A Focus On Voices from the Vault
Our Frances Brandt Online Yiddish Library is a treasure trove of interviews, lectures, and other special events recorded at the Jewish Public Library in Montreal between 1953 and 2005. Read the fascinating story of how this collection came to the Yiddish Book Center in an article from Pakn Treger—then listen to just some of the riches to be found there: a 1980 talk by novelist Amos Oz, and recordings from a 1959 evening in honor of poet Avrom Sutzkever.
Handpicked Sebastian Schulman
Sebastian Schulman just can’t stay away from the Yiddish Book Center—a Center summer intern in 2004, he later served as director of its translation program before leaving to work on his dissertation in Jewish history. He recently returned in the dual role of development officer and translation fellowship director. Here, Seb shares some favorite items from the Center's collections.
Yorn un reges (Years and Moments)
This 1973 book is brimming with miniatures, short stories, and novellas by the master prose stylist Yekhiel Shraybman (1913-2005). Exuberant, bittersweet, and full of color, the pieces in this book focus sharply on the minutiae of everyday Jewish life in Bessarabia and then Soviet Moldova before, during, and mostly after the Second World War. Shraybman was a beloved figure in his community and fervently dedicated to Yiddish culture. Many of today’s leading Yiddish writers outside of the Hasidic world got their start with his mentorship and encouragement.
“Di letste libe” (“Last Love”)
Originally published in the prestigious literary journal Di goldene keyt in 1983, Chava Rosenfarb’s (1923-2011) short story “Di letste libe” (“Last Love”) is one of the author’s most powerful tales about the lives and struggles of Holocaust survivors after the war. In this work, a dying survivor named Amalia has one final request of her husband—to take her to Paris and find her a younger lover. A gripping, frank, and unusual narrative of psychological depth, its images will stay with you for a long time to come. Perhaps best of all, this audiobook from our Sami Rohr Library of Recorded Yiddish Books is read by the author herself, in her rich native Lodz dialect—a rare opportunity to hear one of the most acclaimed Yiddish writers of the postwar period declaim her own work.
Gut morgn dir, velt! (Good Morning to You, World!)
So robust was the network of Yiddish schools in Montreal in the early twentieth century that it boasted what were then some of the only published Yiddish literati born in North America. The crown prince of a local Yiddishist dynasty of educators and activists, thirteen-year-old (!) Arn Krishtalka, depicts the snowspaces of his native city, protests the Korean war, imagines the shtetl, and burns off some teenage angst, all in verse, in this 1953 collection. How’s that for a bar mitzvah project? Added bonus: the copy of this book in our digital collection bears the ex libris from the “Petalume yidishe kehile,” the famed colony of leftist Jewish chicken farmers in Northern California.
Alter Esselin: Craftsman of Wood and Words
A short film produced by the Wexler Oral History Project on the life and works of Milwaukee Yiddish poet Alter Esselin (1889-1974), incorporating archival footage, rare audio of the poet reciting his own fine verses, and excerpts from a longer interview with his son and translator Joe (Yosl) Esselin, z”l. Uncannily, the interview was recorded shortly before Joe’s passing. In honor of his father’s legacy, Joe Esselin left his estate to the Yiddish Book Center as part of our Yerushe Society.