Australian Yiddish Periodicals

Yiddish journals in Australia have been relatiavely prolific. There were at least twenty published in the twentieth century. One or two continue to be published in Melbourne. Although Yiddish journals are now very few in Australia, there is a new interest in the language. It is hoped this will continue to grow. In the meantime, the number of Yiddish journals produced in Australia in the last century bears witness to the richness of the Yiddish culture which must be preserved. Again, it should not be forgotten that with the annihilation of 6 million Jews in the Shoa'h, Yiddish culture was also obliterated, and refugees brought that culture to Australia and to all corners of the world to which they fled.

Yiddish Journals

Over the years there have been some twenty or so different Australian Yiddish newspapers, journals or supplements, the earliest of which was one issue Der Yiddishe Pioneer, which appeared in February 1928. The next to be published was: Di Oistralier Leben (Jan 1931-1933) which was incorporated in The Jewish Weekly News after two years. Another was the Gezerd Tribune which ran for only two issues in 1932, the short lived Dos Naie Vort, published in 1937 and four issues of Der Literarisher Journal in 1938. Others include the longest running Yiddish newspaper Di Oistralisher Yiddishe Naes, the Yiddish section of The Australian Jewish News, Melbourne, which ran (but with interruptions) for sixty years from May 1935 until 1995, ceasing with the death of Yasha Sher. For a short time it had been replaced by Di Yiddishe Voch (1934-1935). There was also Tribuna published in June 1942 by the Jewish Council to Combat Fascism and Antisemitism which re-emerged as Vanguard for a short while. Di Yiddishe Voch (1934-1935) was superseded by Di Oistralisher Yiddishe Naes.

Di Sydnier Yiddishe Naes continued to be published as a supplement to its English language counterpart from 1939-1973. Oifboy ran for twenty six issues from September 1945 till Ja/Feb 1948. Unzer Gedank was the Yiddish section of The Jewish Weekly News from 1947 – 1964 and still appears in Melbourne. The Australian Jewish Post appeared from 1949-Aug 1968 and was a supplement to The Australian Jewish Herald. A journal with the title Problems was published only once in August 1962. A Bulletin of the Bund Organisation in Melbourne existed for a time in the sixties and a further paper was Der Landsman which published nineteen issues between 1964 and 1970. Another paper was Di Sydneyier Yiddish Insel, emerging from Maroubra, which published seventeen volumes from 1965 - 1971. Yet another was The Link which appeared briefly in 1967. Welcare was published in 1973 and The Melbourner Bleter ran from 1975 – 1991 and was the Yiddish section of The Melbourne Chronicle, which concentrated on arts and literature. In addition, Holocaust survivors published Yiddish pages in their journals.

Of the twenty or so different Yiddish newspapers, or journal supplements published in Australia in the twentieth century, the earliest, the one issue The Jewish Pioneer, which appeared in February 1928 was a Zionist production. The latest Yiddish supplement, and the longest running,Die Oistralisheh Yiddisheh Nayess, a supplement to the Melbourne based Australian Jewish News ceased publication in 1995 with the death of Yasha Sher. Ten Yiddish journals began publication after World War II.

The dates of Australian Yiddish journals which begin in 1928, a year after the first conference of the Australian Zionist Federation and cease in 1995 include the following:

  • The Australian Jewish Post, v 1 (1949-Aug 1968). Supplement to The Australian Jewish Herald.
  • Bulletin of the Bund Organisation in Melbourne, 1962-?
  • Gezerd Tribun, nos 1-2 (Je, Nov 1932).
  • The Jewish Pioneer, v 1 no 1 (Feb 1928).
  • Der Landsman, nos 1-19 (1964-1970).
  • Link. (Jy 1 - Sep? 1967).
  • Melbourner Bleter, no 1 (1975 -1991) Yiddish section of Melbourne Chronicle.
  • Dos Naie Vort (1937).
  • Oistralier Leben (Ja 1931-1933). Incorporated in The Jewish Weekly News.
  • Di Oistralisher Yiddishe Naes. Yiddish section of The Australian Jewish News. My 1935-1995. Superseded Di Yiddishe Voch (1934-1935).
  • Problem, no 1 (Aug 1962).
  • Sydney Yiddish Insel, v 1-17 (1965-Mar 1971).
  • Tribuna, Je/Jy 1942.
  • Unzer Gedank, no 1-? (1947-1974)+. For a time formed the Yiddish section of The Jewish Weekly News.
  • Vanguard (1940s).
  • Welcare, v 1 no 1 (1973).
  • Di Yiddishe Voch (1934-1935). Superseded by Di Oistralisher Yiddishe Naes.

