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

Contents of Vol. 12.013 [Sequential No. 204]
Date: 16 July 2008

1) This issue of TMR (ed.).
Century of Yiddish Conference in Jerusalem. (Carrie Friedman-Cohen)
3) The advertisements in Yidish af yidish (see TMR 12.012) (Hershl Hartman)
4) Images of Yiddish in the Newly Established State of Israel (Anat Helman)
5) New Journal: Israel Studies in Language and Society
6) Disappearing Languages

Date: 16 July 2008
From: ed.
This issue of TMR

At the center of this issue of The Mendele Review is a wide-ranging and finely balanced essay on a subject no student of Yiddish can fail to find of interest: the reception of mame-loshn in Erets-yisroel in the period immediately following the establishment of the State of Israel. Hebrew University cultural historian Anat Helman has combed contemporary fiction and popular press in search of expressed attitudes towards Yiddish in a strongly-fortressed young but well-established Hebrew-language culture.

2) ----------------------
Date: 16 July 2008
From: Carrie Friedman-Cohen Organizing Committee, Dov Sadan Project
Century of Yiddish Conference in Jerusalem

The date of this conference has not been fixed yet, but it will probably be Summer or Fall of 2009. This will give the organizers adequate time to complete their ongoing raising of funds to cover this extensive and expensive event.

The site of the Dov Sadan Project is in the process of being built. It can be reached at the url:

More information regarding the planned Conference and the Dov Sadan Project will be given in future issues of The Mendele Review. For further information, write to

3) ----------------------------------------
Date: 16 July 2008
From: Hershl Hartman.
Subject: The advertisements in Yidish af yidish (see TMR 12.012)

Comment on the two advertisements from David Goldberg's textbook Yidish af yidish (see TMR 12.012):

1. The addresses shown in both ads reveal important aspects of the geography (and demography?) of immigrant Yiddish communities in New York into the 1920s.

2. The A.V. Co. lists three drug stores in lower Manhattan, only one of which appears to be Jewish-owned. The fourth store was in Harlem, one of the first "outward-bound" steps for immigrants after the Lower East Side.

3. Similarly, of the three locations for the Paris Dental Parlor Co., one was in the very heart of the Lower East Side, one in Harlem and one in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn -- a more middle class neighborhood than the other two.

4. And...a thought: might the Paris Dental ad's emphasis on the exact addresses of its locations have been the result of nearby, even adjoining, competing dental practices?

4) ----------------------------------------
Date: 17 July 2008
From: Anat Helman.
Subject: Images of Yiddish in the Newly Established State of Israel

Images of Yiddish in the Newly Established State of Israel

Yehoshua Kenaz' novel, Infiltration (first published in 1987) describes a platoon of basic trainers in mid-1950s Israel. One afternoon the platoon gets an unexpected short leave, and some of the soldiers decide to visit Gita the whore in the neighboring new immigrants' transit camp (ma'abara). Among these soldiers are four of the novel's main characters: Zackie a new immigrant from Iraq, Avner a native Israeli from a Jerusalem Sepharadi family, Micky - a native Israeli of Ashkenazi origins, and "Hedgehog" a native Israeli from an Orthodox family, who had forsaken religion and renounced his background. The visit at Gita's shed includes the following scenes:

Micky went into the room. Avner and Zackie remained sitting in the hole of a kitchen with the old woman. There wasn't enough room in the kitchen, and Gita insisted that no more than two people remain with her mother perhaps she was afraid that she would be harmed if everyone came in together. The old woman tearfully and without pause spoke in Yiddish and wrung her hands, laying her right hand on her breast as if she were swearing an oath -- she was telling them her troubles. Avner and Zackie nodded their heads solemnly in agreement, biting their lips in order not to burst out laughing, winking at their friends waiting outside, next to the open door. [1]

Hedgehog, who stood outside with the others, deliberated with himself. He went into the kitchen and again bargained with the old woman. She was tired of the argument which they had been through before. She cursed him in Yiddish and he answered in fluent Yiddish. Was his stinginess prodding him into this new round of bargaining? His insatiable thirst for argument? Or, overcome by doubts about the deed itself, was he looking for an easy exit? In any case, all his protests were useless. He cursed her; she grabbed him by the shirt and pushed him violently outside. He fell on his friends standing by the door, muttering: "Old witch, what a filthy mouth! If you could have heard what she said!"[2]

