Review: Yiddish Literature and Language
(A Companion to MENDELE)
Contents of Vol. 11.008 [Sequential No. 185]
1) This issue of TMR (ed.)
2) seyfer vs. bukh in Berglson's "Bay nakht" (ed.)
3) Forverts 110th anniversary (Rachel Rojanski)
4) International Publishers and Librarians Agree On Access to Orphan Works
Click here to enter: http://yiddish.haifa.ac.il/tmr/tmr11/tmr11008.htm
Subject: This issue of TMR.
*** The editor continues a commentary begun in the previous edition of TMR: seyfer vs. bukh in Berglson's "Bay nakht". ***Dr. Rachel Rojanski of the Universary of Haifa's Department of Jewish History goes back 110 years to the founding of the Forverts, sketching the fortunes of the paper as well as of the famous building that housed it. Dr. Rojanski earlier published an essay in TMR: "Status of Yiddish 1948-1951" (see TMR 9.002 [14 Feb 2005]). ***Joseph Sherman of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies has kindly sent me the information below, pointing out its "special relevance to the copyright status of many Yiddish books, especially those for which translation rights are sought." He goes on to say that it "offers an internationally agreed solution to some of the problems about Yiddish copyright" that he raised in his TMR article of 22 July 2003 (Vol. 7.007). Needless to say, The Mendele Review is delighted that an authoritative copyright standard has been recommended by a responsible body. Despite its limited resources, TMR has spent countless hours in searching for copyright owners and has watched entirely too passively while materials prepared by its own efforts (including correcting texts, conforming Yiddish texts to Standard Yiddish Orthography, designing the text page, making texts searchable to facilitate stylistic and linguistic studies) has been copied outright by other sites without requesting permission. There is not a single Yiddish text in TMR (or in its close relation Di velt fun yidish) which is a simple copy. TMR and Di velt fun yidish will make the utmost effort to follow the guidelines formulated below and to clarify our own position regarding the downloading of our materials.
Subject: seyfer vs. bukh in Berglson's "Bay nakht"
A reader has written to TMR on the meaning of seyfer in Berglson's story "Bay nakht" [see TMR 11.007]. He writes: "When the nakht yid used the word seyfer he did not mean a 'book'. He meant a 'religious tome' and indeed quotes from one. Had he meant a 'book', he'd have said bukh". I am willing to grant that my translation is not altogether satisfactory, but none that I considered were better. I am, of course, aware of the distinction between seyfer and bukh. The problem is not defining the Yiddish words that the author uses but translating them into English so that they fit the context and give the reader a reasonable English equivalent. This can be a tricky business.
What I wrote -- and I consider both my translation and my commentary to be tentative -- was: "Look into a book," he said, "study...." "But I cannot," the youth complained. Would it have been natural for sour old Night Jew to suggest to Young Man that he pass the night delving into a 'religious tome'. He does not specifically suggest what Young Man is to read, he merely says, "Look into..." Peruse before delving deeply. The key word the Night Jew employs is lern, which perhaps is not merely 'study', but alludes to talmudic study, a learning level attained after much preparation. When Young Man complains he 'can not', he is not, then, saying he is illiterate but that he does not know Talmud.
Yenne Velt is fairly satisfactory in its translation of this section: "Open up a sacred book," he said, "study the holy writings." It would be more subtle for Night Jew to suggest simply that Young Man read a worthwhile book, and I let 'book' stand alone here -- seyfer by extension means 'serious book'. "Kuk arayn in a seyfer," hot er gezogt, "lern." "Ken ikh nisht, hot zikh der bokher geklogt." The work, I repeat, that Night Jew has in mind is the Talmud, which can be studied independently by those adept at lernen -- kenen lernen means 'to know the Talmud'.
