Oct 14, 2020
Below is the newest installment of our annual effort to gather together the latest publications relevant to Yiddish Studies in English. We hope that this list helps to illustrate the scope of the field across disciplines and historical periods. The list includes scholarship in the form of books, articles, book chapters, special editions, and dissertations published in 2019. 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 of English-language works features scholars from the global reach of Yiddish Studies. We will continue to publish bibliographies that reflect the plurality of voices related to Yiddish studies that cross linguistic and national boundaries, and not only those published in English. (See bibliographies for French and Russian.) If you are interested in compiling a similar list for scholarship published in another language, we encourage you to reach out to us. Please also contact us if you have any suggested additions to the current bibliography.
Bemporad, Elissa. Legacy of Blood: Jews, Pogroms, and Ritual Murder in the Lands of the Soviets. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019. https://oxford.universitypressscholarship.com/view/10.1093/oso/9780190466459.001.0001/oso-9780190466459
This book traces the legacies of the two classical and extreme manifestations of tsarist antisemitism—pogroms and blood libels—in the Soviet Union, from 1917 to the early 1960s. By exploring the phenomena in the Soviet territories of the interwar period and after World War II in the newly annexed territories, this book studies the social realities of everyday antisemitism through the emergence of communities of violence and memories of violence.
Kałczewiak, Mariusz. Polacos in Argentina: Polish Jews, Interwar Migration, and the Emergence of Transatlantic Jewish Culture. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2019.
This book is a history of the interwar Polish-Jewish migration to Argentina centered around a consideration of Yiddish culture and literature. Kałczewiak analyzes the development of images of Argentina and discourses on emigration in Polish-based Yiddish culture, including the popular press, highbrow journals, and travelogues. He also describes the development of Polish-Jewish-Argentine identity in Argentina in the press, in works of literature, and in the history of landsmanshaftn.
Krutikov, Mikhail. Der Nister’s Soviet Years: Yiddish Writer as Witness to the People. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2019.
This work explores the second and less examined half of Der Nister (Pinhas Kahanovich)’s life and career in the Soviet Union. Tracing his development from his earlier works as a celebrated symbolist storyteller to a writer creating within the strictures of socialist realism, Krutikov demonstrates the effect of historical events on Der Nister’s works and reputation. Through close readings of a diverse but unified body of work, Krutikov shows how Der Nister consistently evolved, changing genre and writerly mission to meet the demands of his day, while still maintaining a distinctive style. Attention is also paid to Der Nister’s legacy in Soviet Yiddish letters after his death and his changing place in contemporary Yiddish scholarship.
Miron, Dan. The Animal in the Synagogue: Franz Kafka’s Jewishness. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2019.
This study is divided into two parts that examine how Franz Kafka’s sense of being a Jew in the modern world is articulated in his correspondence, responses to contemporaneous publications of Jewish literature, and his short story “In the Synagogue.” The first part tracks the motif of repulsive, dirty small animals in Kafka’s correspondence and “In the Synagogue,” seeing these creatures as vehicles for the author’s understanding of his own manhood and his place within the Jewish tradition. The second part of the book situates Kafka within the Jewish writing of his time (in Hebrew, Yiddish, and non-Jewish languages), focusing on the writer’s often pessimistic responses to contemporary Jewish literatures.
Murav, Harriet. David Bergelson’s Strange New World: Untimeliness and Futurity. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 2019.
In this contemporary assessment of David Bergelson (1884-1952) and his fiction, Murav focuses on untimeliness, anachronism, and warped temporality as an emotional, sensory, existential, and historical background to Bergelson’s work and world.
Quint, Alyssa. The Rise of the Modern Yiddish Theater. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2019.
Quint focuses on the early years of the modern Yiddish theater, from roughly 1876 to 1883, through the works of one of its best-known and most colorful figures, Avrom Goldfaden. Quint uses Goldfaden’s theatrical works as a way to understand the social life of Jewish theater in Imperial Russia. Through a study of his libretti, she looks at the experiences of Russian Jewish actors, male and female, to explore how Jewish actors who played Goldfaden’s work on stage absorbed the theater into their everyday lives. Goldfaden’s theater gives a rich view into the conduct, ideology, religion, and politics of Jews during an important moment in the history of late Imperial Russia.
