The Wartime Revival of a Yiddish Poet

Born in 1889 into a religious Jewish family in rural Ukraine, David Hofshteyn became one of the Soviet Union’s most celebrated poets. His Yiddish poem “Ukraine,” penned during the Nazi invasion of his country, has particular resonance for Ukrainians today. Ben Cohen discussed Hofshteyn’s legacy with the poet’s eighty-five-year-old niece, Svetlana Hofshteyn, who now resides in Germany:

“Ukraine has this very strange history,” Svetlana said. “Jews were killed in pogroms, then the revolution was pushed on them, but David Hofshteyn became an enthusiastic patriot. He loved Ukraine, and the other Ukrainian writers felt the same way towards him.”

A collection of Hofshteyn’s poems published in 1922, which mourned the anti-Semitic pogroms waged by the anti-Soviet “White” armies during the Russian civil war, was illustrated by the renowned painter Marc Chagall. The two artists had met while working as a teachers at a refuge for Jewish children who fled the pogroms. “David greeted the arrival of the Soviet regime, and so did Chagall,” Svetlana noted. “They welcomed it because it gave them the right to move out of the shtetl to the cities, where they could obtain an education. So he was in favor of the revolution, but he was also a huge believer in Jewish identity. Writing in Yiddish got him into many unfortunate situations, because he didn’t want to assimilate.”

In 1948, Hofshteyn was thrown into prison; many other prominent Soviet Yiddish writers soon joined him. Like many of them, he was murdered in 1952.

Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Poetry, Ukrainian Jews, Yiddish

Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security