What Time is it on the Jewish Clock?
Reflections on a Yiddish Journalist:
Commentaries and selected works of S. L. Shneiderman
Shortly after the
death of the renowned Yiddish journalist S. L. Shneiderman, his wife Eileen
(Hala Szymin-Shneiderman) began writing a book devoted to his life and
work. The book, titled What Time is it on the Jewish Clock? (Vi
Shpet iz itst oifn Yidishn Zeiger?), published by the I. L. Peretz
Publishing House in Tel Aviv in March 2000. The 300-page book is one of the
first Yiddish books of the 21st century, containing 18 personal
photos and 6 art reproductions.
Most remembrance books about writers are
limited to presenting a biography, a bibliography, and reflections by
colleagues, but in this book Eileen also included a selected anthology of S. L.
Shneiderman's work. These include poems, prose, reports from his travels,
chapters from his books, and essays about writers that were close to him.
The book opens with an essay explaining the metaphoric title of the
book. It is followed by Eileen's personal account of their sixty-year
collaboration. She describes how the larger serialized articles, with up to 40
installments, came about, only some of which appeared in book form. Throughout
their 60-year collaboration, Eileen assembled their extensive archives
containing his poems, notebooks, manuscripts, background materials, and
historical documents. These archives are preserved and available for
researchers at Tel Aviv University's Institute for Research of the Diaspora,
which adjoins the world famous museum of the Diaspora, Beth Hatefutsoth.
Of particular interest is S. L. Shneiderman's never before published
notes for an autobiography, "My life journey as a Yiddish writer." It provides
illuminating insights to European Jewish culture over the past century. His
work began with poems about his beloved home town, the shtetl of Kazimierz on
the Vistula, that the Jews called Kuzmir. In 1925 he moved to Warsaw, just two
hours away, which was the center of a flourishing Jewish cultural life. He
participated in the third generation of Yiddish writers following luminaries of
modern Yiddish literature such as Mendele, Sholem Aleichem, I. L Peretz, and
In 1933, he married Eileen and they moved to Paris where
Shneiderman was a syndicated correspondent for several Yiddish and Polish
language daily papers in Poland. During the Spanish Civil War from 1936-38,
Shneiderman's reports established him as the leading journalist in the Jewish
press. He planned to become editor of the Johannesburg Yiddish paper but the
outbreak of World War II prevented him from accepting this position. He fled to
New York with Eileen and their two year out daughter in February 1940.
During the next fifty years in New York he rose to prominence with his
Yiddish and English publications on the Holocaust, descriptions of Jewish life
around the world, and book-length portraits of key figures such as artist Arthur
Szyk and journalist Ilya Ehrenburg. He was founding member of the United
Nations Correspondents Association and actively reported on events, such as the
founding of the State of Israel in 1948. In his role as President of the
Yiddish P. E. N. Center in New York, Shneiderman nominated his colleague, Isaac
Bashevis Singer, for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
books dealt with post-war Poland, such as Between Fear and Hope (1947) the
Warsaw Heresy (1959), and The River Remembers (1978). He edited Mary Berg's
Diary of the Warsaw Ghetto (1945) which was the first authentic document on
ghetto life. A pioneering effort, in 1965, was the full-length documentary film
"The Last Chapter" covering the thousand-year history of Polish Jewry. In 1974
he edited a collection of Yiddish writings from contemporary authors in Israel
and other countries under the title Tzusamen (Together).
In the last
years of his life, when he could no longer travel and describe Jewish
communities, Shneiderman and his wife moved to Ramat Aviv to be close to their
daughter and family. Their Yiddish books were donated in 1996 to the University
of Maryland Libraries, where an extensive web site describes their literary
accomplishments and catalogs the 400 books (http://www.lib.umd.edu/UMCP/SLSES).
The S. L. Shneiderman book, created by Eileen Shneiderman, captures his
combination of a broad historical knowledge, with a literary sensitivity and a
concern for the drama of daily life. He had a remarkable sixth sense for
untangling the twisted problems of Jewish life. His personal and emotional style
generated an international and responsive readership throughout the Jewish
The book is available in Israel from the I. L. Peretz Publishing
House, 14 Brener Street, Tel Aviv and in New York at the Arbeiter Ring bookstore
in the Forwards Building, 45 East 33rd Street, New York, NY 10016.
Table of Contents
S. L. Shneiderman / What Time is it on the
Hala Szymin-Shneiderman / Decades Together
Digest of the larger reportage-series published in installments
The film "The Last Chapter"
"Tzusamen" A collection of original writings by Yiddish writers
S. L. Shneiderman / My life journey as a Yiddish writer
(Notes for an autobiography)
Chapters from books by S. L. Shneiderman
From: The Spanish Civil War - The Legend of Duruti
The River Remembers - After the Flood
Ilya Ehrenburg - How did you survive?
Arthur Szyk - The Lemberger Hagada
First Yom Kipur at the liberated Wailing Wall, 1967
Tchernobil in Safed, 1989
From Eretz Israel to the State of Israel
A day at the United Nations, 1954
The Funeral of Albert Einstein, 1955
Wildfield in North Carolina - a Center for Yiddish, 1983
Under the Sign of the Hammer and Sickle
Is there a Jewish address in the Soviet Union?
What the Russian Jews expect from their American brothers
At the Red Square in Moscow
Essays about Yiddish Writers
Poems by S. L. Shneiderman
Writers on S. L. Shneiderman
Dr. Heshil Klepfish
Hanna and Yosef Mlotek