Abstract

This article examines and contextualizes two artful Yiddish literary revisions of folktales about Sabbath observance by the Bundist educator Yankev Pat and the poet and cultural Zionist Ya’akov Fichman as a means to rethink regnant understandings of the relationship between the religious and the secular in 1920s Jewish eastern Europe. Produced or reproduced for use in Poland’s secularist Yiddishist schools, these aestheticized folktales prominently foregrounded robustly religious imagery of traditional Sabbath observance, complete with points of halakhic precision. Moving through comparative and genetic analyses of the texts and situating them in relation to developments both in interwar folkloristics and in Yiddishist pedagogical theory and practice, the article elaborates the ways in which the East European Jewish secular intelligentsia’s socialist, nationalist, and more generally humanist principles could be reframed or refracted by new assumptions about childhood development to allow a more accomodating relationship to traditional Jewish religiosity than previously imagined. This process, the article argues, entailed an aestheticization of religious experience that was intended to counter secular disenchantment.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2028
Print ISSN
0021-6704
Pages
pp. 78-104
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-17
Open Access
No
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