The present lot, often mistakenly referred to as the first Yiddish edition of this seminal tract, is actually a transliteration of the original German into Hebrew characters (complete with umlauts represented via the sublinear segol vowel sign) prepared and printed by Leybl Taubes (1863-1933). According to Joshua Shanes, Taubes, a Zionist activist and publisher of the Galician Yiddish newspaper Haam/Das Volk (The Nation), “recognized that even traditional Jews tended to view Yiddish as inherently less sophisticated than German or Polish. This is why he deliberately chose to transliterate Herzl’s Der Judenstaat into Hebrew script, rather than to translate it outright, in order to preserve a sense of seriousness and realism that he hoped Herzl’s status would invoke.” A true Yiddish translation by Samuel Bromberg would only appear three years later in Zhitomir under the title Di yidishe medine.
With its release, Der Judenstaat became an instant classic and was partially responsible for putting wind in the sails of the nascent Zionist movement. The First Zionist Congress was convened in Basel in August 1897, just a year and a half after the treatise’s publication. As noted in Print and the Mind of Man (1967), “That a Jewish State was created in Palestine within fifty years of his death was due to the vision and practical methods of Herzl, expressed in his manifesto of 1896.”
Yoram Hazony, “Did Herzl Want A ‘Jewish’ State?” Azure 9 (Spring 2000): 37-73.
Joshua Shanes, Diaspora Nationalism and Jewish Identity in Habsburg Galicia (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 133.
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