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Hillel Zeitlin (1871-1942) was a Yiddish-language writer who edited the Yiddish newspaper Moment, among other literary activities. He was born in the Mohilev District of White Russia to a Chassidic Chabad family and already in his childhood he was recognized for his particularly sharp and analytical mind. When Zeiltin turned 15 , his father died and he decided to become a Hebrew teacher.
His exit from the world of the Yeshiva exposed him to the works of the great scholars of the Enlightenment. He began studying in earnest the works of both Jewish Philosophers (Maimonides, Gersonides, Spinoza etc.) and non-Jewish ones such as Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and others.
During this period in his life he began questioning his religious beliefs and eventually drifted toward secularism.
Zeitlin also grew close to the nascent Zionist movement and lent his support to the "Uganda proposal". He was a practical Zionist and his writings took on more urgency after the notorious pogroms in Kishinev and Homel.
After World War I, Zeitlin gradually drifted back toward tradition and began leading an Orthodox lifestyle. The reason(s) for this drastic change in his life is not completely clear but may have had something to do with the suffering of Jews during the war.
At the same time, Zeitlin remained independent and unconventional in his beliefs and actions. He did not—for instance—hesitate to eulogize his former friend, the great writer and thinker, Yosef Haim Brenner who was an ardent secularist.
When the Nazis began liquidating Polish Jewry in 1942, Zeitlin was 71 years old. He was killed by Nazis in the Warsaw ghetto while holding a book of the Zohar and wrapped in a prayer shawl and phylacteries.
His sons Aaron Zeitlin (1898-1973) and Elchonon Zeitlin (1902-1942) were also Yiddish writers.
Aaron Zeitlin (born in Belarus 1889 - died in New York in 1973), the son of the famous Jewish writer Hillel Zeitlin, authored several books on Yiddish literature, Poetry and Parapsychology.
Zeitlin spent his formative years in Homel and Vilna. In 1920, he and his brother Elchanan traveled to Palestine, and in 1921 they returned to Warsaw.
His literary abilities were apparent already in his youth when he contributed some articles to the Odessa-based children's journal Perachim and Hashachar.
His first piece of literature Matatron appeared in Der Yiddishe Velt in 1914, followed by many more articles published in many of the leading Jewish journals of that time.
In March 1939, he was invited to come to New York by Yiddish Playwright Maurice Schwartz and settled there until his death.
His play Chelmer Chachomim had already opened to critical acclaim at the Yiddish Theatre in New York prior to his arrival, and he slowly became a fixture of the Yiddish scene.
For a time, he was also Professor of Hebrew literature at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.
He was close with other Yiddish literary giants of his day, including Isaac Bashevis Singer who wrote of the former "his greatest vice was literature, religious literature and anything and everything of intellectual value, he was a man possessing vast knowledge, a veritable spiritual giant".
Ha-meziut ha-aheret (The other Dimension), Tel Aviv: Yavneh, 1967.
Alpert, Reuven. Caught In The Crack, Wandering Soul Press, 2002. pp.151 Faierstein, Morris M. trans. and Ed. "Poems of the Holocaust and Poems of Faith" By Aaron Zeitlin. iuniverse: New York, 2007.
* A Eulogy for Zeitlin by a friend (Yiddish)
* A description of Zeitlin and his work (Yiddish)
* Zeitlin's play "Der Yiddishe Melicha" and review(Hebrew)
* Short biography of Zeitlin by a friend (Yiddish)
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Zeitlin"
Elhonon Cejtlin was born in Warszawa to Hilel. He was a dziennikarz and married to Regina nee Kirszbraun. Prior to WWII he lived in Warszawa, Poland. During the war he was in Warszawa, Poland. Elhonon perished in the Shoah. This information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted on 04-May-1999 by his sister-in-law, a Shoah survivor