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Recovering Yiddish Culture in Los Angeles

Caroline Luce, Author

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Pasifik (Pacific)

by Caroline Luce

Cover of Pasifik

Published in 1929, Pasifik was Los Angeles’ second major Yiddish literary journal and the first created by writers affiliated with the Los Angeles Yiddish Culture Club. For several months following the dissolution of the Group West and its journal Mayrev in 1925, the Yiddish literary community in Los Angeles remained divided, plagued by ideological debates between the “rekhte (right)" and the “linke (left)" like so many of the city’s Yiddish-based unions, schools and fraternal organizations. A few authors, including Henry Rosenblatt, Lune Mattes, and Shia Miller published books of poetry in the intervening period, but local writers had no central forum for discussing and distributing their work. Then in 1927, a small group of writers, artists and activists came together to form an organization free of partisan politics whose sole object would be the promotion of Yiddish culture and whose membership would be open to all. They called their organization the Los Angeles Yiddish Culture Club and within weeks, nearly every Yiddish writer in the city had joined. The Culture Club became an important progenitor for new literary and artistic activity, hosting art shows, including those featuring the work of founding member Elihu Tenenholtz, concerts, performances, readings and events featuring the more well-known writers who visited the city. Like the Group West, its formation reflected a shared desire among the Yiddish writers and artists based in Los Angeles to nurture local literary and cultural development, to elevate their work in the hopes that they might make a unique west-coast contribution to the advancement of Yiddish culture around the world.

The organization of the Cultural Club also resulted in a flurry of new Yiddish publications including Buletin (Bulletin), the Club’s newsletter and Pasifik, a quarterly literary journal whose editor, Henry Rosenblatt, and contributors were leading voices in the Culture Club. Unfortunately, after publishing four issues in 1929, Pasifik was engulfed by the landslide of the American economy and shuttered its doors due to lack of funds. The Culture Club didn’t launch a new journal until 1939, when Rosenblatt and other colleagues from Pasifik reunited to publish Undzer vort (Our Word).

You can read a sampling of works from Pasifik by following the path below.
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