The politics of Yiddish : Noyekh Prilutski and the Folkspartey in Poland, 1900-1926 / Keith Ian Weiser.
This dissertation treats the ideology and activity of the Folkspartey, a Jewish Diaspora nationalist party in interwar Poland, and its dynamic and highly controversial leader, the Yiddish cultural activist Noyekh Prilutski. These years encompass a watershed in Eastern European history during which Jewish minority rights were brought to the fore as part of discussions concerning the nature of an independent Polish state. Emerging during the German occupation of Russian Poland in World War I, the Folkspartey (People's Party) immediately won support among the still largely traditional Jewish masses with its fervent defense of Jewish rights and the Yiddish language. Its program demanded Jewish national cultural autonomy within a multiethnic Poland on the basis of the Yiddish language and state-supported cultural institutions but resolutely rejected the socialist platform espoused by other Yiddishist parties. This study examines the party and its leader in order to shed light on the development of Yiddish cultural institutions, most notably the daily press and schools, and the roles of “autonomism” and Yiddishism as political-cultural ideologies among Jews in Eastern Europe. In part, it considers the role of regional differences in the shaping of Yiddish culture, as well as the multiplicity of achievements and the complex construction of personal and group identity of those cultural builders active in the cultivation and propagation of secular Yiddish culture and in the Folkspartey. The dissertation examines the history and activity of the party and its founders, above all Prilutski, as a case of language-based nationalism and conscious culture-building in the context of early twentieth century Jewish life and politics in Eastern Europe.
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