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Hebrew-language newspaper published in Poland between 1932 and 1937. Ba-Derekh (On the Way) represented the last in a series of attempts by the Polish Zionist Organization to establish a daily newspaper in Hebrew. Efforts to do so had started in 1919 with plans for the renewed publication of the long-running Ha-Tsefirah (The Morning/The Dawn), and continued with the founding of Ha-Yom (Today; 1925–1926) and with other failed attempts at once again resuming publication of Ha-Tsefirah (1926–1928; 1931).

While it is true that Ba-Derekh was established as a weekly, its editor, Avraham Aryeh Leib Jacobowitz (A. A. ‘Akavya), announced in the first edition (15 September 1932) that the weekly format was merely temporary and that the ultimate goal of the publishers was to create a daily newspaper that would be the principal organ of the Hebrew movement in Poland. Not only were these aspirations not realized, but after just one year the editorial board was also forced to reduce the size of the paper from eight pages to six. Ba-Derekh failed in its attempt to attract many readers, and suffered heavy financial losses. The paper managed to survive for another four years, until in 1937 after 274 editions, it closed, marking the end of 50 years of Hebrew newspapers in Poland.

Ba-Derekh’s primary purpose was to provide a forum for reflection and information for Zionist parties in Poland. Its articles tried to balance its focus on each group. Public figures such as Yitsḥak Grünbaum and Yehoshu‘a (Ozjasz) Thon were frequent contributors; and at the same time its editor provided space for literary submissions, including serialized novels and a regular supplement for children. Contributors to Ba-Derekh included Hillel Zeitlin, Me’ir Czudner, and Tsevi Zevulun Weinberg. Commemorative issues were published in honor of Herzl, Bialik, Mendele Moykher-Sforim, Ahad Ha-Am, and to mark the Eighteenth Zionist Congress. Efforts to ensure the continued survival of the newspaper included making it compulsory reading for some schools in the Tarbut network.

Ba-Derekh’s failure to stay afloat stemmed from its inability to compete with the Yiddish press; the immigration to Palestine of many of the newspaper’s most likely readers; and the growth of a reading public who preferred the Polish press, or, if they were Zionist, opted to gather information either from Hebrew newspapers that were published in Palestine, or from movement journals. The story of Ba-Derekh is yet another testament to the fact that Hebrew culture in Poland had withered even before the destruction of Jewish life in that country.

Suggested Reading

Ayzik Rembah, “Ha-‘Itonut ha-yomit ha-‘ivrit be-Polin ben shete milḥamot ‘olam,” in ‘Itonut yehudit she-hayetah, ed. Yehudah Gothelf, pp. 15–43 (Tel Aviv, 1973); Samuel Werses, “Ha-‘Itonut ha-‘ivrit ve-kore’ha be-Polin ben shete milḥamot ‘olam,” in Ben shete milḥamot ‘olam: Perakim me-ḥaye ha-tarbut shel yehude Polin li-leshonotehem, ed. Samuel Werses and Chone Shmeruk, pp. 73–95 (Jerusalem, 1997).



Translated from Hebrew by David Fachler