    The Yiddish magazine, Unzer Gedank continues to be published in Melbourne.

    Two Major Australian Jewish Newspapers The Australian Jewish News and The Australian Jewish Herald.

    (a)The Australian Jewish News

    If one were to compare the history of the Yiddish journals that formed part of the background of The Australian Jewish News and The Australian Jewish Herald with a genealogy, it would read like a saga of incest, divorce, separation, and remarriage.

    The new weekly journal The Australian Jewish News, first published in Melbourne in May 1935 and still current (although it no longer has a Yiddish section) superseded The Jewish Weekly News. Editors have included: Joachim Chaim Rubinstein and Hans Licht. It was recently edited by Sam Lipski, who became the national editor. The paper remains an English language weekly with topical Australian Jewish and overseas Jewish news. Yiddish supplements included: Di Oistralisher Yiddishe Naes, and Der Literarisher Journal. From the 1980s until 1996 there was a further supplement, Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch. In 1987 the paper merged with the Sydney based The Australian Jewish Times. In April 1990 the paper added Melbourne edition to its sub-title. The Sydney paper also took the name The Australian Jewish News, adding Sydney edition to its sub-title, in April 1990.

    Di Oistralisher Yiddishe Nayesss was published in Melbourne from May 1935 and supersedes Di Yiddishe Voch. It was a weekly, and as a Yiddish supplement to the Australian Jewish News included social news, congregational announcements, communal news and comment, and world Jewish news.

    Der Literarisher Journal: supplement to the Australian Jewish News, Melbourne, ran for four numbers in1938 and was published monthly. It was printed by York Press and edited by Leslie Rubinstein, owner of the Australian Jewish News. It is not clear whether Der Literarisher Journal replaced Di Oistralisher Yiddishe Naes for a short time, or whether it was issued as a concurrent Yiddish supplement to the Australian Jewish News A set was owned by Yeshiah Taub, which is lodged at the Australian Jewish Museum, in Melbourne.

    The Oistralier Leben, published in Sydney ran from January 1931 to 1933. This Yiddish journal was begun by the Russian printer Altshul in January 1931 was edited by Pinchas Goldhar, but ceased after two years. It was subsequently bought by Leslie Rubinstein, and edited by his father Joachim Chaim Rubinstein. On 27 October 1933 Leslie Rubinstein incorporated The Australian Jewish Herald and Australier Leben, and established The Jewish Weekly News which had a Yiddish section called Di Yiddishe Voch. The partnership was dissolved in 1935, and The Australian Jewish Herald resumed as a separate publication, while The Jewish Weekly News became The Australian Jewish News with a Yiddish supplement, Di Australisher Yiddishe Naes.

    From the 1980s until 1996 there was a furtherYiddish supplement to the Melbourne based Australian Jewish News called Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch. In 1987 that paper merged with The Australian Jewish Times. In April 1990 The Australian Jewish News added ‘Melbourne edition’ to its sub-title. The Sydney paper also took the name The Australian Jewish News (from being the Australian Jewish Times) adding ‘Sydney edition’ to its sub-title, in April 1990.

    (b) The Jewish Herald

    The Jewish Herald, (v 1 no 1 - v 40 (1879-1919), established in 1879, had a subtitle which read: devoted to the interests of Judaism in the Australian colonies. Its editors were the talented Melbourner, Rev Elias Blaubaum (1879-1904) and Moses Moses (1904 -1919). It was initially a monthly, then was issued fortnightly, with a Yiddish supplement, Di Post, being added. A Sydney edition was published after 1883. In 1920 the paper changed its name to The Australian Jewish Herald .

    The Australian Jewish Herald (Melbourne) was issued from 1920 till 1933 fortnightly. In 1935 it became a weekly. The new series editorial committee consisted of Rabbi Israel Brodie, Jacob Danglow, Sir Archie Michaelis, M.L.A., M. Zeltner and the brothers Abrahams. Newman Hirsch Rosenthal was the editor. Between 1933 and 1935 The Australian Jewish Herald amalgamated with Di Oistralier Leben to become The Jewish News. In 1935 The Australian Jewish Herald resumed as a separate publication with Newman Hirsch Rosenthal as editor. Another distinguished editor was Nahum Barnet. A Yiddish supplement was issued in 1936, and edited by Gedaliah Shaiak, which ran for 7 issues. In 1949 a new Yiddish supplement, The Australian Jewish Post, was added, and continued to be issued until the paper's closure in 1968. The new series, a pro-Zionist publication, became the official organ of the Victorian Jewish community.

