The Mendele Review: Yiddish Literature and Language
              (A Companion to MENDELE)
Contents of Vol. 07.013 [Sequential No. 139]
28 December 2003

1) About this issue of TMR (ed.)
2) Ewa Kozminska-Frejlak interviews Abe Brumberg
3) Review: Joseph Sherman's _The Jewish Pope_ (Sheila Delany)
4) Books and Journals Received (ed.)
5) New Book Notices

1) -------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: 28 December 2003
From: Leonard Prager 

Subject:  About this issue of TMR.

a. In this issue Abe Brumberg, authority on Eastern Europe [see his earlier
essay in TMR vol. 2, No. 029], whose essays have often appeared in the _TLS_
and the _New York Review of Books_, is interviewed in the Polish-Jewish
magazine _Midrasz_ (Midrash) in December of this year. The interview was held
in Polish and is here translated into English.

b. Medievalist Sheila Delany, editor of the recently published _Chaucer and
the Jews_ (Routledge) , reviews the latest book by literary scholar and
Yiddishist Joseph Sherman, a book that straddles a number of fields. _The
Jewish Pope.  Myth, Diaspora and Yiddish Literature_ may be ordered from
Legenda Press, European Humanities Research Centre, University of Oxford,
Oxford, England (UK).  The email address is

Date:  28 December 2003
From:  Abe Brumberg  <>
Subject: Ewa Kozminska-Frejlak interviews Abe Brumberg

                 Of a  Life That Is No More

EK-F: What does Jewishness, being a Jew, mean to you?

AB:  I have never thought in those categories.  I am simply a Jew.  I was born
a Jew, was brought up as a Jew, I speak Yiddish, read Yiddish, take an
interest in political and cultural matters concerning Jews. This is what
Jewishness and being Jewish mean to me.

EK-F: And who in your opinion is a Jew?

AB:  A Jew is a person who feels he is Jewish and wants to affirm it. If he
does not want to affirm his Jewishness, he is not a Jew.  I do not use here
any special criteria.  When I meet someone and I find him interested in Jewish
problems, being active in Jewish organizations, and so on- then it is clear
that he is Jewish.  Anyway, Jews come in various types and with some I have
very little in common.

EK-F: Could you perhaps elaborate?

AB:  I have nothing in common with people who belong to he party of Premier
Sharon.  I am not saying he is not a Jew-of course he is, but he and I are
from altogether different milieus.  If I were to talk with him, it would be
only in order to tell him that I disagree with him in everything.  This does
not mean, of course-let me make it quite clear-that this characterizes my
attitude to Zionists in general, absolutely not.

IK-F: What was your Jewish education like?

AB:  I grew up in a Jewish milieu.  I went to a Yiddish school in Warsaw
before the war, where Yiddish was the language of instruction, with the
exception of Polish literature and Polish, which we learned in Polish. My
parents were active in the Bund.  Yiddish literature and Yiddish language were
part of Jewish culture, and Yiddish was an integral part of Jewish education.
Just as Poles are brought up in Polish, language, literature, the history of
Poland, so we were brought up in Yiddish and in the history of the Jews.  We
felt that we were part of the Polish land, and belonged to it just as much as
others did.  Before World War I, perhaps two or three hundred years ago, there
were areas in the Polish Commonwealth where Poles constituted a national
minority; only in time did this change, with Poles becoming the dominant
ethnic element.  Jews had their laws, and they - like Belorussians, Ukrainians
and Germans - could practice their own religion and cultivate their own
traditions. This accorded with the conception of a pluralist, federalist state
which later on Pilsudski championed - in any case, in theory.

EK-F: Did religion play any role in your upbringing?

