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Yiddish Book Center

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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 Michelle Sigiel

Black and white illustration of a woman wearing earrings and scarf

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 Michelle Sigiel, our metadata librarian.


A yidish-englisher ovnt in ondenk fun rokhl korn olehasholem tsu der derefenung fun ir arkhiv

This program discusses the influence of Rokhl Korn’s work on English-Canadian writing and identity. It shows how the complex ties of Yiddish-Canadian and English-Canadian identity are entwined through migrations from Eastern Europe and documented in the Jewish Public Library of Montreal’s archival recordings, reflecting the diversity of Yiddish culture and identity in Canada. I thought this was interesting because it explores the diaspora culture and hyphenated identities so common in Yiddish materials. Much of the materials I catalog deal in some way with the Yiddish-speaking Jewish diaspora and identity.

Fira Bramson Wexler Oral History Interview

I have been cataloging the Wexler Oral History Project’s interviews and found this interview by Fira Bramson, the former bibliographer of the Judaica collection at the Lithuanian National Archives, to be fascinating. I began my Yiddish language journey studying in Vilnius at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute and was very interested in Fira’s experiences as a library professional working in Lithuania and Kaunas before the war. I think this interview is important because so many people come to librarianship with a personal connection to Yiddish or having grown up with Yiddish as a mame-loshn.

Arkhiv funem idishn sotsyalist redagirt fun Leon Hazanovitsh

I chose this because I think it reflects how we have many documents in our collections from the Russian revolutionary period and how it has remained such an important period for Yiddish culture and identity. The Yiddish-speaking world published voraciously on subjects related to communism, socialism, and labor. However, these documents were meant to be ephemeral and not permanent in nature, and yet we have managed to preserve such documents in our collections.

“Eating the Archives” by Mikhl Yashinsky

This From the Vault piece on Yiddish and English-language recipe clippings discovered in the Yiddish Book Center’s vault provides a look into Jewish identity and culture through food. Interest in the overlap between food archives and Yiddish culture has abounded in recent years, and I frequently find myself looking for these more ephemeral materials related to cooking and food for users.

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