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Dostrzegacz Nadwiślański

Bilingual Polish and Yiddish weekly, 44 issues of which appeared in Warsaw between December 1823 and September 1824. Dostrzegacz Nadwiślański / Der Beobakhter an der Vayksel was the first Jewish journal published in Poland. Originally intended as a bilingual Polish and Hebrew periodical, it eventually appeared in a Polish and Yiddish version with pages split into two parallel linguistic columns.

Dostrzegacz Nadwiślański’s Yiddish was Germanized to the point of being described as German by some historians (among them, Majer Bałaban). According to one theory, the paper’s Yidish-Daytsh was intended to motivate readers to improve and modernize their language skills. Dostrzegacz Nadwiślański also represented the first Jewish journal in Polish, a language spoken in the early nineteenth century by only a narrow circle of Jewish intelligentsia. Dostrzegacz Nadwiślański intended to encourage the use of this language.

For the 10 months of its existence, Dostrzegacz Nadwiślański functioned as a one-person venture that was researched, written, edited, and published by Antoni Eisenbaum, a radical modernizer, assimilationist, and longtime head of the rabbinical seminary in Warsaw. Each edition produced 150 copies. Dostrzegacz Nadwiślański was supported financially by the Commission of Religious Creeds and Public Education, and was earmarked specifically “for spreading Enlightenment among Jews.”

In exchange for receiving grant money, Eisenbaum committed himself to publish—usually without editorial comment—official laws and decrees, including regulations applying specifically to “persons of Mosaic faith.” These official documents accounted for the main part of Dostrzegacz Nadwiślański’s domestic news section. In addition, the journal featured sections covering international news, a meticulously researched commercial section, as well as “diverse” news and announcements. All these sections contained, in addition to reprints from widely available foreign and domestic sources, material collected and researched especially for the journal, including reports from “special” correspondents. Dostrzegacz Nadwiślański provides a rich if highly eclectic source of information about Jewish life in the first decades of the nineteenth century.

Suggested Reading

Majer Bałaban, “Nasi poprzednicy i nauczyciele: Prasa polsko-żydowska w XIX-tym wieku,” Nasz przegląd 263 (18 September 1938): 9; Marian Fuks, Prasa żydowska w Warszawie, 1823–1939 (Warsaw, 1979), pp. 21–40, summaries in English, Russian and Yiddish; A. Hafftka, “Prasa zydowska w Polsce (do 1918)” in Zydzi w Polsce Odrodzonej, vol. 2, pp. 148–161 (Warsaw, 1935); Jacob Shatzky, Geshikhte fun yidn in Varshe, vol. 1, pp. 290–291 (New York, 1947).