Yitzhak Kahn was the son of a minister. He studied at the Yeshiva, but gradually developed a keen interest in secular Jewish culture and literature. This created conflicts with his father, and led to his emigration. In Australia he has contributed to the cultural life of the Yiddish speaking community with articles and public lectures. He was a noted critic in the Yiddish literary field, and was the first to write about non-Jewish writers in Yiddish.
Kahn won numerous awards, including the Waislitz-Zymerman Prize in 1966, Commonwealth Grand Council in 1974, World Congress for Jewish Culture in 1977, the Central Committee Mexico Ferdinado-Heno Award in 1978 and the Itzik Manger Prize in 1988. He has written in several genres, including Australian Studies, short stories, fiction, literary criticism and autobiography.