Kenaz puts Yiddish in the mouths of Hedgehog, a native Israeli from an Orthodox family, and whose characterization throughout the novel is far from complimentary, and Gita's mother, an old Ashkenazi new immigrant who sells her own daughter. The Yiddish is used for whining, cursing, and bargaining over the price of a whore. Although the scene takes place in Israel and focuses on the native Micky as he loses his virginity, it ties Yiddish to diasporic or ex-diasporic characters. Kenaz draws an unromantic, grotesque picture, tying Yiddish with types and situations that reflect images and attitudes that surrounded Yiddish in 1950s Israel.

During the first years of Israel's sovereignty, both the formal and the informal attitudes toward the Ashkenazi Jewish language were complex and ambivalent. On the one hand, Yiddish was a common language among many European new immigrants and long-time Israelis who emigrated from Europe during the pre-state period. One of the problems diagnosed as early as 1949 was that most of the new immigrants in the transit camps were from "countries where Yiddish is not spoken, whilst most of the camps' workers do not speak the languages of the new immigrants".[3] It is possible that this linguistic gulf between newcomers and long-time Israelis was one of the reasons why immigrants from Muslim countries learned Hebrew faster than European immigrants, a fact which was usually attributed merely to the basic similarity between Arabic and Hebrew. [4]

Informally, Eastern-European long-time Israelis often felt lingering affection for their Yiddish mother-tongue, even after discarding it for the sake of Hebrew as part of their Zionist transformation. After the Holocaust, the attitude toward Yiddish was somewhat mellowed. The radical "negation of the Diaspora" and the rabid "language war" of former decades were modified since the 1940s, and the destroyed culture of the Diaspora was covered with a new tinge of nostalgia and guilt. The formal attitude to Yiddish also softened: whereas in the 1920s it was decided after a heated public debate not to open a Yiddish chair at the Hebrew University, in 1951 a Yiddish department was established. [5]

Then again, after decades of promoting an anti-Diaspora spirit as part of Zionist culture, in the minds of many Israelis Yiddish still represented the essence of the sordid diasporic entity, the very opposite of the aspired for "new Jew" who was to develop in the Land of Israel. This notion abided in the mind of the founding generation, who intentionally rebelled against their diasporic background, but was even stronger among their offspring, the Israeli natives. The latter felt completely alienated from the "old Jew"; they did not know the Diaspora and experienced no longing for its lost culture or its language. [6]

Yiddish, as Kenaz indicates by Hedgehog's character, was commonly associated with the religious Ultra-Orthodox community. Lahav, a national-religious periodical, attacked the Orthodox yeshivas ('seminaries') in late 1951, claiming that they nurture no pioneering work, that they practice ethnic discrimination, and moreover:

The heads of the yeshivas cannot be forgiven for yet another sin the Yiddish language. One cannot ignore the difficulty of studying the Gemara ('Talmud') in Hebrew translation, a difficulty which originates partly from habit. Yet, it is totally unacceptable that educational centers in this country nurture an obsolete Diaspora-tongue. In many yeshivas Hebrew is not the language of instruction, but even more appalling is the fact that in some yeshivas the Diaspora-tongue is the spoken language, and native youths of the land speak broken Hebrew. This is a crucial issue, and the educational institutions should not ignore it. [7]

In 1950s Israel the Orthodox community was a small defensive enclave; it underwent a grave crisis after World War Two and the foundation of the State of Israel, even doubting its chances of survival. This community feared that Yiddish was disappearing. The Orthodox Hebrew newspaper, Ha-modi'a, announced in 1951 that Yiddish is declining everywhere, in the United States in particular. Circumstances everywhere are working against Yiddish, "even though it is still in many ways the tie between Ashkenazi Jews from different countries".[8]

