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J. I. Segal

J. I. Segal
Portrait of J. I. Segal, c. 1944
Portrait of J. I. Segal, c. 1944
Native name
י.י. סיגאַל
BornYaakov Yitzchak Skolar
Slobkovitz, Podolia, Russian Empire
DiedMarch 7, 1954(1954-03-07) (aged 57–58)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Resting placeBaron de Hirsch Cemetery[1]
Literary movementModernism
RelativesEsther Segal (sister)

J. I. Segal (Yiddish: י.י. סיגאַל, Yud Yud Segal) (1896 – March 7, 1954), born Yaakov Yitzchak Skolar, was a Canadian Yiddish poet and journalist. He was a pioneer in the creation of Canadian Yiddish literary journals, and was the foremost proponent of literary modernism in Yiddish Canada.[2] His lyric poetry combines religious and folk tradition, modernist American literary practice, and Canadian landscape and atmosphere.[3]


J. I. Segal was born Yaakov Yitzchak Skolar in 1896 in Slobkovitz, Podolia in the Russian Empire (now Solobkovtsy, Ukraine),[4] the second youngest of seven children. He moved to the village of Koritz with his family at the age of three, after the death of his father.[5]

Segal immigrated to Montreal in 1911.[6]: 13  Upon arriving in Canada, he found work as a tailor in the garment industry, and then later as a teacher at the Jewish People's School. By 1915 he had begun submitting poetry to the Keneder Adler.[7] In 1918 he published his first collection of poetry, Fun Mayn Velt ("From My World"), which brought him immediate recognition, not only in Canada but in New York City and Poland.[3]

In 1923, Segal and his family relocated to New York, where he joined Di Yunge poet Mani Leib's shoemaker collective.[2] After publishing two collections of poetry, Segal returned to Montreal in 1928 after the death of his young daughter, Tsharna, whom he often addresses in later poems.[6] From 1941 until his death he was co-editor of the literary pages of the Keneder Adler along with Melech Ravitch.[8]

Segal was a prolific poet and the author of twelve volumes of poetry, among them, Sefer Idish ("The Book of Yiddish"), the last collection published in his lifetime, and Letste Lider ("Last Poems"), published posthumously.[7]

Since 1969, the Jewish Public Library of Montreal has awarded literary and translation prizes in his honor. The J.I. Segal Awards include bi-annual awards for the Best Quebec Book on a Jewish Theme, a writing award for writing in Yiddish, and an award for a Translation for a Book on a Jewish Theme. Past winners have included Leonard Cohen, Naim Kattan and Chava Rosenfarb. The 2022 awards will be announced in December, 2022.[7]


  1. ^ Kucharsky, Danny (2008). Sacred Ground on de la Savane, Montreal's Baron de Hirsch Cemetery. Montreal: Véhicule Press. pp. 128–129. ISBN 9781550651966.
  2. ^ a b Margolis, Rebecca (2011). Jewish Roots, Canadian Soil: Yiddish Cultural Life in Montreal, 1905-1945. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-7735-3812-2.
  3. ^ a b Waddington, Miriam (2006). "Y. Y. Segal". In Toye, William; Benson, Eugene (eds.). The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-1954-1167-6.
  4. ^ "Solobkovtsy, Ukraine". JewishGen. New York: Museum of Jewish Heritage. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  5. ^ Greenbaum, Perry J. (September 13, 2017). "Yiddish Poets & Writers: J. I. Segal". Perry J. Greenbaum. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Anctil, Pierre (2017). Jacob Isaac Segal: A Montreal Yiddish Poet and His Milieu. Translated by Felsen, Vivian. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press. ISBN 978-0-7766-2571-3.
  7. ^ a b c Levitan, Seymour (2007). "Segal, Jacob Isaac". Encyclopaedia Judaica (2nd ed.). Thomson Gale. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  8. ^ Kreitner, Richard. "J. I. Segal". Museum of Jewish Montreal. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
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J. I. Segal
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