Preserving Literature for Future Generations
Last spring, Gerhard Paulesich and his wife, Glenda, made their first visit to the Yiddish Book Center, part of a trip to visit literary-related sites around New England.
The couple spent hours at the Center, exploring our exhibits, poring through the thousands of Yiddish books in our repository, and stocking up in our English-language bookstore. “It’s amazing,” Gerhard said of the Center’s sunny, sprawling building, set in an apple orchard. “I had no idea how big it is.”
While this was the first time Gerhard had made the journey from his home in Arlington, Texas, to the Yiddish Book Center, he was no stranger to the organization. He first learned about the Center from Outwitting History, Aaron Lansky’s memoir. They’ve since become supporters and have joined the Yerushe Society, whose members have designated the Yiddish Center as a beneficiary in their estate plans.
Gerhard, who was born and raised in Austria, was drawn to the organization and its work through his interests in world history and literature. Though he’s not Jewish, he has Jewish roots on his father’s side and has long been interested in that personal history. He’s also delved into Yiddish literature, exploring English translations of works by Sholem Aleichem, Mendele Moykher-Sforim, I. L. Peretz, Dovid Bergelson, Moyshe Kulbak, and others.
Having these works available in English translation is important because it opens them to new readers; that’s why Gerhard and Glenda earmarked their bequest to the Center to support its translation programs. Still, as someone who does translation work himself—working in English, German, and Spanish—Gerhard knows the irreplaceable value of reading a work of literature in the original. “It’s extremely hard to get the essence in any other language,” he notes.
Someday—after he’s retired from his job in the insurance industry, he says—Gerhard hopes to learn Yiddish himself. In the meantime, he says, he especially values the Yiddish Book Center’s education programs, which introduce the language, the culture, and the literature to new generations.
For information on how you can establish a named fund at the Yiddish Book Center, please contact Zvi Jankelowitz at [email protected] or 413-256-4900, ext. 117.
From Kvel, the development newsletter of the Yiddish Book Center (Fall 2017)