The Mendele Review: Yiddish Literature and Language
              (A Companion to MENDELE)
Contents of Vol. 08.006 [Sequential No. 145]
31 May 2004

1) About this issue of TMR  (Leonard Prager)
2) Podriatchik's list of Soviet Yiddish Writers (Gennady Estraykh)
3) On vocalizing proper names in Yehoyesh's Tanakh:  A Letter to the
   Editors (Martin Doering)

Date:  31 May 2004
From: Leonard Prager 
Subject:  About this issue of TMR

TMR readers may be aware of the Yehoyesh Project on The World of Yiddish/ Di
velt fun yidish website [].  The entire text is on
the site, but most of it is still not properly proofread and corrected.  Our
new webmaster Tal Daniel will gradually replace the corrupted texts with
corrected ones being prepared by Robert Goldenberg, Martin Doering and
myself.  The corrections are being made in WORD, which is searchable.  (I
understand that PDF files will also in time be searchable.)

I will not attempt to relate the tangled history of the Yehoyesh effort and
will focus on the present.  There are scores of Bible versions on the
internet in scores of languages; there are many Hebrew Bibles. There is not
a single Yiddish Bible translation.  David Roskies has written that the
greatest single achievement of American Yiddish literature is the monumental
translation of the Tanakh by Solomon Bloomgarten (Yehoyesh).  We agree.  We
wish to provide the entire text of Yehoyesh's great work on the internet for
Yiddish-lovers the world over, for this and for future generations. For this
effort we long ago received the blessings of Yehoyesh's grandsons.

It needs to be explained that several years back there was no prospect of an
effective OCR program for Yiddish and merely producing a graphic image of
the text meant:1. incorporating its somewhat obsolete orthography, 2.
retaining its typographical errors, 3. decreasing the possibility of search
capability.  Part of the text was made available in coded form; volunteers
came forth who would romanize the text; Refoel Finkel's marvelous Yiddish
Typewriter made conversion to Yiddish a simple step.  A constant problem in
the project was the vocalization of Hebrew-origin words and, especially,
Hebrew proper names.  These problems were also shown to be manageable, but
at no point did the editors think through systematically the multiple
problems of the text -- they were simply too busy trying to get the text on
to the internet.

Yehoyesh worked on his Tanakh translation for many years and the orthography
altered from edition to edition; not even the last edition (1941 --
reprinted many times) fully followed the Yivo _takones_ (Rules).  It did not
much matter for the native Yiddish speaker, but for the future generations
who would learn Yiddish in schools rather than from Yiddish-speaking parents
in their homes, it was important to guide the reader in such crucial
distinctions as that between ey in _leyb_ , for instance, and ay in _layb_.
As a general principle it was decided to follow the _Takones fun yidishn
oysleyg_ (6th edition, New York, 1999).  This meant differing from the
Yehoyesh text in such basics as the forms of letters.  Yehoyesh places a
dagesh (dot) in the beyz and has no superscript in the veyz.  The Yivo
_Takones_ require a rafe (short line over the letter) in both the veyz and
the fey.  The present Breyshis text on the Di velt fun yidish website
follows Yehoyesh but will be revised to conform to Yivo rules (e.g. rafe
over veyz and fey).

Another matter which is easily altered without tampering with Yehoyesh's
actual words is their proper division:  the takones advise _a mol_, _far
vos_, etc. rather than _amol_, _far vos_.  This is a small matter -- most of
the individual issues are small, but they accumulate to a considerable
formation, that of a standard language with widely accepted conventions. The
effort demanded by a project as extensive as the Yehoyesh Project should
serve the larger purposes of modern Yiddish literacy as well as provide a
classic text in its original form for scholars.  It should be emphasized
that no effort is made in the Yehoyesh project to alter the diction of the
poet, daytshmerish though it often is.  (Perhaps in some books of the
Yehoyesh translation we may use a color scheme to indicate words proscribed
in Standard Yiddish. The text should be a teaching medium if possible.)

One of the more difficult matters in preparing the internet text is that of
Hebrew-origin words, especially proper names.  The _Takones_ thinkers offer
great latitude here and modern readers may very well disagree with their
approach.  Here is what the _Takones_ prescribe under captions 20 and 21:
20.  "Nekudes" (Vowel Points):  Oyb me vil, in di interesn fun dem vintsik
genitn leyener, shteln di hebreizmen mit nekudes, kumen di nekudes loyt der
yidisher oysshprakh. keyn shvo shtelt men nit. 21. S'iz oykh a gang tsu
shteln mit a nekude mernit dem batontn traf.

[20.  If , in the interests of the less experienced reader, one wishes to
vocalize the hebraisms, one follows the Yiddish pronunciation.  One does not
give the shva. 21.  Another possibility is to vocalize the stressed syllable

Seeing, for example, a kamets under the kof in the word _kol_ (voice) or
under the daled in the word _dor_ (generation) may disturb readers
accustomed to the Hebrew pointing of these common words.  In his letter to
the editor in this issue of TMR Martin Doering raises objections to my
admittedly inconsistent editing of Yehoyesh's handling of Hebrew proper
names.  My own preference is for consistency no matter what rule one
follows.  I would not object to giving all Hebrew names according to their
full Hebrew forms.  Omitting all vowel points seems too extreme if one
wishes to assist readers who know little Hebrew.

Readers are invited to give their views on these questions.

Date: 31 May 2004
From: Gennady Estraikh 
Subject: Podriatchik's list of Soviet Yiddish Writers

[In response to the discussion of Podriatchik's list of Soviet Yiddish and
Hebrew writers by Avraham Greenbaum and Leonard Prager in The Mendele Review
8.004, the Yiddish scholar and journalist Gennady Estraikh wrote to TMR:

E. Podriatchik's list is very outdated.  Khaim Beider's "Memorial" and other
publications in _Sovetish heymland_ are more reliable.  Beider's manuscript
of Lexicon of Soviet Yiddish Writers, that exists in Yiddish (original) and
in a German translation, is waiting for money.  However, the Cold War is
over, and fundraising for such projects is a difficult (and often hopeless)
exercise.  Incidentally, the recent book by Gennnadii Kostyrchenko, _Tainaia
politika Stalina_, contains a few important pieces of information about
Soviet Yiddish activists.  On Ziskind Lev:  an interesting article (by
Thomas Soxberger of Vienna) will be published in _East European Jewish
Affairs_.  An English volume of Zalmen Wendroff's stories will come out in
July.  Hakitser, epes vert fundestvegn geton.

[To this note Avraham Greenbaum replied directly to Gennady Estraikh, making
the following three points:]

1. _Sovetish heymland_ suffered from political constraints. 2. The Lexicon
of Soviet Yiddish Writers has been talked about for a very long time. 3.The
existing lexicon ms. should be published cheaply at least for the use of

[Gennady Estraikh made the further comment:]

Khayim Beider died a few months ago.  Virtually till the very last days of
his life he continued to collect materials for his lexicon, but many dates
and details concerning Soviet Yiddish literati remain unclear. For instance,
I can't find the year when Leyzer Vilenkin, a Yiddish linguist, who died in
Israel after publishing there 5 or 6 volumes of poetry and prose (Gerangl,
Gerandl-2, Gerangl-3,...).  Some former Soviet writers later significantly
doctored their Soviet-time biographies (s'iz a teme far a bazunderer
forshung!).  I mean not only those writers who emigrated in the 1970s and
later, but also such a writer as Daniel Charney, who left Russia in the
early 1920s, remaining a Soviet citizen and pro-Soviet author till the
beginning of WWII and perhaps even later.

Date: 31 May 2004
From: Marin Doering
Subject: How Should We Vocalize Hebrew-Origin Words in Yehoyesh's Tanakh?

tayerer leonard:

do shrayb ikh aykh mayne makhshoves vegn nekudes.

-- frage:

far vos nutst men nekudes?


vayl me darf hobn a hilf baym leyenen (oyf a kol) di ivre-verter.

-- frage:

vi azoy zol me zikh banemen mit di nekudes bay di tanakh-nemen inem


es zaynen faran etlekhe gute meglekhkeytn. me hot di breyre fun derekh A biz
derekh C:

                                      derekh A: loyt yivo-takones

1:  gor keyne nekudes!  (nor:  tsum badoyern:  nit bahilflekh baym aroysredn
di nemen!)

2: nekude nor oyfn aktsentirtn traf!

(nor: tsum badoyern: nit genug bahilflekh baym aroysredn di nemen!)