Yiddish, as Kenaz indicates by the character of Gita's mother, was associated first and foremost not with the Orthodox minority, but with the mass of European new immigrants who arrived in Israel after the foundation of the state.[9] One can learn about deeply-rooted notions and about informal daily encounters between long-time Israelis and newcomers from children's sayings published in the humor section of Dvar ha-shavu'a. In 1949, a newly arrived girl who spoke no Hebrew complained to her mother that "the Hebrew gentile girls" have hit her (" ").[10] Four-year old Yaakov asked his guest, a new immigrant who speaks no Hebrew, where will he sleep. The boy answered "ba dir" (in Yiddish 'at your place', but in Hebrew sounding like 'in the sheepfold'). Yaakov then runs to his father exclaiming: "Why is Yitskhak sleeping in the sheepfold? He can sleep in my bed, there's room for both of us." [11] Eight-year old Eitan saw a postcard and was told it was sent from America. He wondered "How come? Why is it written in English? All the Americans who come to Israel speak Yiddish!"[12] Six-year old Itamar could speak Yiddish and when his young brother was born, he spoke to him in Yiddish. To his aunt's question why doesn't he speak Hebrew with the baby, he replied "Newcomers are spoken to in Yiddish." [13] When six-year old Shulamit was asked whether she would like to live in America, she answered "No, I am a Sabra ('native Israeli'), and I don't want to be a new immigrant in America and speak Yiddish." [14]

It was generally accepted that recently arrived immigrants could speak Yiddish until they learned Hebrew. Continuing to use Yiddish after the first years of arrival was perceived by long-time Israelis as an obstinate clinging to the culture of the past and as a sign of unsuccessful acculturation into the local Israeli melting pot. In late 1949 a newspaper article described a bus journey in Ramleh, a town populated after the war with East European and Bulgarian new immigrants. The newcomers are conversing during the journey, spicing their speech with many Yiddish expressions. Among other topics, they complain about "this state" and discuss their discrimination. One of the passengers claims that the long-time Israelis and the Sabras grab everything for themselves. "Why don't they give us a few more buses, so we don't have to be crammed here like in a train to Auschwitz? And why don't they let one of us earn his livelihood from driving a bus?":

This proved too much to bear for the "Canaanite" Sabra who so far sat next to me in silence. Now she opened her mouth: "As if they were a different race", she raged, "Bringing disharmony to our beautiful country. I can't stand them. They are ugly people.... They spit in the bus. Their appearance is repulsive. Would they at least wish to adapt. But no, they even ridicule us Had they turned to agriculture, the contact with earth and nature could have healed them. But no, they want the town. The town sticks perversely to this Yiddish, which is more of a mentality than a language They will never change their language in this Ramleh We should have mixed two thirds of them with one third of us. A mixture of different languages would have forced them to adopt Hebrew as a common language.

The writer answers the young Sabra that Ramleh does include such a mixture -- "four thousand Bulgarians with five thousand Yiddish-speakers, and the Bulgarians do learn Hebrew." "Yes," she says, "But the Yiddish speakers do not learn Hebrew." [15]

In 1950 a daily newspaper published a letter "Against a Foreign Tongue," written by an IDF soldier:

I do not intend to criticize those new immigrants who use their native tongue only when they first arrive. Obviously, they have to be aided by their accustomed language when they begin to acclimatize. However, there are some people who are considered "long-timers", who find it necessary to spice their speech in public with some Yiddish. Many cafés and amusement institutions in Israel conduct a large part of their programs songs, jokes, and so forth in Yiddish.