AB:  We were atheists, which does not mean that we had contempt for religion
or that we considered Jews who went to synagogue as something beneath us.  My
father was born at the end of the 19th century, and belonged to that
generation which still received its upbringing in Hebrew.  There is no doubt
that he - like others of his generation - attended kheyder, and received a
thorough religious education.  Later in their lives these people simply left
that tradition behind.  I myself was not brought up in a religious atmosphere,
but my parents were very careful to observe the dietary rules when my
grandmothers came to visit. Religion did not play a role in our Bundist
ideology.  Nevertheless, my father thought it unfortunate that I knew so
little about Jewish religion, that I never entered a synagogue (I wasn't bar-
mitzvahed). And so, he sent me alone at the age of nine from Warsaw to Vilna.
Near Vilna there was-and still is-- a small shtetl, Swieciany, where a large
number of my father's relatives lived, including an uncle who owned the city
cinema.  My father decided to send me there for Passover, so that I could
learn what a traditional Passover was all about.  The visit to Swienciany was
very important in my education.  It made a tremendous impression on me.  I
found myself among people I was meeting for the first time - cousins, uncles
and aunts.  The atmosphere was marvelous. Everyone was singing.  I had always
thought of religion as something bleak, and was put off by it.  In Swienciany
I saw something quite different.  I was with people who believed in what they
were doing, observed custom to the letter of the law, but not stiffly, with
jokes and stories and humor and song.  I did not, of course, become religious
after this:  I remained loyal to the ideas I imbibed in my childhood. But I
began to feel that religion, too, had important values, and that it was part
of my world.  My mother's side of the family was different. My mother came
from a very poor family.  No doubt they were religious, but we never had much
in common with them.  They were neither pro- nor anti-Bundists.  They belonged
to a different social sphere.  Ideology, politics, meant nothing to them.
What mattered was making enough money to fill one's stomach and dress the
children - it was a struggle for survival.  For us, ideology was something
that would make the world a better placed to live in.

EF-K:  And at home, did you celebrate Pesakh?

AB:  No.  But Pesakh was celebrated in the Yiddish schools, in a secular
fashion.  In keeping with the Bundist interpretation, Pesakh was the holiday
of liberation.  Later on, in the United States, I attended afternoon Yiddish
schools, where Pesakh was interpreted in a similar way.

EF-K: And what were the celebrations like?

AB:  We did not cover our heads.  People sat around the table, eating all
these wonderful foods.  We sang, some religious songs and others not.  We read
the Haggadah, our own version of it.  Someone asked the Four Questions.  But
we reinterpreted the religious element.  It was imbued with a universalist
idea about the liberation of mankind.

EF-K: And how did your parents become Bundists?

AB:  Very simply, they became socialists, and chose the Bund as their party.
Their whole environment was Bundist.  Once they entered the party, they became
almost like religious disciples.  This didn't concern Marxist premises,
necessarily, or other theoretical tenets.  Members of the Bund were united not
only by ideological agreement.  What mattered very much was what they called
mishpokhedikayt, from the Hebrew-Yiddish word for family, mishpokhe.  We
regarded ourselves as brothers and sisters, some kind of kin.  Personal ties
were warm.  I understood in 1939 what it all meant, at the beginning of the
war, when my family and a few others headed east to escape the Nazis.  We left
Warsaw, like many Jews and non-Jews.  We rented a horse and wagon.  I remember
how we came to the very first shtetl, where a Bundist delegation met us.  This
typified mishpokhedikayt.  We were part of one large family.  And so it was
normal for us to received lodging and food and care and friendship. Of course,
conflicts arose, as in any family.  But all Bundists truly believed that
something higher united them. I must add that among the members of the Bund
there were also all sorts of dogmatists, who couldn't abide the frumakes -
that is, the believers.  If not contempt, they certainly had no respect for
them.  At the same time one must remember that not only workers, but also
khasidim and other pious Jews voted for the Bund, despite the fact that they
had little in common with it.  The Bund defended them against fascism, against
anti-Semitism.  It was indeed the most dynamic political Jewish movement in
Poland at the time.

EK-F: And what was Yiddishism?

