This article examines the development of Zionist folkloristics in the 1940s when two separate scholarly organizations were formed: Yeda Am Society in Tel Aviv and The Palestine Institute of Folklore and Ethnology in Jerusalem. Members of both societies engaged the folklore of Jewish communities in the diaspora, but they diverged in important ways. Since Jewish folklore studies developed separately in different places in Europe, the two Zionist societies were modelled on disparate scholarly traditions. Because of that, any attempt to purify their work from diasporic negotiations of Jewish folklore is bound to fail - they followed diasporic practices and diasporic ideals as to what Jewish folklore signified. However, in the face of the Shoah, both societies related to diasporic Jewish culture in different ways: the Jerusalem Institute turned to salvage traditions of Jewish communities from the Middle East, which were less affected by the atrocities of the Shoah. The Tel Aviv Yeda Am Society did not evade the Shoah, and in fact its leader Yom-Tov Lewinsky directed his attention to Jewish culture in Eastern Europe by adopting avant-garde techniques in his editorial practice. This radical move allowed Lewinsky to stress the way Jewish culture thrived in catastrophic situations.
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