The Jewish Writer Who Made a Name for Himself in Both Yiddish and Hebrew

While most of the great figures of East European Jewish literature of the last century wrote primarily in either Hebrew or Yiddish, or else in one of many Gentile languages, the poet and novelist Zalman Shneour (1887–1959) was a master of both tongues. He was also a disciple of the great Hebrew poet Ḥayyim Naḥman Bilaik and a close friend of the Zionist leader Vladimir Jabotinsky. The Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin was among his many admirers. Reviewing a recent study of Shneour’s work, Mikhail Krutikov writes:

Between the two world wars, Shneour was . . . unusually prolific: his works include two five-volume novels, Ignoramuses, Emperor and Rebbe, and a number of smaller, yet also significant works. The two most famous are the story collections Jews of Shklov and Uncle Zhome, both of which can be read as novels. In the years since his death, however, Shneour has been all but forgotten.

[Early in his career, Shneour] earned a reputation as Bialik’s successor in the field of Hebrew verse. A significant conceptual and aesthetic turn in his work occurred during World War I. Shneour spent those years in Berlin, where the Germans detained him as a Russian citizen. There he wrote his famous Hebrew epic, Vilna, a sort of poetic reconstruction of bygone Jewish life that had already begun to vanish in the . . . war.

Shneour had abandoned [his native town of] Shklov (in modern-day Belarus) when he was thirteen or fourteen years old, when he went off in search of the wider world. He had lived in Odessa, Vilna, Warsaw; later he studied in Switzerland, France, and Germany, and had visited the United States. He took refuge from the Holocaust in New York, and towards the end of his life, settled in Israel. In contrast to . . . other American Yiddish writers, [many of whom were socialists], Shneour never visited the Soviet Union. According to [some scholars], the reason for this was political, although it’s unclear whether Shneour was [overtly] involved in anti-Soviet activities while he was living in Paris in the 1920s and 30s.

Read more at Forward

More about: Hayyim Nahman Bialik, Hebrew literature, Jewish literature, Soviet Union, Vladimir Jabotinsky, Yiddish literature

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7