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

Yiddish in Denmark Issue

Contents of Vol. 11.006 [Sequential No. 183]
25 May 2007

1) This issue of TMR (ed).
Yiddish In Denmark (Morten Thing)
Takones fun yidishn oysleg – copies still available (ed)

Click here to enter:

Date: 25 May 2007
From: ed.
Subject:  This issue of TMR.

*In this issue of TMR we present a free English translation of a somewhat shortened version of Morten Thing's Danish Yidisher druk in denemark
[Skriftserie Fra Roskilde Universitetsbibliotek Nr. 44]. The complete original booklet containing the full bibliography of books and serials can be viewed at

*We press the importance of circulating widely the sixth (the latest) edition of Takones fun yidishn oysleyg [Rules of Yiddish Spelling]. These rules have been issued by Yivo and the League for Yiddish together with the late Dr. Mordkhe Schaechter's "Fun folkshprakh tsu kulturshprakh," a comprehensive survey of the history of the standardized Yiddish spelling. Copies of this fundamental work are still available and will be much appreciated  by serious Yiddish-lovers.

25 May 2007
From: Morten Thing
Subject: Yiddish in

Yiddish in Denmark
Morten Thing

1.0 Jews in Denmark

The first Jews entered Denmark more or less illegally in the late sixteenth century. In 1616 King Christian IV invited a rich Sephardic Jew to settle in Glücksburg in the Duchy of Holsten. In 1657 Sephardic Jews received from King Frederik III the privilege of selling goods in all of Denmark, and in the following years of settling outside Copenhagen. In 1684 Jews were at last permitted to settle in Copenhagen and conduct religious services provided they not be visible from outside. According to laws and decrees, these Ladino-speaking (i.e. Judezmo-speaking) Jews were ‘Jews of the Portuguese Nation’.  Later on, Yiddish-speaking Jews as well were allowed to settle in the capital, and they were referred to as ‘Jews of the German Nation’. The census of 1790 recorded 1,462 Jews in Denmark. In 1813 the Jews were emancipated by decree as far as they could be in a Christian state; with the first democratic constitution of 1849 they were given full equal rights. From 1833 there was a synagogue in Copenhagen and later on in other cities, too. The rabbi of Copenhagen was the chief rabbi of Denmark proper, while the rabbi of Altona was the chief rabbi for the Duchies of Holsten and of Slesvig.

The absorption of the Jews was very successful, the majority being integrated into the Copenhagen and provincial elites.  During the nineteenth century the number of Jews rose to about 4,000. There were many inter-marriages and many Jewish children were baptised. These first Jews in Denmark we call Danish Jews.

From 1882 until 1914 Russian Jews migrated to Western Europe and the USA. Around 10,000 – 12,000 of them settled for shorter or longer periods in Copenhagen, mainly to earn money for the fare to New York. Around 3.000 of them settled for good in Copenhagen. From 1910-1940 they maintained a Yiddish cultural life centred in the ghetto of Copenhagen. These Jews we call Russian Jews.

In the inter-war period (1933-1939) a small group of German Jews were admitted into Denmark, most of whose Jews (Danish, Russian and German) escaped to Sweden during the Shoah period and returned in 1945. After the Second World War assimilation affected even the Russian Jews. In 1969-70 a group of Polish Jews were allowed to enter Denmark and this group revived the use of Yiddish for some time.

1.1 Yiddish in

During the eighteenth century Yiddish speakers in Denmark outnumbered the Judezmo speakers. Western Yiddish was spoken among the ‘Jews of the German Nation’ and was used in the protocols and books written by scribes of the Mosaisk Troessamfund (Mosaic Congregation – henceforth MT). From 1805 on only Danish was used, since inheritance became subject to Danish law and documents had to be readable by Danish judges.[1] Although Yiddish was written, no Yiddish prints were made in the kingdom. The church historian Martin Schwarz Lausten writes in his Oplysning i kirke og synagogue that three Jewish printers in Copenhagen in 1755, 1786 and 1791 applied for permission to use Hebrew type. Although they got the permission none of them, however, actually got anything printed.[2] There was, however, Hebrew and Yiddish printing in the Duchies. The chronological forerunner to the Danish print catalogue Dansk Bogfortegnelse, Bibliotheca Danica, mentions two prints in “Jødetysk” [Jew-German].[3] This meagre crop can be enlarged by Yeshayahu Vinograd's bibliography of books in Hebrew and Yiddish.[4]

When the Russian Jews began settling in Copenhagen, the Danish Jews no longer spoke Yiddish. The Jewish congregation (MT) had a Poor Relief Society of its own and collected taxes from its members, but paid the Danish hospitals, homes for the handicapped and the like for their services. The Russian Jews did not have much contact with Danish authorities, but had to go to the Mosaic Poor Relief Society whose de facto leader was one of the first Eastern European immigrants, Josef Fischer (1871-1949), a man educated as a rabbi, but who worked as a clerk all his life in a congregation dominated by wealthy German-oriented Jews. Fischer both spoke and wrote Yiddish.

The Danish Jews and the MT leadership urged the immigrants to forget their ‘false German’ and learn Danish as soon as possible. They didn’t recognize Yiddish as a Jewish language; only Hebrew and Aramaic were accepted as Jewish. The MT saw it as their task to bring all the children of the immigrants into the two Jewish schools to learn Danish (and religion and some Hebrew). The schools were private and paid for by the MT. The immigrants fought for Yiddish education in the schools, but it was only when they began to win voting rights in MT, in the beginning of the 1930s, that Yiddish lessons were allowed before or after ‘normal’ lessons, and paid for by the parents. This practice went on for 20 years.

1.2 What was the name of the language?

According to the newest scientific Danish dictionary, Yiddish (written ‘jiddisch’ in Danish) is a “German dialectal form of jüdisch ‘jødisk’ [Jewish]”.[5] The same opinion is expressed by other scientific dictionaries. The language in question is not called ‘Jüdisch’ in German. In German the name of the language until the end of the 19th century was ’Jüdisch-Deutsch’, as in Gottfried Selig’s Kurze und gründliche Anleitung zur Erlernung der jüdisch-deutschen Sprache (Leipzig 1767) or his Lehrbuch zur gründlichen Erlernung der jüdisch-deutschen Sprache für Beamte, Gerichtsver­wandte, Advocaten und inbesondere für Kaufleute; mit einem vollständigen ebräisch und  jüdisch-deutschen Wörterbuche (Leipzig 1792).[6] This term was also used in English as ‚Judæo-German’ and in French as ‚judéo-allemand’. For a short period the initially derogatory term ‘Jargon’ was  used in German; the name zhargon was in Yiddish itself for a time used in a neutral manner. Present-day European use of the word ‘Jiddisch’ is a loan-word from English ‘Yiddish’ (with a German suffix). ‘Jiddisch’, then, is not a dialectal form of ‘Jüdisch’. If we search in, the database of German-language Jewish periodicals from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, ‘Jargon’ (1887-1908, most around 1900) gets 54 hits, ‘Jüdisch-Deutsch’ (1889-1901) 26 hits, and ‘Jiddisch’ (1914-38) 28 hits. This shows ‘Jiddisch’ to be a newcomer.

Yiddish arose in Southern Germany (some scholars say in the Rhine Valley) around 1000 and was called ‘loshn ashkenaz’ (language of Germany), ‘taytsh’ (German), ‘loshneynu’ (our language) or ‘undzer sprakh’ with the same meaning. After some hundred years in the Rhineland the Jews were driven north and east. In the east they settled in the area from Lithuania and Poland to Russia and the Ukraine. North they settled in the German states. This last group called their language ‘Jüdisch-Deutsch’. The other group, the eastern one, called the language ‘yidish’ and many other names, for instance ‘mameloshn’. In Yiddish ’yidish’ means both 'Jewish' and 'Yiddish'. In Russian we have the same ambiguity. Here a Jew is ’еврей’, jevrej, i.e. 'Hebrew', while Jewish is ’еврейский’, jevrejskij. Both Hebrew and Yiddish are thus еврейский’, jevrejskij. Hebrew is ’древнееврейский’, drevnejevrejskij, i.e. 'Old-Hebrew', while modern Hebrew could be ’менный древнееврейский’, mjennyj drevnejevrejskij, i.e 'modern Old-Hebrew'.[7]

