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October 30, 1981 - Image 78

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1981-10-30

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73 Friday„October 30, 1981


Max Erik's Pioneering History of Yiddish Literature


Mayence, Worms and
Frankfort. Jewish folksin-
gers, he wrote, evolved the
Shpil man type of literature,
the first Yiddish • literary
genre. Its principal creation
was the "Shmuel bukh."
Based on the biblical
Book of Samuel, the
"Shmuel bukh - consists of
1,800 four-lined stanzas and
begins with an invocation.
It was printed for the first
time in Augsburg in 1544.
It is unknown who its
author was and the time it
was composed. However,
continued to grow and be-
Zalman Rubashov Zalinan
come a center of Jewish
Shazar) the third president
religious culture. Yeshivot
of Israel, believed that Reb
were founded and religious
Moshe Esrim V'Arbah, an
were published, in-
early "meshulakh" of the
cluding the "Tseno U'Re-
Holy Land, wrote it during
no" by Yakov ben Itzchok
the last quarter of the 15th
Ashkenazy and "Lev Toy"
by Itzchok ben Elikum of
Until the 15th Century,
Germany was the center
Illuminating are these
of Yiddish literature. But
literary facts:
in the middle of that cen-
A Yiddish manuscript-
tury, the center shifted to - author was . called
upper Italy where Jews,
"shrayber- (writei-), a ,He-
driven from Germany,
brew writer "sofer" (scribe).
settled. There they pub-
Hebrew manuscripts
lished seven editions of
were illuminated, con-
the Bible translated into
tained illustrations and
Yiddish, the novel "Pariz
ornamented lettering.
in Viene," and added to
Yiddish manuscripts
Yiddish Italian words
were written plainly with
and expressions.
an occasional illustra-
Meanwhile, the Jewish
settlement in Poland,
Manuscripts were vener-
started in the 13th Century,
ated as their owners re-
corded on them family
events: births, deaths, wed-
dings, etc.
Even after Hebrew and
Yiddish books had been
printed, manuscript writing
still continued since people
learned slowly to read
printed texts.
Printed books replaced
manuscript-writing at the
end of the 16th Century.
The first Yiddish news-
paper, "Di Distagshe un
Fraytagshe Kuranten"
("The Tuesday and Friday
Chimes") began to be pub-
lished in Amsterdam in
August 1686 and lasted
until December 1687.
Engrossing is Erik's
evaluation of the Jewish
legends of Regesburg
and Worms. The former,
consisting of 25 legends,
are included in the
these are only a few of the
"Mayse bukh"; the latter,
titled "Maase Nissim"
features you'll find weekly
were translated from the

Max Erik's "A History of
Yiddish Literature from Its
Beginnings until the Has-
kala Period' . (Congress for
Jewish Culture) consists of
introductions by the liter-
ary critic Dr. E. Shulman
and the author, and two
books (parts), titled respec-
tively- "The Period of the
Shpilman in the Yiddish
Literature" and "The Musar
Period in the Yiddish Liter-
Dr. Shulman, in his pro-
found introduction, divides
Max Erik's literary career
into two periods: 1918 - 1929
and 1929-1936.
During the first period,
Erik lived and created in
Poland. Among others, he
wrote there his principal
work: "A History of Yiddish
During the second
period, he lived in Russia
where, at first, he contin-
ued his literary and
scholarly work. Then
suddenly, on the order of
Stalin, he was arrested in
May 1936 and executed in
October 1937.
Erik. in his pioneering
work, traced the history of
Yiddish literature to the
14th Century and main-
tained that it originated in
south and west Germany,
primarily in the cities of

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Shabat Prohibits
Wearing Tefilin .


(Copyright 1981, JTA, Inc.)

Tefilin (head and arm
phylacteries) are not worn
on the Sabbath and festi-
The tefilin are used as a
means to remind the people
of their identity and their
obligations to the Almighty
through the covenant and
that a relationship exists
between the Almighty and
His people Israel.
The Sabbath itself,
through its observance, re-
minds the Jew that this
world he enjoys was created
by the Almighty. The festi-
vals remind the Jews of his-
torical occurences wherein
they were saved by the Al-
mighty, such as the Exodus
from Egypt.

Hebrew by Eleazar
Liberman and published
in Amsterdam in 1696.
A typical example of a
legend follows:
While the mother o f
Kabalist Reb Judah Hassid,
Worms' most legendary fig-
' ure and author of "Sefer
Hassidim," was once stand-
ing by a wall, an evil char-
acter tried to run her over
with his horses and wagon.
But a miracle happened: the
wall bent down and saved
her life. Shortly afterwards,
she gave birth to her famous
The wall still stands.
Impressive is Erik's dis-
cussion of the "Bove-bukh,"
considered the final literary
product of the Shpilman
period of Yiddish literature.
Composed in poetic style by
Elye Bokher, the "Bove-
bukh" consists of 650 eight-
lined stanzas, begins with
an invocation and ends with
a prayer for the coming of
the Messiah. It relates the
life story of Bove, the son of
an Italian duke:

Printed for the first
time in 1507, it was re-
printed many times. Per-
tinent is Max Weinreich's
remark in his "History of
the Yiddish Language":
"The 'Bove-bukh' was
still being printed in
small quantities in the
20th Century in a
changed version under
the name of 'Bove-mayse'
and hence comes our
'bobe-mayse.' "
The publication of the
"Tseno U'Reno" in 1618,
states Erik, ushered in a
new era in Yiddish litera-
ture, became the classic ex-
pression of the period, and -
the mast widely-read book
wherever Yiddish was spo-
ken. As its full title "Tseno
U'reno Bnot Zion" indi-
cates, it was written
primarily for women. How-
ever, it also was popular
with men not versed in the
sacred books.
Significant in Yiddish
literary history was the
"musar" movement that
stressed religious and moral

Former JWV
Auxiliary Chief

NEW YORK — Jessie C.
Gneshin, former president
of the National Ladies Aux-
iliary of the Jewish War
Veterans, died Oct. 20. She
was 83.
Mrs. Gneshin became na-
tional president of the aux-
iliary in 1944 and served as
executive director from
1945 to 1966. She was also a
member of the Veterans
Administration Advisory

Ariel Durant

NEW YORK — Ariel
Durant, an historian, who
with her husband created
the 11-volume -series "The
Story of Civilization," died
Oct. 25 at age 83.
Born Ida Kaufman in
Prosurov, Russia, Mrs.
Durant, with her husband,
won the Presidential Medal
of Freedom in 1977.

The first musar book,
"Sefer Midot," was written
by an anonymous author
and published in 1542 by
the missionary Fagius
However, the most popular
musar book, "Der
Brantshpigl," was authored

by Reb Moshe Altshuler and.
printed in 1602.
Incidentally, the notori-
ous apostate, Johann
Joseph Pfefferkorn, pub-
lished in 1512' an anti-
Semitic pasquil that he
named "Der Brandspiegel."

Educator Etzi on Dies at 96

similar schools for men and
Dr. Yitzhak Raphael Etzion
women in Lithuania. In
(Holzberg), considered one
addition to his educational
of Israel's great educators of
activities, he was a member
modern times, has died at
of the Lithuanian National-
age 96.
In1933, he accepted the
Lithuania, where he re-
position as head of the Miz-
ceived his religious educa-
rachi school system in
tion, he went on to study at
Palestine and eventually
the University of Kharkov
_ became one of the leading
from which he graduated
figures of Jewish education
with honors.
in Israel.
After World War I, he re-
turned to his native land to
S. Schwartzberg
accept eventually, a call to
what became a daring un-
Samuel S. Schwartzberg,
heard of undertaking and
founder of the Greater De-
challenging position.
troit Scrap Trade Associa-
Rabbi Joseph Leib
tion, died Oct. 22 at age 72.
Bloch of Telz had a plan
A former resident of
to develop a new system
Southfield, Mr.
of higher education for
Schwartzberg resided in
Jewish young women,
Lauderhill, Fla., for the past
with the opening of a
three years.
Jewish college where
He was a Mason and a
they could study religion
member of Bnai Brith.
and secular topics in He-,
Mr. Schwartzberg is sur-
vived by his wife, Mamie; a
Dr. Etzion became the di-
son, Selden of Hollywood,
rector of the Yavneh
Fla.; a daughter, Margie
teachers training college
Keystone of Hollywood; two
and girls grammar school in
brothers, George of
Telz and Later initiated
Lauderhill and Joseph of
Tamarac, Fla.; a sister,
Libby.Hoberman of Omaha,
Rudolph Africh
Neb.; and - five
Rudolph A. Africh, a
grandchildren. Interment
teacher at Southeastern Ft. Lauderdale.
and Cooley High Schools,
died Oct. 27 at age 67.
Bernard Weiss -
Born in Yugoslavia, Mr.
Africh lived in Detroit 46
Bernard (Bernie) Irving
years. He retired seven
Weiss, a builder and realtor,
years ago.
died Oct. 26 at age 55.
He was a member of the
• A former Detroiter, Mr.
Drawing and Print Club of Weiss resided in Maitland,
the Detroit Institute of Arts,
Fla., at the time of his
the Founders Society of the
death. He was active in De-
DIA, the Croation Frater-
troit in the Jewish War Vet-
nal Organization, Detroit
erans, Bnai Brith and the
Federation of Teachers, Jewish Welfare Federation.
Friends of the Southfield In Florida, he was a member
Library, Oakway Sym-
of Bahai Shrine, Winter
phony Society, Workmen's
Park Board of Realtors and
Circle Branch 460, South-
the Home Builders Associa-
field Arts Council, Interna-
tional Institute, Interna-
He is survived by his wife,
ttonal Visitors Council of Joanne; two sons, Michael
Metropolitan Detroit, Ex-
Alan Weiss and Harold
periment in International
Richard Feller; two daugh-
Living and the Israeli and
ters, Victoria Lynn Weiss
Ferndale stamp clubs.
and Carol Lee Martin; his
He leaves his wife, Ruth;
mother, Anne Weiss of
a daughter, Mrs. Larry
Miami Beach, Fla.; a
(Joanne) Aronoff; a brother,
brother, Milton of Flint; a
John; three sisters, Mrs.
sister, Rosalie Almborg, of
Carl (Mary) Rehn of Walnut
Denmark; and six
Park, Calif., Mrs. Rose Laus
grandchildren. Interment
and Mrs. Ernest
(Catherine) Mayberry of
Huntington Park, Calif.
Manuel Arden
Services 1 p.m. today at
Manuel E. Arden, chair-
Ira Kaufman Chapel.
man of the board and foun-

der of M.E. Arden Co.,
Frances Taussig commercial real estate
NEW YORK — Frances brokers for more than 50
Taussig, executive director years, died Oct. 27 at age 79.
Born in Toledo, Ohio, Mr.
of the Jewish Family Serv-
Arden lived most of his life
ice of New York for 20 years
Detroit. He was a
before her retirement in
member of Temple Beth El.
1949, died Oct. 21 at age 98.
leaves a daughter,
She was a past president
Mrs. Harold (Ellin) Lawson;
of the American Association
sister, Mrs. Jack (Natalie)
of Social Work, the National
Ecker of Florida; and two
Conference of Jewish Wel-
grandsons. Services 11 a.m.
fare and the Social Work
today at Temple Beth El.
Vocational Bureau.

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