Yiddish: a Survey and a Grammar by Solomon A. Birnbaum

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By Solomon A. Birnbaum

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Sample text

Barefoot, tattered, lone and hungry, Where is Dad and where is Mummy P God! It breaks the heart in me. One, two, three, Each day eternity. Dragging planks and bricks and stones, Oh! the weight of dead men’s bones. God! It breaks the heart in me. ’ 3 Translated by Irene Birabaum. 22 Introduction One, two, three. Lord, I cry to Thee. Mass graves, corpses crowded high, Children without mothers lie. It breaks the heart in me. One, two, three, We turn our eyes to Thee. Fulfil Thy word: Yisruuel3* Khaay, Israel1 lives and will not die.

As might be expected, some of those who had become secularized adopted the Russian or Polish languages, but a very considerable portion did not jettison their mother tongue. We use the word ‘secularization’ as a general term to classify and explain some elements which assumed very different shapes but which go back to the same root. What happened here was that people estranged from religion took over the prevalent ideas of the secularized non-Jewish world. In the nineteenth century the ‘national’ idea was prevalent, and it took hold of the minds of the secularized Jews, too.

There is change and development within the confines of these laws and regulations, although the foundation and framework remain unaltered. This is weU exemplified in the movement of Chassidism. Literature The central position of religion in the life of the East Ashkenazim is naturally reflected in their literature, which consists mainly of religious books. It must, however, be borne in mind that for Judaism there is no sharp division between the sacred and profane. Thus elements which in other literatures might be classified under various headings are here included under that of religion.

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