AB:  At first the Bund considered the Yiddish language as an instrument of
struggle.  Jews spoke Yiddish, so one ought to speak to them in their own
language.  Only later did this change into a tenet of faith that inasmuch as
the Yiddish language was so strongly rooted in Jewish culture and Jewish
history, it was ipso facto a carrier of certain values.  In other words they
came to believe that the Yiddish language expressed the very essence of
Jewishness.  On this conviction rested the ideology of Yiddishism.  Its
disciples thought that socialism and Zionism were of less importance than
raising their children in the Yiddish language.  The limitations of Yiddishism
is perhaps best exemplified in the case of Max Weinreich, a great scholar and
the founder of YIVO.  In the 1930s he organized a group of young people into
an organization called di bin (the bee).  The members of di bin would go on
excursions, sing Yiddish songs, read Yiddish literature, but paid no attention
to politics.  The group lasted for three years, but the formula "culture
without politics" proved unappealing to the young. They needed some kind of
engagement in the political battlefields. Weinreich's idea of united people
around Yiddish by itself proved unsuccessful.  The Bund, on the other hand,
believed in merging yiddishism with the class struggle.

EK-F:  I would think that being raised in a family like yours meant
automatically becoming a Bundist.  Did some children break away and join
Zionist or other parties?

AB:  No doubt there were people from Bundist homes who came to prefer
communism, Zionism or some other "ism."  If a young Jew grew up in a Bundist
family and began to read different books and no longer agreed with his
parents, he would probably leave home.  He might acknowledge that he preferred
communism to democratic socialism, or that he believed in a fusion of
socialism and Zionism, or that he stopped believing in socialism altogether.
Such cases occurred not infrequently.

EK-F: Do you remember anyone who left to become religious?

AB:  Probably such situations did exist, though I doubt that it happened
often.  In my own memory, I don't recall such a case; one would have to look
at the relevant sources.

EK-F:  Did you and your friends regard yourselves as both Jewish and Polish?

AB:  We considered ourselves Polish Jews-- not Poles - that was something
entirely different.  The Polish dimension of our education mattered to us a
great deal:  Polish literature, Polish history.  So did Polish reality.  But
we were not Poles.  A Pole was a Pole.  To this day I'm annoyed when people
fail to understand this distinction, and say, "After all, you are a Pole."  I
then have to explain that I am, or was, a Polish Jew, an entirely different

EK-F:  And how would you define yourself now?  Would you say that you are a
Polish Jew living in the United States?  Or a Polish-American Jew?

AB:  I've lived in the United States so long, but my roots remain in Poland.
I cannot forget it.  I cannot exclude Polishness from my education, from my
life.  It remains, to this day.  But never would I call myself a Pole, nor
would anyone raised the way I was.  One must remember that a real "Pole" could
only be a Catholic, according to the definit ion adopted by the right-wing
"National Democrats" (Endeks), and in fact accepted by nearly all Poles. You
could be a "Polish Jew," but that was something else.

EK-F: Did they speak Yiddish in your home?

AB:  All the time.  What is interesting, however, is that my father spoke to
his sister, who lived in Vilna, in Russian.  At that time Russian played an
enormous role in Jewish life in Vilna.  My father could recite Pushkin for
hours.  His sister was even more rooted in Russian traditions than he was.
Probably as children they spoke to each other in Russian, and this habit
endured.  I also knew children from Bundist homes who spoke Polish.

EK-F:  Do you remember whether the Bund expressed any attitude toward Judaism
as a religion, either Judaism specifically or in comparison with Catholicism?

AB:  The attitudes definitely differed.  Judaism was after all part of Jewish
history, and we did not exclude it.  We interpreted Jewish religion
differently from the religious Jew, and we certainly disliked certain aspects
of it, but it was part of our history.  None of us thought our grandfathers
represented something reprehensible.  . But Catholicism was something entirely
different.  In any case, Polish Catholics frequently reminded us that we were
Jews.  For instance, if we children didn't take off our caps when we passed a
church, as they did, they would run after us and shout obscenities.  So we
knew quite well what Catholicism meant.

EK-F:  Did the Bund regard other religions -- say, Evangelical sects,
Protestants -- the same way it regarded Catholicism?

AB:  There were few Evangelicals in Poland, so that played virtually no role.
Anyway, no one gave it any thought.  This was not part of my environment.  My
whole Polish environment was Catholic

EK-F:  I ask about the Evangelicals because it was this group that many Jews
chose to convert to after assimilation.  What was the attitude in your circles
to Jews who assimilated, who as it were entered Polishness?

