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(Pseudonym of Yeshaye Nisn Hakoyen Goldberg; 1858–1927), Yiddish author. Born to a poor family in the village of Stolbovshchine (on the Neman River in Minsk province), Yaknehoz came from a distinguished lineage: his father, Yekusiel Zalmen, was a grandson of the noted Galician rabbi El‘azar ha-Kalir. Yaknehoz received a traditional Jewish education in Kapulie and Minsk, and, having achieved particular expertise in the Bible, began composing Hebrew poetry under its influence. He also developed a reputation as an inspector of Torah scrolls; still a yeshiva student, he traveled throughout the Minsk region, checking and correcting them. During this period he met the writer and critic Shemu’el Leib Zitron, at whose suggestion he began writing feuilletons in Hebrew and Yiddish in 1878 for periodicals such as Ha-Kol and Kol le-‘am.

When professional travels took him to Kiev, he met Sholem Aleichem, who published Goldberg’s long feuilleton, “A letter from Lithuania to America” in the first volume of Di yidishe folks-bibliotek (The Jewish People’s Library; 1888). Written as if it had come from an anonymous small-town Lithuanian Jew, the piece, which depicts the shtetl in humorous detail, cites the author as Yeshaye Nisn Hakoyen Goldberg in parentheses, but largely credits it to his pseudonym Yaknehoz—a name taken from the acronym of the order of blessings said at the end of a Sabbath when a holiday begins immediately thereafter. (Yaknehoz also sounds like the German phrase “Jag den Has” [hunt the hare]; hence illustrations of hare-hunting scenes appear in many Passover Haggadahs.) Yaknehoz also began to publish pieces in Hebrew, in journals such as Ha-Melits and Ha-Yom as well as in separate printings, on topics as varied as Jewish kidnappers of draftees, the lives of yeshiva students, and disputes between Hasidim and Misnagdim.

Though Yaknehoz lived briefly in small towns around Kiev, when his reputation as a secular writer became widely known in 1889 he returned to Lithuania to teach Hebrew—first in Koidanov and, from 1891, in Minsk, where he lived until the end of his life. Working as a tutor, he found time to write only on Fridays. Despite limitations, Yaknehoz’s output was astonishingly prolific: he published approximately 500 short stories and sketches, about half of them in Yiddish (the rest in Hebrew), which were printed in such papers as Yudishes folks-blat, Der yud, Der fraynd, Leon Rabinovitch’s Tog, Di tsayt, Der veg, Der telegraf, Haynt, Unzer lebn, Di naye velt, and Moment. Several of his later stories, mostly about the lives of Hebrew teachers after the October Revolution, were published in 1924 in the Vilner tog.

Toward the end of his life, Yaknehoz also published in various Communist newspapers, including the Minsk Oktyabr, the Moscow Emes, and the New York Frayhayt, but he seemed to have done so out of financial necessity rather than ideological sympathy. His work was never published in book form. Critics praise him particularly for his sensitivity to the life of the middle class and note his remarkable popularity, though they take him to task for his prolixity. One of his most notable supporters was the famed Yiddish writer Avrom Reyzen, on whom Yaknehoz was a significant influence.

Suggested Reading

Ephraim Auerbach, Yitskhok Kharlash, and Moshe Starkman, eds., “Yaknehoz,” in Leksikon fun der nayer yidisher literatur, vol. 4, cols. 271–272 (New York, 1961); Abraham Reisen, Epizodn fun mayn lebn, vol. 1, pp. 13–20 (Vilna, 1929); Zalman Reisen (Rejzen), “Yaknehoz,” in Leksikon fun der yidisher literatur, prese, un filologye, vol. 1, pp. 1273–1275 (Vilna, 1926).