Auction 86 - Part I - Rare & Important Items

"Zionism in Word and Deed" – New York, Early 20th Century – Translation of Theodor Herzl's "Der Judenstaat" into Yiddish – Early American Yiddish-Language Edition of "Der Judenstaat"

Opening: $1,200
Estimate: $2,000 - $4,000
Sold for: $1,500
Including buyer's premium

Tzionismus in Vort un T'hat ["Zionism in Word and Deed"], edited by Israel Isaac Wolf. New York: Y. Wolf, [ca. 1902]. Yiddish. First book in the series "Volfs Iddishe Bibliotek" ["Wolf's Yiddish Library"].
This book includes a Yiddish translation of Theodor Herzl's "Der Judenstaat." It was one of the earliest printings of "Der Judenstaat" in the United States, and possibly the very first.
In addition to the translation of Herzl's work, the book includes an article on the subject of Zionism in America by Israel Isaac Wolf, and another article regarding the history of the Zionist movement by the author and journalist Abner Tannenbaum.
Israel Isaac Wolf (1861-1926), author, editor, and publisher, born in Lithuania, studied at the renowned Volozhin Yeshiva. Immigrated to the United States in 1893 and settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where he founded the city's first Hebrew-Jewish printing house. He was among the editors of the Yiddish weekly "Der Yiddisher Shtern, " the daily "Die Yiddishe Welt, " and the Zionist weekly "Dos Yiddishe Folk." Established a publishing house in New York in 1901, and published a series of books titled "Volfs Iddishe Bibliotek" ("Wolf's Yiddish Library").
7, [1], 71, [3] pp., 21 cm. Good-fair condition. Tears to edges, mostly small, not affecting text. Front and back endpapers detached. Title page partly detached. Stains. Hardcover (possibly missing wrappers).
One copy only listed in OCLC.
Singerman 5888.


Publication of Herzl's "Der Judenstaat"
The story behind "Der Judenstaat" – commonly translated as "The Jewish State" and widely regarded as the book that served as the founding statement of the Zionist movement – can be said to have begun with the "Speech to the Rothschilds, " composed by Theodor (Binyamin Ze'ev) Herzl in time for his meeting with members of the Rothschild family in 1895. This speech, 22 pages in length, laid out the preliminary outline for what would eventually become Herzl's grand landmark plan. This outline would gradually undergo a number of incarnations and versions before it sufficiently matured into a full-fledged plan, whereupon Herzl decided to turn it into a complete book.
According to Herzl's own account, the book was written all at once, in two months of non-stop writing, "walking, standing, lying down, in the street, at the table, at night when I started up from sleep…" Once completed, the manuscript would, for the first time, present Herzl's grand vision in all its glory – a detailed plan for the establishment of a Jewish state, stage by stage, beginning with the gathering and organizing of the Jews of the world, up until the enactment of a legal constitution and the adoption of a national flag. Regarding his thoughts and feelings at the time of the writing, Herzl said: "I do not recollect ever having written anything in such an elevated frame of mind as that book. [Heinrich] Heine says that he heard the wings of an eagle beating over his head while writing certain verses. I do believe that something also beat its wings above my head while I was writing that book."
Initially, no book publisher was willing to publish the book. Herzl found himself rejected by all his regular publishing companies, such as Duncker & Humblot, as well as the Berlin-based publisher Siegfried Cronbach, who insisted that anti-Semitism was a waning force throughout the world. In the end, Herzl turned to Max Breitenstein, a small bookseller in Vienna who agreed to print the book even though he did not share Herzl's beliefs, nor was he sympathetic to the Zionist cause.
In February 1896, a small edition of "Der Judenstaat" was finally published in German with the subtitle "An Attempt at a Modern Solution to the Jewish Question." In order to ensure the work would be treated with the seriousness he felt it deserved, Herzl added his academic degree – Doctor of Laws – to the authorship of the book.
Immediately upon publication, the book stirred up a maelstrom. A majority of public figures – Jewish and non-Jewish alike – viewed it as nonsensical and absurd; one particular Jewish newspaper editor even offered the use of his personal carriage to transport Herzl to an insane asylum. Among the book's initial opponents were such unlikely personalities as Hayim Nahman Bialik and Nahum Sokolow, the pioneer of Hebrew journalism who would one day become author of the first Hebrew translation of Herzl's "Altneuland." In the words of author Stefan Zweig, "never in Vienna had anyone been subjected to such ridicule as Herzl."
As agreed in advance, Max Breitenstein published three additional editions (distinguished from the original edition only in minute details on the respective covers and title pages) that same year. He published no subsequent editions of "Der Judenstaat."
Notwithstanding the scathing reactions of public figures and noted academics to "Der Judenstaat, " the book succeeded in igniting the imaginations of a great many readers in Europe and around the world, and new editions – in Yiddish, Russian, English, and other languages – appeared not long after the publication of the original German editions. One of the earliest editions to see the light of day was the Hebrew translation by Herzl's personal secretary, Michael Berkowitz. It was published by "Tushiah" in 1896, the same year as the first German edition. In its introduction, Berkowitz brought attention to two "corrections" that Herzl insisted upon in oral communications with him, and wrote the following (in Hebrew): "I hereby testify to two issues that relate in particular to the Hebrew translation… In the chapter [entitled] 'Language of the Land'… after he was made aware that a Hebrew-speaking readership exists for this book… a changed spirit took hold of him, as he was ensured that the Hebrew language could surely be rejuvenated… As to the place of settlement… he [likewise] changed his mind… and addressed his attention exclusively to the Land of our Forefathers."
In subsequent years, with the burgeoning of the Zionist movement and the convening of the early Zionist Congresses, the book came to be translated in yet more languages, and began to appear overseas, particularly in the United States, where Zionism quickly developed into a movement that carried weight and influence. In sum total, during Herzl's brief remaining lifetime, no fewer than 17 editions of "Der Judenstaat" were published – most in small editions numbering only a few thousand copies, and often in the form of thin, nondurable booklets. Dozens more editions were published following Theodor Herzl's passing, including translations into such languages as Ladino, Esperanto, Serbo-Croatian, and many others. It was to become one of the best-known Jewish works of all time.
References:
• Rephael Patai (ed.), The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl. New York and London: Herzl Press and Thomas Yoseloff, 1960. Vol. I, p. 24.
• Ritchie Robertson (ed.), The German-Jewish Dialogue: An Anthology of Literary Texts, 1749-1993. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. p. 150.

Category
Herzl. Zionism