The Mendele Review: Yiddish Literature and Language
(A Companion to MENDELE)

Contents of Vol. 09.11 [Sequential No. 163]
16 October 2005

1) Yehoyesh Project completed. (ed.)
2) On Leyb Rashkin (Dafna Sheinwald)
3) Di mentshn fun Godlbozhits by Leyb Rashkin, Chapter I
4) Publisher's Announcement: Dzhordzh der Naygeriker

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16 October 2005
From: Leonard Prager
Subject: Yehoyesh Project completed.


The monumental task of digitizing and making searchable Yehoyesh's classic Yiddish translation of the Tanakh, conforming its orthography wherever possible to the Takones of Yivo (without altering the author's lexicon) has been a principal labor of this editor and his industrious team of associate editors and helpers for five long years. Without the basic work of Meyer Wolf and Matthew Fisher at the outset of the project, without the magical powers of Refoel Finkel's Yiddish Typewriter and Zsigri ("Ziggy") Gyula's splendid keyboards and, in the past two years especially, without the devotion of Robert ("Itsik") Goldenberg in Canada and Martin Doering in Germany, this important contribution to Yiddish studies on the internet, our electronic Yiddishland, would never have been completed.

Yehoyesh's translation is conservative and in some degree archaic. But like the King James Version of the Bible in the Anglophone world, it will continue to occupy a central place in Yiddish letters even if Yiddish-lovers are brave enough to attempt more modern renditions as was suggested at a World Jewish Congress session in London a half century ago by the alphabet scholar David Diringer. Jews have been translating the Tanakh into Yiddish for centuries, all the major Yiddish writers (Mendele Moykher-Sforim, Y.-L. Perets and Sholem-Aleykhem, etc.) having attempted a translation of one book or another. There is no reason to halt this practice, one that could draw upon the untapped vigor latent in present-day Yiddish.

The Yehoyesh Tanakh received the stamp of approval of Orthodox rabbis and was also hailed and has been loved by secular Jews the world over. It belongs to all Jews as no other work does it is not only a religious text, a source of ceremony and ritual, a liturgical compendium and encyclopaedia of law, it is also a storehouse of myth and legend and a great work of literature. It is also central for much of Jewish literature.

Simkhes Toyre [Simkhat Tora] is a good time to celebrate Yehoyesh, reading in the traditional manner but from his translation the end of Dvorim [Deuteronomy] and the beginning of Breyshis [Genesis], symbolizing the continuity of Judaism (howsoever defined), the enduring relevance of its principal biblical values. To enact this ritual in Yiddish is to memorialize the millions of Yiddish-speakers for whom Yehoyesh executed his mighty years-long labor of scholarship, art and piety, but who were cut off from taking pleasure in its beautiful Yiddish. Such a reading would normally supplement the traditional Hebrew one.

The traditional reading is from Dvorim (Deuteronomy) 33:1- 34:12 followed by Breyshis (Genesis) 1:1-2:3. These passages can be found at the following urls.



Date: 16 October 2005
From: Dafna Shenwald (author's grandniece)

Subject: On Leyb Rashkin.

Leyb Rashkin (ne Shoyl Frydman) was born in 1905 in Kazimierz Dolny, called Kuzmir by its Jewish habitants, near Lublin, Poland. He attended the school of Sonia Vishnia, and intended to emigrate to Israel in the early 1920s, but cancelled this plan due to his parents' illness. He worked in the local branch of the Cooperative Bank, moved to Warsaw for a while, then continued to work in the bank at Kuzmir as manager. Rashkin married Feyge Nirenberg of Lubartov, and in 1936 his daughter Tamar was born. In 1935, Rashkin published his novel Di mentshn fun Godlbozhits where he sardonically but warmly criticizes the moral and social life in the Jewish shtetl; a second edition was published in 1936. The novel vividly describes Kuzmir's extraordinary variety of characters (See In 1938, Rashkin won the Y.-L. Perets Prize for this first novel. When the war broke out, he fled to Belarus, and lived a few years in Brest-Litovsk (Brisk), working there on a local paper until imprisoned in the Brisk Ghetto. He registered in the Ghetto records in November 1941 and the Ghetto inhabitants were murdered in October 1942. (See Rashkin's wife managed to save the life of their daughter Tamar, but she herself was murdered in Warsaw. Tamar came to Israel in 1947, and raised a family. Three sisters of Rashkin came to Israel in the 1920s and 1930s and raised families.


Leyb Rashkin with his wife Feyge

Date: 16 October 2005
From: Dafna Sheinwald
Subject: Di mentshn fun Godlbozhits by Leyb Rashkin, Chapter I

Click below for the text of this chapter. Words in red are glossed.

Chapter I of Novel formatted in HTML


Date: 16 October 2005
From: Zachary Sholem Berger
Subject: Publisher's Announcement: Dzhordzh der Naygeriker

H. A. Rey. Dzhordzh der Naygeriker. Translated by Sholem Berger. New York: Yiddish House LLC, 2005. 57 pp. ISBN 0-9726939-2-0. Available at

End of The Mendele Review Vol. 09.11

Editor, Leonard Prager

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