Faculty

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


2022 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) and the Yiddish Pedagogy Practicum (2021-2022), 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. He was an instructor in the Beginning and Intermediate levels for the 2021 Steiner Summer Yiddish Program, and in 2021 and 2022, he taught beginners in the Yiddish Book Center's YiddishSchool and the Yiddish Book Center's online In eynem course. 

2022 Culture Course Faculty:

Justin Cammy is Professor of Jewish Studies and World Literatures at Smith College. He holds a PhD in Yiddish Studies from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. A longtime member of the Steiner faculty and contributor to the Yiddish Book Center, he also lectures on Yiddish literature at the Naomi Prawer Kadar International Summer Yiddish Program at Tel Aviv University, for which he serves as on-site director. 

Cammy is the translator of three works of Yiddish literature: Sholem Aleichem's The Judgment of Shomer, Hinde Bergner's On Long Winter Nights: Memoirs of a Jewish Family in a Galician Township, and Avrom Sutzkever's From the Vilna Ghetto to Nuremberg, which was named a finalist for the 2021 National Jewish Book Award.  He is the author of many scholarly essays related to the interwar literary group Young Vilna, and penned the introductions to recent translations of Salmoea Perl's The Canvas and Other Stories (trans. Ruth Murphy), Abraham Sutzkever's The Full Pomegranate (trans. Richard Fein), and Abraham Karpinovitsh's  Vilna My Vilna (trans. Helen Mintz). He is an associate editor of Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History. 

Over his scholarly career he has served as a member of the International Advisory Board of the Goldrich Institute for Yiddish at Tel Aviv University, a fellow of the Yiddish Matters research project at the Frankel Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan (2020), research fellow at Yad Vashem (2013-14), and Mellon Senior Scholar in Holocaust Studies at UCLA (2009).  

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.    

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.

Jennifer Young is an education programs manager at the Yiddish Book Center. Jennifer served as the Director of Education at the YIVO Institute, where she also worked as Digital Learning Curator to produce YIVO's first online class, Discovering Ashkenaz. She has also worked at the Tenement Museum, the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy, and the New-York Historical Society. Jennifer received a B.A. in Anthropology and Jewish Studies from McGill University, and an M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Illinois. After completing doctoral studies in Jewish history at NYU, she received an M.Ed in Museum Curriculum and Pedagogy from the University of British Columbia. She also serves as part of a scholars' working group dedicated to research and scholarship of the Yiddish Left, sponsored by Cornell University. 

"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