Cooking in Yiddish: Highlights from the Yiddish Book Center Collection, with Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett

A Live, Online Event Recorded Via Zoom on June 24, 2021

Most Yiddish cookbooks were published in the United States for Jewish immigrants, although at least three Yiddish cookbooks appeared in print in Europe, the first in 1898 in Vilna. Each cookbook tells a fascinating story—about their authors, publishers, and intended readers. Some cookbooks aim to bring gourmet cuisine to the kosher kitchen, others to promote a product, whether matzoh, Crisco, or kasha, and still others are devoted to vegetarianism or to Americanizing the diet of immigrant families. Drawing on gems in the Yiddish Book Center’s collection, this talk will explore what this unique literary genre can reveal about Jewish life.

Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett is University Professor Emerita and Professor Emerita of Performance Studies at New York University. She is currently Ronald S. Lauder Chief Curator of the Core Exhibition at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, in Warsaw. Her books include Image before My Eyes: A Photographic History of Jewish Life in Poland, 1864–1939 (with Lucjan Dobroszycki); They Called Me Mayer July: Painted and Memories of a Jewish Childhood in Poland Before the Holocaust (with Mayer Kirshenblatt); The Art of Being Jewish in Modern Times (with Jonathan Karp; and Anne Frank Unbound: Media, Imagination, Memory, (with Jeffrey Shandler), among others. She has also written extensively on Jewish food and cookbooks.

She was honored for lifetime achievement by the Foundation for Jewish Culture, received the Mlotek Prize for Yiddish and Yiddish Culture, honorary doctorates from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, University of Haifa, and Indiana University, the 2015 Marshall Sklare Award for her contribution to the social scientific study of Jewry, and was decorated with the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland for her contribution to POLIN Museum. She was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and awarded the Dan David Prize. She serves on Advisory Boards for the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Council of American Jewish Museums, Jewish Museum Vienna, Jewish Museum Berlin, and the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow. She also advises on museum and exhibition projects in Lithuania, Belarus, Albania, Israel, New Zealand, and the United States.

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