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A Focus On Yiddish Women Writers
Women in Translation month was launched in 2014 by Jewish Israeli scholar Meytal Radzinski, who noticed that only about 30% of all translated works were authored by women. This certainly holds true for Yiddish literature, whose most well-known figures are predominantly male. Yet, as evidenced in our collections, there are indeed many Yiddish writers who are women–writers of poetry, short stories, essays, literary and cultural criticism, autobiography, and more. These women, while often lesser-known, were brilliant and daring, complicated and compassionate, exuberant and quiet, and endlessly fascinating. The topics that they chose to write about were equally wide-ranging, from domesticity, to desire and the body, to politics, the environment, and the ravages of war. We’ve selected a few items from our collections that showcase this indominable group of writers.
Handpicked Josh Lambert
The Yiddish Book Center's Academic Director, Josh Lambert is the author of Unclean Lips: Obscenity, Jews, and American Culture, and American Jewish Fiction: A JPS Guide. His reviews and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Haaretz, the Forward, the Globe and Mail, and many academic journals. Josh is constantly searching our collections for material for his teaching and writing. Here are some of his latest finds.
Der Yidish-Amerikaner redner
You might not be able to use any of these speeches word-for-word at your next family celebration, but if you’d like to know what people sounded like when they spoke at Jewish weddings, funerals, and bar mitzvahs in the early-20th-century U.S., you could do worse than to browse this extensive trilingual collection.
Di goldene medineh
There are plenty of books containing illustrations and cartoons by William Gropper in the Center’s online collections, but this book—ironically titled to reflect the artist’s sharp political critiques of U.S. politics and culture—is wall-to-wall Gropper, and a delight on every page.
The Artist as Dreamer
Come for the words of welcome in four languages—Yiddish, Hebrew, French, and English—and stay to listen to Cynthia Ozick, talking with characteristic verve and passion about Jacob Wasserman, Osip Mandelshtam, Anton Checkhov, the PLO, and much more. You may not agree with everything Ozick says, but you’ll wish you’d been there, in Montreal, in 1980, to hear her.