Ross, Arthur. Communal Solidarity: Immigration, Settlement, and Social Welfare in Winnipeg’s Jewish Community, 1882-1930. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2019.
This study examines the development of Winnipeg’s Jewish community and the network of mutual aid societies they established that accelerated the development of a vibrant secular public sphere. Often using Yiddish language materials, the book reveals how communal solidarity shaped Jewish Winnipeg’s understanding of communal life and how it made decisions about the provision of social welfare.
Seidman, Naomi. Sarah Schenirer and the Bais Yaakov Movement. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019. https://global.oup.com/academic/product/sarah-schenirer-and-the-bais-yaakov-movement-9781906764692?cc=us&lang=en&
This study explores the founding and history of the Bais Yaakov movement, a movement to educate Orthodox Jewish girls to take an active part in their community, ultimately expanding to include high schools, teacher seminaries, summer programs, vocational schools, and youth movements in Poland and beyond. Seidman explores the political and social context for the movement, from its origins to its near-destruction in the Holocaust and its role in the reconstruction of Orthodoxy in subsequent decades. The volume includes selections of Schenirer’s writing published in English translation. Read an interview here with Seidman about the website and performances that have emerged out of this book project.
Smith, Mark L. The Yiddish Historians and the Struggle for a Jewish History of the Holocaust. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2019.
A history of Yiddish-language Holocaust histories, this book describes the stakes and contexts of writing Jewish history, of writing it in Yiddish, and of writing it in Yiddish after the Holocaust. It contains extensive documentation and analysis of the historiographic projects by the major Yiddish-language historians of the Holocaust.
Yudkoff, Sunny S. Tubercular Capital: Illness and the Conditions of Modern Jewish Writing. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2019.
Combining archival research with literary analysis, this study uncovers how tuberculosis came to function as an agent of modern Jewish literature, telling the story of Yiddish and Hebrew writers whose lives and work were transformed by a tubercular diagnosis. Read Tova Benjamin’s review for In geveb here.
Aptroot, Marian, ed. Yiddish and Modernism (Amsterdam Yiddish Symposium 12). Amsterdam: Engelstalig, 2019.
Gal-Ed, Efrat. “In a heylikn mitvokh, On a Holy Wednesday: Itzik Manger’s Modernist Moves.”
This article examines the significance of Biblical motifs in Itzik Manger’s modernist poetry. Gal-Ed argues that Manger used Biblical motifs to connect Yiddish literature and culture to world literature and culture.
Szymaniak, Karolina. “Settling the Score: Modernist Translingual Practice and the Dynamics of Polish-Yiddish Literary Contacts in the Interwar Period.”
This article explores how Yiddish public intellectuals had to redefine and negotiate their position in relation to different national cultures and nation-states after the disintegration of the imperial order and the establishment of successor states in Eastern Europe. Szymaniak focuses on the translingual and (post)colonial aspects of these negotiations in modernist Yiddish poetry.
Avineri, Netta. “The Heritage Narratives of Yiddish Metalinguistic Community Members: Processes of Distancing and Closeness.” In Storytelling as a Narrative Practice: Ethnographic Approaches to the Tales We Tell, edited by Elizabeth A. Falconi and Kathryn E. Graber, 90-135. Boston: Brill, 2019.
This chapter uses interviews of Yiddish learners and teachers to show the integral role that narrative plays in creating the self and one’s communities. In particular, Netta Avineri examines the genre of “heritage narratives,” or devices used in these interviews that connect the individual’s story to a heritage language.
Estraikh, Gennady and Mikhail Krutikov, eds. Women, Men and Books: Issues of Gender in Yiddish Discourse. Cambridge: Legenda, 2019.
Mikhail Krutikov, “Introduction: Women, Men, and Books: Issues of Gender in Yiddish Discourse,” 1-6.
In this introduction to the edited collection, Krutikov describes how the volume offers new contributions to the study of gender in Yiddish, especially given the relative weight that issues of masculinity are granted.
Arnaud Bikard, “The Old Yiddish Ŝeder Nošim and the Querelle des Femmes,” 7-18.
Bikard reevaluates the medieval poetic compilation known as Ŝeder Nošim [The Order for Women]. Bikard argues that the poems should be interpreted as part of the querelle des femmes genre, which combines irony, playfulness, and philosophical sophistication.
Roland Gruschka, “The Marxist Theory of Primeval Matriarchy in Yiddish Intellectual Discourse: Gender between Anti-Religious Radicalism, Orthodox Judaism, and a New Metaphysics of Yidishkayt,” 19-35.
Gruschka analyzes how Yiddish socialist and anarchist thinkers challenged the essentialist approach to gender using the concept of prehistoric matriarchy in Marxist theory. Gruschka argues that these thinkers were, in a sense, forerunners of contemporary gender theorists.
Joanna Lisek, “‘Mother, in the chain of generations, I am the broken link between you and my child’: The Experience of Being a Mother and a Daughter in Yiddish Poetry by Women,” 36-64.
Zohar Weiman-Kelman, “Yidishe Dikhterins, Nice Jewish Girls: Creating Communities in Jewish Literary History,” 65-79.
Weiman-Kelman challenges the segregation of women in the male-dominated Yiddish canon, emphasizing the significance of female poetic voices of the past and their contemporary mediators. Weiman-Kelman argues that this ongoing interaction between past and present writers set up a cross-temporal collectivity, united by the project of (re-)claiming the literary tradition.
Gennady Estraikh, “The Best-Selling Fictionist Shomer and his Fear of Emancipated Women,” 80-92.
Estraikh examines the misogynist stereotypes in Shomer’s 1888 chapbook, Halb-mentsch halb-affe; oder, Vu zukht man dem emes [Half-Human, Half-Ape; or, Where Can One Find the Truth?]. Estraikh argues that Shomer employs Darwinian language to dehumanize women and to pathologize their aspirations to education and emancipation.
Roni Masel, “Dreams of a Jewish Queen: A Literary Itinerary of National-Sexual Desires, from the Book of Esther to Aaron Zeitlin’s Esterke,” 93-107.
Masel explores the intersection of nationalism, gender, and sexuality in Yiddish and Hebrew literary adaptations of the legend about the Polish king Casimir the Great and his Jewish beloved, Esterke. Masel traces two opposing interpretive trends: while one celebrates the couple as a symbol of Polish-Jewish symbiosis, the other reflects anxiety about assimilation.
Valentina Fedchenko, “Between Talmud and Feminism: Bashevis Singer’s Playful Jugglery in his Bilingual Corpus,” 108-122.
Fedchenko argues that there is a marked discrepancy between the depiction of female characters in the original Yiddish publications of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s novels Sonim: Geshikhte fun a libe and Neshome-ekspeditsyes and their abridged English translations, Enemies: A Love Story and Shosha, respectively. Fedchenko argues that the female characters in the Yiddish originals are more complex and contentious.
Sabine Koller, “The Forbidden Fruit: Gender and Desire in David Hofstein’s Early Poetry,” 123-138.
Koller traces the development of erotic metaphors in David Hofshteyn’s poetry from the 1910s and 1920s. Koller argues that Hofshteyn appropriates Yiddish for masculinist discourse, thus breaking the traditional gendered divide between Hebrew and Yiddish.
Eitan Kensky, “‘Ikh hob lib shlangen’: Virility and Di Yunge,” 139-151.
This article analyzes the prose, poetry, and criticism of Di Yunge group with a focus on issues of masculinity. Kensky argues that, in response to the virile masculinity prominent in both Zionist and American cultures, Di Yunge often positions the full embrace of virile masculinity as an act of assimilation, with its perceived danger of identity loss.
Yaakov Herskovitz, “Gendered War in Aharon Reuveni’s Yerusholayim in Shotn fun Shverd,” 152-161.
Herskovitz explores gender tensions in the writings of the Yiddish/Hebrew author Aharon Reuveni, particularly his novel Yerusholayim in shotn fun shverd [Jerusalem in the Shadow of the Sword]. Herskovitz argues that the novel undermines the ideal of masculinity forwarded by Zionist ideology through its depiction of a weak, flawed man in the context of World War I.
William Gertz Runyan, “The Kmoy-Conquest of South America: Yankev Botoshansky and the Masculine Imaginary of Yiddish Literature,” 162-172.
Runyan shows how Yankev Botoshansky’s reportage on his travels to Tierra del Fuego in southern Patagonia participated in the interwar trends of fashioning the image of the new Jewish “man of the world.” The article suggests broader trends toward globalization in the interwar Yiddish press through journalism on exotic locales and colonial exploits, as well as the existence of a gendered difference in mobility apparent in Botoshansky’s other works.
