Not Even Arabs Believe Soviet Tales
on Jews; State Dept. Indicates Action
Out of His Love for Language Emerges
Maurice Samuel's 'In Praise of Yiddish'
violence against Soviet personnel
By JOSEPH PALAKOFF
Maurice Samuel is the master in Rosten's "The Joys of Yiddish" and pray (for someone).' Ikh vel mis-
and installations in the United
(Copyright, 1971, JTA, Inc.)
creative literature. He is the superb to Uriel Weinreich's "Modern palel zayn far aykh means 'I will
How do Russian and Arab dip- States.
of Jewish values. In Yiddish - English English - Yiddish pray for you (your welfare),' but
Thus, Gist says flatly that Jews
lomats react to American com-
narrative writings Dictionary," as well as to Wein- ikh vel davnen far aykh is a non-
ments at the United Nations on are "subjected to greater anti- he has produced a bookshelf by- reich's "College• Yiddish," it sense. sentence similar to 'I will
the treatment of Jews in the Soviet religious pressures than are other lined by him that matches — it should be noted that his "In Praise breakfast for you.' Pavnen is in
Union, and what is our government officially recognized religious sects supersedes! — that of the leaders of Yiddish" is more historical much more frequent use than
telling a limited number of our in the USSR," that they are "vir- in Jewish literature.
and more analytical. It goes to mispalel zayn .. ."
own top officials, congressmen and tually the only minority group
sources in evaluating word struc-
"Sanctifications" . merited an
leading citizens about this sub- which is prevented from conduct- lecturer, and in bis spoken efforts ture and phrase developments. It entire chapter, as also "hybrids"
ing its own language schools or
on public platforms, as well as in studies the language psychological- and their related themes. The
Our representative to the UN classes" and that "requests to his writings, he has given us the ly and philosophically.
non-Germanic words are indi-
Commission on Human Rights, emigrate can result in persecution most eloquent presentations on
He had intended to name his cated. There is a chapter on
Mrs. Rita Hauser, responded to
book "The Charm of Yiddish" and "Germanic Into Yiddish" and a
the first part of this question in ernment."
under the new title it retains the list is provided of "the very great
In a paragraph aimed to as a lover of Yiddish. In his writ- charm envisioned in the author's number of Yiddish folk words
an interview with the Jewish
Telegraphic Agency. The second please supporters of other eth- ings and in his lectures he has affection for a language for which and locutions stemming from
nic minorities, too, Gist points often resorted to Yiddish sayings, the author has "a special bias." the Germanic."
part is covered by the State De-
out that Secretary of State Wil-
partment's recently issued publi-
There may be rebuke to those who
There is irony as well as satire
liam P. Rogers last October
cation "Gist," which it distributes
denigrate Yiddish and a warning in this explanatory note offered on
"as a quick reference aid on U.S. handed Soviet Foreign Minister
to the many who misinterpret it the Germanic by Samuel: "Honik
foreign relations primarily for Andrei Gromyko "an official
when Samuel states in explaining lekn, 'to lick honey, to have it
representative list of Soviet
good,' is never, as far as I know,
Mrs. Hauser, who holds the posi- citizens, including many Jews,
used in the affirmative. It is al-
tion first occupied by Mrs. Eleanor who have been denied permis-
here for those who harbor a ways bay im hob ikh keyn honik
sion to emigrate to the U.S."
Roosevelt, has repeatedly expres-
sentimental but uninstructed af- nit gelekt, 'I had no easy time
sed American offical concern for Similar compilations have been
fection for YiddiSh as a quaint with him.' To a German survivor
the Soviet Jews in the UN Com-
which has somehow pro- of a concentration camp a it Jew
time to time over the past dozen
number of gifted writers once said, commiseratingly,
"The Soviet representative
and has attracted the condescend-
Regarding "Jewish militancy,"
usually explodes whenever I
ing attention often bestowed on was a hard life you had there,' to
bring up the subject," Mrs.
`vanishing' or 'minority' cultural which the humorless reply came,
Israel has deplored" the acts of
Hauser, a lawyer, said. "He
phenomena. I address the same Mensch! man hat uns sogar kein
violence against the Soviets in
says it's all a fabrication; all a
admonition, to those Jews whose Saccharin gegeben, 'Man alive, they
America and that "major Ameri-
Zionist, imperialistic plot. But
vestigial Yiddish is of the kind didn't even give us saccharin.' "
cultivated by borsht-circuit
nobody believes him at the UN can Jewish organizations swiftly
Many linguistic aspects are ela-
comedians posing as experts. borated upon in Samuel's "In
—not even the Arabs."
