Simon Rawidowicz was the editor of Yalkut, from 1940 the monthly Hebrew supplement of the Zionist Review in London. This literary review was an attempt to rekindle hopes of a Hebrew revival from London at a time when the Nazis had swept away the revival in most of Europe. However, in February 1943 this was replaced by Metsudah, in independent publication, no longer an organ of the Zionist movement. This first issue was printed by Israel Narodiczky in Whitechapel, London.
Culturally, this was an important publication, mostly written in 1942, when the final fate of many of the European Jews was not yet known, but there was deep concern about what was happening under the Nazi occupation.
Simon Rawidowicz was born in Grayewo, Poland, the son of Rabbi Chayim Yitzhak Rawidowicz — a merchant scholar, ardent Hebraist and Zionist. The family moved to Bialystok in 1914 and then to Berlin. With the rise of Nazism in 1933 he emigrated to London, where he taught at Jews College. In 1941, Rawidowicz accepted a newly created position in Medieval and Modern Hebrew at Leeds University, eventually becoming head of the department of Hebrew Language and Literature in 1946. In 1948 he emigrated to the United States.
An adherent of Zionism, he later became a critic of the organized Zionist movement, being against the idea of the “negation of the Jewish Diaspora”. He stressed the importance of the Hebrew language in Jewish identity.
As well as a long and interesting introductory essay by Rawidowicz, that I have reproduced below, the table of contents includes major writers of the day:
Joseph Gillis, a scion of the Sunderland Gillis family, was born in 1911 in Sunderland, in the north east of England. He was a mathematician, with a doctorate from Trinity College, Cambridge. During World War II he worked at Bletchley Park as a cryptographer. He later emigrated to Israel and chaired the Department of Science at the Weitzmann Institute.
Hillel Zeitlin was the famous author, murdered in the Warsaw Ghetto.
Arthur (Avraham) Marmorstein was a rabbi, scholar, and teacher. Born in Miskolc, Hungary, he was descended from a long line of Hungarian rabbis known not only for their talmudic learning but also for their familiarity with secular literature. He studied at the Yeshivah of Pressburg and the rabbinic seminaries of Budapest and Berlin. After visiting libraries for some time in England, Italy, and France, transcribing manuscripts, Marmorstein served for six years as rabbi at Jamnitz (Jemnice), Czechoslovakia. From 1912 until his death in 1946 he taught at Jews’ College, London.
Leo Kenig, whom I have written about previously, was the Yiddish writer who had been in London since 1914.
Samuel Krauss was born in Ukraine in 1866. He was a professor at the Jewish Teachers’ Seminary in Budapest frpm 1894 to 1906 and at the Jewish Theological Seminary, in Vienna from 1906–1938. He moved to England as a refugee and spent his last years in Cambridge.