Feb 08, 2017
This newest installment of our annual effort to gather together the latest publications relevant to Yiddish studies aims to broaden the very idea of what constitutes Yiddish studies at large. This bibliography inevitably showcases works of historical and literary scholarship, which continue to predominate the field, while some of these books, chapters, and articles engage with Yiddish in their exploration of topics as diverse as interwar politics, radio performances of Jewishness, and comparative economics.
We were particularly struck by the prominence of ethnography in this year’s bibliography. Two edited volumes on the subject were published in 2016: Going to the People: Jews and the Ethnographic Impulse and Writing Jewish Culture: Paradoxes in Ethnography. Many of the chapters in this list reflect a wide range of these Yiddish ethnographic investigations, from those that interrogate the An-sky tradition of early Yiddish ethnography to others that present ethnographies of present-day, living communities. Some highlight the presence of ethnographic impulses in Yiddish literature, the function of ethnography as an ongoing practice, or its underlying ideological biases.
Also of note, a fair amount of scholarship in 2016 focuses on the presence of Yiddish in contemporary life, from the famous “knaidel” incident in the 2013 National Spelling Bee to the little-studied Hasidic comic book boom; from the history and revival of Jewish Harlem to the much-publicized Comprehensive English-Yiddish Dictionary, which both demonstrates the history of the Yiddish language and reflects Mordkhe Schaechter’s vision for a Yiddish of the present and the future.
This list includes scholarship in the form of books, articles, book chapters, and special editions published in 2016 with a few forthcoming works from 2017 that we felt merited inclusion here. Each entry is followed by a short summary and available links to online material.
While English is far from the only language of Yiddish scholarship, we are pleased that this bibliography features scholars from the global reach of Yiddish Studies. We hope to continue to publish bibliographies that reflect the plurality of voices related to Yiddish studies that cross linguistic and national boundaries, such as last year’s feature on The Latest in Yiddish Studies in French. Check back for further posts that include recent works in Yiddish Studies in Yiddish, Polish, German, French, Hebrew, Spanish, Russian, and other languages. If you are interested in contributing to any of these bibliographies, please contact us. Honoraria are available.
Please also contact us if you have any suggested additions to the bibliography.
Barzilai, Maya. Golem: Modern Wars and their Monsters. NYU Press, 2016. http://nyupress.org/books/9781479889655/
Explores the ways in which the Golem in the twentieth century became a symbol of modern warfare and a means for reflecting on the monstrosities of war through art. Considers examples from Yiddish theater as well as media that draws upon Yiddish creative traditions.
Birnbaum, Solomon. Yiddish: A Survey and a Grammar, 2nd ed. University of Toronto Press, 2016. http://www.utppublishing.com/Yiddish-A-Survey-and-…
The second edition of the 1979 Yiddish: A Survey and a Grammar, now with three new introductory essays, a corrected version of the text, and an expanded and updated bibliography.
Brenner, Naomi. Lingering Bilingualism: Modern Hebrew and Yiddish Literatures in Contact. Syracuse University Press, 2016. http://syracuseuniversitypress.syr.edu/fall-2015/l…
Brenner explores a series of encounters between Hebrew and Yiddish writers and texts, showing how modern Hebrew and Yiddish literatures shifted from an established bilingualism to a dynamic translingualism in response to radical changes in Jewish ideology, geography, and culture. Includes chapters on such authors as Avraham Shlonsky, Eliezer Steinman, Y.D. Berkowitz, and Zalman Shneour. [Reviewed at In geveb here.]
Brykczynski, Paul. Primed for Violence: Murder, Antisemitism, and Democratic Politics in Interwar Poland. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 2016. https://uwpress.wisc.edu/books/5434.htm
An exploration of interwar Polish politics that investigates the complex roles of anti-semitism, nationalism, and violence between the two World Wars.
Estraikh, Gennady and Kerstin Hoge, eds. Children and Yiddish Literature: From Early Modernity to Post-Modernity. Legenda, 2016. http://www.mhra.org.uk/publications/Children-Yiddi…
A collection of articles exploring the role of children in Yiddish literature and the development of the genre of Yiddish children’s literature. Examines the work of such authors as Yankev Glatshteyn, Der Nister, Joseph Opatoshu, and Leyb Kvitko; and artists Marc Chagall, El Lissitzky, and Yisakhar Ber Rybak.
Faierstein, Morris M. Yudisher Theriak: An Early Modern Defense of Judaism. Wayne State University Press, 2016.
A translation and annotation of the Yudisher Theriak [Jewish Theriac] by Zalman Zvi of Aufhausen, first published in Hanau, in 1615. The work was a response to an anti-Jewish work of the period, and Zalman Zvi hoped that his book would serve as an anecdote for the scourge of anti-Judaism prevalent at the time.
Feldman, Walter Z. Klezmer: Music, History, and Memory. Oxford University Press, 2016. https://global.oup.com/academic/product/klezmer-97…
A comprehensive historical study of the musical structure and social history of klezmer music from its beginnings in sixteenth century Prague through its global reach in the twentieth century. Feldman focuses on how the musical and choreographic history of Ashkenazi Jews became part of Klezmer and functioned as a kind of non-verbal communal memory.
Frieden, Ken. Travels in Translation: Sea Tales at the Source of Jewish Fiction. Syracuse University Press, 2016. http://syracuseuniversitypress.syr.edu/spring-2016…
Through focusing on the intersection of translation studies and travel writing, Frieden explores the origins of modern Jewish literature through an analysis of the emergence of modern Hebrew literature after 1780. Focusing on early modern Hebrew writers (who were Yiddish and German speakers), he explores how enlightened writers appropriated European travel narratives by translating them into Hebrew, and how in doing so they shaped, expanded, and developed the language.
Gessen, Masha. Where the Jews Aren’t: The Sad and Absurd Story of Birobidzhan, Russia’s Jewish Autonomous Region. Schocken, 2016. http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/59374/wher…
Gessen tells the story of Birobidzhan, the region in the far northeast that was set aside by the Soviet government in 1929 for the Jews. Championed by Jewish Communists, Yiddishists, and intellectuals, the project of Jewish settlement there was marked by waves of failed settlement and purges, the dashed idealism and trauma of which Gessen uses to talk more broadly about the experience of Jews in twentieth-century Russia.
Glitner, Ezra, ed. Have I Got a Story for You: More Than A Century of Fiction from the Forward. Norton, 2016. http://books.wwnorton.com/books/Have-I-Got-a-Story…
A collection of new translations of Yiddish short fiction originally published in the pages of the Forverts. Includes stories of immigration published during the newspaper’s first years in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, works by the most central writers of Yiddish literature, and stories by contemporary Yiddish authors. The volume presents previously unpublished works by both well-known writers (Sholem Asch, Dovid Bergelson, Isaac Bashevis Singer) and previously untranslated Yiddish writers. [Reviewed at In geveb here.]
