Zamlers: Profiles of Volunteer Book Collectors: Eric Ellman

To celebrate the Yiddish Book Center's 40th anniversary in 2020, we're looking back at the Center's storied history. As part of this effort, we wanted to record interviews with our zamlers (volunteer book collectors), continuing with an interview with zamler Eric Ellman. Eric has been a volunteer for the Yiddish Book Center for many years and periodically updates us with how many pounds of books he has collected and shipped to the Center. Tune in to find out his latest count, and more!

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Episode 0246: "Zamlers": Profiles of Volunteer Book Collectors by YiddishBookCenter

As Yiddish Book Center founder and president Aaron Lansky wrote in Outwitting History, regarding the early days of the Center's work, "There was a Sisyphean dynamic to our work: The more books we collected, the more the word spread, the more books there were to collect. By midwinter of the first year on the road it was clear that the immigrant Jews had been more avid readers than anyone imagined. Yiddish books were scattered in virtually every city in North America, and there was no way that we, a handful of young people with extremely limited resources, could collect them all on our own. We needed help! So I decided to organize a network of zamlers, volunteer book collectors, who would gather books in their own communities and ship them to our Massachusetts headquarters. People signed on all across North America. Some were elderly, others were young people who didn't speak a word of Yiddish; but they were all grateful for the chance to act, to do something practical to reclaim a culture that was disappearing before their eyes."
We're grateful to all of our zamlers past and present for their work helping in the rescue and recovery of Yiddish books. To date, we've rescued over a million Yiddish books, and we continue to receive thousands every year. And we are delighted to be able to share some of their stories here on The Shmooze.