Shney-tants (Snow Dance), by Moyshe Broderzon (Łódź: Yung-yidish, 1921). Illustrated by the author. (YIVO)

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(1918–1921), artistic and literary avant-garde group in Łódź. The founding of Yung-yidish, the first Yiddish artistic avant-garde group in Poland, grew out of a meeting in 1918 between poet Moyshe Broderzon and a group of visual artists centered around Yitskhok Broyner, Yankl Adler, and Marek Szwarc. Eventually, the group included some 20-odd members including Yitsḥak Katzenelson, Yekhezkl-Moyshe Nayman, and Hershele, as well as younger people discovered by the group, such as the artist Henekh Bartshinski and the writers Elimelekh Shmulevitsh, Khayim Leyb Fuks, and Yisroel Shtern. In 1919, the group published a journal, also called Yung-yidish.

Before the meeting in Łódź, Moyshe Broderzon had returned from Moscow, where he had spent the war years and studied poetic technique. There he had been influenced by the Russian futurist movement and played a role in the Jewish cultural and artistic renaissance, along with such artists as El Lissitzky and Yoysef Tshaykov (Iosif Chaikov).

Yankl Adler had also returned to Łódź in 1918, after four years in Germany where he had studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Applied Arts) in Barmen (now Wuppertal). There he had been involved with the German expressionist circle Die Aktion and the expressionist group Das junge Rheinland in Düsseldorf.

Marek Szwarc began studying at the Paris École des Beaux Arts in 1910, and in 1912 had joined La Ruche (The Beehive), an artists’ residence in Montparnasse that housed foreign artists, including Marc Chagall and Chaim Soutine. The question of Jewish art had become central to Szwarc’s artistic output. He helped publish the magazine Makhmadim and had exhibited a sculpture, titled Eve, at the Paris autumn salon in 1913. Between 1914 and 1917, he had traveled through the Russian Empire, including Odessa, spending time in the Jewish literary circle of Mendele Moykher-Sforim, Ahad Ha-Am, and Ḥayim Naḥman Bialik. He had also lived in Kiev, where he had contact with the group of avant-garde Yiddish writers headed by Dovid Bergelson.

Yitskhok Broyner, son of a wealthy industrialist from Łódź, studied painting in Warsaw and Kraków, then from 1908 to 1911 at the Hochschule für Bildenden Künste (Academy for Plastic Arts) in Berlin. Influenced by the postimpressionists and notably by Vincent Van Gogh, he took the pseudonym Wincenty (Vincent) Brauner in memory of him. Szwarc and Adler met him at his studio, which was a meeting place of the young artists of Łódź.

The first issue of the group’s magazine Yung-yidish was published in February–March 1919. Like Russian futurist journals and the experiments of the Moscow Circle for a Jewish National Aesthetic, the linocuts included in the journal were not mere illustrations but “poems in drawings,” reflecting the idea that no barriers should come between artistic genres. Even the journal’s look was innovative: The gray wrapping paper on which Yung-yidish was printed indicated to readers that a new form reflected the industrial reality of Łódź. Two additional issues were published in 1919. A fourth issue never appeared, but it is likely that some of its intended contributions were published in the magazine S’feld (The Field), which was issued six times from 1919 to 1923. In the final issue of Yung-yidish, the group announced that it had contacted the Polish avant-garde groups Zdrój and Bunt with a view to a joint exhibition, but this never took place. The Berlin publisher Jüdischer Verlag planned a Latin transliteration of the review, but also did not carry out the project.

Yung-yidish soon outgrew its own magazine. In 1920 and 1921, the group published six works by Broderzon, a play by Katzenelson, and a collection of poems by Khayim Krul. The group made contact with Warsaw artists Henryk Berlewi and Vladislav Weintraub, organized artistic soirées in Łódź and Warsaw, and presented exhibitions of their own works. In 1922, they organized an exhibition in New York. However, as was the case with most avant-garde experimental groups of the time, Yung-yidish rapidly disintegrated. Adler moved to Berlin in 1920 and Szwarc left Poland for Paris the following year. Broderzon remained in Łódź, but devoted himself more to the life of the theater and theater-café during the interwar period. Broyner also remained in Łódź and took part, in addition to his own artistic work, as a designer for Broderzon’s theatrical ventures.

Suggested Reading

Rachel Ertel, “Une voie singulière: Yung Yiddish dans la nébuleuse moderniste,” in Le yiddish: Langue, culture, société, ed. Jean Baumgarten and David Bunis, pp. 211–246 (Paris, 1999); Jerzy Malinowski, “The ‘Yung Yiddish’ (Young Yiddish) Group and Jewish Modern Art in Poland, 1918–1923,” Polin 6 (1991): 223–230; Gilles Rozier, Moyshe Broderzon : Un écrivain yiddish d’avant-garde (St. Denis, Fr., 1999).



Translated from French by Cecilia Grayson