“Knowledge, to Him, Was Everything”
When Aron Alperin was a teenager, in early twentieth century Lodz, Poland, his father took him and his five brothers to the barber to get short, modern haircuts. Then he took them to a tailor and ordered them modern clothing. “This is your generation. You do not belong to my generation,” Jacob Alperin told his boys.
For the rest of his life, Alperin remembered and spoke gratefully of his father’s insistence that his boys find their own paths in a modern world, recalls Alperin’s daughter, Lucy Corin. For Aron Alperin, that meant forging an accomplished career as a writer and journalist for the Yiddish press. “My father gave me my life,” he would say.
Lucy and her family have chosen to honor her father’s career and his love of literature by creating an endowed fund in his memory at the Yiddish Book Center for the rescue and preservation of Yiddish books. The fund was established by Lucy and her husband, Benjamin Corin, and their sons and their spouses, William and Lisa Corin and Scott Corin and Nina Blumenthal.
“Books were his life. What better way to honor my father than through the preservation of Yiddish books and promoting the Yiddish language?”
Alperin began his career as a writer at a newspaper in Lodz when he was just sixteen; he went on to become the editor of that paper and later was promoted to edit papers in Warsaw and then Paris, where he and his wife, Rose, had Lucy, their only child. The family left Paris in 1940, one day ahead of the Nazi occupation, and spent almost two years in hiding in the French countryside before obtaining visas to travel to the United States. They settled in New York, where Alperin became editor of the Yiddish newspaper Der tog (The Day) and, later, the Morgn zhurnal, after the two papers merged. He wrote a daily political column and was the author of a number of books, including The History of Jews in Lodz.
Alperin was a committed Zionist who served as an officer and ranking member in the World Jewish Congress and the Zionist Organization of America. A popular lecturer, he had strong relationships with Jewish leaders and cultural figures around the world, among them Chaim Weizman, David Ben Gurion, Golda Meir, Marc Chagall, and Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
“My father was brilliant,” Lucy Corin says, “but also incredibly humble. His formal education ended very early, but knowledge, to him, was everything.”
Alperin was fluent in six languages in addition to his mother tongue, Yiddish, and he was adamant that his daughter receive a good education (she became an engineer and a teacher). “He was an avid reader,” Corin recalls. “He read constantly; he was interested in everything.” In his later years, after he lost his sight, she would fondly read to him.
“Books were his life,” Corin says. “What better way to honor my father than through the preservation of Yiddish books and promoting the Yiddish language?”
“It would have been everything to my father if he knew that his memory is being preserved by the promotion of Yiddish books,” she adds. “That would have been his greatest pleasure—he would have kvelled.”
To learn how you can establish an endowed fund to support the Yiddish Book Center, please email or call Zvi Jankelowitz at 413-256-4900, ext. 117.
From Kvel, the newsletter of the Yiddish Book Center (Spring 2016)