AB:  Mostly negative.  If a person assimilated, and not only out of love for
the Polish language but also out of disdain for Yiddish, he was no longer
fully acceptable in the eyes of most Jews.

EK-F:  I keep wanting to ask this question: could a Jew be a believer in any
religion except Judaism?

AB:  In the eyes of Jewish society, I doubt it.

EK-F:  And what do you think about people who now, in Poland, become converts
to Judaism?  If their bond to Jewishness is religion, and they lack any Jewish
roots, can they be regarded as Jews in your view?

AB:  For me such people are extremely interesting.  I should like to know
their motives, to understand them, but they arouse in me no special emotion.

EK-F:  And are Israelis, for you, Jews?

AB:  As long as they identify themselves as Jews, of course they are.

EK-F:  And what do you think about people of Jewish descent, in contemporary
Poland, people who have some Jewish roots though from the point of view of
religious law they are not Jews, yet are recognized as Jews by society?

AB:  This depends entirely on them.  Everyone has to decide for him or
herself.  I do not think one is a "better" Jew because of Jewish ancestors, or
because one is orthodox.  There are people for whom only orthodox Jews are
real Jews.  I don't share that view, but I try to understand it.

EK-F:  And how do you explain it?

AB:  Because there is nothing else.  There is no society, there are no
traditions.  Who here in Poland speaks Yiddish?  Nobody.  Thus if someone here
wants to live as a Jew, it is understandable that he chooses religion as his
means of identity.  There is no other kind of Jewish life, so this becomes the
most important factor.  Before the war a Jewish society with different
parties, different ideologies -- there were Hebraists, there were Yiddishists,
there were Poles of Mosaic faith.  These options no longer exist, nor can they
exist.  They came to an end forever.  And so, if someone converts to Judaism,
he or she does it out of religious motives.  This is fully understandable.  It
is not my kind of Jewishness, but I understand its logic.

EK-F:  Do you believe Jewish society can experience a rebirth solely based on

AB:  A century ago there were choices and possibilities, other than religion.
Now there's no more Jewish life in Poland.  So if such a society emerges, it
self-evidently must emerge on the basis of religion. That's how it is.

EK-F:  And how about Jewish life in the United States?

AB:  In America assimilation is widespread.  Nevertheless, Jews who marry
non-Jews can and often do raise their children as Jews.  In America one must
belong to something in order to be identified as a Jew, a Protestant, a
Catholic.  You must belong to a church, a synagogue, a congregation.  So even
people who are not believers, or whose faith is weak, or who have no interest
in religion, belong to a synagogue if they want to be Jews.  A synagogue can
be reform, conservative or orthodox -- the point is belonging.

EK-F:  Do you also belong to a synagogue?

AB:  No, I don't.  But my daughter belongs, and her husband is a rabbi, though
he teaches Jewish history in a small college rather than working with a
congregation.  But for her it is extremely important to belong to a Jewish
community and communality, to celebrate holidays.  Her children attend a
Jewish school.  I have nothing against it, though I myself don't share this
need.  I was brought up in a certain tradition, I have memories of my
upbringing, and what it meant to me, and I cannot change at this point.  If I
live in the present, I live at the same time in history.

EK-F:  Does this mean you have no personal need to continue religious

AB:  I don't.  Occasionally I look at Jewish friends and think that they
belong to some kind of a group, to one or another organization or
synagogue.  They have colleagues or friends there with whom they share
bonds.  That is extremely important.

EK-F:  And you have no need to belong?

AB:  Need? - No.

EK-F:  Is there nothing to belong to?

AB:  For me, I'm afraid this is sot.  There was a time, as a child and a young
man, when I did feel that sense of belonging, but that has passed, and I try
not to think about it.  That's how it is, unfortunately.  But after all, I
don't necessarily represent the norm, let alone an ideal. It just so happened
that this is the shape of my own life.  Many people from my generation and
background did decide to join a synagogue, not so much out of religious faith
as because of the need for social community. They go on Saturdays, they listen
to their rabbi give a talk on one subject or another.  Not always Biblical, to
be sure:  a few weeks ago I went to my granddaughter's bat-mitzvah, and the
rabbi spoke very forcefully against the Likkud policy, about the fence being
constructed in Israel.  So people go to shul not only to pray; they may want
to hear the rabbi's views.  To belong, then, means not only to listen to the
rabbi, but to share one's views and opinions with others.

