I’ve always been bothered by the Zionists movement’s traditional disdain for Yiddish—not least because Yiddish was pivotal in helping form Jewish national identity.
In a recent lecture on the impact of modernity on rise of Zionism, historian and Holocaust educator Shalmi Barmore had had this to say:
“By the end of the 19th century, there were 23 Jewish daily newspapers in Poland alone. The so-called Jewish nation, its boundaries are set by Jewish journalism. The development of Yiddish-language newspapers and literature provided the final ingredient needed for the propagation of Zionism. Once they’re presented with literature in a language that they can read it becomes immensely popular, and from literature you have theatre and pretty soon you have a whole culture…. When this situation was combined with anti-semitism, it very soon became Jewish nationalism.”