3: nekudes (fonetishe) oyf ale trafn!

(tsuersht nit sheyn far libhober fun ortografish korekte nekudes; nor
shpeter, ven me hot zikh bakent mit dem fonetishn shteyger:  take zeyer gut
bahilflekh far dos aroysredn fun umbakante nemen!!!)

                                                         derekh B:

in yehoyesh-proyekt, bay tanakh-nemen fun shtet, lender un mentshn:

1:  punkt vi yehoyesh, khotsh er shraybt nit loyt yivo (yehoyesh iz
yehoyesh, er shraybt nit loyt yivo, un er makht do un dortn amol grayzn.
loyt mayn meynung iz dos keyn problem nisht. yivo ken zayn gut, nor di groys
maynster kenen zikh bageyn on yivo! un zayne grayzn? ot di hob ikh lib. zey
zogn mir:  er, der groyser maynster, er iz oykh a mentsh.  --- -- nor tsum
badoyern:  bay a sakh verter iz yehoyesh nit bahelflekh mikoyekh aroysreden
umbakante tanakh-nemen!)

2: mit di originale ivre-tanakh-nekudes

(dos volt zayn, loyt mayn meynung, keyn shlekhter veg.  (yo, ikh veys: es iz
nit loyt yivo. nor:  yehoyesh git dem originalen ivri-tekst lebn zayne
ariberzetsung. un ver nit ken aroysredn di nemen loytn yehoyesh-yidish-tekst
di nemen, ken kukn tsum ivri-tek st un dortn zikh orientirn.

der leyener darf ober visn, viazoy redt men aroys di originale ivri-nekudes
oyfn yidishn shteyger. nu, dos iz gring zikh tsu lernen. der letste traf
klingt kimat alemol vi a zeyer kurts e:  oves, nekudes, takones, oyvadye,
kroyvem, goles usw.)

loyt yivo 3:  nekudes (fonetishe) oyf ale trafn, kedey me zol kenen
aroysredn di nemen fun di umbakente shtet, lender un mentshn (es iz nit loyt
yehoyesh, es iz nit loyt original-ivri-tanakh, ober es iz zeyer gut tsu
leyenen. loyt mayn meynung:  der bester derekh, az mentshn kenen aroysredn
di ivri-tanakh-nemen!!!

                                                         derekh C:

un  voseren derekh hot ir, tayerer leonard, aroysgeklibn?

a gemishtn derekh!

nit loyt yivo, nit loyt yehoyesh, nit loyt ivri-tanakh. nor vos den? fun
alts epes!!!

a bisl loyt yivo, a bisl loyt ivri-tanakh un a bisl loyt yehoyesh.  --- nor
bay di nemen, vu yehoyesh iz epes bahelflekh tsum aroysredn di umbakante
nemen, dortn lozt ir avek (oder lozt ayere helfer aveklozn) di bahelflekhe
nekudes un shraybt onshtot dem di ortografishe nekude oyfn letstn traf vu
nit keyner zi bdarf, vorum a yede nekude klingt dortn vi "e"!

ikh freg mikh tomed:  far vos zol dos zayn gut. yehoyesh aleyn iz vayt
beser. ershtns:  er iz original yehoyesh un tsveytens:  er iz beser
bahelflekh baym arosyredn di nemen!

efsher bin ikh blind far di gutskeyt fun ayer breyre. to efent mir mayne
oygn un vayzt mir, ikh bet aykh, vosere mayle ayer derekh hot, ikh bet aykh!

tsvey yidn in der shul. zogt der eyner tsum tsveytn:  nekhtn hob ikh in
internet gezen a kopye fun yehoyesh-tanakh. hobn take di naronem nit
aroysgeshribn di nemen

zogt der tsveyter tsum ershtn:  nu, far vos nit azoy, far vos tsebeyzert ir
zikh? zogt der tsveyter:  un vi vestu kenen leyenen un aroysredn di dozike
nemen inem sheynen yehoyesh-proyekt funem rg und lp ???

mit vareme yidishe grusn



End of The Mendele Review Vol. 08.006
Editor, Leonard Prager
Associate Editor, Joseph Sherman

Subscribers to Mendele (see below) automatically receive The Mendele

Send "to subscribe" or change-of-status messages to:

        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: