In the interwar period, Yiddish writers and cultural activists produced a number of stunning literary journals. These journals—often short-lived—are a fascinating repository of modernist art, Yiddish literature and criticism, scholarship, and political polemic. Some were the projects of artistic groups, like the Khalyastre, while some were largely or solely the work of an individual, like Uri Zvi Greenberg’s Albatros. Each is an invaluable snapshot of Yiddish culture in a specific time and place, during a period that saw both incredible creative production in Yiddish and dramatic changes for Yiddish, for Jewish life in Europe, and for the course of modern European history.
In geveb has partnered with the Historical Jewish Press to make some of the most important Yiddish literary journals of the interwar period newly accessible. Beginning with Milgroym—arguably the most visually stunning of the interwar Yiddish journals—and its Hebrew language companion, Rimon, we will be publishing translations of selected writing from the journals along with commentary, criticism, and new scholarship exploring the wealth of material these journals published. Full color scans of the journals are available through the JPress website and will be featured throughout these pages. New translations and scholarship will be added to this special issue regularly. And the project will expand to other journals in the future, some of which are already available on JPress.
In this first installment of material you will find an introduction to “Milgroym’s Cultural Context” by Naomi Brenner, which explores the literary and cultural scene of Berlin, where Milgroym was published, as well as Milgroym’s place among and relationship with other Yiddish journals of the period, and the aims of its editors. Our first translation of an article from Milgroym is Henryk Berlewi’s “Jewish Artists in Contemporary Russian Art,” translated by Rachel Field, an example of Milgroym’s art criticism discussing Marc Chagall, El Lissitzky, and other contemporary artists. You can also read a new peer-reviewed article by Susanne Marten-Finnis, “Translation, Cosmopolitanism and the Resilience of Yiddish: Wischnitzer’s Milgroym as a Pathway Towards the Global Museum,” which explores Rachel Wischnitzer’s editorial vision for Milgroym, and how this may serve as a model for contemporary curatorial practice. And if all this talk of the avant-garde has got you feeling programmatic, perhaps you should begin with Raphael Koenig’s manifesto for the Milgroym Project.