In addition to the national sentiment, which forbids us the use of any language but Hebrew, we should also consider the large part of our society that does not understand Yiddish. In the state of Israel we must free ourselves from any diasporic habit, including the diasporic tongue. [16]

Those who condemned the use of Yiddish were well aware of the nostalgic feelings which East-European Israelis harbored toward their mother tongue. A 1950 essay attacked Yiddish advocates from abroad and "their helpers" in Israel, who demanded that Yiddish be recognized as an additional formal language alongside Hebrew. Such a scheme might "instill a Trojan horse into our national endeavor." The writer claimed that the schemers "abuse the freedom of opinion and conscience in our state, and wish to rebuild their devastated culture, Yiddish included, by misusing the sentiment for a demolished Diaspora, still pounding in the souls of many Israelis." [17]

A writer in the Revisionist Herut newspaper protested in 1955 against the use of foreign languages in Israel, "the willful slavery and emulation of anything that smells foreign." " " (alte zakhn 'used items') the call of rag-dealers under the pale blue skies of Tel Aviv, he wrote, pierces the heart and is reminiscent of Warsaw. "Is this what we strove for when attaining our independence and putting all our efforts into discarding the Diaspora and everything to do with it? Did we strive to wake up every morning to this language of Jewish rag-dealers?" The writer was particularly upset by the fact that nine out of ten rag-dealers were in fact not of Ashkenazi origins, men who didn't even know Yiddish but nevertheless learnt these particularly humiliating and insulting Yiddish words " " (alte zakhn) .[18]

An anecdote from a Jerusalem bus, published in the summer of 1951, also displays the embarrassment surrounding the Ashkenazi Jewish language:

A very large-sized Jewish woman enters [the bus], filling at least one and three-quarters seats, if not two whole seats. A Jerusalem Jew looks at her with huge respect and wants to tell her something, but she does not understand Hebrew. "I speak," she says, "only Spanish, Ladino, English, French, German, and also Yiddish." This "also" arrives at the very last minute, and generates general laughter. The Jerusalem Jew can finally address the lady who admits she speaks five languages before confessing her "crime" -- she speaks Yiddish.[19]

Loud public debates surrounded theatrical performances in Yiddish during the 1950s. Unlike daily spoken language, the theater is a distinct cultural entity and therefore occupies a more conscious, formal, and institutional level. This may be the reason why the theater in Yiddish drew particular attention, especially as it competed with the fledgling Hebrew theater. Yiddish performances by local and visiting artists drew an audience consisting of both new immigrants and long-time Israelis, and in early 1951 a Yiddish theater named after Goldfaden was established in Jaffa.[20] As the Yiddish theater flourished, the national censorship Committee for Films and Plays decided to demand that every Yiddish performance include a percentage of Hebrew, but even this decision evoked controversy.[21]

A Protocol from a meeting held by the Committee for Films and Plays in March 1951 reveals a range of attitudes toward Yiddish. The chairman claimed that the increasing theater performances in Yiddish are worse than the distribution of Yiddish periodicals, because a newspaper is read in private whereas a public theater performance binds audience and stage. Even artists who have been living in Israel for many years still perform in Yiddish, he said. He had met with the Union of Yiddish Writers, whose members did not demand equal rights for Yiddish, but did ask that Yiddish be given a higher status than foreign non-Jewish languages. They requested that the Committee allows theatrical performances in Yiddish as long as they were artistically worthy. There are those, he added, who demand that Yiddish be treated as a popular-national asset to be preserved as a reminder of the Jewish past. These argue that Yiddish is at the present declining everywhere, in the USA as well as in Poland, and in Israel it cannot endanger the national status of Hebrew. Artists, continued the chairman, ask to be permitted to perform in Yiddish until they master Hebrew, but the censorship Committee is unable to trace and check their language progress. In days of mass immigration, more artists are arriving constantly, and a permanent Yiddish theater might be formed. As to the audience, not only Yiddish speakers among the new immigrants who are nowadays a minority among the newcomers but also long-time Israelis attend Yiddish performances. "Some of them claim that they are unsatisfied with the Hebrew theater, whilst others attend the Yiddish theater due to their yearning for Diaspora lore and their longing for the past. There are people who have been living in this country for decades, but have still not learnt Hebrew; these are nourished by the Yiddish theater and the Yiddish press". Within the Hebrew theater it is claimed that Yiddish performances undermine the Hebrew theater, although the latter could contribute considerably to disseminate the Hebrew language among new immigrants.[22]

