," 1933; stories), Oyf Zumpiker Erd ("On Swampy Ground," 1935; novel), Vuhin Geyt Yapan ("Whither Japan," 1942; journalism), Shabesdike Shmuesn ("Sabbath Chats," 1957; feuilletons), Megiles Ruth / Shir Hashirim ("Ruth / Song of Songs," 1962; Yid. tr.); Oyf di Vegn fun Yidishn Goyrl ("The Paths of Jewish Fate," 1966; also Heb., 1967; essays), Der Dekadents fun a Meshiekh ("Decadence of a Messiah," 1967; essays), Grenetsn biz tsum Himl ("Borders up to Heaven," 1969/70; autobiography), Der Shlisl tsum Himl ("The Key to Heaven," 1979; stories), Fuler Yidish-Hebreisher Verterbukh ("Complete Yiddish-Hebrew Dictionary," 1982), Fuler Hebreish-Yidisher Verterbukh ("Complete Hebrew-Yiddish Dictionary," 1983), Fun Yener Zayt Tsayt ("Behind the Times," 1988), Zumershney ("Summer Snow," 1992; stories, essays), Herts Grosbard (1995; biography), Shluf Nit Mameshi ("Do Not Sleep, Mama," 1996; stories), and Dos Vort Mayn Shverd ("Word My Sword," 1997; essays). For several decades Tsanin served as president of the Association of Yiddish Writers and Journalists in Israel.
M. Ravitsh, Mayn Leksikon, 3 (1958), 350–5; LNYL, 7 (1968), 532–4; S. Liptzin, in: Yiddish, 2:4 (1977), 91–5; D. Sfard, in: Yidishe Kultur, 42:5 (1980), 33–7; Y. Shargel, in: Bay Zikh, 18 (1981), 66–72; Y. Yanasovitch, in: Bay Zikh, 19 (1981), 68–74; A. Lis, in: Yerusholaymer Almanakh, 25 (1996), 280–7.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.