EK-F: But do you yourself still have some sort of Jewish life?

AB:  Yes of course.  Some time ago I made a recording of Yiddish folk songs,
and more recently I released a CD of Yiddish poetry, recited in English and
Yiddish.  I participate in conferences on Jewish subjects; I publish articles
on subjects connected with Jewish history.  But this is but a remnant of the
past.  At one time there was a large Jewish intelligentsia, Yiddish schools,
courses for young people.  Some of my teachers were well-known historians,
like Jacob Shatsky, or literary experts, like Shmuel Niger, or poets such as
B. Bialostotsky.  We as their students belonged to their cultural and
political and intellectual world.  There were Jewish camps, where both campers
and counselors sang Yiddish songs and participated in Yiddish plays.  This was
a huge part of my life.  I organized Yiddish programs, acted and directed
plays in Yiddish.  I was one of the founders of the Federation of
Yiddish-Speaking Youth Clubs.  I was one of the first editors of the journal
_Yugntruf_, which -- mirabile dictum -- still exists.  But most of this is
gone.  The Yiddish-speaking intelligentsia has passed away, the daily
newspapers in Yiddish are gone, and the only semi-Yiddish theater in America
performs plays that are by and large what were considered shund - literary
trash, with English translations flashed over the stage..  Which - you will
forgive me - rather brings to mind the Yiddish theater here in Warsaw.  Even
the YIVO, once the citadel of Yiddish, has shifted to English as its primary
language.  Few of its staff people know the language.  Only one person is
responsible for organizing occasional activities in Yiddish.  My social life,
then, if I can call it that, in Yiddish has become attenuated.  Very few of
those I knew and worked with are still around.

EK-F:  Is it then correct to say that your Yiddish life is only of a personal,
not of a social character?

AB: Yes, only personal, I am afraid.

EK-F: Thank you for the conversation.

Date: 28 December 2003
From:  Sheila Delany 
Subject: Review of Joseph Sherman's _The Jewish Pope_

Joseph Sherman.  _The Jewish Pope.  Myth, Diaspora and Yiddish Literature_.
Legenda/Studies in Yiddish, European Humanities Research Centre, University of
Oxford. 201 pp.

            Reviewed by Sheila Delany, Simon Fraser University

Joseph Sherman's new book will bring pleasure and enlightenment to many
readers:  not only to Jewish Studies specialists, particularly those
concentrating on Yiddish folklore, but also to scholars in various literary
fields wanting to bring Jewish material into their classes and scholarship.
Already known as a prize-winning translator of I. B. Singer, Sherman here
traces a literary motif -- the Jew who succeeds in a foreign land and then
rejoins his family from its ur-version in the biblical Joseph story through
midrash and into five early-modern and modern versions.  This comparative,
diachronic method enables him to examine issues of diaspora, social
alienation, assimilation, and identity in several different historical

The introductory chapter (entitled "Why?") deploys Louis Althusser's notion of
"interpellation" to launch a discussion on ideology and to pose the issue of
Jewish responses to the hegemonic Catholic discourse: accommodation or
resistance?  For Sherman, the modern narratives illustrate resistance; they
"defy subordination to Christianity, challenge the historical necessity
imposed upon Jews to disidentify themselves from their ideological
adversaries, and question the biblical master-text itself" (p. 14).

