Page 87 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

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SINGERMAN / ALMANACS AND LITERARY ANNUALS IN JEWISH LITERATURE
7 9
structural poems, typographical oddities, and pictorial whim-
seys.
On the more utilitarian level of providing factual knowledge
are the Yiddish almanacs edited by Victor Mirsky,
Der idisher
almanakh
(New York, 1922-24), a “yearbook of valuable infor­
mation, chronology, and statistics.” While devoid of any literary
pretensions, it is nonetheless of enduring value as an educator
o f a generation of immigrants. See, for example, the brief ar­
ticles in the 1923 volume devoted to tuberculosis and its pre­
vention; popular medical remedies, including one for corns;
the “national origin” quota system for restricting immigration;
plus a popular science section entitled “Himel un e rd” (“Sky
and Earth”); and unsigned, derivative pieces on the history of
the alphabet and the discovery of America by Columbus, both
no doubt translated from other sources and without acknowl­
edgment. In 1926, David Shub initiated a one-time only effort,
Der idisher velt almanakh
(The Jewish World Almanac),
somewhat
comparable to a
World Almanac and Book of Facts
in terms of
its contents but with a pronounced Jewish and socialist empha­
sis, best explained by its sponsorship by
Der veker,
a socialist
newspaper. Yet another American almanac, also promoted by
a Yiddish newspaper, is the
“Forverts” almanakh,
edited by B.
Vladeck in 1935 and published by the Forward Association.
HEBREW ANNUALS
The
Sefer ha-shanah li-yehude Amerikah = American-Hebrew Year
Book
(New York, 1931-49),
Melilah
(Manchester, Eng., 1944-55),
Metsudah
(London, 1943-54),
Keneset
(Tel-Aviv, 1936-46, 1960),
and
Me’assef
(Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv, 1960-78) are examples of re­
spected literary annuals no longer being published. Two expla­
nations for their demise include the proliferation in Israel of
Hebrew journals receptive to literary and historical studies and
the popular (and most timely) weekly literary supplements to
the Israeli dailies. In America, with a declining Jewish immi­
gration from Europe following the enactment of restrictive im­
migration legislation in 1924, the shrinking audience for Yid­
dish and Hebrew almanacs could no longer justify their pub­
lishing expense, especially when the children of the immigrant
generation placed greater reliance on the English-language
American Jewish Year Book
and the mass-market almanacs sold