Page 54 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 23

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Y I D D I S H L I T E R A T U R E I N I S R A E L
By
S
ol
L
ip t z in
I
n
pr e
-
m a n d a t e
Palestine, Yiddish was the spoken language of
the Ashkenazi sector of the population and Hebrew the written
medium as well as the oral link between Ashkenazim and Sephar-
dim. The Zionist pioneers, in their efforts to establish Hebrew as
the spoken language and the unifying force of the national re-
vival, engaged in a crusade against German, French and Yiddish,
the three rival tongues vying for the loyalty of various groups and
institutions. The case for German, backed by the Hilfsverein der
deutschen Juden, was lost after the battle of languages early in
1914 over the medium of instruction for Haifa’s Technion and
after the outbreak of World War I. The case for French, backed
by the Alliance Israelite Universelle, was lost when the mandate
was not assigned to France. Yiddish then remained the principal
target for attack by the militant Hebraists, who looked upon it
as the expression of the unregenerated denizens of the Russian
Pale and the Galician townlets. By 1948 the victory of Hebrew
was complete and antagonism to Yiddish abated.
Symbolic of the reconciliation of Hebraists and Yiddishists in
the new state was the founding under Histadrut auspices of the
quarterly
Di Goldene Kei t
and the establishment of a chair in
Yiddish at the Hebrew University. At the inauguration ceremony
of the Yiddish Department under Professor Dov Sdan on Septem-
ber 4, 1951, David Pinski recalled that twenty-four years earlier
David Shapiro, publisher of the New York daily
Der Tog׳,
had
offered the Hebrew University $100,000 to establish a chair in
Yiddish and that the University declined the offer. Pinski was
followed by other Hebrew and Yiddish speakers, all of whom
welcomed the changed atmosphere which encouraged creativity
in both languages.
The Appearance of Di Goldene K e i t
Di Goldene Kei t
began to appear in 1949 under the editorship
of Avraham Suzkever and Avraham Levinson. When the latter
died in 1955, Eliezer Pines became co-editor. By 1965 more than
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