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TALK | Undzer Biblyotek: Montreal’s Jewish Public Library at the Center of Yiddish Culture, with Sebastian Schulman, Rivka Augenfeld, and Sonia Bloom

Sebastian Schulman, Rivka Augenfeld, and Sonia Bloom

About this program:

TALK | Undzer Biblyotek: Montreal’s Jewish Public Library at the Center of Yiddish Culture, with Sebastian Schulman, Rivka Augenfeld, and Sonia Bloom

Featuring: Sebastian Schulman, Rivka Augenfeld, and Sonia Bloom

Founded in 1914, Montreal’s Jewish Public Library (JPL) has long been considered a major center of Yiddish culture, research, and community. In this presentation, we will explore the library’s history from its beginnings as a small immigrant-run educational initiative to its role as the heart of Montreal’s distinctive and vibrant Yiddish cultural scene and its present as a quintilingual institution and archive serving casual readers and serious scholars alike both locally and across the globe. Combining historical analysis with personal reflections, the talk will also include a deep dive into the Yiddish Book Center’s Frances Brandt Audio Library, which contains over fifty years of the library’s unique audio treasures. Hosted by Montreal’s Sebastian Schulman, with Rivka Augenfeld (JPL) and Sonia Bloom (Yiddish Book Center)

Sebastian Schulman is a literary translator from Yiddish and other languages. From 2017 to 2022, he served as the executive director of KlezKanada, a leading organization in Yiddish arts and culture. His original writing and translations have appeared in Two Lines, Words Without Borders, ANMLY, Electric Literature, and elsewhere. His translation of Spomenka Stimec’s Esperanto-language novel Croatian War Nocturnal was published by Phoneme Media/Deep Vellum in 2017. He lives in Montréal, Québec.

Rivka Augenfeld has been a member of the Montreal Jewish Public Library since her mother Liba wheeled her in through the front door at age 2. The JPL quickly became a place of learning, fun, inspiration and participation - guided by her parents and uncle she started reciting Yiddish poems at various literary events and ‘khurbn’ commemorations. Soon she was also involved in planning these programs. As a member of the Board of Directors, then an Officer, she helped in the efforts to guide the JPL to a sustainable future. During her ongoing term as Chair of the Yiddish Program Committee, she continues to have a hands-on role in preparing the variety of Yiddish-themed events the JPL presents. For over 45 years Rivka has been involved in assuring adequate services to immigrants and refugees. In 2015, she was one of 40 people honored to mark the 40th anniversary of the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Sonia Bloom received her BA from Oberlin College in 2018, with majors in comparative literature, Hispanic studies, and Latin American studies, along with a concentration in literary translation. She has since worked as a museum educator, language tutor, and translator in New York City and Buenos Aires. Sonia was the 2021–22 Yiddish education and translation initiatives fellow and continues to work at the Center as a Yiddish education specialist, assisting in teacher training, program planning, and activity design. She supervises ongoing work by Steiner Summer Program students on the Center’s Frances Brandt Online Yiddish Audio Library.

This event took place on April 20, 2023. It was presented online by the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA.

This recording was digitized and added to the library in May 2023.

This recording is in English

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