What was Yiddish called in Danish before the arrival of the Russian Jews? The learned Danish author, Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754), distinguishes between two kinds of Jews. In his 1724 comedy Mascarade, Henrich in the third act dresses as a ‘Jøde-Præst’ [Jew-Priest] and speaks an improvised Hebrew, which Jeronimus does not understand. When he turns to German, Jeronimus grasps that he is no ‘Portugiser-Jude’ and bids him goodbye with the words: “Adieu Smautz”. A ‘smaus’ or ‘smovs’ in Danish at this time meant an Ashkenazi Jew, while a Portuguese Jew was a Sephardic one. Holberg knew both kinds from the streets of Copenhagen. As late as 1783 the Portuguese Jews in the city applied for a change in a royal ordinance prescribing how the oath was to be taken. They didn’t understand the formulae, “which were written in German with Hebrew words and some Yiddish.”[8] Holberg doesn’t give a name to either of the Jewish languages, but in other of his comedies he lets characters speak a home-grown Yiddish, showing that he heard it as a kind of German.

Danish dictionaries from the early nineteenth century use the word ‘Jødesprog’ [Jew-language] for both Hebrew and Yiddish. The only guide to Yiddish printed in Denmark is in German and is called Nothwendiger Einblick ins sogenannte Juden-Ebräisch, oder Wörterbuch für die Gojim, die lernen solle zu sayn Chochum, und wollen begreifen schmußen als a Bargißrol. Hrsg. Von einem Occidentalen (Rendsburg 1833). The title can be translated: 'Necessary insight into the so-called Jew-Hebrew, or Dictionary for Non-Jews who want to be clever and understand how to speak as a real Jew, by an Occidental'. The title is enigmatic since it pretends to be written by a non-Jew but uses three Yiddish words (Gojim, Chochum og Bargißrol).[9] Finally, the author uses the term ’Juden-Ebräish’, a term not known in German but which might have been in use in Denmark.

The Danish Jewish author Meïr Aron Goldschmidt (1819-87) in his short stories and novels has Jews using both Yiddish and Hebrew expressions, which he translates in footnotes. In Avromche Nattergal [Avromche Nightingale] (1871) Reb Schaie “paid his debt, gave Avromche a sum of money and said in low voice, in German-Hebrew [da: Tydsk-Hebraisk], that with its mysterious tone, pregnant with malediction had a power, which the words in Danish aren’t able to express: “Go out of my house […].””[10]Tydsk-Hebraisk’ is a reversed form of the Yiddish ‘ivre-taytsh’, and is a possible term for Yiddish in the late nineteenth century. But in his Maser (1868) Goldschmidt writes of “the jargon, the mixture of German and Hebrew, which is called “Mauscheln””.[11] Jargon’ is at this time a rather pejorative word, and ‘Mauschel’ means in German something like ‘kike’; ‘mauscheln’ means to talk in a Jewish manner, to gesticulate. Also the Danish Jewish critic Georg Brandes (1842-1927) uses the word ‘Jargon’ in his essay on Goldschmidt: “[…] he made himself and it [i.e. Judaism] interesting by displaying its Jargon with notes under the text.”[12]

The only example of a fixed name for Yiddish before or at the time of the immigration of the Russian Jews is in Ordbog for Folket [Dictionary for the People] (1907), where ‘Jødetysk’ [Jew-German] is "used among German and Polish Jews for their mixed language of High-German and germanised Hebrew words.”[13] We can actually follow the establishment of the word ‘jiddisch’ in Danish through the Danish-language Jewish periodicals such as Jødisk Tidsskrift [Jewish Journal] 1907-08. Here the term ‘Jargon’ is used objectively, as in German some years earlier. This journal, for instance, announces the first Yiddish theatre performance as ‘Jargon-Teaterforestilling’ [Jargon-Theatre-play].[14] In 1914 the journal Jødisk Samfund [Jewish Society; the Danish part of a Danish-Yiddish journal] writes of the immigrants: “Yiddish [Da: Yiddisch] is their only means of communication. Hebrew which the boys learn in the cheder, is not used as an everyday language…. Yiddish [da: Yiddisch] is understood and spoken by everyone. Russian, Polish, Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian is spoken and understood by some from these provinces, but is read and written only by a minority.”[15] In Mosaisk Samfund of the same period, we read that "

“many … children speak correct Danish, being among Danes; in their homes they speak Yiddish [da: Jeddisch] […].”[16] The orientalist dr. Hermann Strack argued that the language ought to be called Jewish [Jødisk]: “The expression Yiddish comes from England and the US and ought not been taken over by us […]. Jewish can (although Poland and some assimilationist Jews, overanxious Hebraists and ignorant people deny it) be termed a language. Hebrew is for the Jews the holy language […]. But Jewish is the “mother tongue” (mame loshn), the everyday language of 6 million and understood by a greater number.”[17]

