Page 68 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 19

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6 2
J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
importation, its shrunken circulation proved inadequate for
survival.
More successful was
Kol VAm,
founded by M. L. Radkinson
in the East Prussian city of Koenigsberg in 1876. Heralded as a
weekly devoted to politics, literature, science and travel, it man­
aged to attract writers of various opinions, from Eliakum Zunser,
the popular bard who acted as its Minsk correspondent, to
Moritz Vinchevsky, the pioneer of socialism. When it ceased
publication in 1879, Zederbaum, who had been without a Yiddish
audience since the suppression of
Kol Mevasser
seven years
earlier, felt that the time was ripe for a new venture. In 1881,
at St. Petersburg, he founded the weekly
Yiddishes Folksblat,
which immediately became a most influential organ of enlighten­
ment and of early Zionist thought.
Again Zederbaum’s example was followed by other journalists.
The rise of Jewish mass movements of a political character in
the eighteen-nineties necessitated the existence of a Yiddish press
to disseminate information and to win new adherents.
Since the Bund was founded in 1897 with a revolutionary and
socialistic objective, its periodicals could not hope for legal
sanction in the Czarist realm. The problems faced from 1897
until the Revolution of 1905 by
Die Arbeiter Shtimme,
chief
organ of the Bund, were not only those of writing, editing, and
printing each issue secretly but also of distributing each copy
clandestinely. A person caught reading its inflammatory columns
might end up in prison or in Siberia.
The Zionists, though functioning legally, also encountered dif­
ficulties in reaching non-Hebrew readers. After the First Zionist
Congress in 1897, they too desired a Yiddish journal to carry on
their propaganda. Russian authorities, however, were suspicious
of all journals with a potential mass circulation among Jews,
whom they regarded as an unreliable sector of the population.
When
Der Yud
was founded in 1899, its Zionist supporters, in
order to circumvent legal obstacles, had to proceed with a printer
in Cracow, an editor in Odessa, and its office in Warsaw. Despite
these complications, the vogue of this semi-monthly under the
guidance of I. H. Ravnitzky was so great that after twenty issues
it was converted into a weekly. In its columns, Y. L. Peretz,
Sholom Aleichem, H. D. Nomberg, Sholem Asch, and Abraham
Reisen made noteworthy contributions to Yiddish literature. At
the same time Hebrew writers such as Joseph Klausner, Reuben
Brainin, Nachman Syrkin, and Simon Bernfeld continued to
debate in its Yiddish pages the desirability of Jewish bilingual­
ism. Within four years
Der Yud
had become so successful that
Zionists conceived the possibility of a self-sustaining Yiddish daily.
The weekly was, therefore, replaced by
Der Freind,
which thus
became the first Yiddish daily in Russia, although by that time