The Committee invited a representative from the Association of Hebrew Writers to serve as a visiting consultant. He insisted that all foreign languages should be resisted in Israel, Yiddish in particular. It not only endangered Hebrew, but might also be used by the communists and the Bundists. "We should not give in to sentimental tactics used by those who demand special privileges for Yiddish," he argued. His Association objects to theatrical performances which included no Hebrew, demands that at least one third of every theatrical performance be allocated to Hebrew. New immigrants would be allowed to perform in Yiddish for just one year.[23]

A different approach was sounded by another visiting consultant invited by the Committee, a representative of the local newspaper editors. The latter asked for some leniency toward Yiddish: After the national catastrophe of the Holocaust, he said, Israel should not take part in the burial of the Yiddish language. Artists arrive in Israel as their last possible haven, and they should be aided. Every local theater should adopt a few artists "with a bit of love and patience" and help their absorption. The Israeli audience flocked to Yiddish performances in empathy with all Jews touched by the Holocaust. Therefore, he concluded, there should be more "constructive care" for the Yiddish artists, rather than binding regulations and prohibitions. [24]

The chairman agreed that the Committee should not entirely forbid the use of Yiddish. "Every one of us harbors some feelings for Yiddish from childhood," he said, a hint at the Committee's all-Ashkenazi ethnic composition. A total ban might evoke a harsh public response, and even the Minister of Education told him that the issue must be treated "with affection, love, and pain." The latter claimed that "the cinder, which cannot be ignited anew, should be preserved; and whilst Yiddish is declining all over the world, the ashes of the Holocaust must be safeguarded." Yet the chairman's attitude was more militant than the minister's, and he added that in the line of spectators waiting to enter Yiddish performances, one could detect many long-time Israelis, whose faces revealed their longing for diasporic lore, rather than any "silent emotional empathy with the memory of the millions." Such subtle ability to read the audience's facial expression is somewhat doubtful, but it does reveal the chairman's distinctions: Whereas he saw the association of Yiddish with the Holocaust as worthy, justified and excusable, any connection of Yiddish with the pre-war diasporic past he deemed anti-Israeli. Thus, at the end of the meeting, the Committee for Films and Plays decided that visiting artists may perform in Yiddish but add a section in Hebrew, whilst new immigrants may continue performing in Yiddish, "but prove that they are making some efforts to learn Hebrew" within one year.[25]

Theatrical performances in Yiddish were thus limited but not entirely forbidden. Indeed, during the early 1950s more Yiddish theaters were founded in Israel, and Yiddish was included as part of various theatrical and musical shows.[26] The Orthodox objected to the Yiddish theater because its performances were held on Friday evenings, when the Hebrew theaters were closed.[27] Non-religious sectors voiced objections on linguistic, national, and aesthetic grounds. In 1952 a reporter stated that the increasing numbers of Yiddish theaters, like the local Yiddish press, were keeping new immigrants from assimilating into the local culture and from learning Hebrew. They exploit the void created by the Hebrew theater, performing before full houses on Friday evenings. Even long-time Israelis who speak Hebrew have nothing else to do on Friday evenings and therefore flock to watch cheap Yiddish melodramas of the worst kind. Jewish communities around the world are spitting out the Yiddish theater, whilst the State of Israel is becoming the center of this doubtful art. The American Yiddish press accuses Israel of persecuting Yiddish, but the sad truth, he concluded, was that Yiddish was gaining force, demanding equal rights, and almost overpowering Hebrew.[28] Two years later an actor from the national theater "Habimah" was quoted as conceding that the popular Yiddish performer Max Perlman connected with his audience and that he himself laughed at his jokes, which originate in the American Jewish theater. At the same time he was saddened by the thought that Perlman's success was a testimony of the Hebrew theater's failure.[29]

Most famous and popular among Yiddish performers were the comic couple Dzigan and Schumacher, who settled in Israel in 1952. Yet the same reporter who warned of the encroachment of Yiddish in 1952 attended Dzigan and Schumacher's show in 1955, and he was still worried about Yiddish importing diasporic culture into Israel. He did not contest the couple's comic talent and warm reception when they arrived in Israel. But they had not bothered to include Hebrew sketches in their show, and made do with two actresses who sang in Hebrew between the Yiddish sketches. Moreover, Dzigan and Schumacher insinuate that proper humor cannot be produced in Hebrew. One of the sketches, for instance, claims that even members of the Israeli parliament have to use Yiddish if they want to crack a joke. The content of the show, argued the reporter, is diasporic, and even in the program the Yiddish text precedes the Hebrew one. Most of the sketches were written by Israelis, and the couple tells jokes which are supposedly about Israeli reality, but the atmosphere on the stage and in the theater hall resembles that of Yiddish performances in pre-war Warsaw. The Israeli audience is sailing to its recent past. The sickly characters in the sketches are diasporic, and so are the songs. Living in Israel, moving from Warsaw to Tel Aviv, he explained, is not merely a matter of changing locations. "Dzigan and Schumacher do not grasp that this is a national, cultural, and even an economic, revolution, and therefore they cannot perform in Tel Aviv just as they used to perform in Lodz and in Warsaw." If they do not join us, they are working against us. And although their latest show is performed with much talent and the audience enjoys itself and keeps laughing, a large part of this show is indeed "against us." After years of performing in Israel, Dzigan and Schumacher still add no Hebrew to their shows, indicating that they have remained alien and wish to remain alien. "Do they also want us to treat them as aliens?"[30]

Such rhetorical criticism was voiced as a reaction to the actual popularity of the Yiddish theater. The objection to Yiddish in Israel during the first years of statehood was not total. After all, it was a Jewish language. The ambivalence toward Yiddish becomes clear when it is compared with the unreservedly negative attitude toward German. During the pre-state era, a "language war" was waged against Yiddish and all other non-Jewish foreign tongues, but since the 1930s German was often referred to as "the Nazi language", and immigrants from Germany who kept using their mother tongue were particularly and harshly criticized.[31] After the war the animosity toward German increased, and German Jews ("Yekes") both long-time Israelis and new immigrants were accused of clinging to their original language rather than learning and using the national tongue. The Committee for Films and Plays banned any performance in German and even forbade the singing of Mozart and Schubert's songs in German. The committee's chairman explained that "we could prohibit German with a clear conscience, a thing we cannot do in the case of Yiddish."[32]

The complex attitude toward Yiddish was part of a wider national identity crisis faced by the newly founded State of Israel.[33] The devastation of the Holocaust moderated Zionist negation of the Diaspora, but there were increasing anxieties regarding the lack of any unique and unifying Israeli culture, a fear of a chaotic "Tower of Babel." Long-time Israelis were concerned that the heterogeneous mass of new immigrants might endanger the Hebrew culture which was already consolidated during the pre-state era. And since Yiddish was primarily identified with the Diaspora and the old Jew, many Israelis viewed it as the very opposite of any local, native and newly Hebrew virtue.[34]

As Kenaz depicts in his novel, Yiddish was wrapped in 1950s Israel by negative, or at least embarrassing, associations, and perceived as an undesirable remnant of a diasporic past. Yet at the same time, almost involuntarily, Yiddish also held a special emotional place in Israel's emerging culture, reflected in the actual appeal of Yiddish performances. In spite of various objections and widespread rejection, Yiddish was regarded as an authentic, cozy, homey Jewish language alongside the reigning Hebrew. This informal status of Yiddish is reflected indirectly in a witticism from 1955. When the luxurious Hotel Acadia was opened, it met with some public criticism regarding its inappropriate grandeur and its snobbish pretensions. Ha'aretz newspaper published a whole page of caricatures and jokes on the topic, including some humorous "instructions" to the guests (for instance, an order not to bring to the hotel any home-made sandwiches). The visitors in Acadia were also directed: "Do not fear the waiters' French; they can also speak Hebrew and Yiddish."[35]

[1] Yehoshua Kenaz, Infiltration (South Royalton VT: Zoland Books, 2003), 575-6. Translated from the Hebrew by Dalia Bilu.
[2] Op.cit, 578.
[3] M. Giora, "Again the Mizrachis", Ashmoret, August 11, 1949.
[4] Avraham Shtal, Ethnic Tensions in Israel (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 1979), 43 [in Hebrew].

