Page 14 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 43

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
dred and eleven Yiddish periodicals, of which forty-nine ap­
peared daily and fifty-one weekly. Prior to World War I Polish
Jewry had twenty-seven dailies and one hundred weeklies, repre­
senting every trend in Polish Jewish life. The prominent Warsaw
dailies
Haynt
(founded in 1908) and
Moment
(founded in 1910)
not only helped forge Jewish public opinion and champion the
cause of equal rights but served also as vital organs of literary and
cultural expression.
In the United States the Yiddish press developed from its hum­
ble beginnings in 1870 to a point in the 1920’s when as many as
eleven dailies competed for readership, with six being published
in New York City alone. Prior to World War II, Yiddish publica­
tions still constituted the highest percentage of the total of Jewish
periodicals. Not only New York bu t o th e r major Jewish
communities could point to a Yiddish press which served signifi­
cant numbers of readers. The files of one newspaper alone, those
of the
Jewish Daily Forward,
have proved of inestimable value to
writers who have dealt with the American Jewish experience.
Irving Howe in his
World ofOur Fathers
and the late Isaac Metzker
in his two volumes of letters entitled
A Bintel Brief
were able to cull
from the pages of the
Forward
much fascinating material that
sheds light on the immigrant period.
The vacuum left by the decline of the Yiddish daily press is not
one that can easily be filled. Only Tel Aviv, Paris and Buenos
Aires have daily Yiddish newspapers. Still the Yiddish periodical
press is not without vitality. Dina Abramowicz has reported that
as many as sixty-five Yiddish periodicals from all over the world
are received regularly at the YIVO library which she heads.
Rather than bemoan the decline of Yiddish it will prove more
fruitful to point to a number of positive developments on the
Yiddish cultural scene. In Israel a new agency, the World Council
For Yiddish, has begun to sponsor various projects, for the dis­
semination of Yiddish, among which is
Gesharim-Brikn
(Bridges),
a new bilingual periodical for Hebrew and Yiddish literature,
which features translations from one language into the other. On
the occasion of Israel Independence Day, Abraham Sutzkever
was honored by the Government of Israel with a prize for his cen­
tral role as a Yiddish man of letters.
In this country, the National Yiddish Book Center, which has
marked its fifth anniversary, has developed a program for the
collection and dissemination of Yiddish works. And the Hebrew