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THE JEWISH NEWS
Incorporating the Detroit Jewish Chronicle commencing with issue of July 20, 1951
Member American Association of English-Jewish Newspapers, Michigan Press Association, National
Published every Friday by The Jewish News Publishing Co., 17140 West Seven Mile Road, Detroit 35.
Mich., VE 8-9364. Subscription $5 a year. Foreign $6.
Entered as second class matter Aug. 6, 1942 at Post Offic..., Detroit, Mich. under act of Congress of March
Edit( r and Publisher
CARMI M. SLOMOVITZ
Sabbath Scriptural Selections
This Sabbatth, Shabbat Hazzon. • the fourth day of Ab,'5719. the following Scriptural
selections will be read in our synagogues:
Pentateuchal portion. Debarim, Deut. 1:1-3:22. Prophetical portion ; Is. 1:1-27.
Tisha b'Ah will be commemorated on Thursday
Licht Benshen, Friday, Aug. 7, 7:25 p.m.
VOL. XXXV, No. 23
August 7, 1959
The Mirage of Birobidjan in the USSR
"But a visitor on a five-hour walk
A fantastic story has been rel6ased by
the press department of_ the Embassy -of around Birobidjan hears no more than
the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics four or five Yiddish conversations. The
in Washington on the subject "The Jewish new street signs do without Yiddish
Autonomous Region-25 Years." The au- titles. You probably could not buy a loaf
thor is Yakov Gurevich, whose title is of bread, get a watch fixed or borrow a
given as "Assistant Editor of the news- book at the library if you spoke no Rus-
paper Birobidjaner Shtern." It is one of sian even though you would generally be
the few items on Jewish subjects re- dealing with Jews." *
leased by the USSR press bureau.
But the USSR press bureau's release
Gurevich's article speaks of Birobidjan
as "not only an industrial city but a cul- indicated that the article about Birobid-
tural center as well." It glorifies Biro- jan was written by the assistant editor of
bidjan, tells about the "two-story railway a Yiddish newspaper. That might give
station, on which the name Birobidjan is the impression that Yiddish culture is
inscribed in Yiddish and in Russian" and prospering in the "autonomous Jewish
To honor the 60th birthday of Prof. Salo Wittmayer Baron,
makes it a point to tell about one of the region." The facts are exposed in the New
"main thoroughfares — Sholem Aleichem York Times report in which Max Frankel Columbia University Press has issued a most impressive volume
of 26 essays by noted scholars, under the title "Essays on Jewish
Street, named after the famous Jewish wrote:
and Thought." Four able scholars edited this volume—
"No Yiddish is taught in schools, no
The article also states that "the Sho- Yiddish films are shown, no Yiddish books Joseph L. Blau, Philip Friedman, Arthur Hertzberg and Isaac
lem Aleichem Library is housed in a fine, are printed. A well-stocked bookstore Mendelsohn.
All the essays are by former students of Dr. Baron. In
two-story building, and has some 100,000 had not heard of a commemorative Yid- addition, there is a bibliography of the writings of Prof. Baron,
volumes of political and scientific works dish edition of some works of Sholem listing 259 items he has written—including books and essays—
as well as fiction, a great many of which Aleichem, published in Moscow this year. from 1912 to 1958; and a statement in behalf of the editors,
are in the Yiddish language."
"Three times a week a two-page Yid- under the title "The Historic Quest," by Blau.
A preface by the board of editors declares:
Gurevich tells in his article that: "The dish newspaper, Birobidjaner Shtern,
"To 'raise up many disciples' is one of the commandments
Jewish Autonomous Region has five rep- appears. Soviet reference books list its
resentatives in the Soviet of Nationalities circulation as 1,000. Two newsstands had of the Mishnah; we felt that a volume representing exclusively
of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and a few copies; a third, placed near a pub- former students of Dr. Baron would be more than the usual
for it underscores an aspect of his work which is
one deputy to the Supreme Soviet of the licly posted copy of the paper, had not tribute,
perhaps less immediately apparent than the magisterial range
Russian Federation (RDFSR). Among the heard of it.
and -depth of his own writings—that in over 35 years of teach-
deputies to the Supreme Soviet of the
"The Shtern is a party organ and in ing, Salo Wittmayer Baron has, indeed, more than fulfilled the
USSR are Vera Gleizer, principal of the large part carries translations from the ancient injunction."
Birobidjan boarding school; Zinaida Zi- daily, four-page Birobidjanskaya Zvesda
The essays are on such a wide variety of subjects that they
novyeva, a milkmaid; and Danil Peshatov, (`zvesda,' like `shtern,' means star). A city form a veritable panorama of major occurrences in world
a locomotive engineer."
culture official says there are occasional Jewish history.
* * *
Thus, the topics range from "The Cloakmakers' Strike of
Yiddish radio programs. They are not
1910", by Hyman Berman, to "Morality and Religion in the
Such is the extent of Jewish participa- advertised.
