HA-ASIF


HA-ASIF (Heb. הָאָסִיף), six literary annuals, published in Warsaw intermittently from 1884 to 1894 and edited by Nahum *Sokolow. Ha-Asif was the first attempt to bring Hebrew literature to the masses at a popular price: volume 1 reached a circulation of 12,000, an unusual achievement for the period. Editorial policy, which favored cultural Zionism, considered Ereẓ Israel as one of the solutions to the Jewish problem, "however, to put all our trust in one suggestion is a great danger." Consequently Ha-Asif favored constructive action on behalf of Diaspora Jewry mainly in the cultural and intellectual realms. Ha-Asif's ample volumes were filled with a variety of materials. The earlier volumes featured a practical, almanac-type section, which was dropped in the later issues, completely literary in content. Sokolow wrote the annual review in which literary matters were stressed. Among his colleagues were D. Frischmann, M. Weber, and I.Ḥ. Zagorodski. The contributors to the literary section included the leading authors of the period. Shalom Aleichem first published his original stories in Hebrew in Ha-Asif. In the Jewish studies section, which also occupied a prominent position, almost all Jewish scholars of note participated. Some published complete books (S. Bernfeld, translation of M. Kayserling's book on the Spanish and Portuguese Jews; Ha-Asif 4 (1887)). Others published ancient manuscripts. Sokolow's detailed reviews of new books and journals in Jewish studies dominated the criticism section. E. Atlas, another critic, published a series of sharp critical articles which are still of some relevance to contemporary criticism. Criticism of rabbinical literature – which, in general, was ignored by Hebrew periodicals – was published by I. Suwalski (vol. 4). Ha-Asif also contained articles about the Jews of Ereẓ Israel in the 19th century (J. Goldman, vols. 1–4 and Z. Wissotsky, vols. 4 and 7). J.D. Eisenstein published a survey of Jewish life in the United States (vol. 2). It also contained a section devoted to general sciences, including medical, scientific, and technical materials. The first Hebrew article on the flora of Ereẓ Israel also appeared in Ha-Asif. The success of Ha-Asif brought about the appearance of similar annuals. According to Sokolow, the mass circulation of Ha-Asif was a main cause of the creation of the Hebrew press (1886).

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

G. Kressel (ed.), Mivḥar Kitvei N. Sokolow, 1–3 (1958–61), index; Waxman, Literature, 4 (1960) 452–4.

[Getzel Kressel]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.