The Yiddish Book Center's Decade of Discovery 2022

Decade of Discovery: Women in Yiddish

The Decade of Discovery is the Yiddish Book Center’s initiative to foster a deeper understanding of Yiddish and modern Jewish culture. Our theme for 2022 is Women in Yiddish. Each month we’re focusing on a different aspect of women in Yiddish by curating readings, events, and other content that highlight women’s contributions and work. This November we’re focusing on Yiddish-speaking women activists and the ways in which they utilize art, literature, and direct action to effect social and political change.

Yiddish women writers wrote poetry, short stories, novels, essays, literary and cultural criticism, and autobiography, among other genres, exploring a wide range of topics—from domesticity, to desire and the body, to politics, the environment, the ravages of war, and more. Their contributions, some famous, others forgotten, still others never fully appreciated, touch every corner and every moment of Yiddish creativity—literature, the arts, and activism.

The Yiddish Book Center’s Decade of Discovery is made possible in part by a grant from the Leona and Ralph W. Kern Foundation.

Decade of Discovery: Read/Listen/Watch

In celebration of November's Decade of Discovery theme, Yiddish-speaking women activists, we’re focusing on how the pursuit of a shenere un besere velt—a better and more beautiful world—has always been integral to Yiddish culture. Often led by women, these movements addressed the social inequities embedded in society and continue to offer important lessons for the present.

Explore our collections to learn about specific movements, such as women factory workers’ response to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902 and their impact on the labor movement of the early 1900s. Read Miriam Karpilove’s tongue-in-cheek critique of workplace discrimination in an excerpt from A Provincial Newspaper (1926) or browse reading resources for translator and feminist activist Puah Rakovsky. And listen to Sandy Fox discuss her popular Yiddish feminist podcast Vaybertaytsh.