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NEH Grant Provides Enhanced Access to Hundreds of Oral History Interviews About Yiddish and Modern Jewish Culture
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Decade of Discovery Yiddish and Social Justice
The Decade of Discovery is an initiative launched by the Yiddish Book Center with the aim of fostering a deeper understanding of Yiddish and modern Jewish culture. Our focus for 2021 is Yiddish and Social Justice. In celebration of this theme, we're spotlighting a conversation between scholars and translators about race and social justice in Yiddish literature, a podcast interview with contemporary Yiddish singer and social activist Isabel Frey, and two translated Yiddish poems denouncing fascisim through the language of folktale.
Handpicked Eddy Portnoy
Eddy is the academic advisor and director of exhibitions at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and author of Bad Rabbi and Other Strange but True Stories from the Yiddish Press. He shares a few of his favorite selections from our collections.
Rivington Street, By Moyshe Nadir
Rivington Street, a street that cut through the Lower East Side, is the center of a sort of epic poem by famed Yiddish satirist Moyshe Nadir. Written in the early 1930s during the throes of the Depression, the poem is a marvelous memorial to Jewish life on the Lower East Side, which was beginning to dissipate. Published as a small book, it also contains illustrations by some of the Yiddish Left’s best known artists.
The Story Behind the Yiddish Book Center's Yiddish Typewriter Collection
The Yiddish Book Center winds up with items in its collection that are not books but often somehow related. This includes Yiddish typewriters, which are amazing mechanical relics. The year before Covid, I curated an exhibit on Yiddish typewriters at YIVO, where some of the machines are the same as those in the Center’s collection. The short investigation into the Center’s collection is fun to read and highly informative.
Intermission: Memories of New York Yiddish and English Theaters and Movie Houses
There are hundreds of fascinating interviews on the Center’s website, and this one is a blast. Fay Webern is touching and often hilarious. She tells the unvarnished stories of her family and childhood, many of which are not what you necessarily expect from a Yiddish childhood.