Jul 14, 2020
We’ve stayed online longer than usual this very unique spring and summer, in which we have all found ourselves in geveb — on the web — even more than usual. But as our publishing year finally draws to a close, it’s time for our annual roundup of our readers’ favorite posts from this year. Below, in reverse order, are the top ten most viewed posts from the 2019-2020 publishing year, plus some previously published posts that earned a special mention due to their popularity this year. Our readers displayed wide-ranging tastes this year; the top ten list includes translations, peer-reviewed scholarly articles, personal essays, roundups of resources in der yidisher velt—and, for the first time, a very serious piece from our Purim issue.
Inspired to author your own wildly popular In geveb post? We’re accepting pitches over the summer for fall publishing! Meanwhile, enjoy this list of this year’s reader favorites...
The Most Viewed Posts in 2019-2020
10. פֿון לאַנד שווינדזוכט | From the Land of Consumption by Shloyme Gilbert, translated by Abigail Weaver and David Weaver
Abigail Weaver and David Weaver have crafted a vivid and spare translation of Shloyme Gilbert’s haunting, atmospheric vignette based on his own experiences in a sanatorium. It’s no wonder that this striking piece by a father-daughter duo was one of the most-viewed posts from our translations section this year.
9. The Yiddish Life of Chaim Soutine (1893-1943): New Materials, translated by Ofer Dynes
Dynes presents new primary sources in Yiddish, with English translation, from the life of the French Jewish artist Chaim Soutine. “My goal is to showcase how vital Yiddish is for our understanding of Chaim Soutine’s biography as well as for our interpretation of his art,” he writes, adding: “These sources represent only a small portion of the materials on Soutine available in Yiddish publications. In this respect, this article is also an invitation for an expansion of the dialogue between Yiddish scholars and art historians.” Soutine, the subject of a major exhibit at The Jewish Museum in 2018, has received insufficient scholarly attention in a Jewish Studies context; Dynes’ presentation of these translations and their context is a major step towards remedying that.
Our second annual roundup of translations from Yiddish, this year including translations into English, French, Polish, Hebrew, Russian, German, Italian, and Belarusian. Last year’s roundup of translations was also among our top ten most viewed posts that year. We know our readers have come to rely on In geveb as a way to stay up to date on the world of Yiddish publications, and we’re delighted our ever-expanding list of new translations continues to be popular and useful.
7. The 2087th Question or When Silence Is the Only Answer by Irena Klepfisz
It is difficult to overstate the role of poet Irena Klepfisz’s work and activism in inspiring an entire generation of young Yiddishists. In this lyrical personal essay, Klepfisz discusses her life’s work within and about Yiddish women’s culture and writing, including her decision to write bilingual Yiddish-English poems. She writes: “I needed to fill a void that my feminism and coming out had made uncomfortably apparent. I was shocked to realize that despite all my years of studying Yiddish and Yiddish culture, I had not read a single Yiddish prose work by a woman. Complete silence.”
If you’re not already following the careers of such Yiddish luminaries as Prof. Lauren Ipsum and Malcolm Marszmallow, what are you even doing?! But really, this is a milestone for us: the first post from a Purim issue to reach the annual top ten. The editors are very pleased that you think we’re as funny as we think we are.
5. There’s a Jewish Way of Saying Things: Essays in Honor of David Roskies edited by Avraham Rosen and Jllian Davidson
This special issue from our peer review section, a festschrift in honor of David Roskies, “considers the resonances between Jewish speech and Jewish texts.” “There’s a Jewish Way of Saying Things” features 19 essays across four sections: “Speaking Jewish Traditionally,” “Speaking in Jewish Tongues,” “Speaking Jewish and the Holocaust,” and “Speaking Anglo Jewish.”
In geveb’s blog doesn’t exist in isolation; we’re eager to participate in and further conversations happening across the Yiddish world. We’re glad to see this roundup of posts published in other venues about this controversial moment was useful to readers.
Perennially popular, this year’s summer programs roundup didn’t quite take the top spot—perhaps because the top two articles were so compelling, and perhaps because of the abrupt change in plans occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic. We also published an updated COVID-19 edition of the roundup listing a number of programs newly online.
2. We Need to Talk about Shmuel Charney by Eli Bromberg
Bromberg’s article in In geveb’s peer-reviewed section discusses the history, context, and impact of Shmuel Charney’s pen name, ניגער. In addition to providing historical analysis, Bromberg calls on Yiddishists to “utilize his family name (Charney) and not an English transliteration of his pen name, regardless of its spelling, given the relationship between the Yiddish pseudonym and the racial slur.”
1. Going Off Script: The Contradictory Pleasures of Unorthodox by Roni Masel
This avowedly-not-a-review review of Unorthodox was published barely two weeks ago but has already racked up over 7,000 views, making it our single most popular post this publishing year. Readers responded to Masel’s uniting of queer theory and personal anecdote to position herself as a failed viewer of the Netflix series, “going off-script, going full-on unorthodox.”
Two blog posts from earlier years, both reviews of previous Netflix titles focusing on ultra-Orthodox communities, were also very popular this year: Shayna Weiss’ reviews of the documentary One of Us and the television show Shtisel (the single most-viewed post this year).
And two pieces from our 2016 peer-reviewed special issue Race in America, af yidish were among the top-viewed titles this year, as Black Lives Matter uprisings this spring catalyzed new and ongoing conversations about racial justice: Jennifer Young’s article “Beyond the Color Line: Jews, Blacks, and the American Racial Imagination” and Jessica Kirzane’s translation of Joseph Opatoshu’s short story “Lintsheray [A Lynching]”.
Whether you usually read translations, reviews, academic articles, personal essays, or all of the above, we hope you’ll find something new that interests you among this wide-ranging group of posts. We would be nowhere without our readers, and we look forward to another year of bringing you new writing from the various and far-flung trenches of Yiddish Studies!