Di Khalyastre (1922–1924) By Koenig, Raphael
Di Khalyastre (also Di Khaliastra, ‘The Gang’ in Yiddish) was a major Yiddish avant-garde movement and literary magazine active in Warsaw between 1922 and 1924. Influenced by German Expressionism and Russian Cubo-Futurism, it took part in an international network of artistic and intellectual exchanges that connected it with Kiev, Moscow, Berlin, and Paris. The group was formed in Warsaw and published the first issue of its namesake literary magazine in 1922; the second and last issue was published in Paris in 1924. Distancing itself from both naturalism and neo-Romantic idealizations of Jewish traditions, Khalyastre was characterized by its praise of chaotic forms and explosive imagery, its angst-ridden, often nightmarish themes, and its innovative use of graphic design. Marc Chagall created most of the illustrations, including the cover design of the second issue. More of an association of like-minded writers and visual artists than a unified artistic movement, Khalyastre was founded by Yiddish poets Peretz Markish, Uri Zvi Greenberg (also Tsevi Grinberg), and Melech Ravitch. Prose writers Oyzer Varshavski and Israel Joshua Singer, and poet H. Leyvik were also associated with the group. Divergent political choices led to its dissolution in 1924.