    The paper continued to be published until 1968 when a controversy over a column written by Mark Braham about the Arab/Israeli conflict and the refusal of the editor to suppress the column resulted in the paper being closed down by the Victorian Jewish board of Deputies. As Alan Crown writes:

    The circumstances of the closure are noteworthy. Between 1944-1948 the Australian Jewish community had faced a traumatic schism. The majority of the community was staunchly Zionist and whole-heartedly supportive of the effort to establish a Jewish state in Palestine. Sir Isaac Isaacs and his supporter Rabbi Danglow took public stances in face of the community and a public debate flared with Julius Stone serving as the public spokesman of the Zionist majority.6 When the State of Israel was established in 1948 the public controversy came to an end and the community closed ranks though Isaacs published a few more pieces in the Australian Jewish Forum, a journal dedicated to the Freeland League which looked to establish a Jewish settlement in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

    In 1968 the Australian Jewish Herald began to publish a series of anti-Israel articles from the doctrinaire, orthodox Sydney Jewish publicist, Mark Braham. The views expressed by Braham were no longer tolerated by a community which had been riven by the Isaacs/Stone controversy and had seen Israel fight three wars for survival within a space of twenty years. The Victorian Jewish Board of Deputies protested to the editor of the Herald requesting an undertaking that the Herald would no longer offer the freedom of its columns to Braham’s views. The Board of Deputies made it clear that should the Herald not comply with this request the community would withdraw its advertising, Though the paper had a circulation of 12,500 it may not have been very profitable and it certainly could not survive the loss of advertising income.7 The editor, David Lederman, shut the paper down, though he claimed that his action resulted from his unwillingness to submit to censorship rather than for economic reasons.

    Other Yiddish Journals

    There were several Bundist magazines in Yiddish. Bono Wiener was the first editor of Unzer Gedank. Melbourne (Bund Organisation) in 1947. It was published by the Melbourne Bund Organisation, a Jewish Socialist party, and printed by E. H. Gibbs. The people behind the paper were the remnants of the once powerful and influential Jewish movement in Poland. A second called Bulletin of the Bund Organisation in Melbourne appears to have been published in 1962, but no copies to date have been recovered. It was also printed by E. H. Gibbs.

    Another Bundist publication called Link appeared in Melbourne and lasted from July till September.It editors were David Burstin and Henry Rosenbloom (1967). Articles on socio-political and literary subjects were published in English and Yiddish. Welcare. Melbourne was published by the Australian Jewish Welfare and Relief Society from 1973 and included a short section in Yiddish. At least one yeshiva magazine had a Yiddish section, as for example that from the Yeshiva Gedola in Bondi, which produced Kovetz Haoros Hatmimim v'anash (Torah Essays and Discourses). Bondi. (Yeshiva Gedola) in May 1986 in Yiddish and Hebrew. The journal carried religious articles on evolution, infinity and other subjects, and material from the Lubabitcher Rabbi Shlita.

    The Federation of Polish Jews from St Kilda published Der Landsman from 1964-1970. Holocaust survivors added a page in Yiddish to Centre News (1985-1996) and Insight (1982-1988) issued by the Montefiore Home for the Aged in Melbourne. Leftwing groups also published in Yiddish. These included Geserd Tribune, Melbourne, nos 1-2 (Je 1932, Nov 1932) which was published by the Melbourne radical left-wing Gezerd Organisation in 1932, and ran for sixteen pages. Another of their publications was Dos Naie Vort in 1937. The journal represented a second attempt by the Gezerd organisation to publish a Yiddish paper. Like the previous attempt with the Gezerd Tribune, it too was short lived.

    The Kadima Centre also produced a magazine: Kadimah News. Elsternwick. (Jewish Cultural Centre and National Library "Kadimah") was begun in July 1972, and was printed by E.H. Gibbs & Sons. It was a newsletter of the Centre's activities, and carried articles on Jewish culture, and was partly in English and Yiddish. There may have been only issue. Sponsored by S. Burstin, R. Butlinski, B. Wajsman, B. Winer, J. Winkler and H. Rosenbaum. <

    Literary Magazines published in Yiddish included Oifboy. Melbourne, published monthly from September 1945 to January /Februry 1948, and running for twenty six issues. The editors were the author Herz Bergner, Ber Rozen, Victoria and Hans Kimmel, and Abraham Shulman. It was printed by by A. Maller, Excelsior Printing Co., Melbourne and published by L. Fink, "Oifboy" Publishing Co. A literary magazine written in Yiddish. Some pages were in English as demanded by the law during the war years. A set is owned by the Jewish Museum, Victoria. In Sydney M. Alexander of Maroubra edited a literary monthly, Sydney Yiddish Insel from 1965 till March 1971, which ran for seventeen issues. Again it was printed by E. H Gibbs in Melbourne. Another journal was entitled Problems, and appeared in August 1962 for one issue.