Alexandra Tali Herzog, “The ‘Bathroom Crisis’ in the Shtetl: Transgender Identity and Homoerotic Anxiety in Isaac Bashevis Singer,” 173-190.
Herzog uses queer theory to explore gender performance and sexual identity in three of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s stories. Herzog argues that Singer sought to reinforce heteronormativity, despite his often provocative portrayals of cross-dressing, androgyny, and transgender individuals.
Fabiszak, Jacek. “Relocating Jewish Culture in The Yiddish King Lear (1934).” In Shakespeare on Screen: King Lear, edited by Victoria Bladen, Sarah Hatchuel, and Nathalie Vienne-Guerrin, 157-170. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019.
Fabiszak analyzes Harry Tomashefsky’s 1934 film The Yiddish King Lear, based on Jacob Gordin’s play by the same name. The chapter argues that Gordin and then Tomashefsky transposed and indiginized King Lear based on the needs of New York’s Yiddish-speaking audiences.
Geller, Ewa. “Yiddish ‘Regimen sanitatis Salernitanum’ From Early Modern Poland: A Humanistic Symbiosis of Latin Medicine and Jewish Thought.” In Jewish Medicine and Healthcare in Central Eastern Europe, edited by M. Moskalewicz, U. Caumanns, and F. Dross, 13-25. New York: Springer, 2019.
This chapter examines the hitherto unknown early modern Eastern Yiddish adaptation of a the dietetic and medical Regimen sanitatis Salernitanum printed in Poland in 1613, found in the Austrian National Library in Vienna under the Ashkenazi Hebrew title Seyfer derekh eyts ha-khajim. This anonymous treatise written by a Jewish medical doctor reveals a symbiosis of medical and religious ideas of the great Jewish philosopher and physician Maimonides and typical occidental dietetic and hygienic rules propagated by the Latin genre regimen sanitatis. The work is particularly noteworthy because medical practices of Jews in Eastern Europe, from where the book originates, are thought to have been particularly superstitious and obscure at that time. Seyfer derekh eyts ha-khajim proves the contrary and an analysis of the work challenges many widely held assumptions.
Idelson-Shein, Iris and Christian Wiese, eds. Monsters and Monstrosity in Jewish History from the Middle Ages to Modernity. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019.
This interdisciplinary volume analyzes the shifting significance of monster images in Jewish culture, spanning from the Middle Ages to modernity. Drawing on Jewish history, literary studies, folklore, art history and the history of science, its essays illuminate lesser known cultural episodes, including texts from both premodern and modern Yiddish literature. Primary sources stem from a wide range of contexts, such as the Holocaust, the Rabbinic realm, and European visual arts, all of which are bound by their focus on monstrosity. The monster motif gives rise to an array of theoretical questions—about race and human belonging, the status of the Jew in Europe, sexuality, and literary fantasy.
David I. Shyovitz, “Unearthing the ‘Children of Cain’: Between Human, Animal, and Demon in Medieval Jewish Culture,” 157–86.
This article exposes the contours of a distinctly Jewish “menagerie of monstrosities,” which the author argues was the subject of intense spiritual and exegetical debate. Shyovitz traces these debates to the seventh- or eighth-century cosmological treatise Seder rabbah de-Bereshit, and then follows the evolving conversation through the Middle Ages.
Astrid Lembke, “The Raging Rabbi: Aggression and Agency in an Early Modern Yiddish Werewolf Tale (Mayse-bukh 1602),” 201–12.
Through a comparative reading of the 1602 Mayse-book, Lembke demonstrates how the Yiddish author’s departure from the traditional narrative of the werewolf tale, as well as from classic European paradigms of monstrosity, highlights the specifically Jewish dimensions of the tale. The werewolf is used both to represent a paragon of Jewish power and to envision an ideal homosocial relationship between a Jewish religious leader and his disciples.
Katz, Dovid. “The Yiddish Conundrum: A Cautionary Tale for Language Revivalism.” In G. Hogan-Brun and B. O’Rourke, eds., The Palgrave Handbook of Minority Languages and Communities, edited by G. Hogan-Brun and B. O’Rourke, 553-587. (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019).
This chapter argues that the case of Yiddish shows that well-intentioned revivalism combined with Ausbauist purism, which suggests that weaker languages “too similar” to stronger languages need to be further distanced through normative planning, is counterproductive.
