Weekly Reader: Celebrating Jewish Book Month

In 1925 Fanny Goldstein, a librarian at the Boston Public Library’s North End branch, instituted Jewish Book Week to coincide with the holiday of Shvues, or Shavuot. Two years later the celebration became a national event and eventually moved to the month before Hanukkah, becoming Jewish Book Month. Goldstein, a native of Kam’ianets’-Podil’s’kyi who immigrated to the United States at age 5, was also the first Jewish woman curator of Judaica at the Boston Public Library, and her National Committee for Jewish Book Week became the Jewish Book Council, of which Goldstein was the lifetime honorary president. Here at the Yiddish Book Center you might say that every month is Jewish Book Month, but we are always pleased to celebrate Jewish books, no matter the occasion. December is also the last month of our 2022 Decade of Discovery theme, “Women in Yiddish,” so we are doubly pleased to take this opportunity to honor not only Goldstein but the many other women who contributed to the writing, production, and furtherance of Jewish—and Yiddish—books..

—Ezra Glinter

Recommendations Galore

Green book cover titled, "The Lost Shtetl" by Max Gross

Since Jewish Book Month is a production of the Jewish Book Council, it seems appropriate to revisit this episode of The Shmooze podcast in which Becca Kantor, JBC editorial director, shares a few recommended reads. Her selections include a mix of genres and new releases—and she makes a compelling case for adding each of these books to your nightstand..


Listen to a podcast with Becca Kantor

Di Froyen

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In 1995 a group of feminist scholars and activists held a groundbreaking symposium dedicated to recovering Yiddish women’s contributions to art, literature, and intellectual life. Last month the Yiddish Book Center honored this historic gathering by hosting our own celebration of Yiddish women writers, translators, and scholars. For years, however, the published proceedings of the original Di Froyen conference were nearly impossible to find. That difficulty was recently rectified by the Center’s research bibliographer David Mazower, who secured permission from the National Council of Jewish Women to digitize the treasured booklet. So now, here it is! Enjoy!


Read the conference proceedings of Di Froyen

South of the Border

Book cover with red, green, and blue door and black railing titled "The House of Memory"

Europe and North America were hardly the only sites of Jewish women’s literary creativity. In 1999 another groundbreaking anthology appeared, edited by Marjorie Agosín: The House of Memory: Stories by Jewish Women Writers of Latin America. In this online program Agosín is joined by Ruth Behar, Andrea Jeftanovic, Perla Sneh, and Nora Strejilevich, the Yiddish-speaking writers whose work was included in the collection, to talk about the anthology and read a few selections.


Watch a program about The House of Memory

On the Shoulders of Giants

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Like all Yiddish culture workers, we would be nothing if not for those who came before us. In this case, we need to give special credit to Ezra Korman, an iconoclastic poet and anthology editor from Detroit who created the very first anthology of Yiddish women poets, Yidishe dikhterins, in 1927. Credit also goes to his long-suffering Chicago publisher, L. M. Shteyn, one of the great unsung heroes of American Yiddish culture.


Read Korman’s anthology in the Steven Spielberg Digital Yiddish Library

Reborn in Translation

Hand holds a quill dipping it in yellow ink against a blue background, text says Cribside and Other Stories

A major part of bringing Yiddish women writers to broader audiences is, of course, translation. To that end the Center has been supporting such work through our translation fellowship and our publishing imprint White Goat Press, including, most recently, the 2022 Pakn Treger Digital Translation Issue. Here you can find newly translated works by authors such as Ida Maze, Yenta Serdatsky, Anna Margolin, and Rokhl Feygenberg, among others. Don’t be afraid to become a pakn treger yourself by printing it out and taking it with you!


Read the 2022 Pakn Treger Digital Translation Issue