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BACHER, SIMON:

Neo-Hebraic poet; born Feb. 1, 1823, in Liptó-Szent-Miklós, Hungary died at Budapest Nov. 9, 1891. Bacher, whose name was originally Bachrach, came of a family of scholars, and counted as one of his ancestors the well-known Jair Ḥayyim Bacharach. He studied Talmud in his native city, in Nikolsburg under Menahem Nahum Trebitsch, and under Moses Perles in Eisenstadt and Bonyhad. During this period Bacher was much influenced by the new movement of the Haskalah, and he also studied the secular sciences and literature.

When nineteen years old Bacher returned to Miklós, where, despite the business in which he was engaged, he continued his studies with unremitting zeal. After many struggles Bacher in 1874 went to Budapest, where two years later he was appointed treasurer of the Jewish community. This office he held until he died.

When a boy of eleven, Bacher had translated German poems into Hebrew. Thus Schiller's "Lied von der Glocke" first came to be known to the scholars in Bonyhad, who were wholly engrossed with their Talmudic studies. Masters and pupils of the old renowned Talmudic schools were alike delighted with his verses. The events of his fatherland and of the Jewish community, festival days and days of mourning, jubilees and funerals, equally inspired his song. He celebrated scholars, preachers, statesmen; orators, singers, philanthropists, and writers; and Jewish legends and history also provided subjects for his poems, in which were mingled reflections and expressions of sentiment, myths, and historical events.

In addition to short scientific and miscellaneous contributions to magazines—the former consisting of linguistic studies on the Talmud and essays in archeology—Bacher wrote some short poems in German. But his place in Jewish literature was won chiefly by his Hebrew poetry. Of almost equal rank with his original poetic work are some of his translations into Hebrew of German, French, and Hungarian poems. The translations are classic in form, and reproduce vividly the spirit of the original.

Bacher contributed to many Jewish magazines, and wrote also a number of occasional poems published separately. Among his longer works are the following: Translations of Ludwig Philippson's tragedy "Jojachin," Vienna, 1860, and of Lessing's "Nathan der Weise," Vienna, 1866; "Zemirot ha-'Areẓ" (Hymns of the Land), Budapest, 1868, and a collection of Hungarian poems: "Muẓẓal Meësh" (Saved from the Fire), Budapest, 1879, a collection of various original poems; "Melek Ebyon" (The Poor King), Budapest, 1881, a collection of romantic Biblical poems; and "Michtame Gleichenberg" (Budapest, 1887), "makamas" in the manner of Ludwig August Frankl. After Bacher's death his son Wilhelm published, under the title "Sha'ar Shim'on" (Vienna, 1894), a selection of Hebrew poems, culled from Bacher's printed works and from unpublished manuscripts, 1894, in three parts: the first of these contains his original poems; the second, translations; and the third, "Nathan der Weise." The work is prefaced with a biography of Bacher and a chronological list of his works.

Bibliography:
  • W. Bacher, in the introduction to his father's Sha'ar Shim'on, 1894.
L. G. E. N.
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