No More "little Jews without Beards": Insights into Yiddish Children's Literature in Eastern Europe Prior to World War I1

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The first modern publications in Yiddish which were intended for young readers in Eastern Europe-either original works or translations from foreign languages- A ppeared at the turn of the twentieth century as the sporadic initiatives of a few writers. A more systematic literature for children in Yiddish started relatively late, and was linked to the developing Yiddish school system. A growing number of writers and cultural activists, including Sholem Aleichem and Y. L. Peretz, became gradually aware of the importance and need for appropriate literature for children. Within less than a decade, the Yiddish book market was enriched with a variety of publications focused upon young readers whose ages ranged between 5 and 12 years. These publications included many translations (or adaptations) from foreign languages-either directly or indirectly- A s well as original works by known Yiddish writers. The first Yiddish periodicals for youngsters, as well as textbooks, also appeared then, prior to World War I. Yiddishists and publishers established publishing companies for this purpose and initiated pretentious projects of which few were realized, or even partly realized. The current article will review and examine the first initiatives for publishing Yiddish children's literature and periodicals, who the initiators were and what their purpose was. Also, to what extent these publications were accepted, and their contribution to modern Yiddish literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-109
Number of pages18
JournalModern Judaism
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.


  • Children
  • Literature
  • Yiddish


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