A Silent Language? Yiddish in Israeli Literature
The book examines the place of Yiddish in Israeli literature and culture. It interrogates Yiddish literature in the period after the Holocaust, and issues of multilingualism, literary history, ethnicity, nationality, and cultural hegemony, which are at the heart of the complex, and constantly evolving “Israeliness”. Until fairly recently, Israeli literature was understood as essentially monolingual, created exclusively in Hebrew. My book explores Yiddish vis-à-vis Hebrew, and alongside other languages. I interrogate the tension between the transnational and the national in Yiddish literature and specifically issues of politics, nationalism and ethnicity within Israel, in the context of the question of “Ashkenziness.”
The book is divided into two complementary parts. The first part of the book is an investigation of Yiddish literature in Israel between the 1950s and 1970s, especially by writers associated with the group “Yung Yisroel.” The second part of the book is a study of the partly submerged and unacknowledged role of Yiddish, and the East European diasporic Jewish culture associated with it, in Israeli Hebrew literature, written between the 1950’s and today.