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Saul Saphire, Yiddish Novelist, Forward Staff Writer, Dead at 78

Saul Saphire, staff writer on the New York-based Yiddish daily, Forward, and author of more than 100 novels, was buried here Friday night. He died Thursday of cancer at the age of 78. He had been on the Forward staff since 1951 as a fiction and article writer and his byline was prominent in the Yiddish press for 50 years.

Mr. Saphire was the author of historical novels whose subject matter dealt with the entire range of Jewish life from the Biblical and post-Biblical eras through the dispersion, the Golden Age of the Jews in Spain, the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, and Jewish life in the United States. His 100 novels were serialized in Yiddish magazines and newspapers, and about 25 of his novels were published in book form and several were translated into English.

WRITINGS WERE WIDELY PUBLISHED

His writings were widely published in the Yiddish press in Latin America, and before World War II in Yiddish periodicals in Poland and other European countries. Born in Wilno, Russia, he came to this country in 1915 after making his way across Siberia to China and Japan. Mr. Saphire wrote stories, essays and articles for the flourishing Yiddish press in New York when he arrived there. He also helped found the Hebrew School of the Flatbush Jewish Center and served as its principal for many years. He also taught Hebrew in New York and New Britain, Conn.

Mr. Saphire was a member of the Authors League of America and the Peretz Verein-Yiddish Union and the Workmen’s Circle. He was a 1921 graduate of Teachers College, Columbia University. He became a staff writer for the now defunct Jewish Morning Journal and its weekly literary magazine, Amerikaner, in the 1920s and joined the Forward in 1951.

Among his novels that were translated into English were “The Caliph of Cordova.” and “A Challenge To Caesar.” With Donovan Fitzpatrick, he wrote “Navy Maverick,” a biography of Commander Uriah P. Levy, published in 1963. Mr. Saphire’s son, William, is a staff correspondent of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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