Contemporary French Civilization

Lending identity: circulating literacy, current events, Yiddish culture, and politics in interwar France

Contemporary French Civilization (2020), 45, (1), 71–88.

Abstract

This article traces the histories of three Yiddish-language libraries in 1930s Paris. Through an analysis of borrowing practices, holdings, and events, this article illustrates how the libraries of the Kultur-lige and Medem-farband functioned as vectors of culture and politics in interwar Paris. These Yiddish libraries created public and communal spaces within which people from all corners of the Yiddish-speaking Parisian world could sit and learn about current events, literature, history, and politics.1

Cet article retrace l’histoire de trois bibliothèques de langue yiddish à Paris dans les années 1930. À travers une analyse des pratiques d’emprunt, des fonds, et des événements, cet article illustre le fonctionnement des bibliothèques de la Kultur-lige et la Medem-farband en tant que vecteurs de la culture et de la politique dans l’entre-deux-guerres de Paris. Ces bibliothèques yiddish ont créé des espaces publics et communaux dans lesquels des personnes des quatre coins du monde parisien parlant yiddish pourraient s’asseoir et s’informer sur l’actualité, la littérature, l’histoire et la politique.

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Archival sources consulted

Rare Books and Manuscripts, Butler library, Columbia University (CU) Zosa Szajkowski Collection, 1900–1939 (ZS) Google Scholar

Widener Library, Harvard University (HU) Judaica Documents: France (JDF) Google Scholar

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research (YIVO) RG 116, Territorial Collection, France I Google Scholar

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Author details

Underwood, Nick