About the Great Jewish Books Seminar

The deadline to apply for this program has passed. If you're interested in applying for a future session email Lesley Yalen at [email protected] for more information.

What did Sholem Aleichem—the Yiddish humorist who created Tevye the Dairyman—have to say about sinning on Yom Kippur? Why was being in nature so important to both Mendele Mokher Sforim (the “grandfather” of Yiddish literature) and Rebbe Nachman of Bratslav? How does a modern Yiddish poet writing after the Holocaust reinterpret the practice of tkhines, one of the oldest women’s religious genres?

During this weeklong virtual seminar, Jewish clergy and religious educators will explore the ways in which modern Jewish literature sheds light on both Jewish tradition and contemporary Jewish questions. Rabbis, rabbinical students, cantors, cantorial students, and Jewish educators are eligible to apply.

Working with literature scholars who are also deeply involved in Jewish religious life, participants will read and discuss a selection of Jewish literature, with a focus on Yiddish literature, written from the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) to the present day, putting these works in conversation with traditional religious texts and practices. All readings will be provided in English translation. Seminars will be participatory and lively.

This program aims to provide personal enrichment for Jewish leaders and educators, to inspire them to integrate modern Jewish and Yiddish literature into their pastoral, communal, and educational work, and to foster collegiality and intellectual exchange among the cohort. Participants will also be introduced to many resources offered by the Yiddish Book Center through talks and discussions with staff.

Every admitted participant will receive a scholarship for the full cost of tuition and course texts. We welcome applications from Jewish clergy and Jewish educators of all backgrounds and affiliations, and we encourage applications from LGBTQ+ people and people of color.

This program was made possible by a generous donor in honor of Iris Mitzner and by Walter, Arnee, Sarah, and Aaron Winshall.