How I Found the Lost Ending to a Legendary Author’s Story

Modern technology helped reveal the conclusion to "Falik and His House", written by renowned Yiddish author Jacob Dinezon nearly 120 years ago

Old Yiddish newspapers now online brought to light the end of the tale of Falik, who refuses to leave the Old Country even as his house literally falls down around him (Image: Dinezon, his story and a shack like Falik's)

There is something exhilarating about making a research find—especially when the discovery adds real historical or literary value. That’s what happened recently when a lost piece of Jacob Dinezon’s writing was located in an old Yiddish newspaper available via the Historical Jewish Press project, an initiative of the National Library of Israel in partnership with Tel Aviv University.

My first encounter with this extraordinary resource was in obtaining information about Dinezon’s death and funeral in the Warsaw Yiddish newspaper, Haynt (Today). Most of these reports, which were translated into English by Tina Lunson and are now online, were published in late August and early September of 1919.

Full page death announcement for Jacob Dinezon, published in the August 31, 1919 issue of Haynt. From the National Library of Israel Digital Collection

This latest discovery was motivated by the Yiddish translator Mindy Liberman who recently completed the first English translation of Jacob Dinezon’s novella, Falik un zayn hoyz (Falik and His House), which was initially published in fifteen installments in the Yiddish newspaper, Der fraynd (The Friend), in 1904. These installments were subsequently republished by Akhisefer in Warsaw, Poland, as part of a collection of volumes celebrating Dinezon’s 10th yortsayt (the 10th anniversary of his death) in 1929. Interestingly, the book was titled, Falik in zayn hoyz (Falk in His House).

The Akhisefer publishing house’s 1929 printing of Falik in zayn hoyz. From the National Library of Israel Digital Collection

I first met Mindy at a meeting of the California Institute for Yiddish Culture and Language in December 2019, during a commemoration of Dinezon’s 100th yortsayt. After my talk, Mindy approached me and mentioned that she had been translating poems by the Yiddish poet Miriam Ulinover, was enjoying the process, and was interested in continuing her translation efforts with a work of fiction.

At that time, I told her that I was about to take a break from the Dinezon work but that there was one short Dinezon novel, Falik un zayn hoyz (Falik and His House), which had always intrigued me. From what I had read, the plot was most unusual. The story focuses on an old tailor, Falik, whose sons have moved from Eastern Europe to America. The sons want their parents to join them, but Falik, even though his house is falling down around him, doesn’t want to leave the Old Country. According to the Yiddish literary historian Shmuel Rozshanski, “Dinezon was possibly the first of the Yiddish writers in Russia to describe this type of Jew who doesn’t want to leave his old home even though he endlessly suffers in it.” (Translation by Miri Koral)

Mindy and I exchanged email addresses, and a short time later, I sent her a link to an online version of Falik un zayn hoyz made available by the Yiddish Book Center’s Steven Spielberg Digital Yiddish Library.

When Mindy read the Yiddish book, she discovered something startling: the final few pages of the story were missing!

Instead of the end of the story, this notice from the publisher appeared:

Publisher’s note at the end of Falik in zayn hoyz. From the National Library of Israel Digital Collection

Mindy’s translation of the notice:

From the publisher:

This story “Falik and his House” was once published in “Fraynd.” Before his death, Jacob Dinezon heavily revised (literal: improved) it, threw out and added whole pages, and had it typeset in book form. He prepared the proofs himself.

The story was typeset until the last page, but he did not manage to set the type for the last few lines of the proof sheet.

We present it as it was left at the hand of the deceased author.


The novella was published without the ending!

I couldn’t believe that Dinezon hadn’t written an ending to his story. Certainly, Der fraynd wouldn’t have published fifteen installments without the final words. Why didn’t they just go back to the original newspaper to find the ending?

Then it occurred to me, the original newspapers were published twenty-five years earlier. At that time, finding an archive of Der fraynd, which stopped publishing in 1913, was probably impossible. So Falik’s publishers did the best they could and printed what they had.

Today we have resources they couldn’t have even imagined back then, including the aforementioned Historical Jewish Press! So I headed online to see if they had issues of Der fraynd and was delighted to find that they had digital images of the entire run of the newspaper!

