Page 57 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 23

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iptz in
— Y
idd ish
it era tu re
tion with the best dramas of Peretz, Sholom Aleichem, Pinski,
Asch, Leivick, Hirshbein, Bergelson, and I. I. Singer. With
Hebrew as the firmly entrenched tongue of daily life in Israel,
the time was propitious for a literary base from which the Yid-
dish word could also resound and around which creative literary
forces could gather and make their contribution to the treasury
of Jewish life. Similar calls to terminate the alienation between
Hebrew and Yiddish writers were voiced by the Hebrew poet
Jacob Fichman and the Yiddish dramatist H. Leivick. The former
recalled that Mendele, Sholom Aleichem, Bialik, Schneour, Ber-
kovitch attained their great mastery because they were organi-
cally rooted in a Jewish essence which was not splintered into
segments. They were creative in both languages. Fichman’s con-
temporaries Agnon, Hazaz, Tchernikhovsky, though writing in
Hebrew, were nonetheless products of a bilingual tradition.
Theirs was perhaps the last generation steeped in this tradition,
to which they owed their timelessness as well as their contem-
New Flock of Yiddish Writers
Pinski’s arrival in 1949 was hailed as a harbinger of the coming
flock of Yiddish writers who would wing their way to the new
state. His home on Mount Carmel became a center for “Young
Israel.” The poets and storytellers brought their Yiddish works
to him as he had once brought his to Peretz, and sought his en-
couragement and inspiration. For his disciples he proposed the
slogan: Hebraism and Yiddish in Israel, Yiddishism and Hebrew
in the Diaspora. He pointed out that two languages had always
accompanied Jews throughout their long history: the sacred
tongue of the patriarchs and a vernacular derived from the en-
vironment in which Jews found themselves. However, Yiddish
alone had developed to a degree of excellence where it could rival
Hebrew. This rivalry had come to an end, but Yiddish was still the
strongest bulwark against assimilationism in, the Diaspora. Were
Yiddish to disappear, estrangement between non-Israeli and
Israeli Jews would increase, for Hebrew could never replace it
adequately. Leivick, who visited Israel iri 1950, expressed similar
views in his farewell speech on June 28 on “The Present Role of
Yiddish Literature.”
Yossl Birshtein, who arrived from Australia in the same year,
suggested to young Yiddish writers who met at Meshek Yagur
that they could overcome their difficulties in the kibbutzim
where little Yiddish was heard by pooling their resources of
language and by inspiring each other through more frequent
contacts. In issues of
Di Goldene Keit
they frequently appeared
as a group under the heading “Young Israel.” The lyricists in­