The Yiddish paper Idishe velt and its editor Y. Shayak, when writing in Danish, used the term ‘Jødisk’ [Jewish] for Yiddish, and even among some of the immigrants this is still in use, but never among Danes. When the Russian Jews came to Denmark,  there was a need for a safe terminology regarding their language. In Danish-Jewish publications the terminology moves from ‘Jargon’ to ‘yiddish’ to ‘yiddisch’ and ends with ‘jiddisch’. In the 8th edition of Ludvig Meyers Fremmedordbog from 1924 you have ‘Yiddisch, Jiddisch’. When the first official journal of the Danish Jewish congregation (MT) came out in 1928, the term was ‘jiddisch’, and no other term was ever used.

1.3 Yiddish printing in

The Russian Jewish immigrants in Copenhagen felt the need to speak, read and hear mame loshn. In 1907 the doctor Louis Frænkel (1868-1935) opened his Toynbee Hall, where Yiddish, Russian and Hebrew papers could be read. When it had to close down around 1909, the Bund created a Yiddish library -- Bunds arbeter leze-zal far ale in Kopenhagen [Bund’s Workers’ Reading Room for All in Copenhagen]. The Yiddish library continued after the Bund dissolved, and in 1956 was donated to the Royal Library.

The immigrants began by 1907 to organize Yiddish theatre performances and until the beginning of the 50's there were more than 270 Yiddish performances on small stages in Copenhagen. In the first 10-12 years three professional actors led the scene, but after they left for New York it was (in the 20's) an amateur theatre. In the 30's an amateur theatre performed with travelling Yiddish actors. All performances were announced on flyers or posters, at first in Danish, since there were no Yiddish printers. It was the 19-year old printer Josef Litischevski (1892-1960), who was the first to buy Hebrew fonts with the intention of issuing a Yiddish weekly. He opened a printer’s shop in Nansensgade, a street with many immigrants. On 21 May 1911 he published the first issue of Der vokhenblat [The Weekly] (after eight issues Dos vokhenblat). His first printing press was an old proof-printer half the page-size of the weekly. He had to set and print each of the 4 pages in two cycles. The paper came out irregularly, continuing (with a pause of one year) until March 1921, not always as a weekly. From 1915 Israel-Mayr Brender (1888-1927) was responsible editor and later the owner of the printing shop as well.

Litischevski’s Vokhn blats drukeray [Vokhn blat Printers] was of great significance for Danish-Yiddish culture the following years. Hundreds of flyers for meetings were printed by him. He also printed fiction: Shloyme Edelhayt’s (1882-?) play Der eybiger shmerts [The Eternal Pain] (1912) and Yankel Krepliak’s (1885-1945) A seder in Finland (1912). He printed the catalogue of the Bund's Yiddish library.[18] Litischevski wasn’t the only Yiddish printer. A competing weekly, Di yugend-shtime [Voice of the Youth], came out on December 29th 1911, printed by its own printing works. Later on Israel Kaplan printed the Yiddish part of the bilingual Yudishe gezelshaft/Jødisk Samfund, published by Fareynigung fun ale rusishe yuden in Kopenhagen [Union of all Russian Jews in Copenhagen, 1913-15]. Kaplan printed the first Yiddish daily in Denmark, the Krigstelegramen fun Eyropa, started around August 6th 1914 in imitation of a Danish publication. We know little about this daily, only the tenth  issue having survived. Kaplan may have printed the historical leaflet about the Jewish congregation in Fredericia, Jutland, written by Alfred Heimann and translated by Simon Altschul (?-1931): Di denishe yuden. Frederitsia un ihr yudishe gemaynde, 1914. No printer’s name is given.

When World War One broke out, the Zionist Organisation (WZO) opened an office in Copenhagen in order to operate from a neutral country. A group of Yiddish journalists in Russia were exiled to Copenhagen together with many artists, musicians and intellectuals. About 500 of this group remained in Denmark and became an  important element in Danish-Yiddish culture. One of these journalists, Meir Grossman (1888-1964), from August 13th, 1914 published the second Yiddish daily Kopenhagener tog-blat [Copenhagen Daily], four issues of which have survived (1, 13, 14 and 28). Printed by Litischevski, it probably continued until November 1914.

