Letter from Zelig Kalmanovitch to Kenig, 1913. From Zelig Kalmanovitsh in Vilna to Kenig on publishing Kenig's articles about Jewish art from Di yudishe velt in book form, 5 March 1913. Kalmanovitch points out that Di yudishe velt will need to exercise caution about publishing certain illustations (nudes?) because they are still a new publication and are looked on with suspicion by the Jewish public. Yiddish. Yiddish letterhead: Monatlikher zhurnal. Di yudishe velt, Vilna, Kleyn-stefen gas 23. RG 107, Letters Collection. (YIVO)

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Yudishe Velt, Di

Literary journal edited by Shmuel Niger and published in Vilna by Boris Kletskin from January 1913 until April 1915. Di yudishe velt (in modern orthography, Di yidishe velt; The Jewish World) was considered the most influential Yiddish journal of its type to appear in Eastern Europe before World War I. Each issue of this Russian-style “thick” monthly was as long as 160 pages and included belles lettres, literary criticism, essays on philology and ethnography, and in-depth journalistic pieces known as publitsitik.

From Sholem Aleichem to Simon Dubnow, 29 January 1912. He can't believe it: just two weeks after he signed an exclusive agreement with Haynt, Dubnow has invited him to be a contributor of his new journal, Di yudishe velt, the sort of publication he himself has long dreamed of. Such bad timing! He will try to get Haynt, to agree to let him publish something in Dubnow's journal once a month, but anonymously. "You are, after all, interested not in the Haggadah, but only the dumplings." RG 107, Letters Collection, Box 16, F12. (YIVO)

The guiding spirits behind Di yudishe velt were Kletskin and Niger, though Zelig Kalmanovitch served initially as the journal’s official editor and publisher. Niger, as editor, also contributed many essays and reviews. Politically unaffiliated, the journal was conceived, as noted in its first issue, as “a tribune for all shades of modern Jewish thought and achievement, embracing Jewish life in its entirety.” During its brief existence, it published selections by Mendele Moykher-Sforim, Y. L. Peretz, and Sholem Aleichem, as well as contributions by younger authors such as Sholem Asch, Dovid Eynhorn, Perets Hirshbeyn, and Der Nister. Among its regular critical commentators were Bal-Makhshoves, Nakhmen Mayzel, Nokhem Shtif (Bal-Dimyen), and Khayim Zhitlovski.

Di yudishe velt was established as the successor to Di idishe velt, several issues of which had been printed in Saint Petersburg in 1912. Contributors to Di idishe velt (most of whom later wrote for the Vilna journal) were the essayists S. An-ski, Simon Dubnow, and Yisroel Tsinberg, and the fiction writers Dovid Bergelson, Leyb Naydus, Lamed Shapiro, and Itshe Meyer Vaysenberg.

From an initial print run of 3,000 copies, Di yudishe velt at its peak claimed circulation figures between 5,000 and 6,000. Early in 1914, Di yudishe velt and Literatur un lebn (Literature and Life; published in New York) joined forces, pooling much of their editorial content until the outbreak of hostilities in August of that year. Soon thereafter Di yudishe velt fell victim to a tsarist ban on Yiddish publishing, which resulted in its cessation.

Di yudishe velt was a major achievement for the Kletskin publishing house. During the prewar years Kletskin also published the important scholarly collection Der pinkes (The Record Book; 1912) and the first Yiddish children’s journal, Grininke beymelekh (Little Green Trees; 1914). Di yudishe velt was a pioneering organ of Yiddish modernism, with each issue “open[ing] another window to Europe within the house of our own Yiddish literature” (Ravitch, 1947, p. 274). In addition, it served as the “central organ of serious Yiddish literature and culture, which had—and may still have—no equal” (Reyzen, 1927, col. 543).

Di yudishe velt was briefly revived in 1928 under the editorship of Nakhmen Mayzel, Perets Hirshbeyn, and I. J. Singer. Nine issues appeared from April to December of that year.

Suggested Reading

Melech Ravitch, “Boris Arkadyevitsh Kletskin,” in Mayn leksikon, vol. 2, pp. 272–274 (Montreal, 1947); Zalman Rejzen (Zalmen Reyzen), “Niger Shmuel,” in Leksikon fun der yidisher literatur, prese un filologye, vol. 2, cols. 539–551 (Vilna, 1927); Zalman Rejzen, “Kletskin Boris,” in Leksikon fun der yidisher literatur, prese un filologye, vol. 3, cols. 698–703 (Vilna, 1929); Elias Schulman (Elyohu Shulman), “Di tsaytshrift ‘Di yudishe (idishe) velt’,” in Pinkes far der forshung fun der yidisher literatur un prese, ed. Shloyme Bikl, vol. 1, pp. 122–170 (New York, 1965).