New Article: Pinsker, Yiddish in Israeli Literature

Pinsker, Shachar. “‘That Yiddish Has Spoken to Me’: Yiddish in Israeli Literature.” Poetics Today 35.3 (2014): 323-56.


URL: 10.1215/03335372-2803437 



This essay examines the ways in which Yiddish—as a language, a set of literary traditions and practices, and a “postvernacular”—operates within the context of Israeli, Hebrew-dominated literature. After establishing the subject’s poetic, historical, and political framework, I present two examples of how Yiddish exerted a (largely unacknowledged) influence on Israeli literature. The first concerns the striking similarities and intersections between two literary groups active in Israel during the 1950s: a famous Hebrew group (Likrat) and a little-known Yiddish group (Yung Yisroel). The second example consists in the parallels and intertwined literary histories of two writers, Yossl Birshtein (who was a member of Yung Yisroel) and the Hebrew writer Ya’acov Shabtai, in order to demonstrate the presence of Yiddish in Shabtai’s poetic work and to discover an untold story in the history of modern Hebrew literature.