Brooklyn, NY: Hirbu Poblising Kompany [Hebrew Publishing Company], No Date [1902-1903]. Item #42202
Bound into later stiff binder, 12mo, 100 + pp. 208-219 (as issued) [112 pages total]. In Yiddish. Title translates as, “The Constitution of the United States and Declaration of Independence in English and Yiddish.” Yiddish translation of the U.S. Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence, as well as, in the second section, questions and answers asked on the United States citizenship test, transliterated and translated into Yiddish. Published for Yiddish-speaking immigrants to aid in the naturalization process to enable them to become United States citizens. “Translation by Alexander Harkavy; Annex: Civil law: questions and answers of the exam of a mystic (in English and Yiddish); How the President of the United States is elected” (in Yiddish). Harkavy (1863–1939) was a leading Yiddish lexicographer. The “grandson of the rabbi of Novogrodek (Yid. Navaredok), Harkavy was born in that Belorussian town….After the pogroms of 1881 Harkavy moved to Warsaw and joined the Am Olam movement, before immigrating to the United States….He was in Paris in 1885, returned to New York in 1886, [and] taught Hebrew at a talmud torah in Montreal in 1887, where he published the first Yiddish newspaper (Di Tsayt), went to Baltimore in 1889 and there founded the short-lived periodical Der Yidisher Progres, before returning once more to New York in 1890. A year later his first popular textbook, Der Englisher Lerer (‘The English Teacher’), was published, of which almost 100,000 copies were sold. Through this and other books in the 'English self-taught' genre, such as his guide to writing letters, Der Englisher Brivnshteler ('The English Letter-Writer,' 1892), Yiddish translations of classics, classroom lectures and popular expositions of American history and culture, New York Yiddish literary anthologies (Der Nayer Gayst, 'The New Spirit,' 1897–98; Der Tsvantsikster Yorhundert, 'The Twentieth Century,' 1900), and above all his Yiddish dictionaries, he became the teacher par excellence of two generations of immigrants. ….He taught U.S. history and politics for the New York Board of Education and Yiddish literature and grammar at the Jewish Teachers' Seminary in New York, while also lecturing for the Workmen's Circle….His English-Yiddish and Yiddish-English dictionaries, encompassing about 40,000 Yiddish words, went through two dozen editions and reprints. His crowning work was the Yiddish-English-Hebrew Dictionary (1925; suppl. 1928; fifth reprint 1988), which played a significant role in educating East European Jewish immigrants in English and is still an outstanding example of a multilingual dictionary used by Yiddish speakers and lexicographers.(Mordkhe Schaechter and Jean Baumgarten in EJ). For more on Harkavy, see I. Shatzky, Harkavis bio-bibliografye (1933); and A. Harkavy, Yidish-Eynglish-Hebreisher Verterbukh, ed. with introd. by D. Katz (1988). The only other copies of this book we could locate (at YIVO and NLI, see OCLC listing below), lists the same pagination and a cover (not present here) date of 1902 (YIVO) and 1903 (NLI). Copyright page indicates “Katzenelenbogen, 1897;" the Hebrew Publishing Company began publishing in Brooklyn at the very beginning of the 20th Century, so 1902-1903 seems right. We could find only reference anywhere to the original 1897 Katzenelenbogen imprint on which this edition is based: a 2014 auction listing, with the book selling for $2100 (with buyers’ commission). Pagination for that 1897 copy is listed as 219 pages–probably indicating a total of 219 pages, but perhaps indicating only the final page with a break from page 100-108, as with our edition. SUBJECT(S): Constitutional history -- United States. Constitutional law -- OCLC: 233372833/122765824. OCLC lists only two copies worldwide (NLI and YIVO). We could locate no later editions of this work; only one similar later Hebrew Publishing Company translation of the US Constitution into Yiddish (1914, “with supplement ‘How to become a citizen’ according to the new law” and a pagination of 85 + 65 pages) with only one listing on OCLC, OCLC 7404617. We have examined what appears to be the rare first edition of this later format from two years earlier (1912), in which the second section includes its own title page dated 1910. Copy here lacks original covers. Paper brown, but well protected without edgewear or tears. Good Condition thus. Exceedingly rare and important. (YID-43-32).