Yiddish Book Center
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"Miriam Karpilove, Photographic Retoucherin," new Bronx Bohemians article
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Focus On Spring is Here!
Spring is here! Well, almost. Purim is behind us, Pesach is just around the corner, the clocks have changed (which caught me by surprise, as usual), and tomorrow is the equinox, the official first day of spring. It’s a little-appreciated fact that the climate, weather, and change of seasons in Eastern Europe is much the same as we have here in North America—varying, of course, by region. Not so much in Australia, South Africa, or South America. But those of us in the United States or Canada get to experience the change of seasons much like our Eastern European forebears did. Let’s see what they had to say about it, shall we?
אויסגעקליבן Handpicked Sam Brivic
Each month, the Yiddish Book Center asks a member of our staff or a friend to select favorite stories, books, interviews, or articles from our online collections. This month, we’re excited to share with you picks by Sam Brivic, our membership manager.
“Beards,” by Abraham Goldberg (translated by Daniel Kennedy)
Abraham Goldberg’s essay on the state of facial hair among American Jewry in the early 20th century reveals some of the anxieties of the time. Through the lens of the beard, Goldberg bemoans that one must shave off the culture of the shtetl to become American. Despite the underlying sadness, Goldberg’s playful tone and wry observations bring a smile to my bearded face.
“An Old Woman with Young Dreams,” by Yente Serdatsky (translated by Jessica Kirzane)
So much is left unsaid about the characters that drift through Yente Serdatsky’s slice-of-life depiction of a day spent traversing New York. With vivid imagery and tight dialogue, Serdatsky makes it only natural to share in her intrigue with these passing strangers.
“The Esrog,” by Sholem Aleichem (translated by Curt Leviant)
This short story by Sholem Aleichem has it all: religious rituals, family and class dynamics, humor, sorrow . . . oh, and a talking piece of fruit. Set during sukes, the protagonist grapples with temptations as old as time.
Reading the Readers
I frequently find myself flipping through the Yiddish books on our shelves. There’s just one small hiccup—I don’t know Yiddish! As this “From the Vault” piece details, the little markings and alterations left behind by previous readers tell stories beyond each book’s original contents.
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