Gurock, Jeffrey. Jews of Harlem: The Rise, Decline, and Revival of a Jewish Community. NYU Press, 2016. http://nyupress.org/books/9781479801169
At the intersection of Jewish and African American history, Jews of Harlem analyzes the complex set of forces that brought several generations of central European, East European (Yiddish speaking), and Sephardic Jews to settle there. It explores the circumstances that led them to leave, the Jewish presence that persisted there afterwards in their absence, and Jewish “return” to Harlem within the context of the contemporary moment.
Gurwitz, Alexander Z. Memories of Two Generations A Yiddish Life in Russia and Texas, ed. Bryan Edward Stone, trans. Amram Prero. University of Alabama Press, 2016. http://www.uapress.ua.edu/product/Memories-of-Two-…
Translation of Alexander Gurtiwitz’s memoir that recounts his personal story of immigration in 1910 at the age of 51 from southeastern Ukraine to San Antonio, Texas. Among the book’s most notable features are his first-hand, insider’s account of the yearly Jewish holiday cycle as it was observed in the nineteenth century, and his account of his arrival in Texas, which represents the only complete narrative of that migration from an immigrant’s point of view. With scholarly introduction by Bryan Edward Stone.
Jablonka, Ivan. A History of the Grandparents I Never Had. Stanford University Press. 2016. http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=25707
A personal and scholarly investigation of a family history that attempts to uncover the stories of Matès and Idesa Jablonka, communists in Poland who became refugees in France, and who were then persecuted again as Jews under the Vichy regime. The book reflects on inherited trauma and the boundaries between the scholarly and the personal.
Jacobs, Janet. Holocaust Across Generations: Trauma and its Inheritance among Descendants of Survivors. NYU Press, 2017. http://nyupress.org/books/9781479839292
With attention to feminist theory and the importance of gender, this book examines the social mechanisms through which the trauma of the Holocaust is conveyed by survivors to succeeding generations, including narratives, rituals, belief systems, and memorial sites. It also explores the impact of social memory on the construction of survivor identities among later generations.
Kadar, Naomi Prawer. Raising Secular Jews: Yiddish Schools and Their Periodicals for American Children, 1917–1950. Brandeis University Press, 2016. http://www.upne.com/1611689860.html
Through literary study of Yiddish children’s periodicals, Kadar explores the history of secular Yiddish schools in America, for which the Yiddish language (and not religious education) was the main conduit of Jewish culture and identity. She examines how secular immigrant Jews sought to pass on their identity and values as they prepared their youth to become full-fledged Americans.
Meir, Jonathan. Literary Hasidism:The Life and Works of Michael Levi Rodkinson. Syracuse University Press, 2016. http://syracuseuniversitypress.syr.edu/spring-2016…
Meir reexamines the figure of Michael Levi Rodkinson, drawing upon his works and their reception to investigate how his writing, in Yiddish and other languages, challenged the familiar genres of the literature of Hasidism and the Haskalah.
Mendelsohn, Adam. The Rag Race: How Jews Sewed their Way to Success in America and the British Empire. NYU Press, 2016. http://nyupress.org/books/9781479814381
Mendelsohn explores the roots of the economic success of Jewish immigrants in the United States, tying it to the clothing industry. In comparing the history of Jewish participation within this industry in the United States with that of Jews in the same business in England, he argues that differences within the garment industry on either side of the Atlantic contributed to a very real divergence in social and economic outcomes for Jews in each setting.
Edna Nahshon, ed. New York’s Yiddish Theater: From the Bowery to Broadway. Columbia University Press, 2016. https://cup.columbia.edu/book/new-yorks-yiddish-th…
Vividly illustrated and with essays from leading historians and critics, this book recounts the heyday of “Yiddish Broadway,” its vital contribution to American Jewish life, and its crossover into broader American culture. Performances on the Yiddish stage grappled with Jewish nationalism, labor relations, women’s rights, religious observance, acculturation, and assimilation. They reflected a range of genres, from tear-jerkers to experimental theater. The artists who came of age in this world include Stella Adler, Eddie Cantor, Jerry Lewis, Sophie Tucker, Mel Brooks, and Joan Rivers.
Rolnick, Joseph. With Rake in Hand: Memoirs of a Yiddish Poet, trans. Gerald Marcus. Syracuse University Press, 2016.
Considered one of the most prominent of the New York Yiddish poets associated with Di Yunge, this translation of Rolnick’s Yiddish memoir describes his childhood in Belarus and his experience as a Yiddish poet in New York. Includes a scholarly introduction by Gerald Marcus that situates Rolnik’s poetry in its literary historical context.
Schaechter-Viswanath, Gitl and Paul Glasser, eds. Comprehensive English-Yiddish Dictionary. Indiana University Press. 2016. http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/product_info.php?pr…
This dictionary represents the lifework of the late Mordkhe Schaechter, who collected and researched spoken and literary Yiddish in its diverse, vast iterations and also devised words of his own invention to correspond to new contemporary vocabularies. Containing nearly 50,000 entries, a comprehensive collection that demonstrates the rich and varied history of the language, the dictionary reflects Schaechter’s vision for a Yiddish of the present and the future. [See notes on the dictionary at In geveb here.]
Schainker, Ellie. Confessions of the Shtetl: Converts from Judaism in Imperial Russia, 1817-1906. Stanford University Press, 2016. http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=25461
Schainker examines the complicated history of conversions from Judaism to Christianity in imperial Russian shtetls. She argues that baptism was not the fundamental departure from Jewishness or the Jewish community as is commonly assumed, but actually a conversion that marked the start of a complicated experiment with new forms of identity and belonging; a cultural hybridity that both challenged and fueled visions of Jewish separatism.
Seelig, Rachel. Strangers in Berlin: Modern Jewish Literature between East and West, 1919-1933. University of Michigan Press, 2016. https://www.press.umich.edu/9223331/strangers_in_b…
Complicating the prevailing tendency to view German and East European Jewish cultures as separate fields of study, Seelig presents Jewish literature in the Weimar Republic as the product of the dynamic encounter between East and West. In Hebrew, German, or Yiddish, Jewish writers in Weimar Berlin responded to ideas of Jewish national identity in a broad spectrum of poetic styles, which Seelig argues is an outcome of their encounter in this cosmopolitan hub, a “threshold” between exile and homeland.
Seidman, Naomi. The Marriage Plot: Or, how Jews Fell in Love with Love, and with Literature. Stanford University Press, 2016. http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=25475
Seidman explores the development of Jewish love and marriage in literature, highlighting a persistent ambivalence in the Jewish adoption of European romantic ideologies. Arguing that this literature served a pedagogic function in socializing Jews to modern sentimentality, she constructs an evolutionary progression beginning with nineteenth-century Hebrew and Yiddish literature and culminating in the modern turn to sexuality highlighted by Freud, Roth, and Kushner, viewed as a Jewish heretical challenge to the European romantic sublime.
