Poyln, Poyln: A few remarks on the last chapter of Yiddish culture in Poland (1945–1968)

Magdalena Ruta

Poyln, Poyln: A few remarks on the last chapter of Yiddish culture in Poland (1945–1968)

The culture and literature of Polish Jews was shaped by the Hebrew and Yiddish languages for at least a thousand years. Hebrew, the so called loshn koydesh, or holy tongue,was used primarily in religious and intellectual life, as a language of liturgy, religious study and rabbinical commentaries, inter alia. By contrast, Yiddish, the so called mame loshn, or mother tongue, was the language of everyday life, folklore, and popular adaptations of biblical stories for women and uneducated men. Yiddish also played an important role as a language of instruction in religious schools, whereby the Bible was introduced to Jewish boys. This specific hierarchy of these two languages and their connection to separate domains of life, continued until the end of the 18th century, when Jewish reformers, so called maskilim, began employing Yiddish to disseminate their modern ideas. It was then that the emancipation of Yiddish literature from religion started in earnest.

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