Background and Contributors
About the Blog
The Bronx Bohemians blog, which celebrates the salon of Yiddish poet Bertha Kling and her husband Yekhiel in the early decades of the twentieth century, is part of the Yiddish Book Center's Decade of Discovery initiative designed to foster a deeper understanding of Yiddish and Jewish culture. The 2020 theme, "Yiddish in America: Cultural Encounters," focuses on the immigrant experience in America, which was a salient part of the lives of those who gathered at the Klings' Yiddish salon. As David Mazower writes, "this was a group of people who arrived in America with little except abundant talent, remade themselves, and helped remake America in turn." Many of these writers, poets, artists, intellectuals, and others had come to the US as children or teenagers, leaving behind homes and families in Eastern Europe. As such, the salon provided a kind of sanctuary and cultural community that was both local and transnational. The stories of those who gathered there—told through their writings, photographs, and other ephemera—have much to tell us about the Jewish immigrant experience in America.
David Mazower is the bibliographer and editorial director at the Yiddish Book Center and co-editor of Pakn Treger. A former journalist for the BBC, he writes for the Digital Yiddish Theatre Project and is the author of Yiddish Theatre in London. He will be giving a talk entitled "So Cool, So Jewish: The Bronx Salon of Yiddish Poet Bertha Kling" at Yidstock 2020.
Sophia Shoulson, the 2019–2020 Richard S. Herman Fellow, is a senior fellow working in bibliography. An alumna of the Yiddish Book Center's Steiner Summer Yiddish Program and Wesleyan University, Sophia's senior thesis was written on the Yiddish folklore collected by Y. L. Cahan and Shmuel Lehman.
Sasha Stern, 2019–2020 Yiddish Book Center Fellow, is a graduate of Yale's religious studies department, where she researched the role of food as a cultural and religious mnemonic in Yiddish-speaking Jewish immigrant communities. Sasha’s Yiddish studies have taken her from the Tsene-rene to Molodowsky, and she now spends her free time translating and recreating recipes from turn-of-the-century Yiddish cookbooks.
Abigail Weaver, 2019–2020 Yiddish Book Center Fellow, graduated from Smith College with a double major in theatre and Jewish studies, with a particular focus in Yiddish poetry and theatre. Like Sophia, she is an alumna of the Yiddish Book Center’s Steiner Summer Yiddish Program, and she is also a playwright and amateur translator. Her honors thesis was a play about the Paper Brigade, the name given to the group of residents of the Vilna Ghetto who hid a large cache of Jewish cultural items, including rare books and manuscripts from YIVO, saving them from destruction or theft by Nazi Germany.
Pictured Below: Berta Kling’s granddaughter, Deborah Ramsden (center) shared family stories with the Bronx Bohemians blog team on a visit to the Center in November 2019. Left to right: Sophia Shoulson, Abby Weaver, Sasha Stern and David Mazower will all be contributing to the blog, along with occasional guest authors.