Yiddish in the Cold War

Gennady Estraikh

Studies In Yiddish 7


3 October 2008  •  192pp

ISBN: 978-1-906540-05-0 (hardback)  •  RRP £80, $110, €95


Yiddish-speaking groups of Communists played a visible role in many countries, most notably in the Soviet Union, United States, Poland, France, Canada, Argentina and Uruguay. The sacrificial role of the Red Army, and the Soviet Union as a whole, reinforced the Left movement in the post-Holocaust Jewish world. Apart from card-careering devotees, such groups attracted numerous sympathisers, including the artist Marc Chagall and the writer Sholem Asch. But the suppression of Yiddish culture in the Soviet Union radically changed the climate in Jewish leftwing circles. Former Communists and sympathisers turned away, while the attention of Yiddish commentators in the West turned to the conditions for Jewish cultural and religious life in the Soviet Union and Poland, Jewish emigration and the situation in the Middle East. Ideological confrontations between Communist Yiddish literati in the Soviet Union, United States, Canada, Poland, France and Israel are in the centre of Gennady Estraikh’s pioneering study Yiddish in the Cold War. This ground-breaking book recreates the intellectual environments of the Moscow literary journal Sovetish Heymland (the author was its managing editor in 1988-91), the New York newspaper Morgn-Frayhayt and the Warsaw newspaper Folks-Shtime.

Interview with the author. We're pleased to say that Mark David of the Yiddish Voice interviewed Gennady Estraikh on 12 August 2009 (in Yiddish), and the interview can be played back from the Rundowns page of the Yiddish Voice website.

Gennady Estraikh is Rauch Associate Professor of Yiddish Studies, New York University.


  • ‘This meticulously researched book is the first comprehensive English-language study of Yiddish in the Communist world after the murder of Soviet Yiddish writers on 12 August 1952. Estraikh’s story more or less begins where everyone else’s ends. For this alone, Estraikh’s book is an important corrective to our understanding of Yiddish in general, and Soviet Yiddish culture in particular. Just because Stalin said he’d killed off Yiddish culture didn’t make it so... Full of amazing research.’ — David Shneer, East European Jewish Affairs 39.3, December 2009, 401–413
  • ‘Yiddish in the Cold War tells an important story in the history of twentieth-century Yiddish. The book's focus on the internal machinations of the editorial boards of Communist Yiddish periodicals, though, cuts short any broader observations about the Cold War per se... One hopes that Estraikh's new work will stimulate more research into Yiddish culture in the postwar Soviet Union.’ — Jeffrey Veidlinger, Russian Review 69.1, January 2009, 173-74
  • ‘A carefully researched monograph about a hitherto hidden corner of Yiddish culture during a period of contraction.’ — Zachary M. Baker, Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 28.4, Summer 2010, 190-92

Bibliography entry:

Estraikh, Gennady, Yiddish in the Cold War, Studies In Yiddish, 7 (Cambridge: Legenda, 2008)

First footnote reference: 35 Gennady Estraikh, Yiddish in the Cold War, Studies In Yiddish, 7 (Cambridge: Legenda, 2008), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Estraikh, p. 47.

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

Bibliography entry:

Estraikh, Gennady. 2008. Yiddish in the Cold War, Studies In Yiddish, 7 (Cambridge: Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Estraikh 2008: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Estraikh 2008: 21.

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

This Legenda title was first published by Modern Humanities Research Association and Maney Publishing but rights to it are now held by Modern Humanities Research Association and Routledge.

Routledge distributes this title on behalf on Legenda. You can search for it at their site by following this link.

Permanent link to this title: