Albert Einstein Helps Noted Yiddish Literary Figure Samuel Lewin, Who Had Predicted the Holocaust and Fled to the United States From Nazi Germany

Albert Einstein

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He arranged directly with philanthropist Israel Matz, whose interest was Jewish literature, to aid LewinA giant in the last generation of important Yiddish literary figures was Samuel Lewin, whose very versatility placed him in a category of his own. He was a novelist, playwright, essayist and poet who also published Jewish chorale music. Lewin is best remembered for his three volume work, Trilogy, and for his autobiography, A Distant Voice. He lived in Berlin in the years after World War I, and saw quite early, and quite accurately, that the disasters that befell the Jews then was just the start of a flood that would bring ruin. He wrote in both Yiddish and German, and his home in Berlin was the center of Jewish literary and artistic activity. As his son, Simon Levin, recalled of his parentÕs home: ÒDiscussion was the great family sport which any visitor was immediately drawn into. My father, the Yiddish writer Samuel Lewin, had gathered about him a widening circle of other writers, artists, intellectuals of various persuasions. Almost any topic was fair game, but discussion revolved mostly around art and politics, the role of the artist in society, the nature of art and the relationship of esthetics and ethicsÓ. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, they burned LewinÕs books. Lewin fled, and after a number of years finally settled in the United States. He was, however, disappointed in how he was received in the Jewish literary community, and needed some assistance. He was also in desperate financial condition.Israel Matz was born in Lithuania and emigrated to America in 1890. He became an accountant, then entered the pharmaceutical business and founded the Ex-Lax Company in 1906. Matz was both a Zionist pioneer and a lifelong philanthropist and supporter of higher learning. His continuing legacy includes the Israel Matz Foundation in New York to support the publication of Jewish literature and philosophy, the Israel Matz Institute for Research in Jewish Law at Hebrew University, and the Matz Chair in Organic Chemistry at the Weizmann Institute. Matz and Einstein shared many interests and contributed time or money to some of the same causes, and the men were well acquainted. On July 20, 1937, Lewin wrote to Einstein, introducing himself as a Yiddish poet and novelist. He mentioned that many years ago, he had heard Einstein playing (most likely he was playing the piano, though it could have been a violin). Lewin asked for Einstein's help to find an English publisher for his work and sent along a copy of an introduction/recommendation he had received from famed author Franz Werfel. Werfel had stature both inside and outside of the literary community, and thought highly enough of Lewin to write a foreword to his recent novel, published in 1935. On December 6, Lewin again wrote Einstein, and as the Einstein Papers categorize it, ÒLewin sounds quite desperate and asks for financial support as the sums he so far received or earned are not sufficient.Ó Three days later, Einstein wrote Matz about Lewin, asking if he could assist the struggling author. Matz agreed, and considering his interest in Jewish literature, the Matz/Lewin connection seemed a perfect fit.Typed letter signed, on his blind embossed letterhead, Princeton, December 15, 1937, to Matz, thanking him for the assistance he would be giving Lewin. ÒDear Mr. Matz, I want to thank you very much for the help which you have in mind for Mr. Lewin. In the meantime, I have heard great things about the significance of Lewin's artistic work and convinced that you will also take great joy in this man.Ó In using the phrase Òartistic workÓ, Einstein spoke broadly, including literature in this context.Einstein received many requests from refugees for assistance, and although he did what he could, he was cautious when he was not personally acquainted with the refugee. He was also very careful about whom he approached to help and how often. It is therefore a testament to LewinÕs stature. N° de ref. de la librería

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Título: Albert Einstein Helps Noted Yiddish Literary...

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