Now, at this point, I have to admit, there was still a problem: I don’t read Yiddish. I’ve always had to hire Yiddish translators to read any of Dinezon’s books or the research materials related to his life and times. So I knew there was no way I could read the bold Yiddish headlines on my own. But I did have an image of the title from the book, so in effect, like a computer, I basically relied on image recognition.

By matching the name of the work to that which appeared in the digitized issues of Der Fraynd, the author was able to locate the long-lost conclusion to Dinezon’s story

Starting with Friday, January 1st, 1904, I began scanning through the newspaper, day-by-day and page-by-page.

The first appearance of Falik un zayn hoyz showed up on January 17th. The page was damaged, and the installment number was missing. There was also a surprise: the title was not Falik IN His House but Falik AND His House — which makes sense when you read the story and realize the house is presented as a character who Falik often calls “Brother.”

Part one of “Falik un zayn hoyz”, published in the January 17, 1904 issue of Der Fraynd. From the National Library of Israel Digital Collection

Jumping forward a few months from January, I found the installment for Part 13 on May 8th and Part 14 on May 22nd. At the bottom of that installment were the words, “ende kumt” (“end coming”).

Part 14 of “Falik un zayn hoyz”, published in the May 22, 1904 issue of Der Fraynd, concludes with the words “ende kumt” (“end coming”). From the National Library of Israel Digital Collection

Needless to say, my excitement soared as I thought, “At last, I’m going to find the final chapter of this story!”

With renewed energy, I slowly started going through each issue of the newspaper from May 23rd through the end of June, page-by-page, column-by-column. But as hard as I tried, I couldn’t find the missing part. I went back again through the whole lot without success.

Part 15 was missing.

Was it possible that Dinezon had never finished the story or that for some reason, the newspaper had never published the final installment? Frustrated and exhausted, I said, “To hell with it!” and went to bed.

Getting up the next morning, I just couldn’t let it rest. It just didn’t make sense. How could Dinezon not finish his story, and how could Der fraynd not publish it after promising the installment was forthcoming? It had to be there somewhere!

So I went back and downloaded twenty-five full-page PDF copies of the newspaper starting from the day after the appearance of Part 14. This way, I could scan through each day in a much more precise manner on my large computer screen.

And that’s how I found it! At the very bottom of page two on June 1st: Part 15 of Falik and His House! An early 20th-century historical literary discovery made possible by our 21st-century technology.

Part 15, the lost installment of “Falik un zayn hoyz”, published in the June 1,1904 issue of Der Fraynd. From the National Library of Israel Digital Collection

Mindy Liberman has now completed her translation of Jacob Dinezon’s Falik and His House, which includes Dinezon’s long-lost final lines — an additional four full pages! On April 16th, 2021, Jewish Storyteller Press published Dinezon’s novella in its entirety for the very first time in English.

There’s one more thing that was confirmed by scanning through all those online newspapers. It has always been my contention that Jacob Dinezon deserves equal recognition alongside the other prominent Yiddish writers of his day. For Dinezon, 1904 was a banner year. Der fraynd published two of his novellas and several of his short stories. Dinezon’s works appeared side-by-side with the works of Sholem Aleichem, I. L. Peretz, Mendele Mocher Sforim, and S. Ansky.

At that moment in time, Dinezon was easily as well-known and popular as his now more famous colleagues and friends.


A version of this article originally appeared in Jacob Dinezon: Beloved Uncle of Modern Yiddish Literature under the headline “A Research Discovery”. It has been published here as part of Gesher L’Europa, the National Library of Israel’s initiative to connect with people, institutions and communities across Europe and beyond, through storytelling, knowledge sharing and community engagement.

Dozens of letters written to Dinezon (sometimes spelled Dineson), as well as a number of manuscripts he wrote, may be found in the National Library of Israel’s Jacob Dineson Collection.

Reporting the Holocaust Alongside Vacation Ads

In 1939, sickening accounts of impending genocide appeared on the same pages as cruise and resort promos

It was not uncommon for pre-war American Jewish newspapers to feature grisly stories of persecution alongside offers of sunshine and pleasure (Composite image: The aftermath of Kristallnacht, 10 November 1938 / Colorized ad from The Sentinel, 9 January 1939; from the NLI Digital Collection)

“The General Post Office of Vienna was in uproar. Important and less important officials were running to and fro; there was an air of mystery and consternation about the place. For something unusual had happened; among the big parcels sent by post was discovered a huge packet addressed to ‘The Fuehrer and Chancellor, Herr Adolf Hitler.’ The parcel was crudely wrapped up; the handwriting was big and almost childish. Surely there was something wrong about it. Was it a  bomb, sent by some Jew who wished to avenge his own and his people’s suffering on the Fuehrer? The matter had to be investigated.

