Is Hebrew a newspaper

Jewish cultural history


In the [...] large Jewish centers [...] there have always been sizable Jewish circles who were able to speak Hebrew in writing and for several generations also in words, but there, too, the publication of a Hebrew daily newspaper was less of a matter of course than of vital importance rather a conscious act of will to fulfill an ideal national demand: the language of the soul of the people should also become the language of public life and its everyday expressions. From a purely quantitative point of view, and especially from the point of view of its dissemination among the masses, the Yiddish daily press, which was developing almost at the same time, had greater external success. As a national, social, linguistic and cultural educational factor, however, the Hebrew daily press has earned undisputed merits. It has rallied the Zionist leadership of Eastern Jewry since the beginning of the movement and played the leading role in the theoretical and practical development of the national Jewish idea - in cooperation with Hebrew cultural magazines.

A press anniversary. 50 years of Hebrew daily newspapers, in: Jüdische Rundschau, February 28, 1936.

The first forerunner of Jewish newspapers came into being in Holland in 1667, a Yiddish news paper for Jewish merchants. The modernization of Jewish life since the 18th century also brought about the creation of its own Jewish press. On the one hand, this press was part of the rise of newspapers and magazines to become the dominant media of mass communication at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, but it was also a conscious reaction to specifically Jewish needs. In addition to the Jewish languages ​​Hebrew, Yiddish and Ladino, Jewish press products also appeared in various "national languages" at different times as soon as they were used by a substantial part of the Jewish population. Jewish press activities attained a particular sophistication in the first half of the 20th century. With the modernization of Jewish life and acculturation and assimilation, Jewish magazines and newspapers emerged primarily in Europe and in overseas emigration destinations. The Jewish underground press in the countries occupied by the National Socialists represented a chapter of its own. It was part of the Resistance in France and played a role in preparing the resistance in the Warsaw and Vilnius ghettos.

On the International press exhibition in Cologne in 1928 the development of the Jewish press was shown in a special pavilion (JSOP = Jewish special show of the press). The exhibition comprised a historical part, which showed the development from manuscript and book to newspaper, and a second part, devoted to the then state of development, in which the Hebrew and Yiddish press as well as the Jewish press in the national languages ​​were presented separately. In 1929 statistics counted around 5,000 titles in Jewish press products since the first Jewish newspaper appeared in 1667 until 1929. They were spread over all five parts of the world, in around 70 countries, and included all languages ​​used by the Jewish population there. The largest contribution in terms of numbers is made by Jewish press products in America, Germany, Russia, Poland and Palestine. The most widely used languages ​​until then were Yiddish, English, German and Hebrew. The Jewish press in Russian was just beginning at that time. The Russification of large strata of Judaism in Eastern Europe only took place under Soviet rule, at the same time no Russian-Jewish media were available. It was only after the collapse of the Soviet Union that a diverse Russian-speaking Jewish press established itself, which primarily targeted the subsequent Soviet-Jewish diaspora in Western Europe and the USA and the Russian-speaking immigrants in Israel.

The large number of Jewish magazine titles, however, also has to do with the fact that many of them were short-lived. Also under the conditions of restricted press rights in Eastern Europe until before the First World War, after a magazine was banned by the tsarist censorship, it was reissued under a new name. In Austria-Hungary, a law that taxed weekly newspapers while half-monthly newspapers were tax-free resulted in a publisher often setting up two half-monthly newspapers instead of a single weekly newspaper. Many projects undoubtedly also failed due to a lack of capital. Overall, however, the need for newspapers among the Jewish population was very pronounced, so that it can be stated that in all countries in which a more or less stable Jewish community emerged, a Jewish press soon also addressed the specific questions of this community.

The large number of Jewish press products also reflects the diversity of religious and political tendencies that have developed in Judaism since the 18th century. All religious, political and social tendencies within Judaism were involved in the Jewish newspaper system. The Jewish press tried to meet all the needs of Judaism, scientific, professional, literary, educational and those of the youth. It is an important source for the most diverse aspects of Jewish life since the 19th century.

Since the Haskala in the 18th century, a Jewish periodical press developed in the German-speaking area, which lasted until the time of National Socialism. In these magazines, newspapers, calendars, almanacs, yearbooks, etc., many aspects of the political and social history of German Jewry can be read. More than five hundred German-Jewish periodicals can be traced from the Enlightenment to the destruction of German Jewry by National Socialism. Some publications only lasted a few weeks, others existed for many decades. In terms of content and design, they are a mirror of the inner-Jewish religious, scientific and literary-cultural currents and testify to the striving for civil rights and social recognition. At the same time, the preservation of a Jewish identity is an important concern of this press, which is also dedicated to defending against anti-Semitism and strengthening Jewish self-confidence. Between 1933 and 1938, the Jewish press products appear under the sign of ever increasing cultural and social exclusion. At this time they represent a journalistic forum for humanity and tolerance in the midst of increasing barbarism.