The leap from Joseph to the pope-stories seems exaggerated until Chapter 2, on
midrash.  This includes both Sherman's own midrash on the Joseph story, and
his often brilliant reading of medieval midrashim that mediated the Joseph
story, with its many ambiguities, to later ages. The fundamental difficulty is
that the assimilationist Joseph must, for the rabbis, be outweighed by his
ever-Jewish brothers, no matter how badly they have treated him; thus the
medieval midrashim become "the wish-fulfillment fantasy of an oppressed and
subaltern people" (p. 50). The _Mayse-bukh_ (after 1580), an anonymous Yiddish
collection of tales, in turn mediates midrash and other rabbinic narrative to
the modern era. Its version of the Jewish-pope story, discussed in Chapter 3,
manifests what Sherman calls "transformations" of the Joseph
"master-narrative"; these reveal (on Sherman's reading) an internalized
inferiority or degradation, a set of anxieties which the narrator attempts to
palliate "by setting them within a framework of readily identifiable orthodox
signifiers" (p. 80).  A similar emphasis on subtext infuses Chapter 4, on the
Vilna maskil Ayzik-Meir Dik, whose 1874 version of the Jewish pope myth
explicitly lauds the contrast between the bad old days of superstition and
persecution, and the new rationalistic era.  Sherman's reading, though,
elicits a much darker view, which he must characterize -- no fewer than 11
times in as many pages -- as "unconscious".  Despite Dik's stated intentions,
his story "deconstructs itself into a positive reinforcement of Christian
prejudice" (p. 95), for Dik characterizes the past with stereotypes of
old-style Jewish life that would soon be revived in Nazi propaganda (p. 93),
and his tale all too well portrays the attractions of apostasy.

Chapters 5, 6 and 7 are devoted to three modern short stories.  The Polish
writer Y. Y. Trunk's 1958 version of the myth defends the ideas of S. Dubnov
on Jews as a landless nation ; I.B.  Singer's 1943 "Zeidlus the first" is
deeply (one might say, vitriolically) anti-assimilationist and
anti-enlightenment; and the Anglo-Jewish writer Israel Zangwill's "Joseph the
dreamer" explores the ambiguities and attractions of assimilation, even to the
point of conversion.  A short conclusion completes this slim volume, and an
Appendix gives Dik's version of the Joseph/pope myth as translated and
annotated by Sherman.

Much as I enjoyed and learned from the argument and the richly variegated
information in Sherman's book, I was uneasy throughout.  A French proverb
frequently came to mind:  Comparaison n'est pas raison. Three major strands
are woven together here--the biblical Joseph story, the later pope-story, and
Yiddish culture -- and it's not always clear that they form a tapestry.  For
starters, the _Mayse-bukh_'s pope story may or may not be a version of the
Joseph story:  it shares little but the most general structural outline with
the biblical narrative (success in non-Jewish culture, family anagnorisis and
reunion) and might thus be amenable to a Proppian structuralist approach
rather than an assertion of direct influence.  Also, the medieval tale might
resemble the Pope Joan legend, a Greek creation illustrating the danger of a
clean-shaven (western) clergy; that is, it could be an anti-Catholic
theological jab: if one of us can be their god, why not their pope?

All this might not matter much if later writers conflated the two, but not all
of them do.  Dik and Trunk do both quote the biblical story and have a Jewish
pope.  Singer's title implicitly acknowledges the _Mayse-bukh_ but not the
Joseph story, a lack that Sherman accounts for by labeling Singer's convert, a
repulsive failure, an "anti-Joseph" (p. 130).  Zangwill's title, on the other
hand, explicitly acknowledges the bible, but his Joseph becomes a martyred
friar, not a pope reunited with his Jewish family.(The biblical Joseph, of
course, does not convert but remains Jewish and retains his exalted position
in Egypt.)

