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In Memoriam Leon Yudkin

Seth L. Woltz

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Jewish Historical Studies, volume 45, 2013 In Memoriam Leon Yudkin (1939-2013), an appreciation Leon Yudkin understood, as few in his day did, that Yiddish and Hebrew lit eratures were brother and sister in the same family. They had their differ ences but each had the right to be individuals inside a common history and intimate family structure. His studies always sought to depict the meaning of the works under consideration in the larger perspective of the world Jewish community. He did not let words like "diaspora" and "Aretz" interfere with Bundist or Zionist ideologies to displace his vision that the Jews, especially the Eastern European Jews and their descendants, were constructing between 1800 and 2000 the first modern secular Jewish culture with a distinct Western-oriented perspective that produced in its short span remarkable works of art. He also understood that the Jewish writer in Hebrew or Yiddish was not only fabricating an aesthetic object but that its ethical implications were essential and implicit in the work of art. Yudkin was also an undefeatable figure when pushing the importance of building Jewish Studies as a serious discipline and opening his office and home to intense intellectual gatherings, travelling widely to share his knowl edge and enjoining young scholars to take up the cudgels of making Jewish Studies a normal part of the university curriculum. He also recognized the importance of Jewish writing in Western tongues and considered this pro duction part of the Jewish inheritance. His generous spirit refused to restrict Jewish literature to the few classical tongues of Jewry. The breadth of his scholarship and his continuous productivity underscore the devotion he exer cised in the field of Jewish literary studies. His mark on the discipline is that of one of the pioneers, a founder even, of serious intellectual Jewish Studies in Western universities. Before him, there were a rare few Jewish academics who treated classical Hebrew texts but Yudkin, particularly in Europe, was one of the very first to underscore the importance of contemporary Hebrew and Yiddish literary accomplishments and wrote the first comparative texts on these twin cultures in the English language. May his memory be honoured! SETH L. WOLITZ 175</page></plain_text>

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