You are now entering the Jewish Currents archive.

Chaver Paver

Lawrence Bush
February 8, 2018

Yiddish writer Gershon Einbinder, who used the pen name Chaver Paver, was born in what is now Ukraine on this date in 1901. He fled pogroms by emigrating to Romania in 1921 and to New York in 1923, where he published his first two volumes of children’s stories, Mayselekh fun Khaver Paver. Chaver Paver worked as a teacher and curriculum-writer in the leftwing Yiddish shules (schools) of the Jewish People’s Fraternal Order, the Jewish subgroup of the Communist-oriented International Workers Order (IWO). His best-known work, Labzik: mayselekh vegn klugn hintele (Labzik: Stories of a Clever Puppy), was published in 1935 and involved a dog and its youthful human friends who fight for social justice on the streets of New York. Later in life he wrote Yiddish novellas and novels for adults, including Heroes of the Night, about Jewish anti-Nazi partisans in Poland, published in 1950. To read an excerpt from his novel, Night Can’t Last Forever, published in our magazine in 1952, click here. Chaver Paver moved to Los Angeles in 1935 and lived there until his death in 1963. His West Coast life was reflected in his novel, Zalmen the Cobbler (published in 1955 by a Chaver Paver Book Committee), which included vivid descriptions of the Yiddish-speaking Jews of Boyle Heights and of other Los Angeles neighborhoods and landmarks.

“ ‘When they ask me in that other world: ‘Zalmen, what did you accomplish on that sinful earth?’ I will say to them: ‘Here, just take a look for yourselves. It is noted here: so many and so many thousands of pairs of shoes made in my life for people to wear, protecting them from wet and cold. And still more thousands of pairs I mended for those too poor to buy themselves new ones. So many thousands and thousands of leaflets and pamphlets distributed against the injustices in life. So, so many hundreds of friends collected in the course of my years in America. And I’m not even talking about all of my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren: good, useful people.’ ” --Chaver Paver, from Zalmen the Cobbler, translated by Caroline Luce, edited by Hershl Hartman

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.