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Decade of Discovery Yiddish in America: Cultural Encounters
The Decade of Discovery is a new initiative of the Yiddish Book Center, launched in conjunction with our Fortieth Anniversary in 2020, designed to foster a deeper understanding of Yiddish and modern Jewish culture. This year's theme focuses on Jewish immigration and the ways in which the encounter with Yiddish culture has shaped Jewish life in America over the past 150 years. In celebration of this theme, we're spotlighting a collection of short interview excerpts from the Wexler Oral History Project about American Jewish farming communities in the US, a slideshow with iconic images from New York's Yiddish theater, and a "From the Vault" piece by Eitan Kensky about some of the more "colorful" guidebooks in our collection written for Jewish immigrants to the United States.
Handpicked Sylvia Peterson
Choosing just a few items from our vast collections felt like "fishing in a wide ocean," Sylvia, an education program manager at the Yiddish Book Center, says. So she decided to theme her selections accordingly. Here are some of her fish-themed favorites.
"Well Said: Beser gefilte fish eyder gefilte tsores (Better Stuffed Fish than Stuffed Troubles)"
Asya Vaisman Schulman’s essay about the (d)evolution of gefilte fish, from freshly made to jarred, makes me long to try homemade gefilte fish. I’m also fascinated by the “gefilte fish line,” which divides the geographical regions of sweet- and savory-gefilte-fish-eaters and coincides with the dividing line between Yiddish dialects.
"Triolet" and "On Hearing Chopin"
These two poems by Israel Emiot are beautifully translated by Leah Zazulyer, whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting at many of our weekend programs. The first poem, about a little goldfish, somehow fills me with optimism despite being so tragic. The second poem (not fish-related) echoes the mellifluous notes of Chopin in a lyrical ode to his music.