students in a talmetoyre start with khumesh mit rashe, Night Jew begins his instruction with Breyshis, with Toyre
rather than Talmud. The latter is from a certain rabbinical perspective more
"religious". (Many yeshivas in
For centuries Jewish society ranked its members by wealth and by learning. A tilem yid expresed hi piety by recitation of Psalms, a good distance from the talmed-khokhem who grappled with rabbinic texts. Confrontations between literate and illiterate Jews are widespread in Yiddish literature. Perets' "Sholem Bayis" repeats the question, "Can't you learn?" The watercarrier protagonist is illiterate but the melamed who teaches the working men from the popular Alshekh, can suggest that he serve God by doing what he can do -- providing the scholars in the study house with water. Comparably, the speechless protagonist of Asch's "A dorf-tsadik" can pray effectively by whistling. But in Bergelson's story there is no clearcut advice. The somnolent speaker makes a note that Noah saved mankind from a second catastrophic flood, and acknowledges the mythic proportions of that act. The story's ending leaves the reader wondering what the Night Jew was trying to do and what success he had in his effort. (ed.)
From: Rachel Rojanski
Subject: Forverts 110th anniversary
A Neon Sign Overlooking
110 years of the
Ten stories high, it is still—as in 1912
when it was built—the tallest building in the area. The newly restored row of
pillars and wide entrance arch attest to its glorious past. Just above the
Daily Forward was born out of conflict within the Socialist Labor Party. In
(1860–1951) was immediately named editor of the paper. He headed it for some
fifty years and became an institution, as the New York Times put it, like the Jewish
Daily Forward itself. Born in a shtetl near
Vilna, Cahan moved to the
Although the Jewish Daily Forward came into the world as a result of a party
dispute, its target audience consisted of the eastern-European Jewish
immigrants who were arriving in
The Forward had a hard time at first, but by 1905, as Jewish
immigration from eastern Europe increased its situation stabilized. In 1907 it
had a circulation of 72,000 copies daily; by the 1920s circulation was up to
275,000. The editorial policy of the Jewish
Daily Forward was set by
Cahan at the start: the paper would
maintain a secular and socialist tone. Its language would be simple, its Yiddish easily understandable. It would print
popular—sometimes “yellow”—material along with serious journalism; and it would
offer good literature as well as "shund".
The popular Bintl Briv advice
column first appeared in 1906 and became a major institution of immigrant
life. It included letters from readers
(some of them apparently written by the editors) on typical, everyday issues.
For instance, a woman who worked in a sweatshop wanted to know what to do about
her boss who was harassing her; the editor advised her to publicize the
harassment and embarrass the man. A young man asked whether he should leave
school to help support his family; the paper urged him never to give up his
studies and impede his advancement in the new land. A woman who had had an
arranged marriage in the
The Jewish Daily Forward emphasized the importance of the family. It denounced men who left their wives and disappeared, and it printed their pictures in a regular section that became widely associated with the paper. The weekly women’s page provided information on home, family, and job market, but between the lines shaped the role of the Jewish immigrant woman in Americanizing her family while preserving its Jewishness.
Despite being a political newspaper, the Jewish Daily Forward assigned prime importance to Yiddish literature and culture. While providing a regular platform for "shund", it also printed serious authors such Morris Rosenfeld, Sholem Asch, Abraham Reysin, Zalman Shneour, I. J. Singer, Mani-Leib, and of course Isaac Bashevis Singer, who later became a Nobel Laureate. Some of these writers were first published in the Forward. The paper also printed articles on theater, music, and painting.
Daily Forward was above all a political newspaper. It had an active role in
the struggles of the trade unions, especially in the garment industry, not only
giving them a place to express themselves but also recruiting workers to the
cause—especially in 1909–1911. It played an important part in the public
contests for the leadership of American Jewry during World War I; over the
years it fought against restrictions on immigration to the
Although the Forward hailed the Bolshevik
revolution in 1917 and one of its regular staffers that year was Lev Trotsky,
who was in
Restricted immigration to the
Nevertheless, circulation continued to
decline. In 1983, by which point the Jewish
Daily Forward was the last remaining Yiddish daily in
The Forward building on East Broadway was sold in 1974, and the
paper moved to smaller offices in midtown
[A slightly modified version of this essay appeared in the Hebrew-language HaAretz this past weekend in the Tarbut veSifrut section (27 July 2007), page 2.]