In November 1914 the third Yiddish daily appeared: Yudishe folks-tsaytung [Jewish/Yiddish People’s Paper]. It was formally owned by a limited company, but was to a certain degree controlled by WZO’s Copenhagen office. Sorach Skorochod (1878-1957) and Josef Nachemsohn (1865-1936), two leading members of the small Danish Zionist movement, were the responsible editors, but in reality Meir Grossman was editor through all 233 issues. It closed down September 28th 1915 due to a violent clash between Grossman and the leadership of WZO. Grossman came to know Vladimir Jabotinsky (1880-1940), the later Zionist revisionist, and became his staunch ally, first in the struggle for a Jewish legion inside the British Army to help conquer Palestine and later in constructing a revisionist party in Palestine. WZO was against Jabotinsky’s stand - - they wanted to be neutral towards the warring powers. When Grossman printed an interview with Jabotinsky, it was too much for the WZO leadership, and the successful paper, meant as a platform for Zionism in Scandinavia, was closed down. 

Yudishe folks-tsaytung was printed at its own printing works, Jødisk Folketidendes Trykkeri [Printing works of Jewish People’s Paper]. The same printings works produced its successor, Yudishe folks-shtime [Jewish/Yiddish People’s Voice], a paper with Skorochod and Nachemsohn as responsible editors, too. In fact it was edited by Simon Bernstein (1884-1962), the well-known Zionist politician and Hebrew scholar. It was published twice a week until August 18th 1916. WZO then moved the paper to Stockholm, where better opportunities were expected, but it didn’t last long.[19] Jødisk Folketidendes Trykkeri also printed a series of Zionist leaflets for the WZO.[20]

There were other voices than that of Zionism. For a long time the dominating trend among the immigrants was that of Bundist socialism. The Bund both in Eastern and Western Europe published papers in Yiddish that were read in Copenhagen. Di yugend-shtime and its successor, Die kopenhagener yugend-shtime (1913) called themselves ‘progresiv-fraysinig’[progressive-liberal] and were expressions of Bundism. Bundisher Ferayn in Copenhagen published (1915-16) only five issues of a paper called Der arbeyter [The Worker].

When Meir Grossman was fired from Yudishe folks-tsaytung, he began (with Jabotinsky) to publish the journal Di tribune [The Platform]. Twenty-one issues appeared before Grossman went to London to publish a paper with Jabotinsky. When this project failed, he went to independent Ukraine, where he published a paper and was a member of parliament. After the Bolshevik takeover, he went back to Denmark and to London to appeal for help. Later on he immigrated to Palestine.

Meir Grossman’s elder brother, Vladimir (1884-1976), was a well-known journalist, too, and worked for some of the major Yiddish papers. He maintained contact with Denmark, even after WW2 and wrote articles for Danish papers, published books in Danish (among them his memoirs) and in Yiddish.[21] In 1918 he published the leaflet Yuden in Kopenhagen (issued also in Danish), printed by Martius Truelsen. It caused a stir since Grossmann was critical towards the Danish Jews and their treatment of the Russian-Jewish immigrants.

The author and journalist Yehuda-Hirsh Shayak (1892-1958) in 1917 published one issue of the journal Di idishe velt in Stockholm. October 15th 1920 he started publishing the weekly Di idishe velt. Vokhenshrift far idishe interesen [The Jewish World. A weekly for Jewish Interests]. It was printed by Rasmussen & Rugh, a bigger printing office that probably had bought types and machines from Jødisk Folketidendes Trykkeri, when WZO gave up its printing works. Rasmussen & Rugh printed Grossman’s Di tribune, too, and the paper Folks-hilf [People’s Aid] published by Hilfskomitet far di noytleydende yidn fun der milkhome [Aid-committee for the Destitute Jews from the War]. From January 28th 1921 Di idishe velt wrote that it was printed by its own printing works. Shayak's little book Tsvey dertseylungen [Two Tales] (1921) was probably printed here, too. On February 18th, 1921, the last issue of Idishe velt was published, and on March 4th, the last issue of Dos vokhen blat. This was the end of the first part of the history of Russian-Yiddish prints in Denmark. Only a few short-lived journals were published afterwards.