Theology of Maimonides," by Ben Zion Bokser. Zvi Ankori's
tion in the Birobidjan project which
Such is the tragic status of a "region" "The Correspondence of Tobias Ben Moses, the Karaite, of Con-
Russia continues to call "The Jewish Au-
touches upon another sphere in Jewish life.
tonomous Region." The lengthy article is in whose behalf some Jews were misled, stantinople,"
Other essays in this impressive volume include: "Toward.
general in nature, and except for the ref- and under whose banner Russia had un- the Dawn
of History," by Meir Ben-Horin, who analyzes the
erences to the Sholem Aleichem Street dertaken to undermine the Zionist ideal. effects of Marxism upon our time; "The Messianic Self-Con-
and Library, there is little else that would
sciousness of Abraham Abulafia," by Abraham Berger; "Tradi-
indicate that there is much that is Jewish Russia undoubtedly are wiser to its far- tion and Innovation," by Joseph L. Blau; "Felix Libel-tate and
cical status than any other group.
the Emancipation of Dutch Jewry," by Herbert I. Bloom;
a a a
"American Jewry — Reflection on Social, Communal and-
Several weeks ago, Max Frankel wrote
Apparently there is a desire on the Spiritual Trends," by Samuel M. Blumenfield; "An American
a series of articles on Russia for the New
York Times. The final article in the part of a handful of Jews in Birobidjan Jew at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919: Excerpts from the
series, sent from Moscow, was about Biro- to hold fast to Jewish traditions. But they Diary of Oscar S. Straus," by Naomi W. Cohen; "The Lafayette
for Jewish Emancipation," by Abraham G. Duker;
bidjan. He referred to the province as are only the old people. Frankel states Committee
"The Background of the Berlin Haskalah," by Isaac Eisenstein-
being "about as Jewish as it is autono- in his article:
"No youngster ever shows up at the Barzilay; "Aspects of the Jewish Communal Crisis in the
mous," and he related the following:
Period of the Nazi Regime in Germany, Austria and Czecho-
"It was organized in 1934, with much shack that serves as a synagogue. Friday slovakia," by Philip Friedman; "Jewish Immigrants in London
fanfare, as a home for Jews. Essentially it
in the 1880s," by Lloyd P. Gartner; "Does the Jewish Past
was an empty plot on which Jews were bath, Cantor Kaplan (there is no rabbi) Have a Future," by Sholome Michael Gelber; "An American
to pioneer and exert their talents without leads prayers for 30 persons, more women Anti-Semite in the 19th Century," by Leonard A. Greenberg
getting mixed up with Zionism. However, than men. Last Yom Kippur, 400 wor- and Harold J. Jonas; "Flight from the Slums," by Hyman B.
no mass migration developed among the shipers walked to the little house, about Grinstein; "Wellhausen's Interpretation of Israel's Religious
more than 2,500,000 Soviet Jews, and the a half mile from the paved city center. History," by Herbert F. Hahn; "The Conservative Rabbinate,"
"A few packages of matzoh arrive each by Arthur Hertzberg; "The Jewish Association in America,"
population of the province today is
from Israel, but the local bakery by Isaac Levitats; "On Marriage in Alakah," by Isaac Mendel-
160,000, perhaps half Jewish, two-thirds
sohn; "Doctor Samuel Johnson's Grammar and Hebrew
urban . . . The last substantial number of may one day produce some for the local Psalter," by Isidore S. Meyer; "Types of Lectures in the
Jewish settlers arrived in Birobidjan after
Babylonian Academies," by Samuel K. Mirsky; "A Functional
World War II, especiall,y from the and three Torahs were contributed by the Approach to the Halachah," by, Emanuel Rackman; "Some
Ukraine, heavily battered in the fighting. Moscow synagogue long ago. Jewish Studies of 19th-Century Reform Laymen," by Stuart E. Rosen-
Today, many of their sons and daughters farmers in the province, most of them berg; "On the Cultural History of Yiddish Rime," by Uriel
find oportunities elsewhere and leave. settled 25 years ago or more, are a ma- Weinreich; " 'It Can't Happen Here!' An Episode in the Failure
to Achieve Territorial Unification of Franconian Jewry in the
The city of Birobidjan has a population jority among the worshipers."
It is evident that the glamor of a mid-15th Century," by Arthur J. Zuckerman.
estimated at 60,000, half to three-fourths
This interesting variation in subject matter indicates the
USSR press bureau's report vanishes in
of the volume and the attraction it holds for so
of differing thoughts and interests.
How extensive is the Jewish influence American newspaperman. Birobidj an was
Writing for the editors, Blau pays tribute to Dr. Baron in
in Birobidjan? Frankel wrote in the New
ish territory. It has dwindled into a half- an introductory essay, "The Historic Quest," in which he points
"It is not only by the wealth of information and the
"Jewishness, which in the Soviet forsaken Siberian outpost. It is still re-
Union means Yiddish and not Hebrew ferred to officially as a Jewish area, but solidity of his interpretations that Salo Baron as a teacher has
culture, was taken literally at first. The even Yiddish, which was acceptable to the impressed his students. His presentations are vigorous and
. . . to hear his lectures is to feel the driving force of
older street signs on Lenin Street still Communists in the first years of Soviet a dynamic
powerful personality masterfully dominating his subject . "
read `Ulitsa Lenina' in Russian above and
A great tribute is paid to a distinguished scholar and
`Lenin Gas' in Yiddish below. All plaques Union. It is part of the tragedy that marks teacher by his pupils, and their essays at the same time enrich
outside government and party buildings
Jewish knowledge and combine to form a very impressive
are bilingual, as are signs over the movie who are caught in the Soviet vise and for 'erary work.
whom help seems quite remote.
and the hotel.
26 Essays by Dr. Salo W. Baron's
Students Form ImpressiveWork