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Yossl Birstein

יוסל בירשטיין

Yossl Birstein (1920-2003) was born in Poland. He left for Australia at age 17 and served in the Australian army during World War II. He immigrated to Israel in 1950 and was a member of Kibbutz Gvat for several years, working as a shepherd. He later moved to the town of Kiryat Tivon, where he worked in a local bank, and then to Jerusalem, where he worked as an archivist at the Hebrew University. Birstein wrote in both Hebrew and Yiddish, and his first book, a collection of Yiddish poetry, was published in 1949 in Australia. Among his awards: the Fichman Prize (1983), the Wallenrod Prize (1986), The Prime Minister’s Prize twice (1987; 1999), the Atran Prize for Yiddish Literature (US, 1988), the Beit Shalom Aleichem Prize (1989) and the Itzik Manger Prize for Yiddish Literature (1991).

Photo by: David Hass

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