Some leaflets, however, were published. Simon Altschul continued to print in Yiddish in Denmark. He had earlier published the leaflet about the Jews in Fredericia, and in 1921 he published his Di geshikhte fun di yuden in Denemark, ershte heft, Di yuden in Denemark in 17-tn yorhundert [The History of the Jews in Denmark, first part, The Jews in Denmark in the 17th Century]. It was fifty pages long and announced as the first in a series, but no more appeared. Simon Altschul had been a religious teacher and a typesetter at Dos vokhen blat. Probably he took over the printing works when I.-M. Brender moved to Berlin. Litischevski was at this time out of the printing business and had moved to Slagelse, Sealand. The printing works was named S. Altschul & Son and later M. Altschuls Trykkeri.

Altschul translated Meïr Aron Goldschmidt from Danish into Yiddish. In 1919 Der yid [En Jøde] appeared in New York in Y. Gornitski's translation. Altschul followed track with Lebens-erinerungen un rezultaten (1923) [the first two chapters of Livs-Erindringer og Resultater], Maser (1924) [Maser], Avromtshe Nakhtigal (1925) [Avrohmche Nattergal], Aron un Ester oder a kapitel fun rov Natan Kloyzners lebn (1926) [Aron og Esther eller et Afsnit af Rabbi Nathan Clausener's Liv], the last three called Oysderveylte shriftn 1-3.

In 1926 the author Felix Breschel (1885-1959) published his Anyuta, a book of 126 pages, for the first time printed outside Copenhagen, by Zelmanovitsh’s printing works in Dorpat, Estonia. There was in these fertile Yiddish years a lot of interest in translating Danish literature into Yiddish. Hans Christian Andersen's tales were published in twelve volumes in Warsaw and Georg BrandesMain Currents in 19th Century Literature was printed in eleven volumes in New York from 1918 to 1921.

In the thirties three Yiddish publications appeared. Two short stories written by the revolutionary writer Y. Riv: Fun shtetlshe heymen in turme. Serie revolutsionere dertseylungen 1 [From Shtetl Homes to Prison. Series of Revolutionary Stories 1] and Marek af  der tlie. Serie revolutsionere dertseylungen 2 [Marek's Hanging]. They were both printed in Riga, but published in Copenhagen. Probably the author's name is a pseudonym. The last was also the longest one: Hazomirs lider-bukh. Aroysgegebn tsum 25-yorikn yoyvl, Kopenhagen 22.10.37 [Songbook of Hasomir. Published at the 25th Anniversary, Copenhagen 22.10.37]. The Yiddish choir Hasomir was, like the Reading Room, an important institution in the life of the immigrants. Since its foundation in 1912 it gave annual concerts and other  performances. It had for many years been lead by the director of the synagogue choir Moses Beresowsky (1890-1971), but during the jubilee period was led by Hermann D. Koppel (1908-98), a son of a Russian-Jewish immigrant, later one of Denmark’s finest composers. At the time of the 10th anniversary the choir had published the 28-page booklet Hazomir” 5673 – 5683, aroysgegeben fun gezang-fareynHazomir” [“Hasomir” 5673-5683 published by the Choir “Hasomir”].[22] For the 25th anniversary ambitions were greater. The best Hasomir songs with notes, a 168-page book, was printed by Altschul, the largest Yiddish print in this Russian-Yiddish period.

Hasomir survived until 1976, and when it had its 50th anniversary in 1962, the choir published Lui Beilin’s (1919- ) booklet Den jødiske sangforening Hasomir København 1912-1962 [The Jewish Choir Hasomir Copenhagen 1912-1962]. Two of the pages appeared in Yiddish,  handwritten and copied in offset. From 1916-36 Hasomir recorded its own history in the hand-written journal Der muk/Myggen [The mosquito]. Among the songs sung by Hasomir were some by the immigrant and tailor Chaim Ritterband (1893-1944).[23]

After WW2, Yiddish for a period reached the University of Copenhagen. Rafael Edelmann (1902-72), son of one of the immigrants, taught it. He was a librarian in the Royal Library’s Judaic department. In 1966 a university fund enabled him to publish an 84-page collection of Yiddish texts with a glossary. Yidishe krestomatie, aroysgegeben fun dem fond tsum farshafn lernbikher bay der Universitet in Kopenhagen [Yiddish Chrestomathy, published by the University of Copenhagen’s Fund for production of Textbooks] was published only a few years before a new group of eastern Jews once again brought living Yiddish to Copenhagen, this time the Polish Jews. They published the journal Di khronik. Tsaytshrift fun Farband fun poylishe yidn in Denmark [The Chronicle. Journal of the Union of Polish Jews in Denmark] (1971-1974). The Bund reappeared and published (1976-1994) the journal Oyfs nay tsaytshrift [Renewal]. Both journals were bilingual Yiddish/Polish. The Bund also published Adam Markusfeld’s Hvad ønsker ”bund” i Danmark, Jødiske Socialister Bund i Danmark [What does the Bund in Denmark Want, Jewish Socialist Bund in Denmark], printed in Yiddish and Danish.

