Language Politics, Memory, and Discourse: Yiddish Theatre in Israel (1948-2003)


  • Diego Rotman Hebrew University of Jerusalem



This article deals with the dialogical relation between modern Hebrew culture and Yiddish culture as reflected in the discourse of both the Hebrew and Yiddish press about Yiddish theatre in the State of Israel between 1948 and 2003. By considering the struggle for power between Hebrew and Yiddish, I outline the establishment of Hebrew as the national language of the new state, as the local and native language, and as the language of power and knowledge. I illustrate that Hebrew’s institutionalization occurred in tandem with a constant process of repression and alienation of Yiddish culture and language, as well as the repression and alienation of all the considered Diaspora cultures. If this cultural policy affected the economic conditions for the development of the Yiddish theatre in Israel, then the discourse about the Yiddish theatre in the press also affected the public reception and the public status of Yiddish theatre in Israel.

Keywords: Yiddish theatre; Israel studies; Zionism; Jewish theatre






Monographic Section