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The 2020 Melinda Rosenblatt Lecture,"Of Making Many Books There Is No End: Jews and American Publishing," Presented by Josh Lambert
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Decade of Discovery Jewish American Heritage Month
May is Jewish American Heritage Month—a time to celebrate the diverse and vibrant cultural life of American Jews. In honor of this, we’re featuring a compilation of memories of Jewish life in Philadelphia from the Wexler Oral History Project, a podcast about the role of the Jewish deli, and a photographic essay from the 1998 issue of Pakn Treger about Mississippi Jews.
Handpicked Susan Bronson
The executive director of the Yiddish Book Center, Susan has many favorites from our collections. She shares some of those selections here, in her first-ever Handpicked feature.
"The Librarians," Written by Rachel Auerbach, translated by Seymour Levitan
I find this chapter from Rachel Auerbach’s 1974 memoir Varshever tsavoes (Warsaw Testaments) very moving, particularly during these days of pandemic. Auerbach wrote, “It may seem absurd to say that people needed books when they had nothing to eat and their lives were so uncertain . . . There has rarely been such a mass hunger for books as there was in Poland during the German occupation . . ." These librarians were true heroes, and literature continues to be a source of strength and meaning.
The Shvits (Shvitz—sauna) at Coney Island
This excerpt from our Wexler Oral History Project speaks to me as a New Yorker and because I knew the narrator, Arthur Klein. It captures a particular practice and historical moment in a New York that no longer exists— young men going to the “shvitz” for a sauna (who knew you could spend the night?!). It also illustrates how these oral histories preserve stories of everyday life of a kind that you don’t always find in the written record.
Eating the Archives
One of my very favorite pieces in our “From the Vault” series is this, wherein our then-fellow, Mikhl Yashinsky, finds a brown paper bag with family recipes in our book vault and proceeds to cook one of the recipes, identify the “Beulah” who wrote the recipe, track down Beulah’s daughter, and connect to the family. The story Mikhl tells is both charming and touching.