Page 55 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 23

Basic HTML Version

L i p t z i n — Y id d i sh L i t e r a t u r e in I s r a e l
fifty issues of this quarterly had appeared and its position was
assured as the preeminent literary organ of Yiddish writers the
world over.
Before the proclamation of the Jewish state, Palestine was not
an important center for Yiddish letters or for Yiddish publishing.
Throughout the mandatory period, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv could
not compare with New York, Warsaw or Kiev in Jewish creativity.
Interest in Yiddish manifested itself mainly in translations of
outstanding diaspora writers. In the decade before 1948, such
translations included works by Opatoshu, Bergelson, Der Nister,
Leivick, Kulback, Onokhi, Segalowitch, Pinski, Reisen, Weissen-
berg, I. I. Singer, Kadia Molodowsky, Moshe Nadir. The first
pioneers of Yiddish found life in Palestine unpropitious for their
literary efforts and generally continued on to America.
Such a pioneer was Ephraim Auerbach who came to Palestine
in 1912 and whose first volume
(Caravans, 1918)
hymned the joy of halutziut. He left for America after fighting
under Josef Trumpeldor in the Jewish Legion. His best lyrics
of Israel appeared decades later in the volumes
Gildene Shkiye
(Golden Sunset, 1959) and in
Di Vaisse Shtot
(The White City,
Auerbach’s fellow-legionnaire was the poet Zishe Weinper,
whose first book of lyrics,
Fun Undzer Land
(From Our Land,
1920) dealt with his impressions, emotions and experiences as he
joined other young Jews to redeem Zion. He left for the United
States in 1919 when he became disillusioned with the British
overlords who had replaced the Turkish overlords but did not
redeem the sacred land for the Jews.
Nor was the poet Yehoash any more successful in his effort to
settle in the Holy Land, for which he left in 1914 and from which
he returned in 1917. But the impact of these few years upon his
poetry was enduring.
Shmuel Izban, who arrived in Palestine in 1921, began to pub-
lish his tales of this land in 1925; but in 1937 he too departed for
America. The gifted poet Malke Locker published her lyrics
(Thou, 1932) in Tel Aviv, but when her husband, the labor
Zionist leader and essayist Berl Locker, left for London in 1938
she accompanied him. Both did not return until 1948, when
they settled in Jerusalem.
Some Yiddish writers, however, remained despite all hardships.
Such was the poet Yosef Papiernikov who began in Warsaw in
1918, arrived in Tel Aviv in 1924, and wrote lyrics in Yiddish
about his new home in the sunny land,
In Zunikn Land
His friend Daniel Leibl, who began in Galicia and Warsaw, con-
tinued to fight for Yiddish after his arrival in Tel Aviv in 1924,