Children have occupied a prominent place in Yiddish literature since early modern times, but children’s literature as a genre has its beginnings in the early 20th century. Its emergence reflected the desire of Jewish intellectuals to introduce modern forms of education, and promote ideological agendas, both in Eastern Europe and in immigrant communities elsewhere. Before the Second World War, a number of publishing houses and periodicals in Europe and the Americas specialized in stories, novels and poems for various age groups. Prominent authors such as Yankev Glatshteyn, Der Nister, Joseph Opatoshu, Leyb Kvitko, made original contributions to the genre, while artists, such as Marc Chagall, El Lissitzky and Yisakhar Ber Rybak, also took an active part. In the Soviet Union, meanwhile, children’s literature provided an opportunity to escape strong ideological pressure. Yiddish children’s literature is still being produced today, both for secular and strongly Orthodox communities.
This volume is a pioneering collective study not only of children’s literature but of the role played by children in literature.
1 The Spanish Pagan Woman and Ashkenazi Children Reading Yiddish circa 1700
2 The Sabbath Tale and Jewish Cultural Renewal
3 Heavenly Father: Portraying the Family in Hasidic Yiddish Children’s Literature
4 The Design of Books and Lives: Yiddish Children’s Book Art by Artists from the Kiev Kultur-Lige
5 Illustrating Yiddish Children’s Literature: Aesthetics and Utopia in Lissitzky’s Graphics for Mani Leib’s Yingl Tsingl Khvat
6 Reading Soviet-Yiddish Poetry for Children: Der Nister’s Mayselekh in ferzn 1917–39
7 An End to Fairy Tales: The 1930s in the mayselekh of Der Nister and Leyb Kvitko
8 The Upside-Down World of Baym Dnyepr: Penek
9 Jewish Wards of the Soviet State: Fayvl Sito’s These Are Us
10 ‘A Language Is Like a Garden’: Shloyme Davidman and the Yiddish Communist School Movement in the United States
11 Soviet Propaganda in Illustrated Yiddish Children’s Books: From the Collections of the YIVO Library, New York