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March 01, 1968 - Image 48

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1968-03-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

The World Jewish Press in 1968

Boris Smolar's

'Between You
. . and Mei

By JOSEF FRAENKEL
In seven years the Jewish press will commemorate a historic date. Editors and journalists from all
over the world will assemble in Amsterdam, the home of Baruch Spinoza and of Manasseh ben Israel,
to celebrate a great "family" occasion. In 1675, the first Jewish paper, "Gazeta de Amsterdam," was
founded, and the tercentenary celebration of the Jewish press also will be an opportune moment for a
(Copyright 1968, JTA Inc.)
demonstration of support for the freedom of the printed word, for the solidarity of the Jewish people and
for the indestructible unity of the diaspora and Israel.
DISTORTING HISTORY: Something must be done-and done effectively
Upon the editors, journalists, commentators and critics of today's Jewish press in 79 countries -to counteract organized attempts now being made by the Soviet
weighs a heavy responsibility. One of their duties - and not the least - remains to warn their reader s, Union, Poland and other Communist countries to distort the historic
many of them only too complacent, of approaching moral and physical dangers. On their watchfulness often facs about the mass-killing by the Nazis of the 6,000,000 Jews in
depends the ability to shield the Jewish people from attacks from within and without: thus the Jewish
Europe .. Attempts to re-write the history of the Holocaust started
press is one of the most effective weapons against the threat of assimilation and estrangement. But only during Israel's Six Day War-when the Communist countries broke
if it prepared relentlessly to combat ignorance and prejudice, to explain and analyze and educate rather off diplomatic relations with the Jewish state-and they have since
than merely to propound or 'sloganize!'
been escalated in the official press of Poland, Czechoslovakia, the
In 1968, the family of the Jewish press spreads over 79 countries, and is represented by 886 papers. Soviet Union and other Communist bloc countries . . . A point was
In countries where Jewish papers are suppressed, neither the voice nor the protests of the defenseless reached recently when the government-controlled press in Poland
Jews are heard. Jewish papers no longer exist in Arab lands, and with their disappearance, the equality of sought to minimize the mass-annihilation of Polish Jewry by asserting,
the Jews, too, has vanished. They have been rendered leaderless. Conversely, a Jewish monthly appeared in in offensive anti-Jewish articles, that Poles, no less than Jews were
Spain in 1963, and with 'Hakesher" contact was established with the Jewish community of Madrid.
among the veitims of Nazi annihilation camps . . I. In Soviet Russia
The indestructibility of the Yiddish papers is awe-inspiring. Their struggle for existence is grim. In the press continues to equate Israelis with the Nazis . .. The Soviet
1917, a Yiddish daily, "Eagle-Keneder Odler," was published in Canada. In recent years it began to appear government apparently has not seen fit to send witnesses to the West
only three times a week, then once weekly, and in May 1967, it ceased publication altogether. Six months German trial of a group of Nazis accused of directing and participat-
passed, and suddenly, quite unexpectedly, in the middle of December, it began to appear again. It was a ing in the massacre of tens of thousands of Jews in the notorious Bahl
welcome Hanuka gift for the Jews of Canada. "Keneder Odler," now a weekly, is striving to appear three Yar ravine, in Kiev where many were buried alive . . . This trial,
now in its sixth month in a German court in Darmstadt, might have
times weekly-perhaps-even to become a daily Yiddish paper once more.
The "family portrait" of the Jewish press - according to the publication "The Jewish Press of the stirred up renewed world interest in the Nazi crimes against Jews,
World." by the writer of this article, published by the cultural department of the World Jewish Congress had the Soviet Government sent Jewish, or even non-Jewish witnesses
from Kiev to testify . . .. However, the present political line in the
(sixth edition), is represented as follows:
Communist countries-including Poland where the gas ovens in which
LINGUISTIC DISTRIBUTION
the Jews were incinerated are still standing as mute witnesses to
Diaspora and Israel: 886 papers
the tragic destruction of Polish Jewry-is to downgrade the Holocaust
Languages
and to reduce the importance of the heroic resistance of the Jews in
Dailies I Weeklies I F'tnightlies I Monthlies I Others
Total I Percentage
English
1
some of the ghettos.
66
23
87
I
161
I
338 I
I
38.15
French
1
4
*