Yiddish newspapers first appeared in Warsaw at the beginning of the 20th century. The beginning made "Yidisher Togblat“Which was commercially successful with a popular journalistic style. In the interwar period, several large Yiddish daily newspapers from different political directions existed side by side: "Haynt“, „moment“And a variety of magazines for different interests. Other important centers of a Yiddish press in Poland were Vilnius and Lodz.

In the Soviet Union, a Yiddish press was set up in the course of the 1920s, which on the one hand served the cultural interests of the Jews in the Soviet Union. This was done under the prescription of a "sovietization" of the Jewish population, whereby the specifically Jewish content of these press products was often suppressed. The purges of the 1930s were already a heavy blow. During the war the daily newspaper "Eynikayt“Founded as a forum of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee and dismantled in 1948 with all Jewish cultural institutions. In 1962 the magazine "Sovetish heymland“, Which existed as a monthly literary magazine until the fall of the Soviet Union.

Yiddish publications appeared mainly in the first half of the 20th century in many large cities in Europe, where a significant number of East Jewish immigrants lived. Berlin and, to a lesser extent, Vienna had a Yiddish press in the 1920s. A Yiddish press existed in Paris and London until the post-war period and disappeared towards the end of the 20th century with the language change in the Jewish community.

The Yiddish press also played a considerable role in the countries of emigration. In the USA in particular, it was an important factor in the integration of new immigrants into the life of their new homeland. The daily newspaper "Forverts", A socialist Yiddish daily founded in 1897, which under its legendary editor Abe Cahan, who shaped its face from 1903 to 1946, achieved considerable political weight. Abe Cahan's strategy, criticized by many Yiddish intellectuals, brought the newspaper great economic success.

The Yiddish press in the US was heavily tied to the role of the Yiddish language among immigrants from Eastern Europe, and went through a decline in parallel with the decline in the use of Yiddish, which manifested itself massively in the 1970s. The traditional "Forverts“Appeared from 1983 as a weekly paper. Under the editor Boris Sandler, a Yiddish writer, the weekly “Forverts“To one of the last forums of secular Yiddishism.

The Hasidic press, on the other hand, developed much more successfully, targeting a steadily growing Yiddish-speaking, strictly religious community in the New York area.

A Yiddish and Anglo-Jewish press also developed in Canada. A first Yiddish, then Spanish-speaking Jewish press emerged in another important country of emigration, Argentina, with a focus on Buenos Aires.

The Haskala movement expanded the functions of the Hebrew language. The Maskilim strove to purify the Hebrew style and wrote on topical subjects. In doing so, they laid the foundations for modern Hebrew literary language and press. In their beginnings, however, these Hebrew journals were more like literary almanacs than journals in the present-day sense. The function as a means of mass communication was fulfilled in Eastern Europe by the Yiddish press.

The first Hebrew daily newspaper appeared in Palestine in 1908, published by the "Father of the Hebrew Language", Eliezer Ben Jehuda. He was instrumental in helping Hebrew to be revived as a spoken language. The newspaper "Ha-Zwi"(The deer, the name has a messianic-mystical connotation in Hebrew!) Was written in 1910 in"Ha-Or“Renamed (The Light). By the First World War, about two dozen sheets had been published in the Hebrew language, with different political and religious views. The First World War brought a turning point, the still young Hebrew press of Palestine was smashed by the Turks. Printing plants were closed, publishers and editors were brought to justice. The new beginning after the defeat of the Turks in Palestine brought a new press, this time much more Hebrew and Zionist. The first Hebrew daily newspapers were founded in 1919: "Ha-Aretz"(The country) and"Do‘ar hajom“(Daily Mail), edited by Ben Jehuda, among others.

At the beginning of the 1930s, the “Yishuv” had grown rapidly with almost 200,000 immigrants and had differentiated itself socially. A Hebrew-language school and university system was established for a youth who spoke Hebrew as their first language for the first time. A differentiated Hebrew press also emerged within a few years.

In 1928/29 there were already sixty regular Hebrew publications in Palestine, and in 1940 ten daily newspapers appeared. The modern Hebrew press was largely shaped by immigrants from Eastern Europe. Many of the journalists had already worked for Hebrew newspapers in their home countries. The press in Palestine was largely partisan from the start and expressed the various political and religious tendencies in the yishuv. In the mid-thirties, one of the most important Hebrew daily newspapers was the union newspaper "Davar"(The word), the bourgeois right"Ha-Boker"(The morning) and the independent"Ha-Aretz". In addition, there was the English-speaking one Palestine Post, In 1939 the newspaper "Jediot Achronot“(Latest News) established.

The Hebraization of the Yishuv was the result of a language and cultural policy that was pursued with the aim of a monolingual Hebrew nation. The languages ​​of the immigrants were banned from the public, which particularly affected the Yiddish language, which was provided with the negative associations of an inferior “diaspora language”. The language policy was retained in the State of Israel. Nonetheless, after 1948 a Yiddish press was created that was aimed at the new immigrants. In the 1990s, a Russian-language press emerged as a result of the wave of immigration from the former Soviet Union. The newspaper crisis did not stop at the Israeli press.


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