Stavans, Ilan, ed. Oy, Caramba!: An Anthology of Jewish Stories from Latin America. University of New Mexico Press, 2016. http://unmpress.com/books.php?ID=20000000005727&Pa…
An expanded and updated edition, first published in 1994 as Tropical Synagogues: Short Stories by Jewish-Latin American Writers. Includes texts translated from Yiddish into English from a number of Latin American countries, including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Colombia, and Cuba.
Teller, Adam. Money, Power, and Influence in Eighteenth-Century Lithuania: The Jews on the Radziwiłł Estates. Stanford University Press, 2016. http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=24461
Challenging the assumption that Jews have a penchant for capitalist economic activity, Teller argues that Jewish economic success came not from innate entrepreneurial skill, but rather from the monopoly on grain alcohol that they developed and maintained. He explores how the economic relationships between these Jews and noble magnates in the eighteenth-century Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth allowed the Jews to leverage their economic success into social integration over time, in spite of their place as a despised religious minority.
Udel, Miriam. Never Better! the Modern Jewish Picaresque, University of Michigan Press. Ann Arbor, 2016. https://www.press.umich.edu/8834858/never_better
Through a study of protagonists in modern Jewish literature (in Yiddish, and also in German, Russian, English and Hebrew), Udel contrasts the picaresque against the nineteenth-century genre of progress epitomized by the Bildungsroman. The book explores how in the “minor” modernism of Jewish literature, in particular through the adoption of a picaresque sensibility, allowed writers to develop a double-voicedness, through which they could write simultaneously within and against European literary traditions and betray a disillusionment with the promised progress of the Enlightenment. [Reviewed at In geveb here.]
von Bernuth, Ruth. How the Wise Men Got to Chelm: The Life and Times of a Yiddish Folk Tradition. NYU Press, 2016. http://nyupress.org/books/9781479828449
An in-depth study of the Yiddish folk tradition of the “wise men” of Chelm and its antecedents, placing it within a broader historical context of the idea of “foolish towns” more generally. Von Bernuth argues that the creation and perpetuation of these imaginary towns serve to highlight societal problems, functioning as a site onto which questions of Jewish identity, history, and community are projected.
Wirth-Nesher, Hana, ed. The Cambridge History of Jewish American Literature. Cambridge University Press, 2016. https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/the-cambridge….
A collection of scholarly investigations on many aspects of Jewish American literature within a variety of theoretical frameworks. This literary history focuses on the central role of Jewish writing in the formation of US literature as a national literature as well as highlighting the influence of Jewish American literature on global Jewish writing more generally. With considerable attention to Yiddish as a language of literary creativity, the chapters included here also address the presence of Yiddish in American Jewish literature written in English.
Zavadivker, Polly, trans. and ed. 1915 Diary of S. An-sky: A Russian Jewish Writer at the Eastern Front. Indiana University Press, 2016.
A new annotated translation of An-sky’s 1915 diary with a scholarly introduction. In 1915, An-sky took on the assignment of providing aid and relief to Jewish civilians trapped under Russian military occupation in Galicia. He kept a diary of his daily encounters and impressions, written in Russian (but with a number of Yiddish and Hebrew insertions), of which two fragments were recently recovered and presented here, which convey An-sky’s vivid firsthand descriptions of civilian and military life in wartime, the complexities of interethnic relations, the practices and limitations of philanthropy and medical care, Russification policies, and antisemitism. These diaries would be used as the raw material for his lengthy memoir in Yiddish Khurbn Galitsye, (translated into English as The Enemy at His Pleasure).
Bar-Itzhak, Haya. “Ethnography and Folklore among Polish Jews in Israel—Immigration and Integration.” In Going to the People: Jews and the Ethnographic Impulse, edited by Jeffrey Veidlinger. Indiana University Press, 2016. http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/product_info.php?pr…
Based on fieldwork among Polish Jews in the State of Israel, Bar-Itzhak follows the ways in which this immigrant group narrated its experience of migration through the creation of its own multilingual folklore. The study analyses the new vocabularies (in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Polish), stories, and folk practices enacted by this group in its encounter over time with a new Israeli society.
Caplan, Marc. “A Gast af a Vayl Zeyt af a Mayl: Distance, Displacement, and Dislocation in Dovid Bergelson’s Mides ha-din and Alfred Döblin’s Reise in Polen.” In Languages of Modern Jewish Cultures: Comparative Perspectives, edited by Joshua L. Miller and Anita Norich. University of Michigan Press, 2016. https://www.press.umich.edu/8824672/languages_of_m….
This essay compares contemporary works by the Yiddish writer Dovid Bergelson and the German writer Alfred Döblin, just as each was engaging in various “boundary” projects: Bergelson between his Eastern European past, his Berlin present, and his Soviet future; and Döblin as he embarked on a journey through the Polish countryside before returning to his assimilated life in Germany and eventual conversion to Christianity. In these writers Caplan explores the process of “negative” identification, in which the very boundaries of Jewishness and Jewish literary expression are challenged.
Deutsch, Nathaniel. “Thrice Born, or Between Two Worlds: Reflexivity and Performance in An-sky’s Jewish Ethnographic Expedition and Beyond.” In Going to the People: Jews and the Ethnographic Impulse, edited by Jeffrey Veidlinger. Indiana University Press, 2016. http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/product_info.php?pr…
This essay examines the practices of the earliest forms of Jewish ethnographic fieldwork, outlining the complexity of identity in the construction of the “native anthropologist.” Deutsch considers as a central example the famous expedition of the Russian and Yiddish writer S. An-Sky. An-Sky’s status as a “thrice born” anthropologist (born once in the heart of the Pale of Settlement, reborn in his assimilation into and study of Russian culture, and then reborn again in his return to study his once-native home) forms part of the fundamental question of Jewish ethnographic study.
Fenster, Thelma, and Margot B. Valles. “Elia Levita’s Yiddish Bovo D’antona: Pulp Fiction for Women?”. In The Epic Imagination in Medieval Literature: Essays in Honor of Alice M. Colby-Hall, edited by Philip E. Bennett, Leslie Zarker Morgan and F. Regina Psaki, 161-77. University of Mississippi: Romance Monographs, 2016.
This chapter, along with a detailed summary of the Early Yiddish epic, situates Elia Levita’s Bovo-bukh within the European tradition of chivalric romance. By looking at the role of medieval female readers and patrons of romance in other languages, Fenster and Valles argue that Levita’s dedication to “frume vayber” should not be presumed to be merely formulaic. There are other aspects of the text that indicate women may have been the target audience of this text.
Finkin, Jordan. “Yiddish Ethnographic Poetics and Moyshe Kulbak’s ‘Vilne.’” In Writing Jewish Culture: Paradoxes in Ethnography, edited by Andreas Kilcher and Gabriella Safran. Indiana University Press, 2016. http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/product_info.php?pr…
In examining the work of Moyshe Kulbak, Finkin outlines a model of Jewish ethnographic engagement as it appears in the work of writers committed to Yiddish cultural creativity in the early twentieth century. The essay focuses on the intersection of poetry and ethnography as a way to probe the limits and opportunities of Jewish self-understanding.
