EHRENKRANZ, BENJAMIN (WOLF) ZEEB


EHRENKRANZ, BENJAMIN (WOLF) ZEEB
EHRENKRANZ, BENJAMIN (WOLF) ZEEB (1819–1883), popular Yiddish and Hebrew poet known as Velvl Zbarzher. Born in Zbarazh, Galicia (now Ukraine), Ehrenkranz had a traditional Jewish education. He composed and sang folk songs, and as a singing bard traveled to various European cities, spending his last years in Galata, a district in Istanbul. He performed his songs in Yiddish, shifting to Hebrew when appearing before a maskilic audience. His songs spread quickly, gradually changing until their original versions were forgotten. The major themes of his poetry were nature and people, poverty and wealth, and the fight of light against darkness, i.e., as he viewed it: maskilim against ḥasidim. Much of his work, only a fraction of which he published, is comprised of satires and parodies. His collected poetry, Makkel No'am (Hebrew and Yiddish), appeared in 1865–78 in four parts. He also wrote Makkel Ḥovelim (1869), in Hebrew and Yiddish, as well as Siftei Yeshenah (1874). B. Wachstein published three of Ehrenkranz' long Yiddish poems (YIVO-Bleter, 1938), and a selection of his letters in 1928. Although most of his improvised songs were never published, some were issued by L. Morgenstern, the Warsaw publisher, but were not attributed to the poet. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: S. Niger, in: Tsukunft, 1 (1925); Tiger, in: Yidish, 3–4 (Vienna, 1928), 1–6; D.I. Silberbusch, Mi-Pinkas Zikhronotai (1936), 81–9; Rejzen, Leksikon, 2 (1927), 832–40; LNYL, 3 (1960), 580–3, S.V. Zbarzher, Velvl; L. Wiener, History of Yiddish Literature (1899); S. Liptzin, Eliakum Zunser (1950), 74. (Mordechay Zerkawod)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.