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Focus On Jewish American Heritage Month

For Jewish American Heritage Month and as part of our 2022 Decade of Discovery: Women in Yiddish, we're featuring articles and work by and about women’s role in the vibrant and varied Jewish American experience.

The Yiddish Book Center's Decade of Discovery is an initiative launched by the Center to mark our 40th anniversary in 2020. Its aim is to foster a deeper understanding of Yiddish and modern Jewish culture. 


אויסגעקליבן Handpicked Zachary Baker

Zachary Baker

Over the course of more than four decades, Zachary M. Baker served as a Judaica librarian at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, the Jewish Public Library of Montreal, and Stanford University. He is a contributor to Pakn Treger and compiled the Yiddish Book Center's list of 1000 Essential Yiddish Books. Since retiring in 2018 Zachary has pursued research on episodes in the history of the Yiddish theater and he writes regularly for the Digital Yiddish Theatre Project and is a contributor to In geveb: a journal of Yiddish Studies and serves on its Board.


Di Yudishe folks-bibliothek, a bukh fir literatur, kritik un vissenshaft

Publication of Di Yudishe folks-bibliothek (Kiev [Kyiv], 1888) was a signal event in modern Yiddish culture. This pathbreaking literary almanac was edited and financed by none other than Sholem Aleichem… before he squandered his family’s fortune at the stock exchange. Found within its pages, among works by other major writers of that era, are contributions by the three Yiddish klasiker: Mendele Moykher Sforim (the novel Dos vintshfingerl), I. L. Peretz (the epic poem Monish), and Sholem Aleichem himself (the novel Stempenyu).

Ruth R. Wisse – Di Yunge: A Group of American-Jewish Literary Rebels

Di Yunge was a group of young modernist writers that emerged in New York City before World War I. Ruth R. Wisse delivered this riveting interpretation (in English) of their poetics and their worldview at the Jewish Public Library on December 8, 1973. (In 1973, Professor Wisse was teaching Yiddish literature at McGill University; she later joined the Harvard faculty.) Her longstanding engagement with the lives and writings of Di Yunge eventually led to her book A Little Love in Big Manhattan (1988). In it she focused on two of Di Yunge’s leading poets, Mani Leib (Brahinsky) and Moishe Leib Halpern, whom she also discussed in this lecture.

Miriam Borden – A Nation of Little Readers

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic the Yiddish Book Center, like other organizations, has presented dozens of online programs. Among those that I’ve watched during the past two-and-a-half years, I especially enjoyed Miriam Borden’s incisive and highly enjoyable presentation from November 12, 2020. Her talk made me think about Yiddish schoolbooks in ways that I had never considered before. Marginalia as Midrash, anyone?

Der Oytser fun der Yidisher shprakh, by Nahum Stutchkoff

Stutchkoff’s thesaurus stands close to the pinnacle of Yiddish lexicography. It might very well contain more words than any Yiddish dictionary, and their usage is amplified through a plethora of pithy idioms and phrases. Like such English-language counterparts as Roget’s Thesaurus, Der Oytser is organized along numerically classified categories and an exhaustive index sends us to the terms that we’re seeking. Plus, the Yiddish Book Center’s Full-Text Search (an OCR engine) offers a convenient way to locate words in Der Oytser.

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