The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

Publishing Activity of Kultur-Lige in Ukrainian People’s Republic and Early Soviet Union: A Comparative Analysis

Ms. Anna Umanska

The research covers the Yiddish publishing activities, initiated by the Jewish civic and cultural-educational organization “Kultur-Lige” in the period from 1918 to 1931. The research analyzes the historical context and preconditions of the organization beginning in the 19th century. The main analysis focused on the comparative characteristics of the publishing activity of Kultur-Lige in the period of the Ukrainian People`s Republic (1918-1921) and in the early Soviet period (1921-1931). The beginnings of the activity of the organization in the period of the Ukrainian People`s Republic indicated as a period of autonomy, the activity realized out of ideological issues. Despite the increase of the Yiddish publishing financial support, as well as promotion of periodical publications and educational books, the early Soviet period is identified as a time of ideological addiction.
In addition, the article encloses the concept of secular Jewish culture proposed by members of the Kultur-Lige and ways of its implementation through printed Yiddish-language products, the main “marketplaces” of Yiddish textbooks, teaching materials, fiction, periodicals. The article analyzes the printed products of the Kultur-Lige, after preliminary structuring and systematization of publications by category: the sources were divided into a layer of textbooks, teaching and learning materials, children’s books, and fiction. The main consumer of such Yiddish books were the educational institutions established by the Kultur-Lige. Specifically, the Jewish public Yiddish schools, public libraries, and reading rooms, as well as Jewish Public University.
The research also includes some information about the book design of Kultur-Lige artists. Among the illustrators were Mark Chagall, Sara Shor, Eliezer Lissitzky, Joseph Chaikov, Mark Epstein, etc. This organization provided unique opportunities to implement their artistic idea in the area of book illustrations. Besides that, the article includes information about the print run of some books and the financial sources of the publishing section.