Fishman, David E. “The Last ‘Zamlers’: Avrom Sutzkever and Shmerke Kaczerginski in Vilna, 1944-1945.” In Going to the People: Jews and the Ethnographic Impulse, edited by Jeffrey Veidlinger. Indiana University Press, 2016. http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/product_info.php?pr…
Describes the postwar efforts by Avrom Sutzkever and Shmerke Kaczerginski to retrieve the documents and artifacts that they, along with the rest of the “Paper Brigade,” had hidden in various caches in the Vilna Ghetto. As the last “zamlers,” collectors of important ethnographic, cultural, and historical material, they participated in the project of recovering the troves of Eastern European Jewish life begun almost immediately following the liberation.
Frieden, Ken. “Translations from German in Yiddish Literary History.” In Un/Translatables: New Maps for Germanic Literatures, ed. Bethany Wiggin and Catriona MacLeod. Northwestern University Press, 2016. http://www.nupress.northwestern.edu/content/untran…
Frieden argues that translations from German into Yiddish played a significant role in the emergence of modern Yiddish literature, focusing on the maskilic translations of J. H. Campe’s German travel narratives into Hebrew and Yiddish. These works countered the fantasy and hagiography of Hasidic narratives with a more descriptive, realistic style.
Goldberg, Halina. “Family Pictures at an Exhibition: History, Autobiography, and the Museum Exhibit on Jewish Łódź ‘In Mrs. Goldberg’s Kitchen.’” In Going to the People: Jews and the Ethnographic Impulse, edited by Jeffrey Veidlinger. Indiana University Press, 2016. http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/product_info.php?pr…
Discusses the process and research behind producing the exhibit “In Mrs. Goldberg’s Kitchen” in the Łódź Central Museum of Textiles, which documents the lives of Jews, and the author’s family, in Łódź in the interwar period. The text also meditates on the convergence of autobiography, ethnography, and museology.
Hellerstein, Kathryn. “China in Two Yiddish Translations: Ethnographic and Modernist Appropriations,” in Un/Translatables: New Maps for Germanic Literatures, ed. Bethany Wiggin and Catriona MacLeod. Northwestern University Press, 2016. http://www.nupress.northwestern.edu/content/untran…
Explores the moment when Yiddish writers encountered traditional Chinese poetry during a time of Jewish cultural change in the early twentieth century, with a focus on the final issue of Shriftn, a section called “Fun alte kvaln” (From Ancient Wellsprings), which featured translations into Yiddish of the eighth century Chinese poet Li Tai Po (Li Bai), published alongside Yiddish versions of Japanese haiku, Egyptian, Arabic, and American Indian poems, as well as an excerpt from the Finnish Kalevala and “The Birth of Buddha.” Hellerstein argues that in keeping with the modernist agenda of Shriftn, the translations of Chinese, among these other languages, broke down the perceived provincialism of the Jewish language and opened it up to the world.
Horn, Dara. “When Spelling Counts.” In Languages of Modern Jewish Cultures: Comparative Perspectives, edited by Joshua L. Miller and Anita Norich. University of Michigan Press, 2016. https://www.press.umich.edu/8824672/languages_of_m…
Reflecting on the now famous incident of “knaidel” appearing as the final challenge in the 2013 America’s National Spelling Bee, Horn discusses the politics and history of the spelling of Yiddish words in English. Examining both the spelling policies of YIVO and Websters, this essay outlines the consequences of spelling and its connection both to the past and to present ideological commitments.
Klepfisz, Irena. “Yiddish: It’s Complicated.” In Languages of Modern Jewish Cultures: Comparative Perspectives, edited by Joshua L. Miller and Anita Norich. University of Michigan Press, 2016. https://www.press.umich.edu/8824672/languages_of_m…
The Yiddish and English poet Irena Klepfisz gives an account of the role of Yiddish in her writing—the process of how Yiddish entered her writing through her own immigrant past and how the language figures as part of a radical politics of culture and society.
Kronfeld, Chana. “The Joint Literary Historiography of Hebrew and Yiddish.” In Languages of Modern Jewish Cultures: Comparative Perspectives, edited by Joshua L. Miller and Anita Norich. University of Michigan Press, 2016. https://www.press.umich.edu/8824672/languages_of_m…
Kronfeld summarizes and takes an accounting of the joint literary historiography of Hebrew and Yiddish advanced over the past decades in her work and the work of several of her students and colleagues. Kronfeld seeks to extend the investigation of Jewish literatures in Jewish languages beyond a monolingual paradigm into thinking through their entanglement not only in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century but into the contemporary period.
Ginsburg, Ruth. “A German Gentleman-Scientist in Hebrew/Yiddish Garb: Translating Freud.” In Languages of Modern Jewish Cultures: Comparative Perspectives, edited by Joshua L. Miller and Anita Norich. University of Michigan Press, 2016. https://www.press.umich.edu/8824672/languages_of_m….
This essay deals mainly with the complex history of the translation of Freud into Hebrew. It includes, amongst many other things, a detailed comparison of three different Hebrew translations of Totem and Taboo. Although its main subject is Hebrew, it also features a lengthy section on the translations into Yiddish.
Krutikov, Mikhail. “Yiddish Folklore and Soviet Ideology during the 1930s.” In Going to the People: Jews and the Ethnographic Impulse, edited by Jeffrey Veidlinger. Indiana University Press, 2016. http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/product_info.php?pr…
Krutikov examines the period of Stalinist “Sovietization” of Jewish folkloristics, when Soviet Jewish folklorists “were forced to speak with masks” in order to avoid the purges of the period. This article examines the meaning of these masks and tries to recover what Soviet Yiddish folklorists “desired to say” from behind them, producing a kind of sterile Jewish folklore stripped of its politics yet still popular and resonant within Soviet Jewish culture.
Lewinsky, Tamar. “Eastern Europe in Argentina: Yiddish Travelogues and the Exploration of Jewish Diaspora.” In Writing Jewish Culture: Paradoxes in Ethnography, edited by Andreas Kilcher and Gabriella Safran. Indiana University Press, 2016. http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/product_info.php?pr….
In presenting Yiddish travelogue accounts of Argentina, Lewinsky discusses how these “lay-ethnographic” projects about specific émigré groups led to the emergence of imagined transnational communities. At the foundation of this imaginative process stands Yiddish as an ideological, linguistic, and cultural link.
