Warsaw as a Center of Yiddish Culture


Warsaw as a Center of Yiddish Culture | Nathan Cohen In the 1931 census , 79 . 9 percent of Warsaw’s Jews declared that their mother tongue to be Yiddish ( 7 . 8 percent - Hebrew ; 13 . 3 percent - Polish ) . The political significance of these data greatly surpasses their cultural significance , but they nevertheless reflect to some extent the relative strengths of the languages of Warsaw Jewry . Within the space of a single generation , even before the outbreak of the First World War , Warsaw had acquired the status of a leading Jewish cultural center . In the last decades of the nineteenth century , prominent writers and intellectuals settled in the city ( see above ) . Many of them wrote in both Hebrew and Yiddish . These writers - and others who resided across the Russian Empire and even in the United States - took advantage of the many Hebrew presses in the city to print their books and the journals that they edited ( in the 1930 s , the city had 25 presses that printed in Hebrew letters ) . As early as 1890 , dozens of Jewish bookstores were to be found In Warsaw . Contemporary Yiddish literature , and a diverse range of new journals and daily newspapers ( that had their beginnings in 1905 ) gave expression to the recognition of Yiddish as a national value and as a means of communication of political and ideological value , and not only as a propaganda tool for spreading general education among the masses . Five Yiddish dailies ( Der Weg , Der Telegraf , Yiddishes Tageblat , Morgenblat , Die Naye Zeitung ) were published in Warsaw in 1906 , with a combined circulation of 96 , 000 copies , in comparison to a circulation of 12 , 000 for the three Hebrew dailies ( Ha-Zefirah , Ha-Yom , Ha-Zofeh ) , and 10 , 000 for the single Polish-Jewish daily ( Gazeta Nowa ) . The Yiddish press developed rapidly in the years following the First World War . It mirrored the mood within the Jewish public , of all social and political colorations , and took an active part in the ongoing struggle by Polish Jewry for its civil rights . In 1935 , for example , nine Yiddish dailies were being published in Warsaw ( Haynt , Moment , Naye Volkszeitung , Dos Yiddishe Tageblat , Der Freund , Undzer Ekspres , Heintike Nayes , Varshaver Radio , Die Presse ) , with daily circulations ranging between 10 , 000 and 25 , 000 copies . Additionally , scores of periodicals - on a broad range of topics - addressed every age group and every field of interest . The press greatly enriched the reader’s spiritual world and shaped his literary taste . As regards the latter , it is noteworthy that each of the daily newspapers , is bedevilling . Other than the sort of programs started by the SHJ society and other such nascent societies I do not yet have a worthy idea . Those who have the imagination , learning and inner drive hopefully will assume the power of shaping and synthesising ceremonies to their own specification . I suggest this may eventually be a secular route to transmit a culture , tradition and forming like minded communities who then will practice their Judaism with full intellectual honesty .

Posen Foundation

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