Yiddish Literature Criticism: Yiddish And Judaism - Essay

Isaac Bashevis Singer (essay date May 1995)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Singer, Isaac Bashevis. “Concerning Yiddish Literature in Poland (1943).” Prooftexts 15, no. 2 (May 1995): 113-27.

[In the following essay, Singer recounts the growth of Yiddish literature in Poland, making a close connection between the Jewish way of life and the writing it inspired.]

The Jewish Shtetl in Poland did not experience the Haskalah, or Enlightenment, at the same time or in the same evolutionary form as did Russia and Lithuania. Until 1914 the majority of Jewish market towns in Poland were traditionally pious. Life went on as it had a hundred years before. In the larger, and even smaller, cities there were isolated Maskilim—adherents of the...

(The entire section is 6739 words.)

Naomi Seidman (essay date 1997)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Seidman, Naomi. “A Stormy Divorce: The Sexual Politics of the Hebrew-Yiddish ‘Language War.’” In A Marriage Made in Heaven: The Sexual Politics of Hebrew and Yiddish, pp. 102-31. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.

[In the following essay, Seidman explores Eliezer Ben-Yehuda's influence on the polarity of vernacular Hebrew and Yiddish in Europe, aligning the former language with masculinity and the latter with femininity.]

Eliezer Ben-Yehuda,
What a far-out kind of Jew.
Words, words, words, words,
He concocted in his feverish brain.
And he had a son, and thus said he:
My firstborn shall be called Ben-Yehuda, Itamar
From the...

(The entire section is 13821 words.)

Emmanuel Goldsmith (essay date 1998)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Goldsmith, Emmanuel. “Yiddishism and Judaism.” In Politics of Yiddish: Studies in Language, Literature, and Society, edited by Dov-Ber Kerler, pp. 11-22. Walnut Creek, Calif.: Altamira Press, 1998.

[In the following essay, Goldsmith investigates the differences and similarities between Judaism and Yiddish culture and language.]

Ever since the Emancipation and the Enlightenment, there seems to be no end to the making of definitions of Judaism. Although Aristotle spoke of a definition as “a sentence signifying what a thing is”, Samuel Butler was probably more to the point when he described a definition as “the enclosing of a wilderness of ideas within a...

(The entire section is 5338 words.)