Lisek, Joanna. “Beyond the Tsnue: Love in Yiddish Literature.” In Jews in Eastern Europe: Ways of Assimilation, edited by Waldemar Szczerbiński and Katarzyna Kornacka-Sareło. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016. http://www.cambridgescholars.com/jews-in-eastern-e…
The paper presents the ways in which Yiddish women writers addressed the theme of love in the context of social and cultural change, demonstrating how closely this search for the new norms of erotic intimacy is connected with the discovery of new ways of expressing women’s subjectivity. The shifts in women’s Yiddish love poetry enacted a departure from the sentimentalism of folk poetry, previous conventions of asceticism, and the rigorous omission of the shameful sensual-physiological sphere; instead, this writing centred on sensualism, corporeality, and even elements of demonism and perversion. Nonetheless, going beyond a tsnue, a woman of modesty, turns out to be difficult; the women write about the price that they had to pay for so-called free love. The paper analyses works by Yehudis, Yenta Serdatzky, and Fradel Shtok.
Novershtern, Avraham. “‘Thou Shalt Make Thee an Image’: Yiddish Writers Representing Their Language.” In Languages of Modern Jewish Cultures: Comparative Perspectives, edited by Joshua L. Miller and Anita Norich. University of Michigan Press, 2016. https://www.press.umich.edu/8824672/languages_of_m….
Novershtern examines the ways in which Yiddish writers tried to unravel the symbolic meaning of the Yiddish language. He argues that the broad range of explicit or tacit answers to questions of the status of Yiddish as a minority language in a bilingual or multilingual society shed light on a major aspect of modern Jewish cultural dynamics, particularly in respect to iterations of the binaries of “Jewish” and “goyish.”
Polyan, Alexandra. “The Use of Hebrew and Yiddish in the Rituals of Contemporary Jewry of Bukovina and Bessarabia.” In Going to the People: Jews and the Ethnographic Impulse, edited by Jeffrey Veidlinger. Indiana University Press, 2016. http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/product_info.php?pr…
Based on recorded interviews, this essay presents an ethnographic account that analyzes Jewish diglossia and perceptions of language usage in early twenty-first-century Bukovina and Bessarabia. Includes discussion of the perceived differences between literary and spoken Yiddish, “old” and modern Hebrew, as well as analysis of language use in contemporary Jewish ritual.
Rubin, Joel. “Klezmer music – a historical overview to the present.” In The Cambridge Companion to Jewish Music, edited by Joshua S. Walden. Cambridge University Press, 2016. http://www.cambridge.org/academic/subjects/music/m…
Chronologically maps the evolution of klezmer music from its origins in twelfth-century Ashkenaz to its development as a discrete genre in the twentieth century, and its subsequent contemporary hybrid forms following the klezmer revival of the 1970s. In an historical overview, Rubin articulates the changing nuances of the term “klezmer,” from its etymological Hebrew roots meaning “musical instruments,” to referring to the instrumentalists themselves, and then to designating the music genre more generally.
Safran, Gabriella. “Listening in the Dark: The Yiddish Folklorists’ Claim of a Russian Genealogy.” In Writing Jewish Culture: Paradoxes in Ethnography, edited by Andreas Kilcher and Gabriella Safran. Indiana University Press, 2016. http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/product_info.php?pr….
Discusses the set of distinctive listening practices and ideologies of communication that characterized the Yiddish folkloristic endeavor. Though they were inspired by Russian folklore and performed their own folkloristic projects in a Russian spirit, Safran reveals not only how Yiddish folklorists listened differently, but also how their informants spoke differently, complicating the claim to a Russian heritage.
Schulman, Sebastian Z. “Undzer Rebenyu: Religion, Memory, and Identity in Postwar Moldova.” In Going to the People: Jews and the Ethnographic Impulse, edited by Jeffrey Veidlinger. Indiana University Press, 2016. http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/product_info.php?pr…
By integrating rarely accessed archival materials with ethnographic interviews of Jews living today in Moldova and elsewhere, Schulman explores the character of Abramovitsh (the Ribnitser Rebbe), the reality of his activities, and their impact among Jews in the postwar Soviet Union. He argues that in inspiring an articulation of a kind of Soviet Jewish identity among Jews who came of age in the postwar period (which remains largely unstudied in the dominant historiography), the Ribnitser Rebbe’s biography can be considered a critical lens through which to reexamine much of the postwar Soviet Jewish experience.
Shneer, David and Robert Adler Peckerar. “Peretz Markish (1895-1952): Modern Marxist and Yiddishist,” in Makers of Jewish Modernity: Thinkers, Artists, Leaders, and the World They Made, ed. Jacques Picard et al. Princeton University Press, 2016.
This essay offers a chronological exploration of the work of Peretz Markish. The authors argue that writing in the 1920s and ‘30s Soviet Union—site of a profound modern social and political experiment and home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the world—Markish was located at the center of Jewish modernity. His work thus reflects the complicated nuances of that modernity. In resisting strict categorization, it especially complicates claims that Marxism and Yiddish Modernism were politically irreconcilable.
Slobin, Mark. “Music in the Yiddish theater and cinema, 1880–1950.” In The Cambridge Companion to Jewish Music, edited by Joshua S. Walden. Cambridge University Press, 2016. http://www.cambridge.org/academic/subjects/music/m…
The article starts with the roots of Yiddish theater music in Europe, seeing it as a form of popular theater, reviews the sources for studying the music, then turns to a survey of early, later, and declining phases, including the film scores for Yiddish cinema and music for the stage.
Stavans, Ilan. ““¿Qué pasa, Moishe?”: Language and Identity in Jewish Latin America.” In Languages of Modern Jewish Cultures: Comparative Perspectives, edited by Joshua L. Miller and Anita Norich. University of Michigan Press, 2016. https://www.press.umich.edu/8824672/languages_of_m….
Stavans discusses the history of Jewish immigration to Latin America, with attention to the role of language in defining these communities. He pays particular attention to Yiddish among Ashkenazi Jews and its persistence in Latin America beyond the first generation of immigrants.
Vaisman Schulman, Asya. “Seamed Stockings and Ponytails: Conducting Ethnographic Fieldwork in a Contemporary Hasidic Community.” In Going to the People: Jews and the Ethnographic Impulse, edited by Jeffrey Veidlinger. Indiana University Press, 2016. http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/product_info.php?pr…
Discusses the challenges of ethnographic work in Hasidic communities and how the author was able to gain access to these closed communities through learning to conform to community norms of language, dress, and social conventions. At the same time, Vaisman Schulman argues that it is not necessary to be Hasidic or to pretend to be interested in becoming Hasidic in order to intimately study Hasidic culture.
Warnke, Nina and Jeffrey Shandler. “Yiddish Shylocks in theater and literature.” In Wrestling with Shylock: Jewish Responses to the Merchant of Venice, edited by Edna Nahshon and Michael Shapiro. Cambridge University Press, 2017.
This essay posits that Yiddish engagements with “The Merchant of Venice” evince a commitment to the mastery of Shakespeare specifically (and to the western literary/theatrical canon more generally) as a proving ground for Yiddish linguistic and cultural legitimacy. Even so, Warnke and Shandler argue that a considerable number of these engagements produce critiques of western culture, especially its anti-Semitic representations of Jewish life, through projects of adaptation and theatrical reimagining.
Weiser, Kalman. “Saving Yiddish, Saving American Jewry: Max Weinreich in 1940s New York City.” In Languages of Modern Jewish Cultures: Comparative Perspectives, edited by Joshua L. Miller and Anita Norich. University of Michigan Press, 2016. https://www.press.umich.edu/8824672/languages_of_m….
Discusses the work of Max Weinreich in America in the 1940s. Weiser argues that Weinreich not only furthered Yiddish scholarship in the US through his academic endeavors with YIVO and City College, but he also advocated for a new role for Yiddish in American Jewish life, a fusion of American and Jewish values within the Yiddish secular tradition of Eastern Europe.
Werberger, Annette. “Ethnoliterary Modernity: Jewish Ethnography and Literature in the Russian Empire and Poland (1890-1930).” In Writing Jewish Culture: Paradoxes in Ethnography, edited by Andreas Kilcher and Gabriella Safran. Indiana University Press, 2016. http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/product_info.php?pr…
Werberger discusses the production of “ethnoliterary modernity” as a mode of writing, focusing on the period between 1870-1945. She argues that the tradition is shaped by an oral-written conjunction of ethnographic fieldwork and literary salons, ethnographers and literary figures, like—in the Yiddish case—Y. L. Peretz and S. An-sky.
Zarrow, Sarah Ellen. “‘Holy Sacred Collection Work’: The Relationship between YIVO and its Zamlers.” In Going to the People: Jews and the Ethnographic Impulse, edited by Jeffrey Veidlinger. Indiana University Press, 2016. http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/product_info.php?pr…
Using YIVO’s internal records as well as correspondence between zamlers and YIVO, Zarrow offers a typology of the reasons local, and often amateur, ethnographers chose to participate in YIVO’s Ethnographic Commission. She argues that YIVO attempted, though its zamlers, to shape an image of the modern Yiddish-speaking Jew.
Berger, Shlomo. “A Note on the Opening Sentence of Pirqei Avot in Two Eighteenth-Century Yiddish Editions of the Tract.” Zutot 13, no. 1 (2016): 4-9.
Up to the end of the eighteenth century, Yiddish translators of Pirqei Avot frequently expanded the original Hebrew text while following the strategy of previous Yiddish translations of the Bible known as khumesh mit khiber, or ‘a Yiddish rendition with additions’: a Yiddish version of the Hebrew text aimed at providing its reading public a coherent text to understand in their Ashkenazi vernacular. As may be expected, the boundaries between translation and commentary were consequently blurred, but the Yiddish version was nevertheless considered as a translation of the original Hebrew text.
Boyarin, Jonathan. “Yiddish Science and the Postmodern.” Trans. Naomi Seidman. In geveb (March 2016).
This essay (republished from its 1996 original) calls for an analysis of the particular modes of Yiddish culture, its placement within and alongside Western discourse, and its relationship to other contemporary articulations of the “minor” or the “marginal” in the academy. In response to such theorists as Jacques Derrida, Walter Benjamin, Emmanuel Levinas, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Boyarin attempts to outline the potential critical interventions embedded in the study of and with Yiddish. Original in Yiddish with translation into English by Naomi Seidman.
Brenner, Rachel F. “Leopold Buczkowski’s Czarny Potok: Commemoration of a Shtetl as a Humanistic Crisis.” The Polish Review 61, no. 2 (2016): 19–44.
Brenner argues that Buczkowski’s Czarny potok (Black Torrent), which centers on the destruction of the Jewish town Szabasowa, serves as both a Yizkor Book and a unique vision of Polish and Jewish underground insurgents in an empathic-dialogue relationship of equals. A potential resource for Holocaust studies.
Dittman, Robert. “The Czech language of Jews in Premyslid Bohemia of the eleventh to fourteenth century.” International Journal of the Sociology of Language 2016, no. 238 (Mar 2016): 15-35.
Dittman discusses aspects of the language of Czech Jewry residing in Prague during the Přemyslid reign, showing that their vernacular was basically identical with contemporary Prague Czech. He explores the linguistic situation with respect to multilingualism, Slavic interpretation of Old Czech glosses in Hebrew script, their functions and features and several sociolinguistic aspects such as archaisation, place names in communication and name giving.
Drucker Bar-Am, Gali. “Gaystike erd by Avrom Sutzkever: Between Personal Mythology and National Ideology.” Journal of Jewish Studies 67, no. 1 (2016): 157-81.
Analyzes Sutzkever’s epic poem Gaystike erd (Spiritual Soil) and its attempt to establish a new national identity for Yiddish-speaking Jews in post-Holocaust Israel. Drucker Bar-Am argues that one of the most interesting features of the work is the sudden shift in the poem’s epilogue in which the author, a master of lyrical intimate expression, turns from being a sophisticated challenger of mainstream Zionist imagery into a grandiose national poet and prophet.
Dynes, Ofer. “Yiddish for Spies, or the Secret History of Jewish Literature, Lemberg 1814.” Naharaim 10, no. 2 (2016): 195-213.
Dynes argues that there was a direct link between the Austrian imperial interest in collecting insider information about the Jews and the turn to writing literature in Jewish languages; in other words, a direct link between narration and denunciation. By identifying the previously unknown author of one of the earliest Eastern European modern literary texts in Yiddish and reconstructing the historical context in which he wrote the text, he argues that this archival-biographical discovery sheds new light on the history of Eastern European Jews during the Napoleonic Wars (1799–1815) as well as on the rise of Haskalah literature.
Faierstein, Morris M. ￼￼“Paulus Aemilius, Convert to Catholicism and Printer of Yiddish Books in Sixteenth Century Augsburg.” Judaica 71, no. 4 (2015): 349-65.
An account of Paulus Aemilius, a Bavarian living in the sixteenth century who was a copyist and printer. He published several early Yiddish books, including different editions of the Humash for both Jewish and Christian Hebraist audiences.
Fram, Edward. “Some Preliminary Observations on the First Published Translation of Rashi’s Commentary on the Pentateuch in Yiddish (Cremona, 1560).” Hebrew Union College Annual 86 (2016): 305-42.
Analyzes the first printed Yiddish translation of Rashi’s commentary on the Pentateuch prepared by Judah ben Moses Naphtali, as included in a 1560 Old Yiddish translation of the liturgical Hebrew Bible published in Cremona. Fram shows that the translator had to contend with the difficulties of transmitting Rashi’s Hebrew word plays, grammatical insights, and scriptural proofs to an audience that was not knowledgeable in Hebrew, and that he therefore omitted many of these aspects in the translation. The translator also took some liberties and added mystical ideas that he borrowed from other sources in order to make Rashi’s texts more appealing and entertaining.
Green, Arthur, and Ariel Evan Mayse. ““The Great Call of the Hour”: Hillel Zeitlin’s Yiddish Writings on Yavneh.” In geveb (March 2016).
