Page 178 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

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Yiddish Bard of Israel’s Rebirth
On the 90th Birthday of Joseph Papiernikov*
The E re tz Y is rae l motif has played an important role in
Yiddish literature since its beginnings around the fifteenth cen­
tury. The success of the Zionist enterprise in modern times owes
much to the many Yiddish poets and prose writers who dis­
seminated the Zionist vision. Celebrated Yiddish authors visited
the Land and recorded their impressions in story, essay and
poem. Sholem Asch introduced the Eretz Yisrael theme to mod­
ern Yiddish prose with his tale “A Talent for Eretz Yisrael,”
written during his first trip to Palestine in 1908.
From New York
to Rehovot and Back,
a two-volume travel memoir by the distin­
gu ished poe t and Bible tran s la to r , Yehoash (Solomon
Bloomgarden), published in 1917-18, is still read with interest.
(A one-volume English abridgement by Isidore Goldstick,
Feet o f the Messenger,
appeared in 1923.) A number of Yiddish
writers who settled in Eretz Yisrael eventually went over to He­
brew (Aaron Reuveni, Moshe Stavsky), while others left the
country but continued to write about it (Zalman Schneour, Eph­
raim Auerbach, Zishe Weinper). The aliyah of David Pinski in
1949 helped establish a Yiddish literary center in the State of
Israel as did the founding of the literary quarterly
Di Goldene
by Abraham Sutzkever in the same year. The scope of Yid­
dish literary achievement in Israel may be glimpsed by perusing
anthologies such as Mordecai Yofe’s
Eretz Yisroel in der Yidisher
(1961) and Aryeh Shamri’s
(1966) but these
works are already antiquated since the large immigration to Is­
rael by Jews from Eastern European countries in the past few
decades has swelled the ranks of Yiddish writers. It is now es­
timated that there are more than 250 in the country. A list
* Translations from the Yiddish in this essay are by the writer.
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