Keeping It in the Family: Yiddish Writers and Their Legacies

A Live, Online Event Recorded Via Zoom on December 3, 2020

How does Jewish identity play out in the families of Yiddish writers? What stories get passed down, and what are the burdens and pleasures of keeping alive the memory of an illustrious relative? This conversation brings together descendants of four famous Yiddish writers, all of whom migrated from Europe to America.

Itzik Gottesman is the son of the well-known poet Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman. He is a senior lecturer at the University of Texas, a specialist on East European Jewish folklore, and the author of Defining the Jewish Nation: The Jewish Folklorists of Poland. He also directs the blog Yiddish Song of the Week featuring rare Yiddish songs.

Beth Kaplan is the great-granddaughter of Jacob Gordin, the great reformer of the modern Yiddish stage. She is the author of Finding the Jewish Shakespeare: The Life and Legacy of Jacob Gordin and many other books, including the just-published memoir Loose Woman: My Odyssey from Lost to Found.

Emily Leider is the great-granddaughter of Nokhem Meyer Shaykevitch (Shomer), perhaps the most popular of all nineteenth-century Yiddish writers. She has published biographies of Rudolph Valentino, Mae West, and Gertrude Atherton and edited her grandmother’s memoir, Yesterday: A Memoir of a Russian-Jewish Family, a chronicle of the Shomer family in Russia and America.

David Mazower is the bibliographer and editorial director of the Yiddish Book Center, the author of Yiddish Theater in London, and a frequent writer and speaker on his great-grandfather Sholem Asch.

We’ll be presenting weekly live virtual programs every Thursday evening at 7 p.m.—a range of live programming on a range of topics related to Yiddish and modern Jewish literature and culture. You’ll find the full schedule and event listings at

And if you want to sign up to receive updates and announcements of events email us at [email protected].