Labendz, Jacob Ari and Shmuly Yanklowitz, eds. Jewish Veganism and Vegetarianism: Studies and New Directions.Albany: SUNY Press, 2019.
This anthology book explores the intellectual, religious, and historical roots of veganism and vegetarianism among Jews and presents new directions in Jewish thought, ethics, and foodways. It includes contributions from the annals of Yiddish vegetarianism.
Irad ben Isaak, “‘I Am a Vegetarian’: The Vegetarianism of Melech Ravitch,” 49-66.
This chapter examines Melech Ravitch’s interwar “vegetarian poems,” which ben Isaak locates at the intersection of Jewish culture and Austrian modernism. The chapter makes further claims about Ravitch’s personal experiences that led to his vocal rejection of animal consumption.
Nick Underwood, “Vegetarianism as Jewish Culture and Politics in Interwar Europe,” 23-48.
This chapter demonstrates that for Jews, and especially Jewish women, in post-World War I Europe, vegetarianism served as a Jewish practice that intertwined identity with politics. The chapter connects pacifism as a postwar political and social movement with a social climate that made private choices, such as food consumption, a public cultural and political venture. It also specifies that, amidst increasing antisemitic legislation, advocacy for vegetarianism as a response to laws outlawing kosher meats made dietary changes an act of political resistance. The chapter includes an examination of Fanny Lewando’s Vegetarish-dietisher kokhbukh (Vilna, 1938), among other sources.
Reagan, Timothy. “Yiddish, the Mame-Loshn: ‘Mensch tracht, Gott lacht’.” In Linguistic Legitimacy and Social Justice, 175-204. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.
Timothy Reagan uses the concept of the ideology of linguistic legitimacy—the common set of beliefs about language differences that leads to the rejection of some language varieties and the valorization of others—to analyze debates about Yiddish in the US and Europe. In the context of the volume as a whole, this article places discussions about Yiddish’s “low” status in conversation with other marginalized languages and dialects, including African American English, Spanglish, Esperanto, and Afrikaans.
Safran, Gabriella. “Dialect Joke Books and Russian-Yiddish and English-Yiddish Dictionaries.” In The Whole World in a Book: Dictionaries in the Nineteenth Century, edited by Sarah Ogilvie and Gabriella Safran, 277-297. Cambridge: Oxford University Press, 2019.
Safran puts nineteenth century Yiddish dialect joke books and dictionaries in dialogue in order to examine their shared publishing history, with implications for the status of the Yiddish language at the time. The collection as a whole (which was co-edited by Safran) considers dictionaries as representatives of imperial or nationalist ambitions, among others. Safran’s chapter focuses on what she calls the “enregisterment” of Yiddish. Safran argues that the circulation of dictionaries alongside ethnic joke books was facilitated by a publishing boom that helped commodify both high-status and low-status languages.
Slucki, David. “‘Black and White’: Yiddish Writers Encounter Indigenous Australia.” In Holocaust Memory and Racism in the Postwar World, edited by S. Gilbert and A. Alba, 121-145. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2019.
This chapter examines how Australian Yiddish writers depicted Indigenous peoples’ place in Australian society. Slucki argues that Yiddish authors echoed dominant European and Australian tropes about Indigenous people as a way to assert their own Europeanness.
Wexler, Paul. “How Yiddish Can Recover Covert Asianisms in Slavic, and Asianisms and Slavisms in German (Prolegomena to a Typology of Asian Linguistic Influences in Europe).” In Slavic on the Language Map of Europe: Historical and Areal-Typological Dimensions, edited by Andrii Danylenko and Motoki Nomachi, 225-260. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2019.
This chapter examines how Yiddish provides a point of contact between European and Asian languages.
Guesnet, Francois, Benjamin Matis, and Antony Polonsky, eds. “Jews and Music-Making in the Polish Lands.” Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry 32 (December 2019).
Francois Guesnet, Benjamin Matis, and Antony Polonsky, “Introduction,” 3-14.
This essay surveys the volume’s exploration of Jews and music-making in the area of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and its successor states from 1750 to the present. The introductory essay situates a discussion of this topic within broader biblical, rabbinic, and cultural contexts, and touches upon the multidisciplinary nature of scholarship regarding Jews and music in these lands. In an effort to fill the lacunae in this field, the volume includes essays in five subject areas: cantorial and religious music; popular music; classical music; the Holocaust; and Klezmer music in Poland today.
