Page 160 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

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Yiddish Literature in Israel:
The Last Two Decades
r i e
i l o v s k y
in his doctoral dissertation
Yiddish and Yiddish
Literature in Israel,
published in Hebrew in 1980 and in a Yiddish
adaptation in 1986, covers in great detail the pioneering period
of this literature, from 1907 to 1948. Vol. XXV of the
Book Annual
for 1966-1967, in the essay by Sol Liptzin on the
same subject, places the emphasis on the period after 1948. It
was then that Yiddish writers, most of them survivors of the
Holocaust, streamed into the newly founded Jewish state and
that earlier hostility toward Yiddish began to wane because this
language was no longer regarded as a dangerous competitor
of Hebrew, the national language of this state. The present sur­
vey covers the years since the Six-Day War.
The enthusiasm that swept Jewish communities throughout
the world in 1967 also had its repercussions in Eastern Europe.
While Russia’s gates still had to be pried open for immigration
to Israel, Polish authorities were not unhappy at the exodus
of Jewish intellectuals and the lessening of Jewish influence on
the political and cultural scene. David Sfard, who as editor of
Yiddishe Shriftn
had been most active in stimulating
the revival of Yiddish literature in post-war Poland, despaired
of continuing such efforts in the resurgent anti-Semitic climate
and left for Israel in 1969. His poems and essays of the following
decade were full of regret for past errors in following alien
ideologies. He hailed Israel for having rescued the bruised Jew­
ish soul from depression, healing it of its schizophrenia, and
restoring it to dignity, self-confidence and wholeness. Sfard be­
came a central figure in Jerusalem’s Yiddish circles.
Sfard was followed in 1971 by Hersh Smoliar, editor-in-chief
of Poland’s only Yiddish newspaper, and a lifelong agitator for
Communist causes. In his books, published in Israel, he left
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