Sherman's treatment of the _Mayse-bukh_ raises the issue of his own subtext.
He characterizes one group of its stories as "Judaized versions of Christian
exempla" (p. 68), yet rejects the well known _Gesta romanorum_ -- a medieval
tale collection -- as source for the _Mayse-bukh_ because this is "a matter of
more complexity than simply a Judaization" (p. 69) and because the attribution
would "insist upon Jewish subjectification to Christian interpellation"
(p.70).  But Judaization is not so simple; also, at times in the very long
history of Jewish borrowing from other cultures, "Jewish subjectification",
etc. might well be at least partially the case.  Sherman's strictly textual
arguments against the alignment are more convincing than his ideological one,
which seems to depend on an unstated notion of Jewish autonomy, perhaps on
reluctance about or resentment of the idea of Jewish indebtedness to hegemonic
and persecutory Christian culture.  I felt that a similar position emerged
from Sherman's characterization of German as "Gentile language" and Dik's use
of Germanisms as connoting "acceptance of Gentile attitudes" (p. 93), or
Zangwill's English as "the language of Gentiles" (p. 162) despite the
continuous presence of Jews in England since the early modern era (as James
Shapiro has shown) and in Germany for much longer.  Is it possible to argue
that when non-Christians habitually use a language, it ceases to be a
"Christian language"?

Sometimes the agenda seems at odds with the logic.  The notion of "resistance"
stated early on seems to suit the desire for autonomy.  Yet "interpellation"
implies a lack of autonomy, and indeed a number of the texts - Dik's
especially -- appear, on Sherman's subtextual reading, to have failed to
resist.  Particularly if resistance to interpellation and to disidentification
means attraction and even conversion to the dominant culture, it's hard to
understand this as "resistance".

It would have been useful to have some of these ambiguities elucidated.
Sherman observes that "the myth of the Jewish pope has not yet spoken its last
word" (p. 23), but in Sherman's study it has spoken a fascinating and
provocative word.

Date: 28 December 2003
From: Leonard Prager 
Subject:  Books and Journals Received

a. Yisroel Kaplan.  Fun folks-moyl un mayn. mit der bateylikung fun Avrom
Zimarni . Tel-Oviv:  H. Leyvik farlag, baym fareyn fun yidishe shraybers un
zhurnalistn in yisroel, 2003.  [English title:  Israel Kaplan.  Jewish
Folklore and My Own] ISBN 965-90108-6-9.

A personal collection of recollected oral Yiddish humor of more than a
half-century ago (anecdotes, definitions, puns, etc.) by the recently deceased
(at age 101!) author of the valuable, twice reprinted _Dos folksmoyl in
natsi-klem_ (Munich 1949), who also edited _Fun letstn khurbm; tsaytshrift far
geshikhte fun yidishn lebn beysn natsi-rezhim_ 1-9 (Munich 1946-1948).  Unlike
Druyanov [] in an earlier
period, Kaplan does not censor his material (though it is hardly ever risque).

b. _Yerusholaimer almanakh; tsaytshrift far literatur, kultur un
gezelshaftlekhe problemen_ 27 [tashsa"g (2002/2003)], redagirt:  Dov-Ber
Kerler. aroysgegebn beshutfes mit dem vilner yidishn institut baym vilner
universitet un dem yung-yidish tsenter in yerusholaim, 320 zz' [ISSN

Printed by Jerusalem's Tsur-Ot , Israel's leading Yiddish printing house, this
graphically notable issue (the twenty-seventh) -- of one of Israel's last
remaining literary journals is variegated and rich in content.  Memorial
tributes to the journal's first editor, the poet and well known former
refusenik, Yoysef Kerler, open the volume.  An entire section, including an
essay by Hirshe-Dovid Katz on the Vilner Gaon's Yiddish, centers on storied
Vilna. The rest of this ample volume includes many of our best contemporary
Yiddish authors, the enterprising editor having recruited them from far and

Date: 28 December 2003
From: Leonard Prager 
Subject:  New Book Notices

S.J.  Harendorf.  _The King of Lampedusa_, edited and translated from Yiddish
by Heather Valencia; Foreword by Anna Tzelniker.  London: Jewish Music
Institute International Forum for Yiddish Culture in association with JEECS,
the Jewish East End Celebration Society. 10 pounds (+ postage and packing -
1.50 pounds within Britain and 2.50 pounds overseas).  To order, send sterling
cheque, or quote Visa or MasterCard details (card number and expiry date) to
Jewish Music Institute, P O Box 232, Harrow, Middlesex, HA1 2NN.  Tel 02 0
8909 2445, Fax 020 8909 1030 e-mail

End of The Mendele Review 07.013
Leonard Prager, editor
Joseph Sherman, associate editor

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