Weekend Program: Inside the Peretz Literary Salon

December 1–3, 2023 at the Yiddish Book Center

At the turn of the 20th century, it became a rite of passage for aspiring Jewish writers to make a pilgrimage to the apartment of I. L. Peretz in Warsaw, to hear what he thought of their writing and seek his advice on how to pursue their careers. Peretz held weekly receiving hours, during which anyone might visit and share their work with him. Peretz would assemble small groups of young, Jewish—mostly Yiddish but also Hebrew, Russian, and Polish language writers—to read their works in progress for one another. These literary salons were the birthplace of a generation of modern Yiddish literature. Join in this tradition by exploring works by Yiddish writers who frequented I. L. Peretz's salon with Professor Josh Lambert of Wellesley College; Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences of Springfield College Rachel Rubinstein, and Yiddish Book Center academic director Mindl Cohen.

Peretz’s salon is a featured topic in the Yiddish Book Center’s new core exhibition, Yiddish: A Global Culture. In addition to the small group seminars, you will have time during the weekend to visit the new display on Peretz’s salon, hear talks on Peretz by Yiddish Book Center founder Aaron Lansky and chief curator David Mazower, and be among the first to tour the new exhibition.

The weekend includes:

  • Four seminar-style classes by leading scholars of Yiddish literature
  • A keynote lecture by Yiddish Book Center founder Aaron Lansky
  • A tour of the new core exhibition Yiddish: A Global Culture
  • Music performances by local klezmer musicians
  • Recommended readings
  • Kosher, catered meals
  • Plenty of lively discussion


$500 for members; $575 for nonmembers. Join or renew your membership now to take advantage of the member discount. Then return here to continue the registration process. Registration closes November 13, but space is limited, so early registration is advised.

Cancellation policy: Cancellations by November 8 will be refunded, minus a $30 administration fee per registered participant. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide a refund for cancellations after November 8.


Due to various university events happening in the Amherst area, hotels tend to fill up quickly, so we encourage you to make arrangements for accommodations as soon as possible. The Hampton Inn in Hadley (800-445-2661) is offering our participants a discounted rate, pending availability at the time you call. To ensure the rate, please book no later than November 17 using group code 907.


Friday, December 1:
5p.m. – Check-in
5:30p.m. – Self-guided tour of the Peretz Salon
6p.m. – Shabbos dinner
7:30p.m. – Keynote lecture by Aaron Lansky: “Peretz Revisited: Does the ‘father of Yiddish literature’ still have what to say today?”

Saturday, December 2:
9a.m. – Coffee
9:30a.m. – Exhibit tour
11a.m. – 12:15p.m. – Seminar 1
12:30p.m. – Lunch
2–3:15p.m. – Seminar 2
4–5:15p.m. – Curator talk with David Mazower: “The Literary Circle of I.L. Peretz”
5:30p.m. – Dinner
7:30p.m. – Musical performance

Sunday, December 3:
9a.m. – Coffee
9:30 – 10:45a.m. – Seminar 3
11a.m. – 12:15p.m. – Seminar 4
12:30p.m. – Takeaway lunch & goodbye



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; she is also interested in translation studies and the recovery of writing by women. 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.

Josh Lambert is the Sophia Moses Robison Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and English and director of the Jewish studies program at Wellesley College. A scholar working at the intersection of Jewish studies and American studies, he is the author of the books Unclean Lips (NYU, 2014) and The Literary Mafia (Yale, 2022), which explore two areas in which Jewishness profoundly shaped the direction of modern and contemporary life in the US. He served from 2012 to 2020 as the academic director of the Yiddish Book Center, and coedited the anthology How Yiddish Changed America and How America Changed Yiddish (Restless Books, 2020). He judges fiction prizes regularly and writes book reviews and essays for general audiences in publications like the New York Times Book Review, Jewish Currents, and Lilith.

Aaron Lansky is the founder and president of the Yiddish Book Center. A native of New Bedford, Massachusetts, he holds a BA in modern Jewish history from Hampshire College, an MA in East European Jewish studies from McGill University, and honorary doctorates from Amherst College, the State University of New York, and Hebrew Union College. Early in his career he was included by Esquire magazine in its first annual register of “The Best of the New Generation: Men and Women Under Forty Who Are Changing America,” and he received a so-called “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation in 1989. His bestselling book, Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books, won the Massachusetts Book Award in Nonfiction in 2005.

David Mazower is the Yiddish Book Center's research bibliographer and editorial director. Prior to joining the Center, David was a senior staff journalist with BBC News in London and deputy curator of the Jewish Museum London. He writes for the Digital Yiddish Theatre Project and is the author of Yiddish Theatre in London. He has also published several articles on his great-grandfather, Sholem Asch. He graduated in history from Cambridge University and has a postgraduate diploma in Russian.

Rachel Rubinstein has been dean of the Springfield College School of Arts and Sciences since 2021. For 16 years she was professor of American literature and Jewish studies at Hampshire College, where she also served as dean of academic support and advising for six years. She was a Fulbright fellowship award recipient in 2013–2014. The child of immigrants from Mexico, her scholarship focuses on migration, multilingualism, translation, racial formation and literary nationalism, as well as on pedagogies in the fields of ethnic and race studies. She is the author of Members of the Tribe: Native America in the Jewish Imagination, as well as the co-editor of Arguing the Modern Jewish Canon and most recently, Teaching Jewish American Literature, a volume in the MLA’s Options for Teaching series.