Ida Maze: The "Den Mother" of Yiddish Montreal

A short film from the Yiddish Book Center's Wexler Oral History Project

Born in Belarus in 1893, Ida Maze came to Montreal with her family when she was a girl and soon began writing lyric poetry, much of it for children, which was published in books as well as in Yiddish journals and newspapers. Maze was also deeply involved in cultural activities in Montreal’s Jewish community, organizing programs at that city’s Jewish Public Library and regularly hosting a salon for writers and artists at her apartment. In addition, during World War II she helped bring refugees from Europe to Canada.

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 her 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. Together, Irving's eloquent memories of his mother and the appreciative voices of her colleagues compellingly tell of her life, poetry, and legacy.

This short film draws from a longer oral history interview.

The Yiddish Book Center's Wexler Oral History Project is a growing collection of in-depth interviews with people of all ages and backgrounds, whose stories provide a deeper understanding of the Jewish experience. Since 2010, the Project has recorded more than 1,000 video oral history interviews about the legacy and changing nature of Yiddish language and culture.