Hillel Zeitlin (1871-1942), leading figure of what may be called “philosophical neo-Hasidism” among Eastern European Jews in the pre-Holocaust era, issued calls for a new organization of Jewish life. In a series of articles published in the 1920s, he sought to form an elite Jewish spiritual fraternity to be called Yavneh, which was the most fully elaborated of his attempts at intentional community. Green and Mayse discuss Zeitlin’s project and include new translations into English of Zeitlin’s Yiddish writings on the Yavneh fellowship.
Grossman, Jeffrey. “From Shtetl to Ghetto: Recognizing Yiddish in the Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums.” Naharaim 10, no. 2 (2016): 215-244.
What kind of recognition—whether understood as knowledge or acknowledgement—were critics and translators able to bestow on Yiddish literature? Focusing on the Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums (1837–1922), one of the first German venues for criticism and translation of modern Yiddish literature, this article argues that the AZJ’s contributors recognized the Yiddish writings of Sholem Asch, Sholem Aleichem, and especially I. L. Peretz as a form of “ghetto writing.” In doing so, they made possible the reception of Yiddish literature in German but also imposed strict limitations on how it was meant to be read, hence resulting in misrecognition. This misrecognition, in turn, raises questions about the capacity of this reception to produce the kind of “clarifying self-scrutiny” that cultural theorist Rita Felski finds to be among the central aims of modern writers and readers of fiction. It also results in a largely reduced ability to recognize the kind of exploration of the shtetl and its metaphors, what Dan Miron calls its “metaphysics and mythological self-projection.”
Hever, Hannan. “The Politics of Form of the Hassidic Tale.” Arcade Literary Journal 2 (Spring 2016).
Hever analyzes the Hasidic tale within the historical moment of the early stages of the Maskilic movement in the early nineteenth century. He argues that the form of the tale and its performance serve as a vivid example of the Hassidic politics of provocation. Hever argues that the hasidic tale was aimed at the literary language and the literary tradition of the Hebrew Haskalah, promoting Hasidic literature as a vibrant and powerful alternative and blurring the harmony between Hebrew and Yiddish.
Lambert, Josh. “The Sound of ‘New Jews’: David Rakoff and Jonathan Goldstein.” Studies in American Jewish Literature 35, no. 2 (2016): 233-56. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/studamerjewili….
Focusing on popular radio shows/podcasts This American Life and WireTap with Jonathan Goldstein, Lambert explores how performers invoke Jewishness and Canadianness through a particularly aural medium. A potential resource for considering Yiddish afterlives in American English speech.
Mahalel, Adi. “Weaving The Revolution: I. L. Peretz The Social Protest Writer.” In geveb (May 2016).
This article refutes the long-standing convention in Peretz scholarship that his interest in new literary styles coincided with a rejection of revolutionary politics. Instead, the article argues that this shift reflected Peretz’s ongoing search for new ways of expressing his radicalism.
Meir, Jonatan. “The Discovery and Publication of Joseph Perl’s Yiddish Writings.” Zutot 13, no. 1 (2016): 55-69.
Meir departs from the existing scholarly discussion of Joseph Perl’s most well-known satire, Sefer Megaleh temirin, which was printed in Hebrew in Vienna, 1819, with a partial Yiddish translation of the work appearing in Vilna, 1938. He proposes a new focus on Perl’s Yiddish writing, with implications for the future study of Perl’s writing in particular, and maskilic Yiddish literature in general, examining its production in the first half of the nineteenth century and the increasing scholarly interest in it at the outset of the twentieth century.
Morgentaler, Goldie. “‘I Am Still There’: The Recreation of Jewish Poland in the Canadian Novels of Chava Rosenfarb.” Studies in American Jewish Literature 35, no. 2 (2016): 187–99. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/studamerjewili…
This essay examines the theme of Jewish-Polish relations expressed in Rosenfarb’s novels. Although her novels were written in Canada, Poland—and especially the city of Łódź, where she was born and raised—lived on in her imagination and are the focus of all her longer fiction.
Newton, Adam Zachary. “Af der shvel un in der fremd: A Feuilleton on Yiddish, Race, and the American Literary Imagination.” In geveb (June 2016).
Through a consideration of works by Opatoshu and Joseph Roth (among others) this essay explores and problematizes what Newton calls “a certain American Jewish propensity toward staging racial difference,” blurring racial lines between African Americans and American Jews.
Oren, Roman. “Early Ashkenazic Poems about the Binding of Isaac.” Naharaim 10, no. 2 (2016): 175–194.
This article reviews a corpus of poems retelling the Binding of Isaac composed by Ashkenazic Jews (mainly from the German territories) during the Middle Ages and early modern era. It compares poems written in both languages of the Ashkenazim (the vernacular Yiddish and the literary Hebrew), and in doing so illuminates key cultural-historical aspects of pre-modern Ashkenazic society, including cultural transfer between co-territorial Jews and Christians; Hebrew versus Yiddish texts; ritual versus belletristic literature; written versus oral transmission; elite (educated) versus lay audiences; male versus female audiences; and the private versus the public sphere.
Pollin-Galay, Hannah. “Avrom Sutzkever’s Art of Testimony: Witnessing with the Poet in the Wartime Soviet Union.” Jewish Social Studies 21, no. 2 (2016): 1–34. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/jewisocistud.2…
Pollin-Galay explores how Sutzkever’s wartime testimony in the Soviet Union differed stylistically and aesthetically from other Holocaust testimony. This writing is put into conversation with stories from Soviet Jewish refugees, who were compelled to respond to Sutzkever with their own witness narratives.
Riemer, Nathanael. “Past Is Future: Gadi Pollack’s Haredi Comics.” European Journal of Jewish Studies 10, no. 1 (2016): 108-147.
Riemer discusses the little-studied “boom” of the comic form within contemporary Haredi literature in the US and Israel in the 2000s. In particular, the work of Gadi Pollack stands out due to its graphic quality and richness in technique and ideas. Unlike other “mussar” literature, he argues, these comics are not meant only for children.
Rosenzweig, Claudia. “When Jesus spoke Yiddish : some remarks on a Yiddish manuscript of the “Toledot Yeshu” (MS. Günzburg 1730). PaRDeS; Zeitschrift der Vereinigung für Jüdische Studien, 21 (2015) 199-214.
Rosenzweig’s study focuses on the Yiddish version of “Toldot Yeshu,” a manuscript from the 17th century about Jesus, which has been preserved in the Russian State Library in Moscow. Arguing that the manuscript is part of the so-called “Herode-tradition” of the “Toledot Yeshu,” she connects it to the version printed in Hebrew and accompanied by a Latin translation by the Swiss pastor and theologian Johann Jacob Uldrich (Huldricus, 1683–1731) in Leiden in 1705, bearing the title “Historia Jeschuae Nazareni.” Through comparison of the Yiddish and Hebrew texts, she posits questions about the transmission and the reception of this challenging and intriguing text.
Roskies, David G. “The Small Talk of I. L. Peretz.” In geveb (May 2016).
