Where Is the Capital of Yiddishland?
Kalman Weiser | Delivered in Yiddish
Yiddishists understood Yiddish as a global language and its secular culture as a global culture whose centre lay in eastern Europe. But where was the capital the "Yiddishland"? Following the First World War, litvish Vilna—home of YIVO—and poylish Warsaw—the metropolis of the modern Yiddish press, literature, and theatre—emerged as the leading candidates in the competition. Each city had its admirers and detractors who praised its virtues or condemned its vices in dozens of articles in the international Yiddish press. Their evaluations reflect local patriotism, personal frictions and ideological conflicts. But what does the competition teach us about the state of Yiddish in general and about Yiddishist hopes and fears for the future of the language?