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Recovering Yiddish Culture in Los Angeles

Caroline Luce, Author

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Y. Sh. Naumov [I.S. Neumov]: The Yiddish Press in Los Angeles, Pt. 2

“The Yiddish Press in Los Angeles” by Y. Sh. Naumov [I. S. Neumov]
As appears in Kheshbn (Reckoning), vol. 1 (1946): 44 - 50.
Translated by Mark L. Smith.
[Translator’s note: Personal names are spelled as in the Yiddish original, except for persons well known in English. Words underlined were written in English, but with Yiddish letters.]

.... At that time, B. Kohn and S. Raskin were here, and they were Jewish socialists. Attracting others to their circle, they published a weekly newspaper, “Der progres” [The Progress]. The editor was the poet M. Kh. Luner. His ideology was Bundist, but despite this he was a fervent nationalist, and although our ideologies were different, we still got along well together. And although the newspaper bore a socialist stamp, I was allowed to write whatever and however I wished. Because of Luner’s poor health and lack of funds, “The Progress” did not attain its years. Here, in 1918, Ab. Rabinovitsh, together with Raskin, founded “Di tsayt” [The Time]. They attracted Dr. Lev Blas, B. Kohn, Aaron and Chaim Shapiro, but it did not survive long. Conflicts and disagreements arose because of the sanitorium. The publisher was stubborn, and people sought to bring Vortsman here, but he could not reach agreement with the publishers and a short time after his coming here, he revived “The California Yiddish Voice.” He attracted the printer L. Zelenko and H. Shmerler as his associate editors. The first issue appeared in May 1924.
After a period of time and through Vortsman’s energetic labor, the “California Jewish Voice” grew, but as always in the Yiddish press, there were more “mevinim” [experts] and more people with advice than subscribers. Vortsman became somewhat overworked. He was pugnacious and did not treat anyone gently, and he made many enemies. The local writers expected material benefits from the newspaper that a weekly newspaper in the provinces at that time could not provide. A few years later, the newspaper was sold to Y. Gorin, who converted it into a daily newspaper. The first issue appeared December 11, 1927, and was published in a tabloid format under the editorship of A. Vohliner (Landau).
The newspaper was an important happening, but once again there were more experts than readers. Each group wanted the newspaper to represent it alone. It seems to me that the last issue of the daily newspaper appeared on January 27, 1928. The newspaper again became a weekly publication, and it was nursed along by various editors until it was taken over by A. Babitsh and L. Zelenko on August 14, 1931. It appeared in tabloid format and took on a respectable appearance, and it was later joined by S. Gakh [Samuel B. Gach], and L. Hodes [Leyvik Hodes]. The newspaper has as its editors the scholars Sh. M. Malamud, M. Rotenshteyn, H. Royzenblat, and now it is directed by the publisher himself. The newspaper is growing and thriving.
In the twenties, the “Pasifishe folks tsaytung” [Pacific People’s Newspaper] of the Pacific Cooperative Press was founded. The editor was the socialist Yankev Ginzburg. It seems to me it was edited by an editorial board, in which Y. Fridland participated. Those who interested themselves in the newspaper were Peter Kohn, Y. Levit, Dr. H. Levitan, Chaim Shapiro, L. Hofman, Mayers, Sam Tok, Y. Herman, Y. Yafe. The newspaper was published in a cooperative manner. But it did not have length of days. The editor was not being paid, and it had to close.

* * *

Among all of the newspapers and journals that sprouted here there were many that had the fate of the Kikayon d’Yonah, Jonah’s castor-oil-plant. They had the same luck — cropping up with a sprout in the morning and then disappearing. This was the fate of the monthly journal “Mayrev” [West], which appeared in February 1925, edited by Itsik Hurvits; no more than one issue was published. In that same year, the journal “Zunland” [Sunland] was founded. It was supposed to be a continuation of “Mayrev,” and the editors were Y. L. Malamut, Y. Kutsenogi [Joseph Katzenogy], and Y. Fridland. It appeared, it seems to me, 6–7 times as a supplement to a few children’s pamphlets. In the same way, not more than a few issues were published of “Krumen shpigl” [Crooked Mirror], a small humorous paper, edited by Y. L. Malamut, in 1929. At that time, a monthly journal was also published under the name “Lid” [Poem/Song], under the editorship of Yekhezkal A. M. Bronshteyn [Ezekiel Brownstone], which also did not survive long. Likewise, it seems to me, the quarterly journal “Pasifik” [Pacific], edited by H. Royzenblat, Sh. Miller, and H. Gold, also appeared in 1929; no more than four issues of this journal were published. Similarly, there appeared a weekly newspaper called “L.A. idisher buletin” [L.A. Jewish Bulletin], published by the Pacific Cooperative Press, edited by Y. L. Malamut. The first issues were in a “Tkhine” [small prayer-book-size] format, and it was gradually expanded until it had grown to a 3/4 newspaper format. The first issue appeared in July 1927 and also did not long survive. Of the expanded issues, there were not more than two. But it had a subtitle in large print: “The only weekly general Yiddish newspaper on the Pacific Coast.”....
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