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Recovering Yiddish Culture in Los Angeles

Caroline Luce, Author

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Mayrev (West)

by Caroline Luce

Cover of Mayrev

Published in February 1925, Mayrev (West) was Los Angeles’ first Yiddish-language journal devoted to literature, poetry and art. There had been several local Yiddish-language newspapers published previously - including Ezekiel Vortsman’s Kalifornye yidishe shtime (California Jewish Voice), which ran from 1912 to 1914, Der progres (Progress), published for six months in 1915 as an outlet for local labor and socialist activism, Ab. Rabinovitsh’s Di tsayt (The Times), which he released intermittently for over six years, and Pasifik folkstsaytung (Pacific People’s Paper), published by the Pacific Cooperative Press – but for the most part, their content was limited to local happenings and national and international news. It wasn’t until the early 1920s, when an increasing number of experienced Yiddish writers settled in Los Angeles, that efforts to create a more sophisticated forum for Yiddish literature began in earnest. In 1921, a small group led by Yakov Ginzburg formed “Der Shrayber Klub (the Writer’s Club),” with the ambition of developing their own literary periodical, but failed in their attempt to bring the local literati together. The group was reorganized the following year as “Griner Frosh (The Green Frog),” but again fell apart before raising enough money to produce a volume. The “Grupe Mayrev (Group West),” founded in January 1924, was the first to succeed, owed in part to the money raised at an event in honor of poet Peretz Hirschbein during his visit to Los Angeles in the fall of 1924. The first issue of its journal, Mayrev, edited by Itzak Horowitz, included pieces by almost two-dozen local writers who, in subsequent years, became the city’s most prodigious authors, editors, and publishers of Yiddish literature, poetry and criticism, several of whom are featured in this site.

The Group West only published one issue of Mayrev before disbanding, but the journal serves as an embodiment of their shared hopes: to create a vehicle through which they could nurture local literary and artistic life and by doing so, forge a distinctive western style of Yiddish literature that would give voice to the unique experiences of the Jews in Los Angeles and throughout the vayt-mayrev (far west).

Follow the path below to sample some of the works featured in Mayrev or click here to learn more about the second major literary journal published in Los Angeles, Pasifik (Pacific).
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