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A Focus On Isaac Bashevis Singer
The latest special issue of Pakn Treger—“Isaac Bashevis Singer: Relaunching Our Greatest Storyteller”—includes a range of features, including the discovery in Poland of printing plates that are the only remaining artifact of Singer’s earliest known work; a piece about Singer’s childhood obsession with a series of Yiddish detective novels; an interview with renowned photographer Bruce Davidson, who directed Singer in a little-known art film, Isaac Singer’s Nightmare and Mrs. Pupko’s Beard, based on a short story by the writer, who also stars in the film; as well as a compendium in which contemporary writers write about their favorite Singer story. We've selected a few pieces from the issue.
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Handpicked Madeleine (Mindl) Cohen
As the Yiddish Book Center's director of translations and collections initatives Mindl is constantly searching our website for Yiddish works in the original, archival recordings, source material, oral histories, podcasts, and articles that inform her work and her insatiable curiousity.
“Moyshe Kulbak taught at my school”
To watch one brilliant light of Yiddish and Jewish studies, Binyomin Harshav, who has inspired so many students, discuss how the great poet Moyshe Kulbak inspired him as a student in Vilne—it doesn’t get better.
Excerpt from Pioneers: The First Breach by S. Ansky, translated by Rose Waldman
Sh. Ansky, most famous for his play The Dybbuk, wrote two novellas based on his own adolescent experience of becoming a Maskil, an adherent of the Jewish enlightenment, and his early—mostly failed—attempts to bring modern thought and science to the Jewish shtetl. I love imagining the elegant Ansky as this gangly youth, uncomfortable in his short coat.
Mayn Leksikon, Melekh Ravitch
Melekh Ravitch’s four volume series, My Lexicon, offers “intimate portraits,” in his words, of basically every person Ravitch knew who was involved with Yiddish culture. Published beginning in 1945, the volumes are a very personal and at the same time exhaustive memorial to pre-war Yiddish culture. The portraits of Yiddish writers in Poland contained in the first volume offer the kind of idiosyncratic details so often lost in scholarly biography. For example, my favorite portrait, of Ravitch’s close friend Alter Kacyzne, teases the subject mercilessly for his vegetarianism—even though Ravitch himself was also a vegetarian.
Rokhl Korn in conversation with Avrom Tabachnik
Tabachnik recorded a number of conversations with Yiddish poets and writers in the 1950s, in which they also read a number of their works. The recordings are full of the background noises of the New York neighborhood where the conversations take place, it makes you feel like you’re sitting there with them.