Michael Lukin, “Servant Romances: Eighteenth-Century Yiddish Lyric and Narrative Folk Songs,” 83-108.
This essay examines Yiddish servant romances, a genre of Yiddish folk songs centered around themes of unrequited love, betrayal, parting, and anguish. Situating his discussion within the broader social and cultural context of eighteenth century Jewish life, as well as within the historiography of Yiddish love songs in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Lukin analyzes the distinctive textual, musical, and rhythmic features of servant romances that set them apart from other Yiddish and Slavonic folk songs on similar themes.
Amanda (Miryem-Khaye) Seigel, “Broder Singers: Forerunners of the Yiddish Theatre,” 109-124.
This article discusses the activities of the Broder Singers, secular Jewish troubadours of the 19th and early 20th century, whose performance style is considered a precursor to Yiddish theater. In addition to outlining their historical development and geographic dispersion, Seigal provides firsthand accounts of Broder Singer performances from the 1870s to the 1900s. These accounts, collected from various published sources, showcase the variety of musical and performance elements employed by these popular entertainers.
Michael Aylward, “Gimpel’s Theatre, Lwów: The Sounds of a Popular Yiddish Theatre Preserved on Gramophone Records, 1904-1913,” 125-146.
This essay provides the first English-language history of Gimpel’s Theater in Lwów. Aylward also discusses the more than 800 recordings of operettas, comic sketches, folk songs, and other theatrical performances this theater’s actors and musicians made between 1904 and 1913. Though rarely discussed in the contemporaneous accounts Aylward uses for his study, this catalog of recordings now provides insight into the repertoire and performance practices of Gimpel’s Theater.
Julia Riegel, “‘Jewish Musicians are the Crowning Achievements of Foreign Nations’: Jewish Identity and Yiddish Nationalism in the Writings of Menachem Kipnis,” 309-320.
This article focuses on World-Famous Jewish Musicians (Di velt-berimte yidishe muziker, Warsaw, 1930), a hagiographic work of music history by Menachem Kipnis that celebrates nine classical composers as sources of Jewish national pride. Riegel contextualizes this writing within the broader framework of Kipnis’s life, ethnographic work, and journalistic writings. The essay discusses World-Famous Jewish Musicians as a reaction against Richard Wagner’s antisemitic polemic, placing Kipnis’ work within the context of other writings about Jewish music also responding to Wagner such as those by composer/musicologists Abraham Tsvi Idelsohn and Lazare Saminsky.
Joseph D. Toltz, “‘My Song, You Are My Strength’: Personal Repertoires of Polish and Yiddish Songs of Young Survivors of the Lodz Ghetto,” 393-410.
This article reexamines ghetto song, both as a social activity during the war and a form of personal testimony afterwards. Within the scholarly conversation about music in the Holocaust, Toltz adds an oral historical layer, using original personal interviews to trace the developing meaning of specific songs. He advocates attending to sonic modes of testimony with the same theoretical sophistication that scholars have brought to verbal ones.
Mayse, Ariel Evan, Naomi Seidman, Marc Caplan and Daniel Reiser, eds. In geveb: A Journal of Yiddish Studies (2019): Special Issue on Religious Thought in Yiddish.
Aviv Luban, “A Narrow Path: Language and Longing for a Holy Place that is Lost.”
This article demonstrates that for the nascent Polish Braslev Hasidic movement, the events of 1917 and their aftermath severed the group from its Holy Place: the grave of Reb Nakhmen in what is now Uman, Ukraine. This geopolitical reality elicited a unique literary and spiritual response in the form of an impassioned prayer, penned by Reb Yitskhok Brayter (c. 1886-1942), a leader of that community.
Nathan Wolski, “Man, Woman, and Serpent: Kabbalah and High Modernity in the Early Writings of Aaron Zeitlin.”
This study presents a translation and analysis of Aaron Zeitlin’s 1924 essay, “Man, froy un shlang,” published in Illustrirte vokh.
Eli Rubin, “A Linguistic Bridge Between Alienation and Intimacy: Chabad’s Theorization of Yiddish in Historical and Cultural Perspective.”
In this article, Rubin argues that Yiddish has always been the oracular mainstay of Chabad’s intellectual and spiritual trajectory.