Yiddish is neither a 'quaint' nor Praise of Yiddish," and all of life's
Gist cautioned that "such crimi-
"It is really interesting why
`cute' nor 'funny' language. The experiences are mirrored in the
certain people are allowed to nal actions" violate law and tradi-
mutilated fragments of it that definitions of various terms and
leave the Soviet Union and some tion, and fuel that USSR's repres-
float about in the popular Jewish the explanations of their develop-
are not, she said. "My guess is that sion of the Jewish minority. In re-
novels (I make an honorable ment and application.
the Soviets are anxious to get rid of sponse, Gist says, our authorities
exception of Mr. Saul Bellow,
people like the Rigermans (Leonid have taken "strong measures" in-
The flavor of Hebrew in Yiddish
whose Yiddish is authentic and
and his mother, Esther, now in cluding "numerous arrests."
is treated importantly and some
The issue of Gist entitled to its etymology, to descriptive
America) who are giving them
intimacy is indicated.
too much bad publicity overseas "USSR: Treatment of Soviet Jews" words. He has utilized anecdotal intimacy with Yiddish than a
Especially fascinating is the
and too much trouble internally. is based on two 'publications dis- Yiddish and has applied it with
in an 'Irish' story indicate a
chapter devoted to "Idioms and
They would just as soon shuck tributed earlier by the State De- specific skill.
knowledge of Erse. Yiddish is a
Yiddish Grundyisms." Many
them off. Internal dissent is grow- partment to citizens and private
Now we have an interpretive
full-blooded language which, un-
sources are alluded to for words
ing in the Soviet Union. The ques- organizations. Their circulation is work in which he honors the
less acquired naturally in child-
described here and their pun-
tion is whether there will be a about 30,000 each. One, a two-page linguistic heritage. His latest
receives special treatment
,- return to Stalinism or whether the
creative work is "In Praise of
leaders will allow dissent to grow. in the United States Harms the Yiddish" and in a most im-
Hebraic as well as Germanic
If they allow dissent, it will Cause of Soviet Jews," was issued pressive volume issued by Cowles -French or German or Russian.
qualities are noted. The many
Jews innocent of Yiddish but
on Jan. 29, 1971. The other, a Book Co. he provides another
defined here would -enrich
* * *
four-page publication entitled distinctly analytical work on lan-
In Gist, the State Department "Mistreatment of Jews in the So- guage that is as effective as his
at the interior enjoyment of it;
Literary gems of noted writers,
takes a position calculated to pla- viet Union," appeared on Dec. 30, earlier labors on Yiddish litera-
the few words and phrases they including Bialik's Tevye of
ture, especially his prize-awarded
cate both Americans sympathizing 1970.
have picked up from Yiddish
Aleichem and others are
with the plight of Jews in the
Copies may be obtained from "The World of Sholom. Aleichem"
transmuted into English will be Sholom
alluded to in relating the literature
Soviet Union and Americans re- the Bureau of Public Affairs, De- and his equally wonderful work
of no help."
of Yiddish to the linguistics.
sentful of "Jewish militancy" or partment of State, Washington, on J. L. Peretz.
fearful of the consequences of D.C. 20520.
It .is important that this warn-
While Samuel pays honor to Leo
What about the future of Yiddish?
ing note be read and appreciated A concluding chapter to the book
in getting to the root of the deals with this question. Samuel
masterful definition by Samuel, believes that "we shall never
who points emphatically to the again have monolingual Yiddish-
fact that "more than most lan- speaking masses," but "for the
guages Yiddish is a ciphered his- educated Jewish minority" he sees
By Shlomo Kodesh
tory of the people who created it." it as "a needed language, with its
Released by: TARBUTH FOUN DATION
FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF HEBREW CULTURE
Listing the numerous dialects that own intramural atmosphere, its
have developed among Jews, Sam- sanctity in the midst of multicpl-
THAT'S TRUE, BUT...
uel describes Yiddish as the most ored secularity, international geo -
Cast: Reuven and Shimon. Scene: On a Street.
important of the goles — exile — graphically but national in its
languages. He refers to the experi- appeal."
Reuven: A familiar face... Shimon, I believe... is that the way one passes
trr, 1;r ri
ences that have become imbedded
by an old friend? Without a "shalom," without a smile? What
He points to the emergence of
in Yiddish. With its Hebraic in- neo-Yiddishists as "an authentic
happened? Are there no more manners in Israel?
fluence, it ' has gained roots in sector of the Jewish will to live."
Shimon: Shalom! - I'm in a hurry. I have no time..
VO1 7y. :rpm
Israel now as effectively as else-
Samuel concludes: "How long
Reuven: So busy? A matter of life and death? Perhaps, my friend, you'll
1prr.t1 ,o? nntth rtr? !nisDi9 nRo rplo? ti?
tell me, what's the rush? Don't pretend. Something's not right
Yiddish last? Languages with
with you. •
Etymology is treated by Samuel this sort of structure can be very
Shimon: Why are you hanging on to me? All right... not all right... What's
expertly in his explanation of how tenacious and a particular tenacity
so important? I don't owe you a report about my doings and
Yiddish words stemmed from. Tal-, attaches to certain Jewish experi-
.7lr 'tr?? Sy Timrijr11
mud, prayerbook, Midrash, Bible. ences . . . I shall not attempt a
Reuven: Listen, Shimon, don't get me annoyed. What's this nervousness?
nrl1 "? ?Nit 2-131;1 ;In .nb;:t ru. 5 '7;`7?1,i ' 712 ,r117?? ,Ing6
point is proven and illustrated description of this supreme expres-
What's this mad rushing about? What kind of talk is this? I
ni^ 7n71 -1127n not nn ?rl'?;:onri
have the impression you're angry.
and lexicographers will rejoice in sion of the Yiddish language. I
Shimon: Its you who's hanging on to me. I didn't hurt or offend you.
the manner in which these factors only wish to note that it promises
. 1r# rill .9; 713P.9
M t, •tt5 x:,`?Pt??
Let's assume I'm angry. What do you care?
are related by Samuel to the Ger- to gather into its pages all that
?Vr? TIP?k% nt nt?
manic sources of Yiddish. He has lived and still lives in the folk.
Listen, you're talking like an utter fool. What kind of words are
?nobtt K'? ,nbbrt — »5x1 anuln rq?
;Tit? -Tr? R ,vat?
speaks of the "sanctification" of That it should be in process of
these? "care... don't care..." You've got something against me -
ImPrPrirTn ro? .1r49 1 ?7 1 ;7r- 1'`;17 1W??
say it and I'll know. What's this beating about the bush?
imported words, declares: "Hebrew creation precisely at this hour in
Shimon: If you are so insistent, O.K. Friends told me that my name came
dominates the religious area of the history of Yiddish is a startli
ri;ttntr? 077 . .t? nbb .arp
Tryit711? '7? rinx nkt
up at a Hanuka party at the Carni's. You had some fun at my
Yiddish, but non-Hebraic terms tribute to the people's vitality."
expense there, and said that I am an utter fool, lacking character.
have penetrated into the very heart
Is that true, or is it not true?
?pD te? iR ,Ti]] ;1 .•pk npn
As in his definitive approach
of the religious life." Here is one Yiddish, so also in his love
Reuven: That is what your gossiping "friends" told you, and you believed
711 ;k3 wt?-1'.7 -177- 11? "IP 'R
that I said it?
the language, Samuel emerge*:; .
Shimon: Why shouldn't I believe them? People don't make up things out
"Davnen, `to recite one's prayers,' one of the great champions o
OnFT .0]'9O D'71]1 13'1i] Opt 0' . )tt
r)?titt X', pv3
of thin air.
is one of the oddities of intimate folk tongue. His "In Prai
And you want to know the truth: if it's true or if it's not true?
?Ti]) te7 im
ox .bnni nx! nvt nTin rints?
assimilation, and is therefore men- Yiddish" will no doubt be an d e
Shimon: The whole truth and nothing but the truth. Truth above all.
tioned here though not of Romance vitally contributing factor toWard,,
ip? rt rvmrri ?Ix p- :pone
origin. Astonishing as it may seem, assuring life for the tongue that :,-.
Rcuycn: Well then, listen! Now I am sure that it is true' but I didn't say it...
nxT 'Irrpti 24'7 `72i L7?1:t ,T1]; nrrivg
there is no Hebraic-Yiddish word has assumed an aura of sacredness
that can be substituted for it. The among the Jewish masses.
Excerpted from the book "Israel With A Smile", published by Tarbuth Foundation, 515 Park Ave., N. Y. C. 10022
nearest to it is mispalel zayn, `to
A Conversation Series
48—Friday, June 4, 1971
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS