2024 Great Jewish Books Summer Program Faculty and Staff

Core Faculty

Jessica Kirzane is an assistant instructional professor in Yiddish in the department of Germanic languages at the University of Chicago and the editor-in-chief of In geveb: A Journal of Yiddish Studies. Her field of study is American Jewish literature, and she has published (or will soon be publishing) articles on the ethics of representations of African Americans in American Yiddish literature, discussions of intermarriage in American Yiddish newspapers, and the religious and social-evolutionary thinking in intermarriage narratives by San Francisco Jewish writer Emma Wolf and her contemporaries. She is also an enthusiastic translator of Yiddish literature, including work by Yiddish writers Joseph Opatoshu, Yenta Serdatsky, Dora Schulner, Perets Hirschbein, Getsl Selikovich, Miriam Karpilove, and others. She completed her translation of Miriam Karpilove's novel Diary of a Lonely Girl, or the Battle Against Free Love (Syracuse University Press, 2020) with support from a Translation Fellowship from the Yiddish Book Center. She has also published numerous resources and reflections on pedagogy in In geveb and on the Teach Great Jewish Books website of the Yiddish Book Center. 

"I loved reading and debating Yiddish stories and poems with the amazing faculty here, and I hope to continue studying more Yiddish literature in the future” — Great Jewish Books student

Sasha Senderovich is associate professor of Slavic, Jewish, and international studies at the University of Washington, Seattle. He is the author of How the Soviet Jew Was Made (Harvard University Press, 2022). He has also published on Soviet-born American Jewish writers like Gary Shteyngart, Anya Ulinich, Irina Reyn, and David Bezmozgis. Together with Harriet Murav, he is the translator of the Yiddish writer David Bergelson’s Judgment: A Novel (Northwestern University Press, 2017) and, from Yiddish and Russian, of In the Shadow of the Holocaust: Short Fiction by Jewish Writers from the Soviet Union (this project has received a 2023-2025 grant for Scholarly Editions and Translations from the National Endowment for the Humanities). He has also published essays on literary, cultural, and political topics in the Los Angeles Review of Books, the New York Times, the ForwardLilith, Jewish Currents, and the New Republic.

Miriam Udel is associate professor of German studies and Judith London Evans Director of the Tam Institute of Jewish Studies at Emory University, where her teaching focuses on Yiddish language, literature, and culture. She is the author of Never Better!: The Modern Jewish Picaresque (University of Michigan Press), winner of the 2017 National Jewish Book Award in Modern Jewish Thought and Experience. She is the editor and translator of Honey on the Page: A Treasury of Yiddish Children’s Literature (NYU Press, 2020), winner of the Judaica Reference Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries. Five works from this collection were adapted into the streaming radio play Somewhere Very Far Away by Seattle’s Tales of the Alchemysts Theater. Udel’s translation of Chaver Paver’s 1935 story collection about the adventures of a lovable proletarian mutt became the basis for Theater Emory’s 2021 puppet film Labzik: Tales of a Clever Pup. Recipient of an NEH Public Scholar grant in 2021-22, Udel is completing Umbrella Sky: Children’s Literature and Modern Jewish Worldmaking, under contract with Princeton University Press for publication in late 2024.

Visiting Authors

Los Angeles based artist Emily Bowen Cohen creates comics that explore intersectional identity. She is Jewish and a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Emily uses personal experience to tell stories that examine contemporary American and Jewish culture. Her debut graphic novel, Two Tribes, is published by HarperCollins’ Native-focused imprint, Heartdrum. 

Joy Ladin has long worked at the intersection of trans identity, Jewish tradition and poetry, and has published ten books of poetry, including Shekhinah Speaks; National Jewish Book Award winner The Book of Anna; Lambda Literary Award finalists Transmigration and Impersonation, the latter of which was recently reissued in a free revised edition from Double Back Books. A new collection, Family, is forthcoming from Persea in September 2024, and is available for preorder now at www.perseabooks.com/family. Her work has been recognized with a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Fulbright Scholarship, among other honors. Her writing is available at www.joyladin.com.

Shoshana Olidort is a critic, writer, and translator. Her work has appeared in Asymptote, the Columbia Journal, Electric Lit, Lit Hub, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Paris Review Daily, Public Books, and the Times Literary Supplement, among other outlets. She holds a PhD in comparative literature from Stanford University and is an editor for the Poetry Foundation. 

Residential Assistants (RAs)

Elijah (Eli) Burger (they/he) is a Jewish educator with a deep love for farming, singing, and the woods. He has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College where he studied poetry, political economics, German, and Spanish. Currently, they work at Congregation B’nai Israel in Northampton, MA, where they wear many hats. When they are not there, they can be found trying to keep their many houseplants alive, listening to birds, watching / playing basketball, and writing songs about worms. This will be their second year staffing the Great Jewish Books Summer Program, and they are so excited to bask in the magic of Jewish literature with everyone!

Ilan Fichman (they/them/elle) calls Northern California and Central New Mexico home. They've studied Yiddish, Arabic, Mandarin, Spanish, and Hebrew, and their favorite language is poetry. You can find them at the nearest body of water with their feet in the sand when they're not providing counseling for college students and organizing earth-based Jewish ritual. They are thrilled to return to the Yiddish Book Center as an RA this summer.

Ozzy Irving Gold-Shapiro (Senior RA) is a curious historian, Yiddishist, and Jewish cultural organizer living on Nipmuck, Pocomtuck, and Nonotuck land in so-called western Massachusetts. They can usually be found in dusty and/or digital archives poking around in the past, or up on stage, playing music with their klezmer band Burikes (“beets” in Yiddish), or performing in Yiddish archival-based spectacle theater projects. They orchestrate multigenerational, community-led spectacle theater parades based on Jewish folk art, music, culture, and radical histories through The People’s Puppet Parade, and co-organize KlezCummington, a yearly festival dedicated to the creation and deepening of Yiddish diasporic cultures. They believe that the past is alive and always changing and love looking in new places for old answers. In 2014, they participated in the Yiddish Book Center’s Steiner Summer Yiddish Program and were also a 2016–2017 graduate fellow. They currently work as a bilingual (Yiddish and English) Field Fellow for the Yiddish Book Center's Wexler Oral History Project. This will be their eighth year staffing Great Jewish Books. They are excited to get to know you!

Yankl (Jake) Krakovsky (he/they) is a theater maker, educator, and Yiddishist originally from Atlanta, GA. They have worked professionally for over a decade as an actor, puppeteer, writer, director, dramaturg, teaching artist, and clown. Yankl is a current Field Fellow with the Wexler Oral History Project and incoming Translation Fellow at the Yiddish Book Center. He can't wait to have a great Jewish time reading great Jewish books with you! 

Elya Raine (they/them) is an educator, organizer, writer, beginner Yiddishist, and huge fan of the ocean currently living on Nipmuc land. They are studying to become a history teacher and will be spending next year student teaching in so-called Worcester, Massachusetts. They were a student in the Great Jewish Books Summer Program and can’t wait to be back at the Yiddish Book Center for their second summer staffing the program! Ask them about teacher education programs, climate justice, apocalypse fiction, or consumer boycotts in the 1970s.

Ruby Elliott Zuckerman (she/her) is a writer living in Los Angeles. Her fiction has appeared in the Beloit Fiction Journal, the Quarterless Review, SARKA Journal, and others. She co-owns the Judaica company Judaica Standard Time and copywrites for Hannah Hoffman Gallery. She has a bachelor's degree in English from Macalester College.

Staff

Madeleine (Mindl) Cohen, academic director. Mindl has a PhD in Comparative Literature with an emphasis in Jewish Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on modern Yiddish literature and the relationships between Jewish politics in central and eastern Europe and writing about place; she is also interested in translation studies and the recovery of writing by women. Mindl has taught Yiddish language at UC Berkeley, Harvard University, the Yiddish Book Center, and for a number of community organizations. In addition to overseeing the educational programs of the Yiddish Book Center, she directs translation initiatives at the Center, which includes the Yiddish translation fellowship and the short works in translation series. Mindl was formerly chief editor for In geveb: A Journal of Yiddish Studies, and now serves as president of In geveb’s board of directors. She is a visiting lecturer in Jewish Studies at Mount Holyoke College.

Margaret Frothingham, translation and education program manager. Margaret coordinates several programs at the Yiddish Book Center, including the Translation Fellowship, YiddishSchool, and Great Jewish Books. While she is fond of all types of literature, she has a passion for children's books, and recently received a dual MA/MFA in children's literature from Simmons University. She loves getting to know the students at Great Jewish Books!

Sylvia Peterson, associate director of education administration. Sylvia helps run educational programs for all ages at the Yiddish Book Center. Prior to joining the Center in 2014, she worked at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. She holds a BA in classics from Mount Holyoke College and has a passion for art history, language, and museum studies. She’s also an avid baker.