After reading my previous post about Chil Majer Piwko’s death notice, my cousin Raphael from Switzerland sent me a couple more that were published the same day (June 16 1929). These were in the Yiddish newspapers Hajnt and Der Moment.
Besides wanting to share them, this gives me the opportunity to revise what I said about Chil Majer. My conversations with a couple of readers helps me realize my hasty use of the term “assimilated” (even though it is widely used in the historic literature) probably does not communicate what I intended. What I meant to signal was that Chil Majer likely considered himself Polish as well as Jewish. But I have no doubt that he was also a very religious man. Nor did I mean to suggest he was on the road to adopting Polish culture in replacement of his Jewish faith. On the contrary, I’m interested in the places and spaces where Polish and Jewish affiliations intersected, complemented each other, or existed side by side.
The fact that his death notice appeared in three Jewish newspapers emphasizes even more strongly the important position Chil Majer filled in the community. The Polish-language Nasz Przegląd tended to take a more integrationist stance, in the sense that it catered to Jews who were comfortable operating in the Polish language, and who tended to invision a place for Jews within the broader Polish society. The Yiddish-language Haynt and Der Moment were competing papers that were Zionist in orientation. As such, they tended to highlight the interests of Jews as distinct from the Polish (Catholic) majority. The publication of the death notice in both languages shifts the emphasis, indicating an allegiance to both Jewish autonomy and to Polish-Jewish allegiances.
For more information about the Jewish press, see a brief summary by the Yivo Institute or Angela White’s dissertation on the Polish language Jewish press.