Yiddish and the Left
Papers of the Third Mendel Friedman International Conference on Yiddish

Edited by Gennady Estraikh and Mikhail Krutikov

Studies In Yiddish 3


1 July 2001  •  330pp

ISBN: 1-900755-48-3 (paperback)  •  RRP £75, $99, €85


For over a century Yiddish served as a major vehicle for expressing left-wing ideas and sensitivities. A language without country, an 'ugly jargon' despised by the assimilationist Jewish bourgeoisie and nationalist Zionists alike, it was embraced as a genuine folk idiom by Jewish adherents of socialism and communism worldwide. On the eve of the Holocaust, Yiddish was the primary language of education, culture and propaganda for millions of people on five continents. The present volume examines the rich diversity of relationships between Yiddish and the Left, from the attitude of Yiddish writers to apartheid in South Africa to the vicissitudes of the Yiddish communist press in the Soviet Union and the USA.

The editors of the volume, Gennady Estraikh and Mikhail Krutikov, had first-hand experience of "Yiddish and the Left" as staff journalists of the Soviet Yiddish magazine Sovetish Heymland. They now teach Yiddish language and literature at University of London School of Oriental and African Studies and are also the editors, for Legenda, of the two previous Mendel Friedman Conference proceedings: Yiddish in the Contemporary World (1999) and The Shtetl: Image and Reality (2000).


  • ‘The international roster of contributors covers an impressively broad range of topics... linked by a common thematic thread, the attempt of progressive Yiddish-language writers, intellectuals and activists to reconcile their competing allegiances to the Jewish poeple or religion and their leftist politics. The uniformly high quality of the collection and its breadth of topics and approaches makes it an important contribution to interdisciplinary Yiddish studies and to related fields of enquiry (foreign language and immigrant journalism, bilingual education, minority and exile literatures, African colonial literature, Soviet studies).’ — Elizabeth Loentz, Modern Language Review 98.4, 2003, 1066-7 (full text online)
  • ‘The quality of all the essays is no less than would be expected from the list of contributors, but particularly worthy of mention are Estraikh's analysis of the presence and representation of the Soviet Union in the New York-based communist daily Morga-frayhayt, Dafna Clifford's reflections on the Berlin period of author David Bergelson, and Efraim Zadoff's exploration of the educational systems of the Ashkenazi communities of Argentina and Mexico.’ — unsigned notice, Forum for Modern Language Studies XL.1, 2004, 120


Part I: Politics

The Question of Human Rights in American Yiddish Journalism: The Example of Di tsukunft
Steven Cassedy


Socialism with a Jewish Face: The Origins of the Yiddish-Speaking Communist Movement in the United States, 1907–1923
Tony Michels


Abraham Cahan’s Travels in Jewish Homelands: Palestine in 1925 and the Soviet Union in 1927
Daniel Soyer


Diaspora, Ethnicity and Dreams of Nationhood: American Jewish Communists and the Birobidzhan Project
Henry Srebrnik


The Left Poalei Zion in Inter-war Poland
Samuel D. Kassow


The History of ‘The Truth’: Soviet Jewish Activists and the Moscow Yiddish Daily Newspaper
David Shneer


Metamorphoses of Morgn-frayhayt
Gennady Estraikh


Yiddish in Poland after 1945
Eleonora Bergman

Part II: Culture

The Cult of Self-Sacrifice in Yiddish Anarchism and Saul Yanovsky’s The First Years of Jewish Libertarian Socialism
Karen Rosenberg


Abraham Golomb’s ‘Integrated Jewishness’
Thomas Soxberger


Inscribing the Yiddish Past: Inter-war Explorations of the Old Yiddish Texts
Barry Trachtenberg


Soviet Literary Theory in the Search for a Yiddish Canon: The Case of Moshe Litvakov
Mikhail Krutikov


From Exile to Exile: Bergelson’s Berlin Years
Dafna Clifford


Chaim Sloves and the Soviet Union: An Essay on the Jewish People in one of its Peregrinations
Annette Aronowicz


The Status of Yiddish in Jewish Educational Systems in Argentina and Mexico
Efraim Zadoff


The Image of Apartheid in South African Yiddish Prose Writing
Joseph Sherman


Bibliography entry:

Estraikh, Gennady, and Mikhail Krutikov (eds), Yiddish and the Left: Papers of the Third Mendel Friedman International Conference on Yiddish, Studies In Yiddish, 3 (Legenda, 2001)

First footnote reference: 35 Yiddish and the Left: Papers of the Third Mendel Friedman International Conference on Yiddish, ed. by Gennady Estraikh and Mikhail Krutikov, Studies In Yiddish, 3 (Legenda, 2001), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Estraikh and Krutikov, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Estraikh, Gennady, and Mikhail Krutikov (eds). 2001. Yiddish and the Left: Papers of the Third Mendel Friedman International Conference on Yiddish, Studies In Yiddish, 3 (Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Estraikh and Krutikov 2001: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Estraikh and Krutikov 2001: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

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