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


Khanike/Hanukkah Issue


Leonard Prager z"l

Foreword  by  David Mazower

It is with enormous sadness that I must preface this issue of The Mendele Review with the news that Leonard Prager, the journal’s editor and founder, died on 11 December, one day short of his 83rd birthday.

We have lost a remarkable scholar, a generous colleague, and a wonderful friend. Our condolences go to his wife, Barbara, his children Clara and Moshe, and the rest of the family.     

Leonard Prager started The Mendele Review in April 1997 and turned it into an inspirational and influential voice in modern Yiddish scholarship. In its twelve years and more than 200 editions it has covered an enormous range of subjects in the fields of Yiddish literature and culture. In the best tradition of Yiddish literary periodicals (a field in which Prager produced the definitive bibliographical study) the TMR unashamedly reflected the editor’s passions and wide-ranging interests. A single issue would often include major scholarly articles on key topics alongside unexpected treasures of Yiddish ephemera, and editorial notes about topical or upcoming events.

In April this year, The Mendele Review reached its 11th anniversary and 200th issue. Readers may wish to refer to this edition to see Leonard’s own brief biographical sketch, some pictures of him, and congratulations on the anniversary from friends and contributors.

As I found when I visited him at his home in Haifa a few months ago, his good humour, energy and remarkable erudition were there till the end despite years of serious health problems. It was typical of him that he was working on this Khanike/Hanukkah issue right up until the last day of his life, as well as continuing to plan a range of future projects.

It is fitting that this issue also contains a link to Leonard’s own family, in the form of two documents from his sisters’ folkshul in Philadelphia.  It is also appropriate that it contains a contribution from Robert Goldenberg, a close friend and collaborator of Leonard’s, and the associate editor of the TMR.  And behind the scenes, in this issue as in many recent editions of TMR, there is another hand at work – that of Dafna Sheinwald. Another good friend of Leonard’s, Dafna put her computer literacy skills (and growing interest in Yiddish) at the service of TMR. She retrieved this issue from Leonard’s computer, assembled it and has overseen its publication. Our thanks too to Helen Beer and Yael Chaver for their advice in the final stages of publication. In short, this issue of TMR is a collaborative effort, informed and guided by the collaborative spirit that Leonard Prager fostered through his personality and scholarly example.            

The next issue of TMR will be a tribute issue devoted to the life and work of Leonard Prager. TMR readers are warmly invited to contribute their memories of Leonard and the TMR for inclusion in this edition, to be published in January. Please click here to forward them to me.

Contents of Vol. 12.021 [Sequential No. 212]
Date: 21 December 2008

1) This issue of The Mendele Review (ed.)
2) Signed Marc Chagall Aquarelle (Zvi Mann and David Mazower) 
3) Accompanying Chagall note to Mendl Mann, original, romanized and translated (Zvi Mann; tr. –ed.)
4) Mann and Chagall in a Paris café. [Sotheby Catalogue, 1994]
5) Four menoyres [menorot] from the private collection of Zvi Mann (Zvi Mann and David Mazower)
6) "Mayn tatns menoyre" (A.- N. Shtentsl) [Yiddish, transliteration, and translation (ed.)]
7) A Folkshul Certicate from Philadelphia, 1938
8) A Folkshul Teaches About Hanukkah, Philadelphia, 1938
9) "The Jerusalem Conference: A Century of Yiddish 1908-2008" (Carrie Friedman-Cohen)
10) "Borekh ate" [Khanike song based on Avrom Reyzn poem], Lyrics and Song (Robert Goldenberg)
11) Some comments on the Hanukkah theme

1) ---------------------------------------------------
Date: 21 December 2008
From: ed.
Subject: This issue of TMR

The two foci of this issue are the holiday of Khanike -- touching on its literary, artistic and pedagogic expressions -- and the relationship of Marc Chagall and Mendl Mann, made manifest in a striking aquarelle Chagall painted especially for Mann. According to the latter's son, Tsvi Mann, the two met often in a Parisian café (see photo from 1994 Sotheby catalogue below). The painting was sold at Sotheby's, Tel Aviv in 1994 and reoffered for sale at Christie's in New York (see catalogue page) in 2004. The painting is reproduced in Mann's novel The Black Oak, published in 1970. *** Tsvi Mann is a serious collector of menorot, several prize examples of which are photographed below. The tallest in the photo -- very old, North African -- was a present from the Chief Rabbi of France. *** One puzzle posed in the last issue of TMR (see Stencl's "A Freylekhs"), the identification of the name Pedhatsur, is solved in a communication from Yael Chaver. She explains he was known by the name Pedotser, mentioned several times as a master klezmer musician and composer, a favorite of the Talner Hassidic Rebbe, in Perets's "A Gilgl fun a Nign" (“Transmigration of a Melody”). This Yiddish-pronounced name may have been either a nickname or a professional name. Its owner, born in Berditshev as Arn-Moyshe Kholodenko, was a famous klezmer fiddler (1828-1902). *** With the appearance of Sarah Abrevaya Stein's Plumes: Ostrich Feathers, Jews and a Lost World of Global Commerce (New Haven: Yale, 2008), we would like to cite a relevant Yiddish study, the English edition of which is the work of Joseph Sherman, a frequent contributor to TMR. See Oudtshoorn: Jerusalem of Africa by Leibl Feldman (Johannesburg: Friends of the Library, University of the Witwatersrand, 1989). Edited with an introductory essay by Joseph Sherman. Translated from the Yiddish by Lilian Dubb and Sheila Barkusky. Historical Notes and Commentary by John Simon. Professor Stein is also the author of Making Jews Modern: The Yiddish and Ladino Press in the Russian and Ottoman Empires, (Indiana University Press, 2003) winner of the Salo Wittmayer Baron Prize for Best First Book in Jewish Studies for 2003. *** A personal note: In our childhood, my two sisters were sent to a folkshul and studied Yiddish with several highly dedicated teachers, whereas I was sent to a talmetoyre to learn loshn koydesh. This gender division must have been fairly common in some immigrant communities 70 years ago. One of my sisters recently found her folkshul graduation certificate and a Hanukka lesson which may have been a pupil's work rewritten by a teacher. I give these below and comment briefly on the lesson and on Stencl's and Reyzn's Hanukkah songs given here. 

Date: 21 December 2008
From: Zvi Mann and David Mazower
Subject: Signed Marc Chagall Aquarelle

The Yiddish writer, journalist and painter Mendel Mann has been described by literary critic Sol Liptzin as 'among the finest novelists of the Holocaust generation'. Mann was born in 1916 in Plonsk, Poland (the same town as David Ben Gurion, Israel's first Prime Minister).  His first published poems appeared in the Polish Yiddish press in 1938. Drafted into the Red Army during the war, he took part in the defence of Moscow and witnessed the liberation of Berlin.  Mann returned at once to Poland, and wrote of the silent Jewish streets of his hometown in a book of poems Di shtilkayt mont (Silence Demands). Published in 1945, it was the first Yiddish book to appear in liberated Poland. Settling in Israel after the war, he wrote an acclaimed trilogy of novels dealing with the war on the Eastern Front. Mann later moved to France and died in Paris in 1975.

Leonard Prager reproduced Mann's autobiographical sketch Ven epl beymer blien (When Apple Trees Blossom) in a previous Khanike number of TMR. His discussion of Mann's writing appeared in the following issue.

In 1969 Mendel Mann published a book of short stories entitled Der shvartser demb (The Black Oak) in memory of the Jewish shtetl. As a frontispiece, Mann reproduced a sketch and accompanying note sent by his friend Marc Chagall. It shows the tall figure of Mendel Mann in a characteristically hunched pose, bending over as he would typically do when talking to much shorter friends. Chagall shows Mann as the recorder of the ruined and still-burning shtetl, empty of all its inhabitants, its souls floating overhead in the blackened sky. Chagall drew Mann's features with a few strokes of his pencil ("etlekhe shtrikhn" in his words) and then added the colours. He gave the painting the title "L'auteur Mendel Mann dans son village" (Author Mendel Mann in his hometown). 

The painting and Chagall's handwritten dedication to Mendel Mann are reproduced for TMR courtesy of Zvi Mann, Mendel's son.

Click on image to enlarge

3) ---------------------------------------------------
Date: 21 December 2008
From: ed.
Subject: Accompanying  Chagall note to Mendl Mann, original, romanized and translated (tr. –ed.)  [Courtesy of Zvi Mann, reproduced in his father's Der shvartser demb ('The Black Oak'), Paris: Undzer kiem, 1970].



ליבער מ. מאן

איך שיק אײַך איבער די עטלעכע שטריכן װאָס איך האָב אײַך ציגעזאָגט. איך האָב געװאָלט אין זײ איבערגעבן װי איך האָב געקענט – דעם שיקזאַל פֿון אידישן שרײַבער אין זײַן „אַמאָליקער“ לאַנד –

מיט בעסטע גרוסן

מאַרק שאַגאַל



Liber M. Man

Ikh shik aykh iber di etlekhe shtrikhn vos ikh hob aykh tsigezogt. Ikh hob gevolt in zey ibergebn vi ikh hob gekent – dem shikzal fun idishn shrayber in zayn "amoliker" land –

Mit beste grusn

Mark Shagal



Dear M. Man,

I am sending you a few of the features I promised you. In them I wanted to express – as far as I was able – the fate of the Yiddish writer in his "former" land –

With best wishes

Mark Chagall

Date: 21 December 2008
From: Sotheby Catalogue 1994.
Subject: Mann and Chagall in a Paris café.

Page reproduced here from a 1994 Sotheby catalogue. [I am told the actual sale price was far higher than the suggested opening one.] 

Click on image to enlarge.

Date:  21 December 2008
From: Zvi Mann and David Mazower
Subject: Four menoyres [menorot] from the private collection of Zvi Mann

Click on image to enlarge

Mendel Mann was a keen collector of Judaica and Jewish art. In Paris, where he worked as editor of the French Yiddish newspaper Undzer Vort (Our Word), he knew many Judaica dealers who would alert him to especially rare items for sale.  His son Zvi inherited the love of Judaica from his father and treasures the items from his father's collection, among them the four menorahs shown here. 

The tall bronze menoyre (second from right) was presented to Mendel Mann by the Chief Rabi of France, Rav Kaplan. At the same time, Rav Kaplan presented Mann with a precious tallit originally woven in Italy for Moses Montefiore's bar mitzva and a book of instructions for good health (Refua Shleima), written on a sheepskin. Rav Kaplan dedicated these presents to Mendel's son Zvi, who was wounded at the time, as a blessing (brokhe) for his good health.

The menoyre on the left is handmade, dating from approximately 1750.

Date: 21 December 2008
From: ed.
"My Father's Menorah" by A.-N. Stencl


Transliteration for TMR by David Mazower

Shtentsl, A.-N.
Mayn tatns menoyre

In der zilberner menoyre fun mayn tatn
Hot gefelt dos shrayfl in di letstn redl,
Ven er flegt arayngisn derin dem boyml,
Hot es gevaklt mit a hengendik trerl.

Mitn "maoz tsur" hot es mitgezingen,
Zikh mitgeshoklt, shikldik in a zaytl;
Freydik azoy vi mit tsvey finger tsugeknakt,
Mitn oyfgekopetn trerndik kneytl.

Nisht di goldene leybn, di fest tsugeshroyfte,
Nisht dos feygele oyfn hengendikn reyfl,
Tomid ven s’dermont zikh in tatns menoyre,
Dermon ikh mikh inem farloyrenem shrayfl -

Vi a trop boyml oyf vaser shvimt zikh aroyf,
Un blaybt tsiterdik hengen in mayne viyes,
Un epes zingt es in mir mit, vi tsu "maoz tsur",
Un vi koptshedik tsitern oyf mayne tniyes


שטענצל, אברהם-נחום
מײַן טאַטנס מנורה (אַ חנוכּה-מתנה)

אין דער זילבערנער מנורה פֿון מײַן טאַטן
האָט געפֿעלט דאָס שרײַפֿל אין די לעצטן רעדל,
װען ער פֿלעגט אַרײַנגיסן דערין דעם בױמל,
האָט עס געװאַקלט מיט אַ הענגענדיק טרערל.

מיטן מעוז צור האָט עס מיטגעזינגען,
זיך מיטגעשאָקלט, שיקלדיק אין אַ זײַטל;
פֿרײדיק אַזױ װי מיט צװײ פֿינגער צוגעקנאַקט,
מיטן אױפֿגעקאָפּעטן טרערנדיק קנײטל.

נישט די גאָלדענע לײבן, די פֿעסט צוגעשרױפֿטע,
נישט דאָס פֿײגעלע אױפֿן הענגענדיקן רײפֿל,
תמיד װען ס׳דערמאָנט זיך אין טאַטנס מנורה,
דערמאָן איך מיך אינעם פֿאַרלױרענעם שרײַפֿל

װי אַ טראָפּ בױמל אױף װאַסער שװימט זיך אַרױף,
און בלײַבט ציטערדיק הענגען אין מײַנע װיעס,
און עפּעס זינגט עס אין מיר מיט, װי צו מעוז צור
און װי קאָפּטשעדיק ציטערן אױף מײַנע תניעות [תנועות].

