Page 59 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 2

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I l l
YIVO can look back on its eighteen years of existence with a
measure of gratification. I t has been helping to create a sociology
of Jewish life; a sociology that does not confine itself merely to
description — essential as that may be — but that is also norma-
tive, that sets up standards and goals for our communal endeavors;
a sociology that is mindful of our spiritual heritage as the People
of the Book. In this, YIVO has not been alone; there are other
agencies participating in the enterprise. But the roots of YIVO
are deep in Jewish folk-life; its voice is the voice of the people,
the workaday people. In this, it differs somewhat from other
Jewish scientific agencies.
YIVO is, of course, a-partisan. Its aim is the pursuit of truth
and not of politics; its method is that of free, critical inquiry and
not of dogmatic indoctrination. And yet there is a social philo-
sophy implicit in the program of YIVO. It is lighted up by the
realization that Jews are a world-people and that Yiddish is the
living language and culture of a majority of Jews. Its studies in
economics, education and psychology as well as in history and
in demography and statistics, derive their peculiar significance
from this recognition of the Jewish community as a world-com-
munity; their tone and quality are surely influenced by the fact
that they are usually written in Yiddish and addressed to the
Yiddish-reading public. YIVO’s attitude is neither provincial
nor separatist; it does not disregard Jewish attainment in other
languages; it maintains cordial relationships with such Jewish
institutes. But it believes — modestly and sincerely — that, by
the employment of the folk-language, it can gain easier access
to the folk-treasures of our people, indeed, that by so doing it has
identified itself with the people. Because its attitude is not separa-
tist, YIVO is planning to render into English some of its studies
and to issue an English Bulletin; but YIVO and Yiddish are
inseparable. Without Yiddish, a great deal of the unique useful-
ness of the YIVO would vanish.
YIVO has now been in existence — has served the Jewish
people — for eighteen years. Eighteen in Hebrew spells out
life
,
and we are confident that YIVO will have many, many more
years of life and will go on serving our people in a brighter and
juster world, where our people, too, will be a free and equal
member among the free peoples of the earth.
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