From: IFLA/IPA Joint Press Release
Subject: International Publishers and Librarians Agree On Access to Orphan Works
International Publishers and Librarians Agree On Access to Orphan Works
A joint steering group of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and the International Publishers' Association (IPA) has agreed on key principles of access to orphan works. The position paper is a contribution to the international debate on so-called “orphan works”: “Orphan Works” are works in copyright whose owner cannot be identified and located by someone who wishes to make use of the work in a manner that requires the rights owner’s permission. In a joint statement the international umbrella organisations of librarians and book and journal publishers have set out principles aimed at facilitating the use of orphan works. The joint statement on orphan works was agreed by the Joint Steering Group, a working group established by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and the International Publishers Association (IPA) to discuss issue of mutual interest.
The statement sets out five principles to be followed by users of orphaned works:
- A reasonably diligent search should be undertaken to find the copyright owner.
- The user of an orphan work must provide a clear and adequate attribution to the copyright owner.
- If the copyright owner reappears, the owner should be reasonably remunerated or appropriate restitution should be made.
- If injunctive relief is available against the use of a previously orphaned work, the injunctive relief should take into account the creative efforts and investment made in good faith by the user of the work.
- The use of orphan works in non-exclusive.
Claudia Lux (IFLA), co-Chair of the IFLA/IPA Steering Group declared: “Orphan works are bad news for all concerned: for information users, librarians, publishers and authors. Creativity and progress are stifled when so many works are consigned to a legal limbo because their copyright owners cannot be traced. The principles which IFLA has agreed with the IPA are an important step forward because they set out clearly what bona fide users of orphan works must do to avoid being held liable for copyright infringement, and what should be done if a missing copyright owner is found after the work has been used. If applied, the principles would ensure that the rights of copyright owners are respected without exposing users of orphan works to an intimidating level of risk.”
Herman P. Spruijt (IPA), co-Chair of the Steering Group declared: “Copyright is crucially important to publishers. We must ensure that it supports access to knowledge and takes into account the interests of all those contributing to the knowledge economy, including publishers. As part of their business publishers seek authorisation to use previously published works, including orphan works. Publishers will therefore benefit from a pragmatic, common sense approach that balances the legitimate interests of all sides. Our principles will help to achieve this.”
Notes for editors:
The full statement can be found at:
IFLA is the global voice of the library and information profession. Established in 1927, IFLA currently has some 1500 members in 50 countries. Together, IFLA’s association and institutional members represent over 500.000 librarians and library workers serving almost two billion registered library users worldwide. IFLA is an accredited Non-Governmental Organisation enjoying consultative status to the United Nations. For more on IFLA, see: www.ifla.org
The International Publishers Association (IPA) is the global non-governmental organisation representing all aspects of book and journal publishing worldwide. Established in 1896, IPA's mission is to promote and protect publishing and to raise awareness for publishing as a force for cultural and political advancement worldwide. IPA is an industry association with a human rights mandate. IPA currently has 65 member associations in 53 countries. The members of the IFLA/IPA Steering Group are:
Claudia Lux, IFLA President-elect (Co-Chair)
Vinyet Panyella, IFLA Governing Board member
Winston Tabb, Chair of the IFLA Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters
Peter Lor, IFLA Secretary General
Herman P. Spruijt
(Co-Chair), IPA Vice President, Brill Academic, NL
Marc Brodsky, American Institute of Physics, USA
Michael Mabe, Chief Executive Officer, STM
Jens Bammel, IPA Secretary General
For further information, please see http://www.internationalpublishers.org/images/pdf/IndustryPolicy/IFLAIPA/PRs/27_07_07.pdf
End of The Mendele Review Vol. 11.008
Editor, Leonard Prager
Subscribers to Mendele (see below) automatically receive The Mendele Review.
Send "to subscribe" or change-of-status messages to: email@example.com
a. For a temporary stop: set mendele mail postpone
b. To resume delivery: set mendele mail ack
c. To subscribe: sub mendele first_name last_name
d. To unsubscribe kholile: unsub mendele
*** Getting back issues ***
The Mendele Review archives can be reached at: http://yiddish.haifa.ac.il/tmr/tmr.htm
Yiddish Theatre Forum archives can be reached at: http://yiddish.haifa.ac.il/tmr/ytf/ytf.htm
Mendele on the web: http://shakti.trincoll.edu/~mendele/index.utf-8.htm