And so the packet was opened and in it was found the dead little body of an infant a few days old, tenderly wrapped in a white shawl to which there was pinned a letter in the same big childish handwriting. The letter was also addressed to ‘The Fuehrer and Chancellor of Germany, Herr Adolf Hitler’ and read as follows:

I, Elisabeth Sultzer, Viennese, aged 32, am sending you herewith my firstborn infant which I have strangled with my own hands as a present to you for your treatment of myself and my family. Signed Elisabeth Sultzer.”

While trying to escape Austria, Sultzer’s husband had been murdered by the Nazis before her eyes, depriving her unborn child of a father and depriving Elisabeth of her sanity.

The grisly scene was reported by prominent London-based Jewish journalist William Zukerman. It was published in newspapers across the United States alongside ads for Caribbean party cruises, luxury hotels in Miami Beach and resort vacations in Hot Springs.

Tragically absurd in hindsight, this was certainly not uncommon in the pre-war American Jewish press.


In the January 5, 1939 issue of The Sentinel, Chicago’s leading Jewish newspaper, ads offering sunshine and pleasure far away from home appeared alongside the story of Elisabeth Sultzer, other reports of Jewish suffering in Europe and efforts to help refugees. From the National Library of Israel Digital Collection

Kristallnacht had taken place two months prior.

Interior view of the destroyed Fasanenstrasse Synagogue in Berlin, burned down on Kristallnacht, November 9-10, 1938
During the two day pogrom known as Kristallnacht, some 30,000 Jews – including those pictured here marching in columns – were arrested and subsequently deported to concentration camps (Bundesarchiv / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

At the end of the month in which Zukerman’s piece was published, Hitler publicly declared:

“Today I will be once more a prophet: if the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, then the result will not be the Bolshevizing of the earth, and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!”

Zukerman would later share fellow reporter Henry Shapiro’s poetically chilling account following the liberation of Babi-Yar, outside of Kiev, where the Nazis and their collaborators had committed one of the Holocaust’s largest massacres, murdering nearly 35,000 Jews in just two days and more than 100,000 people total over two years:

“I stood by the pit and stirred the sand which covered the mass. Only a little stirring uncovered strands of bloodstained human skulls and other bones, children’s shoes. And then I stirred the memories of men who could testify of the mass murder that took place there.”

A Russian-born immigrant to the United States, Zukerman spent years reporting on European current events from London, refusing to shy away from exposing uncomfortable truths about what was being done to the Jews, as well as the widespread indifference to those truths.

The irony of this particular ad combination – published less than two months after Kristallnacht – could hardly have been lost on its readers. It also appeared in the January 5, 1939 issue of The Sentinel.

Beginning in the 1930s, he tried to draw readers’ attentions away from the lure of sun-splashed vacations and new household appliances to the unspeakable crimes being perpetrated against European Jewry, employing powerful and heartbreaking vignettes to do so.

A dead infant sent via post to Hitler.

A dozen middle-aged Jews beaten to death at the gates of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp; those who survived missing eyes. Mutilated. Unconscious.

Dr. Freilach, the last Jew left in the Sudeten town of Hohenstadt. Everyone else had fled following the Munich Agreement, which gave the Nazis control over Hohenstadt, where his family had lived for generations. Too old to start a new life elsewhere, he had decided to stay, looking after the synagogue, now his own personal house of prayer. The Nazis forced the elderly man to burn it to the ground with his own hands. Dr. Freilach went home and killed himself before his Nazi tormenters could.

“It is these particular tragedies, the pain and humiliation of the individual Jewish man, woman and child which matter most in the present holocaust,” Zukerman wrote to his international readership in January 1939.

“Jewry as a whole will certainly outlive Hitler and Nazism, but thousands of individual Jews are being done to death in circumstances which would shame the beasts of the jungle. It is about these that we must shout loudest.”


This article has been published as part of Gesher L’Europa, the National Library of Israel’s initiative to connect with people, institutions and communities across Europe and beyond, through storytelling, knowledge sharing and community engagement.