4
18
23
I
50 I
5.64
I
German
1
8
2
14
11
I
I
36 I
I
4.06
JEWISH ACTION: Jewish leaders throughout the world are deeply
Hebrew
16
27
9
70
I
99
I
221 I
I
24.95
disturbed by this policy of the Communist countries .. . . They fear
Spanish -
that many strengthen the hands of neo-Nazi elements in Germany
Portuguese
14
3
17
14
48
5.42
and create confusion in the minds of the younger generation of non-
Yiddish
11
27
9
34
49
130
Jews who are ashamed of the brutality against Jews tolerated by the
14.67
I
Other Lang.
5
15
7
21
I
15
63
civilized world. Yad Vashem, the Martyrs' and Heroes' Memorial
7.11
Total
35
161
57
I
261
372
I
886
Authority in Jerusalem-of which Katriel Katz, former Israeli Ambas-
100.00
sador to the Soviet Union and earlier to Poland, now heads-has
DIASPORA: 580 papers (65.46 per cent)
Languages
Dailies
Weeklies
F'tnightlies
Monthlies
Others
Total
Percentage decided to call a world convention in Israel of concentration camp
English
inmates and Jewish underground fighters - - - The convention, which
64
21
80
135
I
300
51.73
French
will last a week, will bring to Israel thousands of survivors of the
4
4
17
17
42
7.24
German
Holocaust, survivors of the Ghettoes, members of the anti-Nazi under-
7
1
12
9
I
29
5.00
Hebrew
ground, former Jewish partisans and many who took part in the
2
2
4
14
I
22
3.79
Spanish -
struggle against the Nazis . . . Quite a number of them will be from
Portuguese
the United States, England, France and other countries in the free
13
15
I
3
12
43
7.41
Yiddish
world .. . .. The convention coincides with the 25th anniversary year
10
20
8
29
I
45
112
19.31
Other Lang.
of
the Uprising in the Ghetto of Warsaw and with the 20th anniver-
3
17
5
7
32
5.52
Total
sary of the establishment of the State of Israel . . - The Polish
10
113
44
174
239
I
580
100.00
government is also making arrangements to commemorate the 25th
ISRAEL: 306 papers (34.54 per cent)
anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising this spring .. . However,
Languages
Dailies
Weeklies I F'tnightlies ] Monthlies
Others
Total
Percentage in view of the fact that Poland broke diplomatic relations with Israel,
English
1
2
I
2
7
26
38
12.42
it is doubtful whether the Polish government will invite representa-
French
1
1
6
8
2.61
tives from Israel to the ceremony, and whether Jewish leaders from
German
I
1
1
1
2
2
7
2.29
other countries will accept Poland's invitation if the Israel govern-
Hebrew
16
25
I
7
66
85
199
65.03
ment
is ignored . . . At any rate, the convention in Israel will be
Spanish
1
I
2
2
5
1.63
the first world Jewish manifestation against the attempts to mini-
Yiddish
1
I
7
1
5
4
18
5.89
mize
the
Holocaust and the role Jews played in fighting the Nazis in
5
Other Lang.
12
2
4
8
1
31
10.13
the ghettoes and as partisans . . . It will serve notice to those who
Total
25
48
I
13
87
133
'
306
100.00
distort the history of Jewish sufferings and will be a warning to the
GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION
world that anti-Semitism, Nazism and Fascism must never again be
Number of papers
Percentage
permitted to raise their hands against mankind . - - Yad Vashem, which
Europe
178
20.09
works in cooperation with the YIVA Institute of Jewish Research
Africa
29
3.28
in New York, possesses 25,000,000 documents, in original and in films,
Asia
312
35.21
on
the destruction of the Jews in Europe during the Nazi occupation
Australia and New Zealand
19
2.14
years . . . More than 60 scholars and historians-most of whom were
Canada
21
2.37
themselves victims of the Nazis-are engaged in the Yad Vashem on
Central and South America
82
9.26
research and in preparation of publications concerning the systematic
United States
245
27.65
slaughter of the 6,000,000 Jews . . . Yad Vashem is also arranging a
Total
886
100.00
special convention in Israel, in April,

Yiddish and the Theater - Earphones in an Era of Decline

By JACK SIEGEL

(A Seven Arts Feature)

The recent visit to New York
City of the Jewish State Theater
of Poland renewed a flurry of in-
terest in Yiddish. The foreign
dramatic ensemble was of great
interest for two reasons. First, it
was a phenomenon, because it was
permitted by a Communist gov-
ernment, when there is so much
attention being focused on the spir-
itual condition of the Jews in the
Soviet Union. Second, it featured
Ida Kaminska, who scored so tri-
umphantly as the old Jewish lady
in the Czech anti-Nazi film, "The
Shop on Main Street," in which
she spoke much Yiddish.
More recently, a New York edu-
cational TV station devoted a ran-
dom hour to a capsule history of
the Yiddish theater. It had mo-
ments of charm but more frequent-
ly it invited nostalgia. But one had
to be about 50. As I am. So I per-
mitted the nostalgia.
For instance, my uncle Aaron
used to play the flute in the orches-
tra of the Second Avenue Theater.
He was among the first organizers
of the Jewish Musician& Union.
When I was about 9 or 10, in the
1920s, they used to sneak me into

