Page 165 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

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newly arrived writers. It was not meant to rival Tel Aviv’s pres­
tigious quarterly,
Di Goldene Keyt,
edited by Abraham Sutzkever,
which had by then become the principal literary organ of es­
tablished writers of all continents. However, after the new writ­
ers became integrated into Israel and ceased to be new,
made no distinction between them and their long estab­
lished predecessors.
As diaspora Yiddish periodicals became ever fewer, the jo u r ­
nals of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem opened their columns to Amer­
ican, European, South African and Australian writers. Tel Aviv
became the principal publishing center for Yiddish books. The
majority of Yiddish books were published by the I.L. Peretz
Farlag, Israel Bukh, and Hamenorah. The Committee for Yid­
dish and Jewish Culture in the 1970’s was most active in sub­
sidizing and promoting primarily books by the arriving Soviet
Jewish writers, most of whom came laden with literary manu­
scripts which could not be published under Communist auspices
or, if published, only after being mangled and distorted by cen­
sors. Among them were the poets Hirsh Osherowitch, Yankel
Yakir, Shlomo Roitman, Mottel Sakzier, the essayist and literary
historian Eliezer Podriatshik, and the novelist Elie Schechtman.
Their books dealt to the largest extent with tragic events of
their generation which they themselves had experienced in East­
ern Europe and in Siberian entombment.
In August 1976, a World Conference for Yiddish Culture
was convened in Jerusalem. It brought together Yiddish writers,
scholars and educators from fifteen countries. The proceedings
alternated between a mood of exhilaration and one of somber
foreboding. Comparisons were made between this conference
and the Czernovitz Conference of 1908, which ended with pro­
claiming Yiddish as
national language of the Jewish people
and Hebrew as
national language. The situation, however,
had changed during the intervening seven decades. While in
1908, the emphasis was on how to raise the prestige of Yiddish,
which was still labelled a Jargon in many Jewish quarters, no­
body in 1976 questioned the literary and scholarly eminence
and prestige it had attained in academic institutions of all con­
tinents. The emphasis was rather on how to stop its decline
as a spoken and written medium.