József “Csibi” Braun: The Tragic Story of a Jewish Soccer Star

József Braun was Footballer of the Year and top scorer in his native Hungary, but those that saw him star for the national team couldn't have guessed that his life would come to a tragic end in the Holocaust


Even those that knew him beforehand would have struggled to recognize the frail figure dressed in the uniform of a forced laborer – thin rags that did little to defend against the harsh weather conditions of the Russian front during the Second World War. But if they looked closely, or happened to hear his name, they likely would have known exactly who he was. Some might have even read the book he inspired: Csibi, written by one Bela Senesh (Szenes).

Senesh was none other than the father of Hannah Senesh, the iconic Hebrew paratrooper and poet who was captured and killed during a daring WWII mission behind enemy lines. Well before that, however, Bela Senesh was a fairly well-known playwright and journalist in Hungary, though Csibi became his most famous work. The book was extremely popular in Hungary during the 1920s, and in the 1950s it was translated into Hebrew by Avigdor HaMeiri.

Csibi by Bela Senesh (Szenes), published in Hebrew by Hakibutz Hameuchad Publishers

The plot tells of a fatherless boy, who grows up in a poor working-class neighborhood before being sent to a school where the children hail from more privileged backgrounds. At first, the other children tease him because of his poor upbringing. “Those poor people, they’re unclean by nature”, his classmates remark, while deciding to shun and ignore the boy, fearful that such a person “might suddenly draw a pocketknife and stab us in the back”. They also label him with the derogatory nickname “Csibi” – a word meaning “street urchin” in Hungarian.

Yet over the course of the book, the boy, Istvan Horovecz, displays his virtues and personal integrity, and eventually manages to win over his classmates with his talent on the football pitch. Bravely enduring his classmates’ various pranks and taunts, [SPOILER ALERT] Csibi finally helps his school win a prestigious tournament, and the epilogue tells of how he eventually becomes an international soccer star and later even a doctor. The book became an instant classic for young readers in Hungary.

Though the Jewish connection is not specifically mentioned in the book, the clues are sprinkled throughout. For example, on Csibi’s first day at school, his teacher pronounces his last name as Horovicz instead of Horovecz. The name “Horovecz” with an “e” was adopted by many Jewish families who sought to make their origins less obvious by choosing a more “Hungarian”-sounding name. Csibi’s assimilation into Hungarian society reflected Bela Senesh’s own beliefs regarding the importance of Jewish assimilation.


Bela Senesh, the Hannah Senesh Archive at the National Library of Israel

So who was the original “Csibi”? The inspiration for Bela Senesh’s book was József Braun, whose story is similar to that of quite a few European athletes of the period: They were Hungarians, Germans, Austrians and so on, but for many of their neighbors and acquaintances, they were Jews, first and foremost. In Hungary in particular, many Jews in the late 19th century and early 20th century began turning to a relatively new sport – football. Sports were a path that offered integration into society, a vision that appealed to the young József Braun.

Born to a middle class family in Budapest in 1901, Braun began playing soccer despite his father’s disapproval, and his talent shone even at a young age. At age 13 he was playing with older children and still managing to stand out. In 1916 Braun was invited to join MTK Budapest, one of the biggest clubs in the country, after the coach happened to see him playing in a local park. By coincidence, MTK was actually known as something of a “Jewish” team – aside from the club’s Jewish president, a number of prominent Jewish players also starred for the club, including Béla Guttmann, Gyula Mándi and Henrik Nadler.

József “Csibi” Braun

Braun, who was nicknamed “Csibi”, played on the right wing, and was an extremely impressive player. Israeli sports journalist Ronen Dorfan has described Braun as someone who was capable of carrying out all of his tasks on the pitch with perfect precision. He was incredibly quick, with excellent ball control skills as well as an eye for goal. Braun won nine Hungarian league titles with MTK as well as two Hungarian Cups. Aside from his achievements at club level, he also starred for the Hungarian national team, scoring eleven goals in twenty-seven international appearances. Dorfan explains that in the context of international soccer in the 1920s, this was a relatively high number of appearances. Braun began playing for Hungary at the age of 18, was Footballer of the Year in Hungary in 1919 and also participated in the 1924 Olympic Games.