The celebrated rescue of the Danish Jews in October 1943 inspired an interesting body of fiction.  The Russian-Jewish tailor Pinches Welner (1893-1965) wrote about his own rescue.[24] After his return to Denmark he began to write fiction in one of the major dailies, Politiken. He wrote in Yiddish and was translated into Danish. His I hine Dage. Jødiske Noveller [In Those Days. Jewish Short Stories] appeared in 1949, all circling around the Shoa. In 1953 he published the novel Ved Øresunds bredder [At the Shores of Øresund] about Schlojme, who fled to Sweden in October 1943. Written in Yiddish, it was translated into Danish. He tried to get his stories published in Yiddish and the title-story from I hine dage was published in Israel's Di goldene keyt and awarded a prize as the best story of the year by Alveltlikhn yidishn kultur-kongres. The latter in 1957 published his novel Bay di bregn fun Oyresund. In 1958 his short stories were published as In yene teg in Buenos Aires by the Tsentral-farband fun poylishe yidn in Argentine, a volume for which he received the Zvi Kessel Prize.

In 1958 a new collection of short stories, Seks noveller [Six Short Stories], was published in Danish. In 1960 Welner published his major work, a novel titled Den brogede gade [The Multicolored Street]. The original Yiddish title Balut named the Łódz district where Welner grew up. It’s a very concentrated and fine depiction of Jewish life before WW1. In 1963 he published his third collection of short stories, En hel verden [A WholeWorld]. The year he died he published his memoir Fra polsk jøde til dansk [From Polish Jew to Danish], about how the Jewish immigrants were integrated and assimilated. Nearly all his books were written in Yiddish. Little by little he was able to discuss the translation with his translator and he became at last an author in Danish. In this way he came to epitomize Yiddish culture in Denmark.

[1] Thyge Svenstrup & Vello Helk: Det mosaiske Troessamfund i København med nedlagte troessamfund i provinsen, Cph. 1993, p. 13.

[2] Martin Schwarz Lausten: Oplysning i kirke og synagoge. Forholdet mellem kristne og jøder i den danske Oplysningstid (1760-1814), Cph. 2002, p. 234-40.

[3] Supplement til Bibliotheca Danica. Hefte III. Bibliotheca Slesvico-Holsatica til 1840, Cph. 1945.

[4] Yeshayahu Vinograd: àåöø äñôø äòáøé/ Otsar ha-sefer ha-ivri. Reshimat sefarim she-nidpesu be-ot ivrit me-reshit ha-dfus ha-ivri bi-shnat 1469 ad shnat 1863/ Thesaurus of the Hebrew Book, Jerusalem 1993-95.

[5] Den danske ordbog, pub. Det Danske Sprog- og Litteraturselskab, vol. 3, Cph. 2004.

[6] Selig was a Yiddish-hating Jewish convert to Christianity, see Tudor Parfitt, "Hebrew in Colonial Discourse," Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, Vol. 2, No. 2, 2003, 169. " a Yiddish textbook of 1792, a Jewish convert to Christianity, Gottfried Selig, observed of Yiddish that it used Hebrew words  in a way that was 'so deformed that they appear to be parts of the Hottentot language'. As Gilman observes, Selig's was an attempt to put the locus of the language of the Eastern Jews outside the pale of civilized Europe.". See also Werner Weinberg's ‚Die Bezeichnung Jüdischdeutsch. Eine Neubewertung’, Zeitschrift für Deutsche Philologie, vol. 100, Sonderheft, 1981, p.253-290.

[7]  îàÈãòøï òðâìéùÎééÄãéù ééÄãéùÎòðâìéù Ôòøèòøáåê àåøéàì ÔÖÇðøÖÇêÓ/ Uriel Weinreich: English-Yiddish Yiddish-English Dictionary, New York 1968;  Bettina Simon: Jiddische Sprachgeschichte, Frankfurt/M 1993, s. 31f.