Ariel Evan Mayse, “Yokhed ve-tsiber: Individual Expression and Communal Responsibility in a Yiddish Droshe by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik.”
This article traces Soloveitchik’s style and explores the nuances of his intellectual legacy through the lens of an important Yiddish homily, a little-studied but critical essay called “Yokhed ve-tsiber” (“The Individual and the Collective”), an undated work was first delivered as a droshe (sermon) on his father’s yortsayt.
Morris Faierstein, “A Guide to the Ze’enah U-Re’enah: Correcting Some Misconceptions.”
This article offers a corrective to misconceptions about the nature of the Ze’enah U-Re’enah, the identity of its author, the title of the work, the educational profile of its intended audience, and its publication history.
Anna Elena Torres, “The Anarchist Sage/Der Goen Anarkhist: Rabbi Yankev-Meir Zalkind and Religious Genealogies of Anarchism.”
This article examines the religious anarchist thought of Rabbi Dr. Yankev Meir Zalkind, the prolific philologist, editor, Orthodox rabbi, and mentor to poet-assassin Sholem Shvartsbard. In the early twentieth century, Zalkind developed a political philosophy of anarchism from his study of Talmudic ethics, retaining the particularity of Jewish identity and cultural autonomy within a vision of life liberated from capitalism, militarism, statism, and institutional oppression.
Raspe, Lucia, ed. Jewish Studies Quarterly 26, no. 3 (2019): On Men and Women Reading Yiddish: Between Manuscript and Print.
Claudia Rosenzweig, “Getlekhe un nisht getlekhe mayses: The Mayse-bukh and Its Readership,” 203-223.
This article shows that Yiddish books in the manuscript and print ages were intended for a broad audience that included men, women, and children. The article examines two 16th-century manuscripts in addition to the Mayse-bukh to illustrate this point.
Lucia Raspe, “Three Sixteenth-Century Translations of Penitential Prayers into Yiddish,” 224-242.
This article examines the intended use and audience of three early translations of the seliḥot liturgy. Raspe argues that the first two translations under consideration attempt to be accessible to non-expert audiences, while the author uses the annotations on the third translation to illuminate how the manuscript was actually used.
Simon Neuberg, “Tkhines Revisited: MS Oppenheim 666 and the Printed Context,” 243-257.
Neuberg compares an early manuscript of tkhines with parallel texts in order to uncover the origin of the manuscript in particular and the development of the genre in general.
Evi Michels, “Yiddish Manuscripts from the Netherlands: Written for Women and Written for Men,” 244-281.
This article examines more than a hundred Yiddish manuscripts from the Netherlands, focusing on those written by or dedicated to women.
Shlomo Berger, “Early Modern Yiddish and the Emergence of the Anonymous Reader,” 282-288.
Berger analyzes how the practice of private, silent reading in the early modern period helped to broaden the reading audience for Yiddish books and promoted Yiddish as an Ashkenazi vernacular. The author argues that the anonymity of silent reading lowered the level of responsibility for both readers and producers, thus enabling a freer circulation of texts.
Terpitz, Olaf and Marianne Windsperger, eds. In geveb: A Journal of Yiddish Studies (December 2019): Special Issue on Translation - Poetics, Negotiation, Tradaptation.
Sarah Ponichtera, “Louis Zukofsky: Building a Poetics of Translation.”
This article demonstrates how Louis Zukofksy constructed his English-language American modernism by citing, translating, and adapting the Yiddish poetry of Yehoash.
Augusta Costiuc Radosav, “‘Literarishe reveransn’: Yiddish Translation as Negotiation.”
Radosav discusses her experiences as a translator of Yiddish poetry into Romanian and her evaluation of certain translations from other languages into Romanian or from Romanian into Yiddish. The essay outlines a strategy of “translation-recreation,” in which the translator balances a sense of fidelity to the source text with the attempt to creatively reproduce its internal mechanism.
Agış, Fazıla Derya. “The Yiddish Self of the North American Poet Richard Fein.” Humanitas - Uluslararası Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi 7 (2019): 281-95.
This article employs Reuven Tsur’s theory of cognitive poetics to analyze two of Richard Fein’s poems, “My World of Yiddish” and “The Yiddish Poet Yankev Glatshteyn Visits Me in the Coffee Shop.”