This essay outlines the dialogical thread in Peretz’s work, arguing that speech, orality, and dialogue formed the basis of his new literary language in Yiddish. Roskies traces how from 1888-1902 Peretz shifted from poetry to prose, from inner speech (both spoken and unspoken) to group speech; from the coarse speech of those who labored here on earth to the sublime speech of those who negotiated the heavens; and from the static, entropic bild to the mercurial, carnivalesque, and ever-topical feuilleton. Turning finally to the modern stage, he used multimedia, a huge cast of characters, and the contradictory nature of rhyme to produce a sound chamber of Polish Jewry, a marketplace of fiercely opposing sides and competing eschatologies.
Seelig, Rachel. “Like a Barren Sheet of Paper: Rokhl Korn from Galician Orchards to Postwar Montreal.” Prooftexts 34, no. 3 (Fall 2014): 349-377.
Seelig traces the imagistic shift in Korn’s writing from thriving trees to lifeless paper, arguing that it represents what Korn regarded as the transformation of Yiddish from an organic, indigenous aspect of interwar Poland to an uprooted, moribund refugee language in her new home of Montreal. Through this exploration, Seelig expands the dominant narrative of American Yiddish literature to include the unique experience of Holocaust refugees in Montreal while shedding light on a relatively unknown woman poet.
Stromberg, David. “Rebellion and Creativity: Contextualizing Isaac Bashevis Singer’s ‘Author’s Note’ to The Penitent.” In geveb (June 2016).
Stromberg explores the discursive positions expressed in Isaac Bashevis Singer’s ‘Author’s Note’ to The Penitent, unique not least for its inclusion at the end, rather than the beginning, of the English version of the novel. He argues that the authorial persona that emerges in the note diverges from Singer’s worldview put forth in other essays and introductions; the triangulation and teasing out of the three present voices (Shapiro, the unnamed Yiddish writer, and I.B.S.) extends and enhances the ideological debate of the novel through discursive polyphony.
Underwood, Nick. “Aron Beckerman’s City of Light: Writing French History and Defining Immigrant Jewish Space in Interwar Paris.” Urban History 43, no. 4 (November 01, 2016): 618–34. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/urban-hist….
This article examines the writing of a little-known, but prolific interwar immigrant eastern European Parisian Yiddish writer, Aron Beckerman, to demonstrate how Yiddish journalism played a pivotal role in defining Paris as a simultaneously French and Jewish space to immigrant Jews living in the city.
Underwood, Nick. “Dressing the Modern Jewish Communist Girl in Interwar Paris.” French Politics, Culture & Society 35, no. 1 (2016): 86-103. http://dx.doi.org/10.3167/fpcs.2016.340107.
This article highlights how newspaper editors and advertisers used interwar French gender constructs and notions about fashion to modify Eastern European Jewish tradition and broaden interest in, and support for, the interwar leftist community.
Young, Jennifer. “Beyond the Color Line: Jews, Blacks, and the American Racial Imagination.” In geveb (June 2016). http://ingeveb.org/articles/beyond-the-color-line-….
Young interrogates the how American Jews’ internal, one-sided conversation about race helped them to conceive of their relationship to whiteness, anti-Semitism, and racial oppression. Eastern European Jewish immigrants worked out their relationship with blacks in the pages of the Yiddish press, in Yiddish literature, and through philanthropy and political action. Jews on the left in particular championed black political causes and sought to interpret their simultaneous vulnerability in and culpability for America’s racial hierarchy through fiction, journalism, and social activism.
Zaritt, Saul Noam. “Maybe for Millions, Maybe for Nobody: Jewish American Writing and the Undecidability of World Literature.” American Literary History 28, no. 3 (Fall 2016): 542-73.
This article examines the work of Saul Bellow and Isaac Bashevis Singer as Jewish American writers grappling with the frameworks and markets of world literature. Zaritt seeks to move beyond localist and nationalist reading strategies while still accounting for the troubles of translation, in particular with regards to the politics of Yiddish in the postwar. The article argues that Jewish American writing, in its multiple allegiances and linguistic uncertainty, forms a supplement to world literature, an undecidable practice that simultaneously longs for the world and demonstrates its impossibilities.
East European Jewish Affairs, Volume 46 (2016)
Global Yiddish Culture
Guest Editor: Anna Shternshis
This special issue on global Yiddish culture challenges the geographic boundaries and scope of the journal. Yiddish-speaking refugees and escapees from fascism and communism in Jewish communities in Amsterdam, Paris, and Montreal changed the definitions of what it meant to be a Jew in these metropolises and brought (back) the Yiddish language to communities that had linguistically assimilated to Dutch, French, or even English in francophone Montreal. Jewish migrants also raised concerns about Jewish solidarity in the face of global fascism. Above all, they blurred the definitions of, and even potentially undermined, the East/West dichotomy that has informed our understanding of European history for generations. The “affairs” of Eastern European Jews now take place far from home.
Includes the articles:
David Shneer, “How Eastern European Jewish immigrants, modernist Yiddish culture, and anti-fascist politics dragged the Netherlands into the twentieth century”
Nick Underwood, “Exposing Yiddish Paris: the Modern Jewish Culture pavilion at the 1937 World’s Fair”
Gennady Estraikh, “The missing years: Yiddish writers in Soviet Bialystok, 1939–41”
Rebecca Margolis, “Remaining alive in silence? Melekh Ravitch as Yiddish catalyst: Montreal, 1941–54”
Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, Volume 29 (2016)
Writing Jewish History in Eastern Europe
Edited by Natalia Aleksiun, Brian Horowitz & Antony Polonsky
This volume is devoted to the development of Jewish historiography in the three east European centres—Congress Poland, the Russian empire, and Galicia—that together contained the majority of world Jewry at that time. Drawing widely on the multilingual body of scholarly and popular literature that emerged in that turbulent environment, the contributors to this volume attempt to go beyond the established paradigms in the study of Jewish historiography, and specifically to examine the relationship between the writing of Jewish history and of non-Jewish history in Eastern Europe. In doing so they expose the tension between the study of the Jewish past in a communal setting and in a wider, regional, setting that located Jews firmly in the non-Jewish political, economic, and cultural environment.
Studies in Contemporary Jewry, Volume 29 (2016)
A Club of Their Own: Jewish Humorists and the Contemporary World
Edited by Eli Lederhendler and Gabriel N. Finder
By studying the history and development of Jewish humor, the essays in this volume not only provide nuanced accounts of how Jewish humor can be described but also make a case for the importance of humor in studying any culture. While Jewish humor has served many functions as a form of “insider” speech, this volume argues that much of contemporary Jewish humor has another function: to reward all those who get the punch line.
Includes the articles:
Edward Portnoy, “Purim on Pesach: The Invented Tradition of Passover Yontef-bletlekh in the Warsaw Yiddish Press”
Diego Rotman, “The ‘Tsadik from Plonsk’ and ‘Goldenyu’: Political Satire in Dzigan and Shumacher’s Israeli Comic Repertoire”