Translation by ed.

A.-N. Stencl
My Father's Menorah

The last oil cup
In my father's silver menorah
Was rickety
When he poured oil into it, It wobbled and trembled

It did join the singing of "Maoz Tsur",
Tottering along, cross-eyed
Happy-go-luckily snapping its fingers

In rhythm with the weeping wick

When I recall my father's menorah,
I do not see the well-fastened golden lions
Nor the bird perched on the rafters
But the rickety last cup

Like a drop of oil surfacing in water
And leaving a trembling image before one's eyes,
Something in me sings, as though joining in "Maoz Tsur
And all my being resounds




Date: 21 December 2008
From: Jeanne (Sheyndl) Shohet (nee Prager)
Subject: A Folkshul Certificate from Philadelphia, 1938

Click on image to enlarge

Date: 21 December 2008
From: Jeanne (Sheyndl) Shohet (nee Prager)
Subject: A Folkshul Teaches About Hanukkah, Philadelphia, 1938


Click on any image to enlarge

Date: 21 December 2008
From: Carrie Friedman-Cohen for the Organizing Committee
Subject: "The Jerusalem Conference: A Century of Yiddish 1908-2008"


Preparations for the Jerusalem Conference have been in progress since June 2008. Although we are still expecting complementary funds to cover the costs of a 4-5 day international meeting, we hope to be able to announce soon that the conference will be held in December 2009. Prior information about the character and the topics to be dealt with can be seen in previous issues of The Mendel Review (since June 2008). An announcement will also appear in the next issue of the Yiddish Forward (New York), and additional information can be found on the internet site of the Dov Sadan Project at the Mandel Institute of Jewish Studies in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Among the planned sessions, one will be dedicated to the late Professor Dov Sadan, founder and head of the Yiddish Department at the Hebrew University. Two of the papers in this session are titled:

"Dov Sadan's contribution to Yiddish Studies as reflected in his private archives"

"The necessity of establishing a database of Dov Sadan's Yiddish and Hebrew writings"

Date: 21 December 2008 
From: Robert Goldenberg
Subject: "Borekh ate" [Khanike song based on Avrom Reyzn poem], Lyrics and Song


“Borekh ate”
zingt der tate
Un er tsindt di likht,
Un di shtraln, milde, faln
Af any blas gezikht.

Un a fayer -
heylik, tayer -
In di oygn laykht,
Un der mider
mit di glider
Hot zikh oysgeglaykht.

Un es dakht zikh,
un es trakht zikh:
S’iz nokh epes do;
S’iz geblibn
vos tsu libn -
Heylik iz di sho!

Alte klangen
lang fargangen -
Neyn! Es klingt nokh atsind;
Zing mir, tate:

“borekh ate,”
Un ikh blayb dayn kind...!



"ברוך אתּה!"
זינגט דער
און ער צינדט די
און די שטראַלן, מילדע, פֿאַלן
אױף דײַן בלאַס

און אַ פֿײַער
הײליק, טײַער

און די אױגן
און דער
מיט די
האָט זיך

און עס דאַכט זיך,
און עס טראַכט
ס’איז נאָך עפּעס
װאָס צו ליבן

הײליק איז די

אַלטע קלאַנגען
לאַנג פֿאַרגאַנגען

נײן! עס קלינגט נאָך
זינג מיר
, טאַטע

ברוך אתּה,
און איך בלײַב דײַן




Click on the gramophone to hear Boruch ate, zingt der tate, sung by The Western Wind and narrated by Theodore Bikel.

The song is included in “THE CHANUKKAH STORY”, available from Western Wind Records.



Date: 21 December 2008
From: ed.
Subject: Some comments on the Hanukkah theme


[Leonard was unable to complete this portion of his last TMR before his sudden and unexpected passing. This empty space instead of Leonard's usual erudite commentary will remind his devoted friends and readers of TMR of the void in the promulgation of Yiddish Literature left by his passing.]




End of The Mendele Review  Issue 12.021
Editor,  Leonard Prager   (family will receive emails sent to this address)
Editorial Associate, Robert Goldenberg

Subscribers to Mendele (see below) automatically receive The Mendele Review.

You may subscribe to Mendele, or, kholile, unsubscribe, by visiting the Mendele Mailing List


**** Getting back issues ****

The Mendele Review archives can be reached at:

Yiddish Theatre Forum archives can be reached at:

Mendele on the web: