Faculty

The Steiner Summer Yiddish Program faculty reflect a variety of disciplines and a wide range of interests in contemporary Yiddish scholarship.

2022 Steiner Summer Yiddish Program faculty will be announced soon.


2021 Yiddish Language Faculty:

Asya Vaisman Schulman, the director of the Yiddish Language Institute and the Steiner Summer Yiddish Program at the Yiddish Book Center, will teach Beginning Yiddish. Schulman is the author of In eynem, a new Yiddish textbook for beginners that relies on the communicative approach to language learning. Before joining the Center, Schulman taught Yiddish at Indiana University, where she was also the project manager of AHEYM, the Archives of Historical and Ethnographic Yiddish Memories. Schulman has taught Yiddish courses at Harvard, Columbia, the New York Workmen’s Circle, and Gann Academy in Waltham, Massachusetts. She holds a BA from Barnard College, Columbia University, and a PhD in Yiddish from Harvard. Her PhD research was on the Yiddish songs and singing practices of contemporary Hasidic women.

Rivke (Rebecca) Margolis, the director and Pratt Foundation Chair of Jewish Civilisation at the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, will teach Intermediate Yiddish. She earned her PhD in Yiddish Studies at Columbia University and has been teaching Yiddish language and culture ever since, both in community and university settings and intensive summer programs around the world. She has been involved with the Steiner Summer Yiddish Program since 2009. Her research focuses on Yiddish language and culture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and her current project on new Yiddish cinema examines film and television with Yiddish dialogue produced over the last two decades. She is the author of Jewish Roots, Canadian Soil: Yiddish Culture in Montreal, 1905-1945 as well as Basic Yiddish: A Grammar and Workbook. 

Moishele Alfonso will be teaching sections in both Beginning and Intermediate Yiddish. Moishele was born in Memphis, TN and received his BA in German and French from the University of Memphis. In 2013, he moved to Miami Beach, FL and began studying Yiddish with a private instructor. He attended the YIVO Summer Program in 2018 and is also an alum of the Yiddish Book Center’s Yiddish Pedagogy Program (2018-2019), where he was trained to teach with the new Yiddish textbook, In eynem. Moishele has taught both beginners and intermediate-advanced adult students at Beth Torah Synagogue in Aventura, FL, as well as 7th-9th grade former students of Sholem Aleichem College in Melbourne, Australia.  

Adrien Smith will be teaching one section of Beginning Yiddish. Adrien holds a PhD in Slavic languages and literatures from Stanford University. Her research looks at Yiddish speech style in Russian literature and performance in the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as at Soviet science fiction. She has taught Russian and Yiddish languages and literatures at Stanford, where she also leads the Yiddish reading group. She earned her BA from Wellesley College and MPhil from Cambridge University. As a 2021-2022 Translation Fellow at the Yiddish Book Center, Adrien is translating a selection of short stories by emerging Yiddish writers. 

 

2021 Culture Course Faculty:

Justin Cammy is associate professor of Jewish studies and comparative literature at Smith College, where he directs the Program in Jewish Studies. A longtime member of the Steiner faculty and guest lecturer at the Yiddish Book Center, he also is lecturer on Yiddish literature at the Naomi Prawer Kadar International Summer Yiddish Program at Tel Aviv University, for which he serves as summer director. Cammy was a member of the Yiddish Matters research group at the Frankel Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan (2020), Webb Family Visiting Scholar in Yiddish in the Goldreich Institute of Tel Aviv University (2013-14), research fellow at Yad Vashem (2013-14), and UCLA/Mellon Senior Scholar in Holocaust Studies at UCLA (2009).  He has translated three works of Yiddish literature: Sholem Aleichem's Shomers mishpet (The Judgment of Shomer, 1888); Hinde Bergner's In di lange vinternekht (On Long Winter Nights: Memoirs of a Jewish Family in a Galician Township, 1870-1900); and Avrom Sutzkever's Fun Vilne Geto (Vilna Ghetto, 1941-1943, forthcoming 2020). He is the author of many scholarly essays related to the interwar literary group Young Vilna. In 2006 he was awarded Smith College's Sherrerd Prize for Distinguished Teaching.

Madeleine (Mindl) Cohen is the academic director of the Yiddish Book Center. 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. Mindl has taught Yiddish language at UC Berkeley, Harvard University, 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 annual Pakn Treger digital translation issue. 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. 

Tony Michels teaches American Jewish history at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and serves as director of its Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies. He is author of A Fire in Their Hearts: Yiddish Socialists in New York, editor of Jewish Radicals: A Documentary History, and coeditor of The Cambridge History of Judaism: Volume Eight, The Modern World, 1815-2000. His essays have appeared in the ForwardGuilt & Pleasure QuarterlyNextbookHeckler, and other publications. He is currently writing a book on Jews and the Russian Revolution in America.   

Miriam Udel is associate professor of German studies and Jewish studies at Emory University, where her teaching focuses on Yiddish language, literature, and culture. She holds an AB in Near Eastern languages and civilizations from Harvard University, as well as a PhD in comparative literature from the same institution. She was ordained in 2019 as part of the first cohort of the Executive Ordination Track at Yeshivat Maharat, a program designed to bring qualified mid-career women into the Orthodox rabbinate.

Udel’s academic research interests include 20th-century Yiddish literature and culture, Jewish children’s literature, and American-Jewish literature. 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 published Honey on the Page: A Treasury of Yiddish Children’s Literature in October with New York University Press. She has treasured opportunities to teach and learn at the Yiddish Book Center, as faculty at Steiner and Tent programs and as a Translation Fellow in 2013 and 2019.

"Asya Vaisman Schulman was the best language teacher I have ever had. She had such great, positive energy. Her course really changed the way I thought about language learning."
2015 Steiner student