[5] Arye Pilovsky, "Language, Culture, and Nastionalism in the New Yishuv: The Public Debate about the Plan of Founding a Yiddish Chair in Jerusalem in Late 1927," Cathedra 21 (1981), 103-134 [in Hebrew]. ]. On the ambivalent attitudes toward Yiddish in the Yishuv see Yael Chaver, What Must Be Forgotten: The Survival of Yiddish in Zionist Palestine (Syracuse NY: Syracuse University Press, 2004).
See, for example, Yoav Gelber, "The Shaping of the 'New Jew' in Eretz Israel", Major Changes within the Jewish People in the Wake of the Holocaust, Yisrael Gutman (ed.), (Jerusalem: Yad Va-shem, 1996), 454.

[7] Y. Yerushalmi, "A Peak into the Yeshivas", Lahav: biton dati le'umi (1951), 5.

[8] I. B., "The Decline of Yiddish," Ha-modi'a, May 10, 1951. On the crisis of the Orthodox community see Menachem Friedman, "The State of Israel as a Religious Dilemma", Alpayim 3 (1990), 38-41, 52-54, 58 [in Hebrew]. I wish to thank Kimi Kaplan for drawing my attention to this article.

[9] For example see Yoel Markus, "The opinion of the man in the street", Herut, February 9, 1950.

[10] Humor section, Dvar ha-shavu'a, June 16, 1949 (sent by Hagit Sh. From Bnei Brak).

[11] Humor section, Dvar ha-shavu'a, March 17, 1949 (sent by Ofra from Kfar Azar).

[12] Humor section, Dvar ha-shavu'a, September 8, 1949 (sent by Shlomo from Herzeliyah).

[13] Humor section, Dvar ha-shavu'a, October 6, 1949 (sent by Aunt Anka from Tel Aviv).

[14] Humor section, Dvar ha-shavu'a, February 23, 1950. Also see anecdote in humor section, Dvar ha-shavu'a, July 6, 1950.

[15] Ch. Shalmoni, "A tale of one trip in Ramleh", Yediot Aharonot, December 9, 1949.

[16] Avner, from "Letters to the editor," Yediot Aharonot, January 6, 1950.

[17] Quoted by A. M-kh, "Alei sefer", Ha-isha ba-medina, 15, September 1950, 32.

[18] A. Roi, "From the view and the street: Hebrew is bad for the business," Herut, June 17, 1955.

[19] "Also," Yediot Aharonot, August 29, 1951.

[20] For instance, see news and articles about Yiddish theater and performances in Ha-dor, December 17, 1950, Herut, January 5, 1951, Ha-boker, February 21, 1951. Also see a caricature by Arie Navon, Dvar ha-shavu'a, January 6, 1949.

[21] "The problem of the Yiddish theater reaches the High Court," Ha-boker, July 2, 1951.

[22] The Committee for Films and Plays' meeting number 102, March 13, 1951 The Lavon Institute, file IV-208-6482.

[23] Op. cit.

[24] Op. cit.

[25] Op. cit.

[26] For instance advertisement for the Yiddish theater, Ma'ariv, August 30, 1951. Posters for a comic theater in Yiddish and Hebrew in Haifa, September 7, 1951 The poster collection at the University and National Library, V1967-7. Advertisement to a show in Yiddish, Ha-aretz, August 18, 1952.

[27] "Sabbath desecrations continue in Haifa bay," Ha-modi'a, September 5, 1952. Poster for a Yiddish performance in Petah Tikvah, June 12, 1953 The poster collection at the University and National Library, V1967-5.

[28] Asher Nahor, "The Hebrew theater forsakes 'Second Israel', " Yediot aharonot, February 1, 1952.

[29] A. Hagai, "The Yiddish theater competes with the Hebrew theater," Ha-dor, May 28, 1954. Also see A. Roi, "From the view and the street: splendid atlas for only one pound", Herut, August 24, 1955.

[30] A. Nahor, " Dzigan and Schumacher and Israeli humor," Herut, October 14, 1955.

