Online Lecture Series: Suggested Readings

Please note: This list is intended as a guide to accompany our Yiddish & Jewish Culture: Online Lecture Series. While not all of the readings listed below are available in our collections, we have linked the ones that are. You may find some texts in the original Yiddish by searching our Steven Spielberg Digital Yiddish Library. We hope that viewers find these titles helpful for reference, even if they may not be all accessible from home.

To jump to a particular series, click one of the links in the menu below.

The Plays of Sholem Asch, with Joel Berkowitz, David Mazower, and Caraid O’Brien


  • Sholem Asch, God of Vengeance (Got fun nekome), translated by Caraid O’Brien.
  • Sholem Asch, Prologue of Motke the Thief (Motke ganev), translated by Caraid O’Brien.
  • Sholem Asch, The Sinner (Der zindiker), translated by Isaac Goldberg.
  • Sholem Asch, Winter (Um vinter), translated by Isaac Goldberg.
  • David Mazower, “Sholem Asch: Images of a Life” in Sholem Asch Reconsidered, edited by Nanette Stahl, 2004.

Online Resources:

  • An open letter from Sholem Asch re God of Vengeance, available here.
  • The Digital Yiddish Theater Project has several articles on Asch.
  • Asch’s work can be read in the original Yiddish in a four-volume set in the Yiddish Book Center’s Digital Yiddish Library. Find the first volume here.
  • Listen to select works by Asch read aloud in Yiddish, recorded at the Jewish Public Library in Montreal—A shtetl here, and Motke ganev here.

Yiddish Women Writers Reclaimed, with Professor Anita Norich

For Lecture 1:

•  Celia Dropkin, “A Dancer,” in Found Treasures: Stories by Yiddish Women Writers, edited by Ethel Raicus, Frieda Forman, Sarah Silberstein Swartz, and Margie Wolfe. 

•  Esther Singer Kreitman, “The New World,” in Found Treasures: Stories by Yiddish Women Writers.

•  Blume Lempel, “Even the Heavens Tell Lies,” in Oedipus in Brooklyn and Other Stories, translated by Ellen Cassedy. 

•  Anna Margolin, “Epitaph,” in The Penguin Book of Modern Yiddish Verse, edited by Irving Howe, Ruth Wisse, and Khone Shmeruk. Penguin Books, 1987.

•  Anna Margolin, “Epitaph,” available here

•  Anna Margolin, “Once I Was Young,” in The Penguin Book of Modern Yiddish Verse.

•  Malka Heifetz Tussman, “Water Without Sound,” in The Penguin Book of Modern Yiddish Verse.

For Lecture 2:

•  Celia Dropkin, “The Acrobat,” in The Acrobat: Selected Poems of Celia Dropkin, translated by Faith Jones, Jennifer Kronovet, and Samuel Solomon.

•  Celia Dropkin, “The Circus Dancer,” in The Penguin Book of Modern Yiddish Verse.

•  Anna Margolin, “Drowse On, My Beloved,” in Drunk from the Bitter Truth, translated by Shirley Kumove. SUNY Press, 2005.

•  Anna Margolin, “Kissed My Hand,” in Drunk from the Bitter Truth.

•  Kadya Molodovsky, “Olke,” in Paper Bridges: Selected Poems Kadya Molodowsky, translated and edited by Kathryn Hellerstein

•  Malka Heifetz Tussman, “Songs of the Priestess,” in With Teeth in the Earth, translated by Marcia Falk. Wayne State University Press, 1992.

•  Malka Heifetz Tussman, “Widowhood,” in The Penguin Book of Modern Yiddish Verse.

For Lecture 3:

•  Rokhl Auerbach, “Once There Was a King,” in Discovering Exile by Anita Norich. Stanford University Press, 2007.

•  Shira Gorshman, “High Doorsteps,” in Pakn Treger. Available here

•  Esther Singer Kreitman, p. 237-64 from Deborah, translated by Maurice Carr. Feminist Press, 2004.

•  Kadya Molodovsky, “God of Mercy,” in The Penguin Book of Modern Yiddish Verse.

•  Malka Heifetz Tussman, “Cellars and Attics,” in American Yiddish Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology by Benjamin and Barbara Harshav.

•  Malka Heifetz Tussman, “In Spite,” in American Yiddish Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology.

For Lecture 4:

•  Anna Margolin, “My Ancestors Speak,” in Drunk from the Bitter Truth.

•  Kadya Molodovsky, “Women-Poems,” in Paper Bridges: Selected Poems Kadya Molodowsky.

•  Chava Rosenfarb, “Little Red Bird,” in Survivors: Seven Short Stories by Chava Rosenfarb, translated by Goldie Morgentaler.

•  Fradel Shtok, “The Veil,” in Found Treasures: Stories by Yiddish Women Writers.

•  Malka Heifetz Tussman, “Forgotten,” in American Yiddish Poetry.

•  Malka Heifetz Tussman, “I Am Woman,” in With Teeth in the Earth.

An-sky: Jewish Writer, Russian Revolutionary, with Professor Gabriella Safran

For Lecture 1:

•  S. An-sky, short stories in The Dybbuk and Other Writings, edited by David G. Roskies and translated by Golda Werman: “Mendl Turk,” “Hunger,” and “Go Talk to a Goy.”

For Lecture 2:

•  S. An-sky, Pioneers: A Tale of Russian-Jewish Life in the 1880s, pages 1-18, 122-137. Translated by Michael R. Katz.

For Lecture 3:

•  S. An-sky, The Dybbuk, in The Dybbuk and Other Writings.

For Lecture 4:

•  S. An-sky, The Enemy at His Pleasure: A Journey Through the Jewish Pale of Settlement During World War I, translated by Joachim Neugroschel. Metropolitan Books, 2002.

Written by the Speaker: Gabriella Safran, Wandering Soul: The Dybbuk's Creator, S. Ansky.

Between Fantasy and Reality: The Writings of Der Nister, with Professor Mikhail Krutikov

By Der Nister:

•  “At the Border” (pages 44-59), “The Fool and the Forest Demon” (pages 123-127), “In the Wine Cellar” (pages 246-264) in Yenne Velt: Great Works of Jewish Fantasy, edited by Joachim Neugroschel. London: Picador Books, 1978.

•  “Under a Fence: A Revue” (pages 193-218) in Ashes out of Hope: Fiction by Soviet-Yiddish Writers, edited by Irving Howe and Eliezer Greenberg and translated by Seymour Levitan. New York: Schocken, 1977.

•  Chapter 1: “The Town N” and Chapter 3, “Luzi Among His Own” in The Family Mashber, translated by Leonard Wolf.

•  “Meylekh Magnus” (pages 3-90) and “Rive Yosl Buntsies” (pages 219-241) in Regrowth: Seven Tales of Jewish Life before, during, and after Occupation. Translation of Vidervuks by Erik Butler. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2011.

About Der Nister:

•  Bechtel, Delphine. Der Nister’s Work, 1907–1929: A Study of a Yiddish Symbolist. Berne: Peter Lang, 1990.

•  Estraikh, Gennady, Kerstin Hoge, and Mikhail Krutikov, eds. Uncovering the Hidden: The Works and Life of Der Nister. Oxford: Legenda, 2014.

•  Kotlerman, Ber. Broken Heart/Broken Wholeness: The Post-Holocaust Plea for Jewish Reconstruction of the Soviet Yiddish Writer Der Nister. Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2017.

•  Roskies, David G. A Bridge of Longing: The Lost Art of Jewish Storytelling. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995.

•  Shmeruk, Chone. “Der Nister’s ‘Under a Fence’: Tribulations of a Soviet Yiddish Symbolist.” In The Field of Yiddish: Studies in Language, Folklore, and Literature; Second Collection, edited by Uriel Weinreich, 263–87. London: Mouton, 1965.

Written by the Faculty:  Krutikov, Mikhail. Der Nister’s Soviet Years: Yiddish Writer as Witness to the People.

The Family Singer: Three Siblings and Their Stories, with Professor Anita Norich

For Lecture 2:

•  Short stories in The Collected Stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer : “Gimpel the Fool” and “Yentl the Yeshiva Boy.”

•  Anita Norich, Chapter 3 of Writing in Tongues: Translating Yiddish in the Twentieth Century.

For Lecture 3:

•  Esther Singer Kreitman, Dance of the Demons (also known as Deborah) with essays included in The Feminist Press edition.

     -  “Introduction” by Ilan Stavans.
     -  “Afterword” by Anita Norich.
     -  “My Uncle Yitzhak” by Maurice Carr.
     -  “My Grandmother Esther” by Hazel Karr.

•  Israel Joshua Singer, Of a World That Is No More. (Out of print; used copies available online.)

•  Isaac Bashevis Singer, In My Father’s Court.

For Lecture 4:

•  Isaac Bashevis Singer, “The Little Shoemakers,” in The Collected Stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer.

•  Isaac Bashevis Singer, The Magician of Lublin.

•  Israel Joshua Singer, Yoshe Kalb, translated by Maurice Samuel. Harper & Row, 1965.

•  Esther Singer Kreitman, “The New World,” translated by Barbara Harshav. Printed in Lilith magazine, 1991. Available here.

Written by the Speaker: Anita Norich, The Homeless Imagination in the Fiction of Israel Joshua Singer.

I. L. Peretz: Classic and Contemporary, with Professors Ruth Wisse and Justin Cammy 

Unless otherwise noted, all readings listed are in The I.L. Peretz Reader, edited by Ruth R. Wisse. Yale University Press, 2002.

For Lecture 1:

•  I. L. Peretz, “Monish.”

•  I. L. Peretz, “The Rabbi of Skul's Widow” from the section Impressions of a Journey.

•  I. L. Peretz, “The Shabbes Goy.”

•  I. L. Peretz, “Over a Pinch of Snuff.”

•  I. L. Peretz, “Yom Kippur in Hell.”

For Lecture 2:

•  I. L. Peretz, “What is the Soul.”

•  I. L. Peretz, “A Musician's Death.”

•  I. L. Peretz, “Between Two Mountains.”

•  I. L. Peretz, “Devotion Without End,” in A Treasury of Yiddish Stories, edited by Irving Howe and Eliezer Greenberg. Penguin Books, 1990.

For Lecture 4:

•  I. L. Peretz, “A Night in the Old Marketplace.”

•  I. L. Peretz, “The Golden Chain,” in the Selected Works of I.L. Peretz, edited by Marvin Zuckerman and Marion Herbst. Pangloss Press, 1996.

Written by the Faculty:  Ruth Wisse, I. L. Peretz and the Making of Modern Jewish Culture. University of Washington Press, 2015.

The Jewish Metropolis: Warsaw And Vilna Before The Holocaust, with Professor Samuel Kassow

Lectures 1 and 2:

•  Wladyslaw Bartoszewski and Antony Polonsky, Introduction to The Jews in Warsaw: A History. Oxford: Blackwell, 1991. 1-52.

Lecture 3:

•  Arcadius Kahan, “Vilna: The Sociocultural Anatomy of a Jewish Community in Interwar Poland.” In Essays in Jewish Social and Economic History, edited by Arcadius Kahan. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986. 149-161.

The Rise and Fall of Ladino-Speaking Jews, with Professor Devin Naar

For Lecture 1:

•  Aron Rodrigue, “The Ottoman Diaspora: The Rise and Fall of Ladino Literary Culture,” in Cultures of the Jews, edited by David Biale. Schocken Books, 2002.

•  Aron Rodrigue and Sarah Abrevaya Stein, A Jewish Voice from Ottoman Salonica: The Ladino Memoir of Sa’adi Besalel a-Levi. Stanford, 2012. This is a translation of the first known Ladino memoir. Preface, chapters 1-4, 7, 12, 16 (and glossary as needed).

For Lecture 2:

•  David Bunis, “Judeo-Spanish Culture in Medieval and Modern Times.” in Sephardic and Mizrahi Jewry From the Golden Age of Spain to Modern Times, edited by Zion Zohar. New York University, 2005.

•  Dan Ben-Amos, “Story of the Baklava,” in Folktales of the Jews: Tales from the Sephardic Dispersion. Nebraska Press, 2006.

For Lecture 3:

•  Mark Mazower, “Genocide,” Salonica, City of Ghosts. Random House, 2006.

•  George Ioannou, “The Bed,” translated by M. Byron Raizis. In Stories, Literary Review, 16:3 (Spring 1973) page 303.

For Lecture 4:

•  Devin Naar, “Turkinos beyond the Empire: Ottoman Jews in America, 1893-1924,” Jewish Quarterly Review 105: 2 (Spring 2015) pages 174-205.

•  Emma Adatto, “Tia Estambulia.” Midstream 27: 2 (February 1981) pages 33-36.

Written by the Speaker: Devin Naar, Jewish Salonica: Between the Ottoman Empire and Modern Greece.

The Romance and Tragedy of Soviet Yiddish Culture, with Professor David Shneer


•  Zvi Gitelman, Jewish Nationality and Soviet Politics (1972).

•  Lionel Kochan, The Jews in Soviet Russia Since 1917 (1978).

Post-Soviet Wave Scholarship:

•  Gennady Estraikh, Soviet Yiddish (1999).

•  Jeffrey Veidlinger, The Moscow State Yiddish Theater (2000).

•  Robert Weinberg, Stalin’s Forgotten Zion (2000).

•  David Shneer, Yiddish and the Creation of Soviet Jewish Culture (2004). 

•  Anna Shternshis, Soviet and Kosher (2006). 

•  Jonathan Dekel Chen, Farming the Red Land (2008).

•  Gennady Estraikh, Yiddish in the Cold War (2008).

•  Joseph Sherman, Gennady Estraikh, et al., A Captive of the Dawn: The Life and Work of Peretz Markish (2011).

Latest Scholarship:

•  Elissa Bemporad, Becoming Soviet Jews (2013). 


•  Zvi Gitelman, Centuries of Ambivalence (2001).

•  Yuri Slezkine, The Jewish Century (2010).


•  David Bergelson, The Stories of David Bergelson (1996).

•  Nathan Englander, “The Twenty-Seventh Man,” in For the Relief of Unbearable Urges (2000).

•  Moyshe Kulbak, The Zelmanyaners: A Family Saga (2013). 

Sholem Aleichem: A Life in Fact and Fiction, with Professor Jeremy Dauber

•  Sholem Aleichem, “Londons: The Odessa Exchange” from The Letters of Menakhem-Mendl & Sheyne-Sheyndl and Motl, the Cantor's Son, translated by Hillel Halkin. 

•  Sholem Aleichem, “Part Two” of Motl, the Cantor’s Son, translated by Hillel Halkin. 

•  Sholem Aleichem, short stories from Tevye the Dairyman and The Railroad Stories, translated by Hillel Halkin. 

    -  “Tevye Strikes It Rich.”
    -  “Tevye Blows a Small Fortune.”
    -  “Today’s Children.”
    -  “Chava.”

•  Sholem Aleichem, short stories from The Old Country, translated by Julius and Frances Butwin. Crown Publishers, 1946.

    -  “The Enchanted Tailor”
    -  “Eternal Life”

Written by the Speaker:

•  Jeremy Dauber, The Worlds of Sholem Aleichem: The Remarkable Life and Afterlife of the Man Who Created Tevye. Schocken, 2013.

•  Jeremy Dauber, Jewish Comedy: A Serious History. W. W. Norton & Company, 2017.

Additional Resource: The Official Sholem Aleichem Website.

The World of Yiddish Theater, with Professor Debra Caplan

•  S. An-sky, The Dybbuk. 

•  Avrom Goldfaden, The Two Kuni-Lemls, in Landmark Yiddish Plays, edited and translated by Joel Berkowitz and Jeremy Dauber. SUNY Press, 2006.

Written by the Speaker:

•  Debra Caplan, Yiddish Empire: The Vilna Troupe, Jewish Theater, and the Art of Itinerancy. University of Michigan Press, 2018.

Additional Resource: The Digital Yiddish Theater Project, available here

Yiddish con Salsa: The Jews of Latin America, with Professor Ilan Stavans

•  Moacyr Scliar, The Centaur in the Garden,1980. 

•  Jacobo Timerman, Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number, translated by Toby Talbot. University of Wisconsin Press, 2002.

•  Selections from Tropical Synagogues: Short Stories by Jewish-Latin American Authors, edited by Ilan Stavans. Holmes & Meier, 1994:

    -  Jorge Luis Borges, “Emma Zunz” and “The Secret Miracle”
    -  Alberto Gerchunoff, “Camacho’s Wedding Feast”
    -  Clarise Lispector, “Love”
    -  Isaac Goldemberg, “The Conversions”
    -  Alcina Lubitch Domecq, “Bottles”

Sabbath Days and Extinguished Stars: The Life and Work of Chaim Grade, with Justin Cammy, David Fishman, and Joseph Berger

  • Chaim Grade, My Mother’s Sabbath Days, translated by Channa Kleinerman Goldstein and Inna Hecker Grade. Alfred A. Knopf, 1986.

  • Chaim Grade, “My Quarrel with Hersh Rasseyener,” in A Treasury of Yiddish Stories, edited by Irving Howe and Eliezer Greenberg. Penguin Books, 1990.

  • Chaim Grade, The Yeshiva, translated by Curt Leviant. The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1968. 

  • Newly-digitized books by Grade, and other resources from the Center’s collections, available here.