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
Estraikh, Gennady, and Mikhail Krutikov (eds), Yiddish and the Left: Papers of the Third Mendel Friedman International Conference on Yiddish, Studies In Yiddish, 3 (Cambridge: Legenda, 2001)
First footnote reference:35Yiddish and the Left: Papers of the Third Mendel Friedman International Conference on Yiddish, ed. by Gennady Estraikh and Mikhail Krutikov, Studies In Yiddish, 3 (Cambridge: Legenda, 2001), p. 21.
Subsequent footnote reference:37 Estraikh and Krutikov, p. 47.