    Perhaps surprisingly was the fact that Zionist groups published in Yiddish. These included Jewish Call. Melbourne. (New Zionist Organisation in Australia) which ran for twenty issued from the late 1930s till the early forties. The editors were: L. Levy, and J. Sallick and it was printed by York Press. Half was in Yiddish with title Der Yiden Stat. There were articles by Rabbi Dr Friedman, Rabbi Leib Aisach Falk, N. Levy, Ze'ev Jabotinsky, and other prominent advocates of Zionism. As mentioned, the earliest attempt at a Yiddish newspaper was made by Zionists who produced Der Yiddisher Pioneer in 1928.

    Two more journals should be noted, which were produced by the Jewish Labour movement in the 1940s. One was entitled Vanguard. Melbourne. (Poale Zion Movement) and was in Yiddish and English and presented Zionist Labour views. The second was State and Labour. Melbourne (Australian Poale Zion) v 1 no 1 - v 1 no 2 ( Nov 1948 - Feb 1949) and included some photos. It was designed to be a monthly. In the inaugural issue, the editors stated that they ‘would use their best endeavours to acquaint readers in Australia with the striving of the Jewish labour Movement to ensure that the State of Israel would be built on foundations of social justice, economic democracy, the dignity of Labour, and peaceful relations’ with the Arab world. The first issue had a Yiddish section of ten pages.

    Youth Magazines

    Magazines were also produced with a Yiddish section by the younger generation. One such journal was Jewish Youth: Organ of the Melbourne Jewish Youth Council of Jewish Council to Combat Fascism and Anti-Semitism (v.1, no 1-v.2, no 4 (July 1946 - Mar 1947.) Jewish Youth was issued as a monthly in Hebrew, English and Yiddish in the 1940s. Various editors included: Aaron R. Blashki, Y. Birstein, Sonia Rosenberg, A. Millgrom, Judah Leon Waten and M. Kronenberg, It had different subtitle variations such as: Organ of Kadimah Jewish Youth Organisation, and: a monthly in English/Yiddish and Hebrew. Tri-lingual. Volume 2, number 4 was published with the support of the Victorian Jewish Services Association. The magazine featured articles on Jewish culture and news. Several of the stories of Pinchas Goldhar were translated, as well as from other writers of the time.

    Although Yiddish journals are now very few in Australia, there is a new interest in the language. It is hoped this will continue to grow. In the meantime, the large harvest of Yiddish journals produced in Australia last century bears witness to the richness of the Yiddish culture which must be preserved.

    REFERENCES

    The publication details of each of these journals are detailed in:

  • Marianne Dacy, Periodical Publications from the Australian Jewish Community, Monograph no 2 (Sydney, Archive of Australian Judaica, University of Sydney 1986) and the online versions on this webpage (2nd edition 2002, 3rd edition 2005). The preface of the original version was written in collaboration with Alan Crown and is a summary of the history of the Australian Jewish periodical press.

    See also

  • Suzanne Rutland, Seventy Five Years: The History of a Jewish Newspaper (Sydney, Australian Jewish Historical Society, 1970) for a history of the Australian Jewish News. Another reference (but with some factual errors) is:
  • Solomon Stedman, ’The Jewish Press in Australia’, Australian Jewish Historical Society: Journal and Proceedings , 6:1( Dec 1964) 46-47. Also see
  • Suzanne Rutland, Edge of the Diaspora: Two Centuries of Jewish Settlement in Australia, 2nd revised edn (Sydney, Brandl & Schlesinger, 1997)322-323. and
  • “The Jewish Press, Community and Jewish Publishing in Australia” in A. D. Crown, ed., Noblesse Oblige; Essays in Honour of David Kessler, OBE , (London, Vallentine Mitchell, August 1998), pp. 37-59.

    Sam Lipski, Australian Jewish Times, 22 Oct. 1987, p.2, suggests that though the the Australian Jewish Herald was a better paper than its rival, The Jewish News, it sold far fewer copies and that the ostensible reason for closure, the boycott against Mark Braham, was not the real reason. A clue to its demise is supplied by

  • Graham Cavanagh's editorial , "A Birthday that Will Never Be Celebrated", in The Australian, 3/8/68. He shows that advertising was cut by 60% in a three month period resulting in a loss of about $10,000. Lederman claimed that the Board of Deputies organised an advertising boycott. However, whatever the truth may have been, financial problems certainly contributed to the paper's closure.

    Marianne Dacy
    University of Sydney

    20th September 2005