Page 59 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 37

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SCHULMAN / SOVIET YIDDISH WRITING
51
Moscow are always sold out. T h e
New York Times
repo r ted on
December 26, 1978, tha t a Yiddish theatrical company gave nine
perform ances in Moscow to an enthusiastic audience, and tha t the
new Yiddish musical-chamber thea tre which was established in
the so-called Jewish au tonomous region in Biro-Bidzhan was
tou ring the Far East with g rea t success. In the previously men­
tioned
Soviet Jews.Fact and Fiction
we read “But Yiddish is u n ­
doubtedly alive. It can be hea rd in Deribasovskaya street in
Odessa, on Kreshchatik in Kiev, in streets o f Vilno and Cher-
novtsky, in Moscow concert halls.” I have met many Russian Jews
both in Israel and New York, many o f whom speak Yiddish —
especially those who come from the territories acquired after the
War and from the smaller towns in the Ukraine. T hu s there are
potential Yiddish readers in the Soviet Union, and some o f them
read the Moscow Yiddish monthly,
Sovetish Heimland
(Soviet
Homeland). It has readers even on the island o f Sakhalin.
In Ju ly 1961, th irteen years af te r the liquidation o f the last
remaining Jewish cultural institutions in the Soviet Union, and
nine years af te r the execution o f the leading Soviet Yiddish writ­
ers, the re appeared in Moscow a bi-monthly literary review titled
Sovetish Heimland,
breaking the long interval o f silence du r ing
which the Yiddish word was officially suppressed .3
Sovetish Heimland
was the first Yiddish periodical to see the light
o f day since 1948, when the Stalin-inspired pogrom o f Jewish
cultural repression went into effect. For the Jews o f the Soviet
Union, starved for any form o f Jewish expression, as well as for
World Jewry, whose concern over the plight o f Russian Jews
rem a in s a c u te , th is was an e v e n t o f ev en e x t r a - l i te r a ry
significance.
Initially the jou rn a l appea red as a bi-monthly, containing 128
pages. Since January 1965, it has been appearing as a monthly,
consisting o f 192 pages, plus a few extra pages with reproductions
o f works by various Soviet painters, mostly Jewish.
Sovetish Heim­
land,
like all Soviet publications, is an official jou rn a l , in this case,
an o rgan o f the Union o f Writers o f the Soviet Union. All publica­
tions in the Soviet Union are controlled by the government and
consequently express the official point o f view, following the
3 After Stalin’s death some Russian translations of Yiddish novels and poetry
were published. Later, from 1959 on, one-volume selections o f the works of the
Yiddish classics and works by Soviet Yiddish writers began to appear, averaging
about two books a year.