Saturday, June 19, 2010

Shneer, quotes.

P.30-31: at least two jewish languages - Yiddish and what was called the holy language (loshn koydesh), which incorporated Hebrew and Aramaic... Judeo-German, known at various times as Taytsh (German) or loshn ashkenaz (the language ofGermany), reflecting the early cultural assumption that jews were not speaking a language distinct frorn the German spoken around them. 

P.34-35: for those maskilic practitioners of Yiddish in the Russian Empire, like Mendel Lefin and his followers - Shloyme Etinger (1801-56), Avrom Gottlober (1811-99), Yisroel Aksenfeld (1787-1866), or Yitzhak Ber Levinson (1788-1860) - publishing in yiddish was nearly impossible. Under Tsar Nicholas I, who reigned from 1825 to 1855 only two jewish printers, in Vilna and in Zhitomir, were allowed to operate, and neither published many maskilic Yiddish texts.20 Aksenfeld had...

  • 20 Zinberg, Israel, The History ofYiddish Literatwe. Cincinnad, New York: Ktav, Hebrew Union  College, 1972-1978. 

P.35: The first Eastern European Yiddish newspaper, The Herald (Kol Mevaser), came out in 1862 in Odessa. Not coincidentaly, it was in this paper that Abramovich first pubushed his Yiddish stories in serial form. The newspaper was a supplement to the first Russian Empire Hebrew-language newspaper, the Advocate (Ha-melits), published by Alexander Tsederbaum, who intended to broaden his readership and raise necessary funds by publishing a Yiddish supplement. He initialy published the newspaper for purely maskilic reasons: "We know quite well that the enlightened... men of the present day cry that the people should be weaned away from speaking Yiddish and be accustomed to speak the language ofthe country. Perhaps they also are not completely unjustified, for... Can the Hebrew language with its fine figurative style give sustenance to anybody except those selected few who have mastered it? That's one point. And the other: even when you write -Hebrew, you think in Yiddish — wouldn't it be better for you to write the  way you think?"

P.46: In late 192 5, a final round in the language battle between Hebrew and Yiddish in the schools took place after a petition from a quasi-legal socialist-Zionist youth movement, The Young Guard (Ha-shomerha-tsair), was circulated to all of its constuents. The nationalisc petition called on Young Guard members to start a novement against the power of the Soviet Yiddish intelligentsia that had effectively eliminated Hebrew from Soviet jewish culture. In nineteenth-century peitioning style, the organization called on children to write letters to the Central Executive Committee (TsIK) of the Soviet Union to overturn the power of the Jewish state cultural organizations.59 In one petition, thirty-two jewish children of the town of Koriukovka requested that the Central Executive Committee publish a decree about the free study ofthe Jewish language "Hebrew" and of Hebrew literature, since "at the moment, in our town, the jewish population needs to study its native (rodnoi) Jewish language 'Hebrew' and its native Hebrew literature, but the Jewish Section of the Communist Party (Evsektsiia) prevents this and even subjects us to persecution.60 Another group of children wanted the government to "give Hebrew the right to be a language in school, and as regards Jewish history, let it be studied in school in Yiddish."61 Numerous other petitions with similar requests poured in from the provinces, and each one relied on Soviet language politics (native language education and anti-Russian imperialism) to make its claim for Hebrew-language education in Sovietjewish schools.62 

  • 59: GARF,f.3316, op.10, d.190, I. 90-1. They petition read: "The main bureau calls on all of you to take active part in the Chanukkah campaign for Hebrew language and literature. Don't be affraid of Evsektsiia persecution. Remember how our ancestors weren't afraid to face death in the name ofthe people (naroda). Remember how in our time hundreds of our comrades face torture, hunger and cold in jails and in exile for this brave battle." )
  • 6212. This file contains dozens of petitions all dated in late 1925 and early 1926. 

P.50: In early 1924, seven well-known cultural figures wrote a petition to the Comnissariat of Nationalities calling for the re-legalization of Hebrew-language publishing...

P.51: The seven authors ofthe petition came from diverse backgrounds, but none of them was known as a Hebrew-language writer. Two were involved in music: D. Shor was a professor at the Moscow Conservatory, and Mikhail Gnessin was a composer.78 M.Tubiansky, S. Ginzburg, and Nikolai Marr were academics not particularly involved with Soviet Jewish culture; Marr became famous as... And Mikhail Gershenzon... by far, the most controversial name to appear on the petition was David Hofshteyn, a member f the Soviet Yiddish intelligentsia, an editor of the most important Soviet Yiddish literary journal, Stream (Shtrom), and member of the board of Culture league, one of the biggest Yiddish-language cultural societies and publishing houses. 

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