A growing collection of in-depth interviews with people of all ages and backgrounds, whose stories about the legacy and changing nature of Yiddish language and culture offer a rich and complex chronicle of Jewish identity.
The Jewish Mark Twain
Bel Kaufman, z"l, granddaughter of Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem and author of award-winning novels, retells the mythical story of her grandfather meeting Mark Twain, although she concedes that she doesn't see much similarity in their respective styles.
This is an excerpt from an oral history with Bel Kaufman.
This excerpt is in English.
Bel Kaufman was born in Berlin, Germany in 1911. Bel, z"l, died in 2014.
This interview is part of the Beyond the Books: Yiddish writers and their descendants series.
Other video highlights from this oral history
The Jewish Mark Twain2 minutes 46 seconds
Sholem Aleichem: The Great Mimic1 minute 9 seconds
The Writer At Work: Sholem Aleichem's Habits1 minute 44 seconds
"You Must Not Call Him Mr. Aleichem": Sholem Rabinovitz' Pen Name1 minute 21 seconds
A Stepmother's Yiddish Curses: Sholem Aleichem's First Work1 minute 35 seconds
"Huge Black Iron Gate": A Childhood Memory of Odessa1 minute 43 seconds
Learning Empathy During the Russian Revolution4 minutes 2 seconds
"He Was Not Like Any Grandfather I Knew": Memories of Sholem Aleichem2 minutes 25 seconds
To Me, He Was "Papa": My Grandfather, Sholem Aleichem2 minutes 14 seconds
"You Have To Be Hungry To Appreciate Food": Chocolate Arrives to Odessa in a Hoover Package2 minutes 55 seconds
Bel Kaufman's First Memories of New York and English2 minutes 9 seconds
My Introduction to Communism3 minutes 31 seconds
Sholem Aleichem's Gift: How My Grandfather Elevated Yiddish To A World Literature2 minutes 34 seconds
My Inheritance From Sholem Aleichem59 seconds
Memories of the Russian Revolution2 minutes 16 seconds
Motl, The Cantor's Son: A Childhood (Imaginary) Friend2 minutes 9 seconds
About the Wexler Oral History Project
Since 2010, the Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project has recorded more than 500 in-depth video interviews that provide a deeper understanding of the Jewish experience and the legacy and changing nature of Yiddish language and culture.
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Do you (or someone you know) have stories to share about the importance of Yiddish language and culture in your life?