Friday, March 26, 2010

1949 : Tel Aviv and Max Perlman (born in Riga)

(via Pardes)
A writer in the Revisionist Herut newspaper protested in 1955 against the use of foreign languages in Israel, "the willful slavery and emulation of anything that smells foreign." "אלטע זאכן" (alte zakhn 'used items') – the call of rag-dealers under the pale blue skies of Tel Aviv, he wrote, pierces the heart and is reminiscent of Warsaw. "Is this what we strove for when attaining our independence and putting all our efforts into discarding the Diaspora and everything to do with it? Did we strive to wake up every morning to this language of Jewish rag-dealers?" The writer was particularly upset by the fact that nine out of ten rag-dealers were in fact not of Ashkenazi origins, men who didn't even know Yiddish but nevertheless learnt these particularly humiliating and insulting Yiddish words "אלטע זאכן" (alte zakhn) .
In 1950 a daily newspaper published a letter "Against a Foreign Tongue," written by an IDF soldier:
(from Mendele Review)

 I do not intend to criticize those new immigrants who use their native tongue only when they first arrive. Obviously, they have to be aided by their accustomed language when they begin to acclimatize. However, there are some people who are considered "long-timers", who find it necessary to spice their speech in public with some Yiddish. Many cafés and amusement institutions in Israel conduct a large part of their programs – songs, jokes, and so forth – in Yiddish.
In addition to the national sentiment, which forbids us the use of any language but Hebrew, we should also consider the large part of our society that does not understand Yiddish. In the state of Israel we must free ourselves from any diasporic habit, including the diasporic tongue. 

Max Perlman (1909-1985) - Perlman was born in Riga, Latvia to a middle-class family. At age six he sang in the choir of Hazan Rosovski and soon began to play children's roles in the theater.He studied at the dramatic studio in the Riga Peretz Club and found work performing in Russian and Yiddish theaters. With the founding of the Riga Nayer Yidishe Teater (New JewishTheater), he turned professional, performing steadily in Kovno and Riga between 1928 and1934.  In 1939 he was invited to Argentina, where he stayed for 3 years before moving onto Uruguay and Chile and, in 1945, to Latin America. He toured South Africa in 1948 and 1951and came to the United States in 1952, where he performed regularly from his home base inIsrael. The consummate song and dance man, comedic actor and song writer, Perlmanr eturned to Argentina in 1966 and, in 1967 toured there and in Brazil with Yiddish comedian Shimon Dzigan.

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