Yid­dish Paris: Stag­ing Nation and Com­mu­ni­ty in Inter­war France

  • From the Publisher
January 5, 2022

Yid­dish Paris explores how Yid­dish-speak­ing emi­grants from East­ern Europe in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s cre­at­ed a Yid­dish dias­po­ra nation in West­ern Europe and how they pre­sent­ed that nation to them­selves and to oth­ers in France.

In this metic­u­lous­ly researched and first full-length study of inter­war Yid­dish cul­ture in France, author Nicholas Under­wood argues that the emer­gence of a Yid­dish Paris was depend­ed on cul­ture mak­ers,” most­ly left-wing Jews from Social­ist and Com­mu­nist back­grounds who cre­at­ed cul­tur­al and schol­ar­ly orga­ni­za­tions and insti­tu­tions, includ­ing the French branch of YIVO (a research insti­tu­tion focused on East Euro­pean Jews), the­ater troupes, cho­rus­es, and a pavil­ion at the Paris World’s Fair of 1937.

Yid­dish Paris exam­ines how these left-wing Yid­dish-speak­ing Jews insist­ed that even in France, a coun­try known for demand­ing the assim­i­la­tion of immi­grant and minor­i­ty groups, they could remain a dis­tinct group, part of a transna­tion­al Yid­dish-speak­ing Jew­ish nation. Yet, in the process, they in fact cre­at­ed a French-inflect­ed ver­sion of Jew­ish dias­po­ra nation­al­ism, find­ing allies among French intel­lec­tu­als, large­ly on the left.

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