From March 27, 2020
The familiar Yiddish phrase, “Zayt mir gezunt un shtark—Be healthy and strong,” has taken on a new urgency in recent days, and it’s what I wish to you, your family, and all of humanity.
In the meantime, while most of us remain sheltered at home, the Yiddish Book Center is launching a new feature called The Weekly Reader. Every Friday, for as long as the pandemic lasts, we’ll send you an email featuring the latest finds from our collection: books and stories in Yiddish and English, podcasts and audio recordings, film clips, updates, and more. This week’s selections center around the theme of Women’s History Month.
I want to end with a bit of good news. Just two days before we closed our building, we received word from the London Book Fair that the Yiddish Book Center was the winner of this year’s International Excellence Award in Literary Translation Initiatives. This wasn’t just an honor for the Yiddish Book Center—it was a recognition of Yiddish itself! I look forward to sharing new translations with you in upcoming issues of The Weekly Reader.
‘Til then, zayt mir gezunt un shtark—stay healthy, stay strong, and stay safe!
From Our Collection: 1930s Booklets about Women
The Yiddish Book Center’s bibliographer David Mazower writes about a set of rare 1930s Yiddish booklets about women—and what a fascinating set it is! There are two slim pamphlets written by Reyzl Beilis about pioneer social reformers and feminists, a polemical booklet written by a campaigner for children and women’s rights, and a pamphlet profiling ‘four famous women.’
On The Shmooze: Editors Answer the Question, "Where were the women writers?"
Editors Eitan Kensky and Sadie Gold-Shapiro sit down to talk about a special Pakn Treger Digital Translation Issue devoted to writing by women. This collection includes works of poetry, prose poetry, fiction, and memoir. We learn about the writers, the genres, and how this collection helps to address the relative scarcity of translations of Yiddish women writers.
Ida Maze: The "Den Mother" of Yiddish Montreal
A short film from the Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project, Ida Maze: The "Den Mother" of Yiddish Montreal looks at the life and work of the poet, including her influential role at the heart of the city's community of Yiddish writers. The film draws from an interview with Ida’s son, Irving Massey—a literary scholar who has written extensively about his mother's poetry and has translated some of her work—as well as archival audio recordings of an event held in her honor at the Jewish Public Library of Montreal in 1956.
Yiddish Women Writers Reclaimed
Women wrote poems, essays, plays, novels, and every other literary genre known to Yiddish literature. They wrote about love, family, politics, economics, class, sexuality, and the lure of the modern world and its dangers. Perhaps the most surprising thing about their writing is how little of it is known today. In this downloadable lecture series, Professor Anita Norich of the University of Michigan examines Yiddish poetry and prose written by women and discusses how these women claimed a place for themselves as modern Jewish writers.
Modern in Autumn: The Belated Discovery of Blume Lempel
Loneliness was a besetting problem for many Yiddish writers in the late twentieth century, as the ranks of Yiddish readers and fellow writers diminished. Story writer Blume Lempel overcame it in her own way: her astonishingly wide network of correspondents included many of the greatest Yiddish authors of her time.