The final word: renowned Yiddish journal editor Friedenson dies at 93

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13 Δεκ 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 6 μήνες)

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The f
in
al w
ord:
r
enowned Yiddish
journal
editor

Friedenson

dies at

93

By Maxine Dovere/JNS.org

J
oseph (Yossel) Friedenson
carried the title of “rabbi,” but his “pulpit” was far wid
er than
any within four walls.



Friedenson, long
time editor of
the

monthly Yiddish
-
language
Dos Yiddish
e

Vort

(which
means “The Jewish Word”)
journal

published by Agudath Israel of America
, died Feb
. 23
in New York at the age of 93.

For close to
60
years,
his
writing gave voice to the th
inking
and
concerns of the
post
-
Holocaust E
astern Europ
ean Orthodox Jewish community.

He

was
married to his wife Gitele
,

who died in 2006, for 64 years. They
were married in
November
1941 in the Warsaw Ghetto.



A survivor of six concentration camps
during the Holocaust,
Friedenson

was f
inally
liberated from Auschwitz
-
Birkenau
on January 27, 1945. He
was

not a proponent of
“Holocaust r
emembrance”

memorials or museums.
Writing in the
Jewish World Review

in August 1998, he complained that
remembering has
become “t
he new Jewish religion
.”



At the age of 90, the dedic
ated editor was still reading seven
-
point type and still devoted
to his audience
,

albeit, dwindling
.

He remained an active

voice for Torah
-
observant

Jewry until his last days.




In August
2012, writing for Agudath Israel of

America, Friedenson discussed the
celebration of the
12th
Siyum HaShas
, the comple
tion of the cycle of the Talmud,
as “a
day of great victory…

a day that testifies loudly and clearly that we Jews are an eternal
people, indestructible and everlasting…

The day of the
Siyum HaShas

is my day of
victory, the day of victory for all survivors and the day of victory of every ‘Talmud
Jew.’”


Jeanette

Friedman

author, advocate
and one of the founders of the International
Network of Children of Jewish Holocaust S
urvivors
,

recalled Friedenson as “a bri
lliant
man, entirely dedicated.”



He loved his job so much that he worked at it u
ntil he could not work anymore,” she
told
JNS.org
. “
Even after a stroke, he was still editing the paper.”



Together with Volvie Friedm
an (Jeanette’s father) and Moshe Sherer, Friedenson was
one of the founders of the pos
t
-
war Agudath Israel movement.

In addition to his position
as editor of
Dos Yiddishe Vort,

he served as the movement’s Secretary

General
.




Dos Yiddishe Vort
,
a 64
-
page
Yiddish j
ournal,
is printed in black and white

and
“dedicated to the problems of Torah Judaism… the mouthpiece for the dwindling
Yiddish
-
speaking conti
ngent” of the Agudath Israel movement. The journal

began in the
post
-
Holocaust displaced persons (DP)
cam
ps,
and
its first two issues were printed in
transliteration in Latin letters because Yiddish type was not available.


“Friedenson was
Dos Yiddish Vort
,” Friedman

told
JNS.org
, expressing fear that

the
magazine “dies with him.”

Friedenson
,
she said
,
had
not missed a deadline in 54 years.


“He was awesome, literally awesome,
” Friedman said.



In 2007, Toby Appleton Perl, Friedenson’s niece, wr
ote
in the
Forward

newspaper
about
her uncle’s

continuity and diligence, noting that he “has been editing this Yiddish
monthly a
lmost single
-
handedly since 195

since 1945, [counting]

the first editions he
put out in the Feldafing and Landesberg displaced persons camps in Germany.”



Securing kosher food,
mikvehs

(ritual baths)
and religious schooling for
Holocaust
survivors and their children

basic necessities for maintaining an Orthodox Jewish life


were prime objective
s of Agudath Israel in the post
-
Holocaust DP camps.
The re
-
establ
ishment of
Dos Yiddish Vort

in the camps served as an important
tool to accomplish
those aims.

When Friedenson immigrated to the
U.S.,

he continued to promote the
objectives and goals of the Agudath Israel movement, especially in its political
-
theological
struggle with
David
Ben
-
Gurion’s secular government in Israel.

That
generation of Holocaust survivors, wrote Perl in the
Forward,

was


determined to
regenerate ultra
-
Orthodoxy in the wake of the near
-
destruction of European Jewry.”



Friedenson re
-
establis
hed
Dos Yiddishe Vort

in the
U.S. as a monthly publication.

According to Perl, he read voraciously
,

including publications
on

many points of the
political spectrum: The
New York Times
,
New York Sun

(now defunct), Israel’s
Yedioth
Ahronoth

and
Ha’aretz

(in Hebrew) the h
aredi
Hamodia
,
and German editions of
Der
Spiegel
,
Frankfurter Algemeine

and
Die Zeit
.



Friedenson once headed a writing staff that included Moshe Prager, David Adler, Moshe
Yehuda Gleicher, Nissim Gordon, Rabbi
Simcha Elberg, and Hillel

Seidman

renowned
Yiddish authors in the
U.S. and in Israel.

At its height
during the 1970s and ’80s,
Dos
Yiddishe Vort

had a readership of 7,000
-
8,000.

Even as its readership aged
, the paper
remained an influential voice: Friedenson supported the developm
ent of Israel’s
ultra
-
Orthodox
Shas Party, believing that the Sephardic community voice needed to be
independently heard.



In recent editions,
Dos Yiddishe Vort

had become more of a commemorative journal
dedicated to single topics and spe
cial editions.

Th
e magazine maintained a fervently
Orthodox position, commenting on current issues and their impact on Orthodox Jewry
,

and
frequently criticizing the Conservative and Reform

movements.