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Decade of Discovery Yiddish and Social Justice
The Decade of Discovery is an initiative launched by the Yiddish Book Center with the aim of fostering a deeper understanding of Yiddish and modern Jewish culture. Our focus for 2021 is Yiddish and Social Justice. In celebration of this theme, we're spotlighting a conversation between scholars and translators about race and social justice in Yiddish literature, a podcast interview with contemporary Yiddish singer and social activist Isabel Frey, and two translated Yiddish poems denouncing fascisim through the language of folktale.
Handpicked Zackary Sholem Berger
Zackary is a medical doctor by profession and a multilingual poet and Yiddish translator who enjoys exploring our digital Yiddish collections. He shares a few of his favorites here.
Stezshkes tsvishn moyern: lider (Footpaths Amid Stone Walls)
Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman was the first Yiddish poet I met when I moved to New York and someone I looked up to. While well known in Yiddish music circles for her art songs and renditions of folk songs, her poetry is underappreciated: dark, witty, and deliberate chronicles of her peregrinations across continents and her keen painter's eye.
In Nyu-York (In New York)
As I was first learning Yiddish in my teens and twenties, I read over and over again the searing, cynical work of Moyshe-Leyb Halpern, whose "In New York" lent an immigrant's gaze to the city I ended up moving to. "Benk aheym un has dayn heymland," snarled Halpern: "yearn for home and hate your homeland."
Aaron Glanz-Leyeless Reads from His Work and Is Interviewed by Abraham Tabachnick Part 1
A poet I still need to translate more of is Arn Glants-Leyeles, who I called elsewhere the "virtuoso of loneliness." He was a formalist who believed in high Yiddish culture even as he praised the American prairies and cities and their vernacular. A. Tabachnik's interviews with literary figures are a high point for me of the Yiddish Book Center site. His interview with Glants-Leyeles in 1955 is worth it for the latter's careful, deliberate readings of his own work.