[8] Martin Schwarz-Lausten: Oplysning i kirke og synagoge. Forholdet mellem kristne og jøder i den danske Oplysningstid (1760-1814), Cph. 2002, p. 276.

[9] Goyim is plural of goy 'non-Jew'; chochum is Western Yiddish for Eastern Yiddish khokhem 'clever'; bargißrol, German dialectical form for Western Yiddish ’bärchesrul’, composed of bar + yisroel 'son of Israel'. See Alfred Klepsch: Westjiddisches Wörterbuch. Auf der Basis dialektologischer Erhebungen in Mittelfranken, 1-2, Tübingen 2004.

[10] M.A. Goldschmidt: Noveller og andre fortællinger, Cph. 1994, p. 16.

[11] Ibid. p. 236.

[12] M. Goldschmidt, Georg Brandes: Æsthetiske Studier, 2. ed., Cph. 1888, p. 350.

[13] B.T. Dahl og H. Hammer: Dansk Ordbog for Folket, vol. 1, Cph. 1907.

[14] Jødisk Tidsskrift 1.11.07.

[15] Jødisk Samfund 24.4.14.

[16] Mosaisk Samfund 23.1.15.

[17] Jødisk Samfund 9.6.16.

[18] Bund’sarbeyter-lezehal far ale in Kopenhagen. Katalog 1912. A new catalogue was printed in 1917, Katalog  fun ”Bund’sarbeyter leze-zal far ale in Kopenhagen yuni 1917 and again in 1922, Katalog un statuten fun Yudishe arbeyter leze-zal in Kopenhagen gegrindet 1907.

[19] No. 1-5 1917 came out. See Morton H. Narrowe: Jidische Folkschtime (Sic). Nordisk Judaistik, 1986 7/2, s. 92-103.

[20] Nokhum Sokolov: Vos mir vilen. Rede geholten oyf der tsienistisher folks-konferents in London, Cph. 1916, Di ekonomishe lage in Eresjisroel, Cph. 1916, Etlekhe verter vegen tsienistisher politik fun a tsienist, Cph. 1916,  M. Usishkin un Yoysef Kloyzner: Palestina in der milkhome-tsayt, Cph. 1916 og Nokhum Sokolov: Har megido. A fortrog gehalten oyf troyer-ferzamlung fun Hertsls yohrtsayt in London. Aroysgegeben fun Skandinavishen tsienisten ferband, Cph. 1917.

[21] Vladimir Grosman: Amol un haynt, Pariz 1955; Georg Brandes un Peter Krapotkin, Pariz 1961 and Mentshn und problemen. Zikhroynes un gedanken, Pariz 1964.

[22] Even though, the years are given in the Jewish calendar, Hasomir used the date 22.10.1912 as its founding day. In the Jewish calendar this is the 11. chesvan 5673; 22.10.1922 is however the 30. tischri 5683, while the 11. chesvan 5683 is 2.11.22. All anniversaries were celebrated October 22nd.

[23] His songs and tunes were also printed in Vilna: Khaym Riterband: Yidishe melodien, 56 p., Vilna 1935 and Chajim Ritterband: 20 forskellige Melodier/20 różnych melodii, 56 p., Vilna 1938.

[24] For a Yiddish presentation, see: Pinkhes Velner, I. Zilberberg-Kholewa: Mentshn un folk, Tel Aviv 1967, s. 158-62 [orig. Tog-Morgen-zhurnal, 1965]

25 May 2007
From: ed.
:  Takones fun yidishn oysleg – copies still available (ed)

Der EynhaytlekherYidisher Oysleyg: Takones fun Yidishn Oysleyg. Zekster aroyskum, in eynem mit Mordkhe Shekhters "Fun Folkshprakh tsu Kulturshprakh." [The Standardized Yiddish Orthography. Sixth edition, together with Mordkhe Schaechter’s "Fun Folkshprakh tsu Kulturshprakh" (The History of the Standardized Yiddish Spelling)]. New York: League for Yiddish/YIVO, 1999. $18. Postage in the US $4, $2 for each additional. Canada $5 for first iem and $5 for each additional. International: $5 per item and $5 for each additional item. Surface post. If you would like a quicker method  of sending,  prices will be higher. Please inquire.

End of The Mendele Review Vol. 11.006

Editor, Leonard Prager

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