48 Friday, March 1, 1968

-

an empty orchestra seat from the
pit. His first son, my cousin Abie,
played the drums and worked his
way through medical school. His
second son, William, also a flutist,
became a teacher. Aaron and his
wife Paulie (who at this writing
is in her 102nd year) lived on
Third Street, near the throbbing
Jewish community of Second Ave-
nue, and just around the corner
from his theater. But my father,
the youngest child in that family
(as I was in mine) was a clothing
designer who had successfully
made it uptown to the Bronx.
I was then too young to ride
home on the Third Avenue El so
frequently, after one of my solo
visits to the theater, they would
put up a cot for me in what was
called the living room of my uncle's
coldwater, railroad flat, and de-
cide on how much I resembled
Willie, while I pretended to sleep.
On other occasions, I would go
to the Yiddish theater with my
parents and after the show we
would take the long (and then
safe) ride uptoum to the Bronx. It
was the time of Harding and early
Coolidge and we even had one
man on our block they called

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Bullslieviki because he had sym-
pathized with the Russian revo-
ution.
I saw and heard Molly Picon,
Boris Thomashefsky, Maurice
Schwartz, Jennie Goldstein, Bertha
Kalish, the Adlers, and a host of
Jewish theatrical luminaries. What
was almost more important was
that I could go for free. Yet, for
a boy like myself, whose ambitions
ran in other, rather goyish direc-
tions, like wanting to become a
crack basketball player, the Yid-
dish stage was a strange world
for me. Yiddish was spoken suf-
ficiently enough at home for me
to understand. But it was a Rus-
sian Yiddish, and on stage the
accent was very literary and even
"Galicianerish." That made it, to
start, another world.

The plays dealt either with the
conditions for immigrants in Amer-
ica, or the Shtetl. They dramatized
the dread fear of intermarriage,
such as happened to one of Tevya's
daughters, or assimilation. The peo-
ple on stage were unreal for me
in many ways. The men were made
up. In my small world, only my
older sisters made up. The actors
all postured and on my block only
phonies postured. The men cried
easily and where I came from only

sissies cried easily. The chorus
girls, as compared to those I could
see in the RKO Franklin, were
old. They were dark, not blonde.
They had bulbous thighes, when
they could manage to raise a leg
high enough to expose them. They
did not sing, they "kvitchet." In
the Franklin, the chorus girls were
young, they were pretty, they were
blonde, they were unattainable,
like our German janitor's daugh-
ter on the ground floor. Even my
Uncle Aaron, who practically lived
in the Yiddish theater world,
seemed bored by it.
Yet, the Yiddish theater had a
huge and devoted audience. It had
a compelling fascination for the
New York Jews. They come in
droves, brought their children, and
even their food. A performance
was always spiced with the in-
cense of pickles, herring and ba-
loney. The theater filled a yearning
and a need for the past. It ex-
pressed the audiences' best middle-
class aspirations in the land of
the golden streets. It offered a
ventilation for mood, for tears, it
provided a frame of reference in
which the Yiddish heart could
maneuver with total abandon. It
would mock the goyish, both there
and in Czarish Russia and consti-

tilted itself an incidental but
beautiful defense against anti-
Semitism then on a much higher
plateau.

The actors were the culture-
heroes of a minority on the make.
Some graduated to Broadway and
became a symbol of security even
stronger than the lightweight
champion, Benny Leonard. For me,
nevertheless, it was still an outside

world, a double make-believe be-
cause my generation was moving,
with acute malaise, but with great-
er concentration, against a ,massive
economic heart-failure, the Depres-
sion, the war against Hitler and
the Holocaust. Many of us who sur-
vived these global traumas commit-
ted ourselves in varying degrees
to Jewishness, but without tears.

But, a language needs its prac-
titioners, it needs to have its roots
planted deeply in its immediate
physical reality in order to throb
and thrive. The Yiddish speaking
constituency here dwindled,

sparked, spurted, then slowly be-
gan its descent into disappearance.
For me. however, the value of the
Yiddish theater was that it helped
maintain a kind of continuity, a
tradition, it gave me a connection,
a fix on the past of my fathers.

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