[31] For instance see Anat Helman and Yael Reshef, " 'The Voice of the Hebrew City to Its Residents': Municipal Posters in Mandate Era Tel Aviv", Israel 11 (2007), 73-74 [in Hebrew]. Helman, Urban Culture in 1920s and 1930s Tel Aviv (Haifa, 2007), 49-51, 217, 223-230 [in Hebrew].

[32] The Committee for Films and Plays' meeting number 102, March 13, 1951 The Lavon Institute, file IV-208-6482 (see note 22). "Back to the Technion", Ashmoret, September 8, 1949. Humor section, Dvar ha-shavu'a, September 28, 1950. Barkhin, "Its Royal Highness the German language", Herut, December 22, 1950. "Limitations on non-Hebrew shows should be stricter," Ha-boker, March 14, 1951. Kibbutz Dorot bulletin, February 8, 1952, 2 The University and National Library's collection.

[33] See, for example, Orit Rozin, "Forming a Collective Identity: The Debate over the Proposed Constitution, 1948-1950," The Journal of Israeli History, 26/2 (2007), 251-271.

[34] See, for instance, Sh. N. Eisenstadt, Absorbing Immigration: A Sociological Research (Jerusalem, 1952), 52-55 [in Hebrew].

[35] "In the eyes of a Sabra: Days of Atonement in Acadia," Ha-aretz, September 16, 1955.


This paper is based on a lecture delivered in TAU at the "Ashkenazim" conference on February 28, 2008, and on a wider research funded by the ISF (grant no. 032.2321)

5) ----------------------------------------
Date: 17 July 2008
From: Israeli Association for the Study of Language and Society
Subject: New journal: Israel Studies in Language and Society

TMR is pleased to spread the word regarding the new electronic journal of the Israeli Association for the Study of Language and Society. The journal will be interdisciplinary and peer-reviewed, and will deal with issues related to language and society. It will appear twice a year, and will contain articles in Hebrew and English as well as reviews of book in the field."Israel Studies in Language and Society" will offer an academic stage to researchers dealing with the different languages spoken in Israel from a social and cultural aspect. Its aim is to reflect and promote
the research carried out in Israel and serve scholars from different fields involved in the study of language and society. It will publish articles on linguistics, sociology, anthropology, communication, education, translation, etc. Articles will deal with these topics from a theoretical, empirical, descriptive or practical point of view.

Articles and book reviews should be sent only by electronic mail to the editorial address. Books for review should be sent to:
Dr. Devorah Kalenkin-Fishman, Faculty of Education, University of Haifa, Haifa 31905, Israel.

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6) ---------------------------------------
Date: 17 July 2008
From: ed.
Subject: Disappearing Languages

In the TLS of 13/7/08, Gregory Norminton reviews K. David Harrison's When Languages Die: The Extinction of the World's Languages and the Erosion of Human Knowledge. His review begins with a sober quantitative report that will shock many TMR readers, even those of us who have been barraged with tedious "discoveries" that Yiddish is declining and may not survive:

"By the year 2100, many linguists estimate, half of the world's 6,912 distinct languages will be extinct. At present, 548 of them retain fewer than ninety-nine speakers. We can expect to lose a language every ten days; and behind each of these disappearances lies a story of cultural loss, sadness and isolation. K. David Harrison embeds his accounts of linguistic decay within the experiences of individuals who must endure it. When Languages Die is not," however, a study of the pressures which extinguish languages: we can look elsewhere for an analysis of the effects of globalization, urbanization and the conformist pressures exerted by the speakers of majority languages. Harrison focuses instead on what happens as a result of language death to the cultural and ecological understanding of the affected peoples, and what these losses signify for humanity as a whole."

Harrison decries the "catastrophe of cultural forgetting" in which religious and world views disappear, depriving us of alternative models of thought and potential insights into human belief.

In summation of the "lesson" of this timely book, the empathic reviewer concludes:

"To allow languages to become extinct -- along with the culture and ecologies that they encode -- is to risk an erosion of knowledge whose value, once lost, we can never quantify."


End of The Mendele Review Issue 12.013
Editor, Leonard Prager
Editorial Associate, Robert Goldenberg

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