József “Csibi” Braun (third from the right), with the Hungarian national team in 1924

Unfortunately, Csibi’s football career came to an end in early and abrupt fashion. At age 20, Braun had already suffered a difficult injury from which he was able to recover, but in 1926, when he was only 25, Braun was forced to hang up his boots after yet another major injury. While he did attempt a comeback in the late 1920s with two American teams (including the Jewish club Brooklyn Hakoah), Braun soon put a final stop to his brief and illustrious career, at an age when most soccer players are in their prime.

During the 1930s, Csibi tried his hand at coaching, spending a few years managing Slovakian club Slovan Bratislava. In 1938, however, with antisemitism on the rise, Braun was forced to return to his native Hungary.

Soon came World War II, with Hungary entering the war in 1941 as a member of the Axis. Braun, who was around 40 at the time, was forced to join one of the Hungarian army’s labor battalions, like many of his fellow Jews. These were, in effect, forced labor organizations, with the prisoners, mainly Jews, required to dig trenches and build fortifications on the war front, while completely exposed to Soviet gunfire.

Braun was sent to the eastern front, and was not among those fortunate enough to survive. Csibi, the international soccer star, died of hunger and exhaustion after two years of forced manual labor in subhuman conditions.

Today József Braun’s name is nearly forgotten in Hungary. Something does remain though – the children’s book which bears his name, as well as the author’s hope of assimilation into Hungarian society through football and sport. Unfortunately, we are all too aware of what became of that hope, as well as the tragic fate of Bela Senesh’s daughter.

In late 2020, Hannah Senesh’s complete archive was deposited at the National Library of Israel. A part of it is devoted to the life’s work of her father Bela. We warmly encourage our readers to explore this wonderful archive both online and at the National Library of Israel building itself.

Natan Sharansky’s First Seder

The Haggadah's words were felt as KGB agents surrounded them. Later he would "celebrate" Passover in the Gulag

Natan and Avital Sharansky upon their arrival in Israel, 12 February 1986 (Photo: Israel Simionsky). From the Dan Hadani Archive, Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

I was born into a completely assimilated Jewish family.

Nothing Jewish, except the anti-Semitism. No traditions, no holidays, no language.

At 24, I joined the Zionist movement. We struggled to free the Jews of the Soviet Union. As part of my Zionist activities, I began to learn Hebrew in secret, in an underground ulpan.

Natan Sharansky, 1972

I celebrated the first Passover Seder of my life with my fiancé at the time, Avital (then Natasha), in Moscow. Three Hebrew teachers brought all of their students together for one big Seder in a Moscow apartment.

As we didn’t know Hebrew well enough to read from the Haggadah, the teachers gave each of us a short part to memorize. We didn’t understand many of the words, expressions or sentences, yet one line in particular we didn’t just understand… we felt:

…ela sh’bkhol dor v’dor omdim aleinu l’khaloteinu” – “in each generation, they stand against us to destroy us…”

It was enough to simply look out the window and see the KGB agents surrounding the apartment to know that we ourselves were continuing the Exodus from Egypt.

And when we said, “L’shana ha’baa b’Yerushalayim!” – “Next year in Jerusalem!”, we believed and knew that just like the Israelites in Egypt, we too would live lives of freedom.

Before that freedom came, Avital and I would be separated from one another for twelve years.

For nine of them, I was in the Gulag.

Avital Sharansky, 1977

When I celebrated the Seder in solitary confinement, I needed to decide what would be matzah, what would be maror and what would be wine, when all I had in solitary were three slices of bread, three cups of warm water and a bit of salt.

I decided that the maror was salt, the wine was warm water, and the matzah was dry bread.

Recalling the lines I had learned for my first Seder, I felt that our struggle continued. It strengthened my spirit.

B’Shana zo anu avadim l’shana ha’baa bnei horin, ha’shana anu kan uv’shana ha’baa b’Yerushalayim” – “This year we are slaves, next year free men; this year we are here, and next year in Jerusalem.”

A crowd celebrates Natan Sharansky’s arrival at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, 12 February 1986 (Photo: Efi Sharir). From the Dan Hadani Archive, Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

The Natan Sharansky Archive is safeguarded among the collections of the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem.

The “Passover Memories” project on The Librarians has been created as part of Gesher L’Europa, the National Library of Israel’s initiative to connect with people, institutions and communities across Europe and beyond, through storytelling, knowledge sharing and community engagement.