Bromberg, Eli. “We Need to Talk about Shmuel Charney,” In geveb: A Journal of Yiddish Studies (October, 2019)
This article explores the history of Shmuel Charney’s pen name; rendered as ניגער in Yiddish but transliterated as “Niger” as well as “Nigger” in various published accounts over more than a century. It argues that scholarly and pedagogical discussion of Charney should 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.
Eggers, Kurt. “Speech Disfluencies in Bilingual Yiddish-Dutch Speaking Children.” Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics 34, no. 6 (2019): 576-592.
This article shows that bilingual Yiddish-Dutch speaking children have a higher frequency of speech disfluencies than monolingual children.
Estraikh, Gennady. “Birobidzhan in Khrushchev’s Thaw: The Soviet and the Western Outlook.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 18, no. 1 (2019): 56-74.
This article looks into the 1950s as a little-researched period in the nine-decade long history of the Jewish Autonomous Region (JAR) of the USSR. Estraikh argues that while being demographically and culturally insignificant, the low-statused JAR played a key role in determining the entitlements that the Jews had in the Soviet pecking order. In the 1950s, rumours—first about the liquidation of Jewish autonomy and then about a planned expulsion of Jews to the JAR—attracted the attention and concern of the foreign press and Jewish organizations. International pressure forced Moscow to modify its Jews-related policy, but changed little in the JAR.
Fox, Sandra. “‘Laboratories of Yiddishkayt’: Postwar American Jewish Summer Camps and the Transformation of Yiddishism.” American Jewish History 103, no. 3 (2019): 279–301.
In the postwar decades, the participants of the American summer camps Hemshekh and Boiberik both struggled with the role of vernacular Yiddish at camp. But as the camps’ educators struggled to shape camp-life after an imagined Yiddishland, this article argues, they reconstituted Yiddishism into a tool for molding and transforming American Jewish youth according to their visions and ideals.
Frankel, Hazel. “From the Outside Looking In: The Yiddish Poems of the Lithuanian South African Poet David Fram (1903-1988).” Journal of Literary Studies 35, no. 2 (2019): 20-34.
This article examines the poetry of the Lithuanian Yiddish poet, David Fram, reflecting on the challenges of transition and acculturation, incorporating a cross-cultural dynamic, and preserving a particular literary heritage in a new location.
Geller, D. A. “Singing the Jewish Mother On and Off the Yiddish Stage.” Studies in American Jewish Literature 38, no. 2 (2019): 140-158.
This article challenges the existing understanding of the Jewish mother figure by recontextualizing her within the substantial repertory of commercially published Yiddish songs that were first performed for Jewish immigrant audiences in the early twentieth century. The vast number of Yiddish theater songs specifically about mothers, generally overlooked by scholars, suggests that the Jewish mother, and all that she symbolized, occupied a special place both on and off the Yiddish stage. Immortalizing the Jewish mother in song allowed Yiddish-speaking immigrants to embrace a cultural identity from which they were simultaneously trying to distance themselves.
Gilman, Ernest B. “Mikhl Likht’s Yiddish Modernism.” Jewish Studies Quarterly 26, no. 1 (2019): 80-97.
This article examines the work of the under-studied poet and translator Mikhl Likht (1893-1953). The author argues that both Likht’s poetry and his translations were directed towards enriching Yiddish culture, with his poems introducing new kinds of expression and his translations making American works available for Yiddish-speaking audiences.
Gollance, Sonia Beth. “Gesture, Repertoire, and Emotion: Yiddish Dance Practice in German and Yiddish Literature.” Jewish Social Studies 25, no. 1 (Fall 2019): 102-127.
In this study, Gollance builds upon various literary-dance studies methodologies to make a case for using literary texts in Yiddish dance scholarship. The term “Yiddish dance” refers to folk and social dances practiced among Yiddish-speaking Jews. The article compares the ways German and Yiddish literary texts depict dancing repertoire, gesture, and emotion.
Kałczewiak, Mariusz. “Anticolonial Orientalism: Perets Hirshbeyn’s Indian Travelogue.” In geveb: A Journal of Yiddish Studies (July, 2019).
This article inscribes Eastern European Jews into the study of (anti)colonialism and Orientalism by analyzing the 1929 India travelogue by Yiddish writer Perets Hirshbeyn. It demonstrates how the context of Jewish modernization movements affected the portrayal of “oriental” Asia in Hirshbeyn’s travel writing.
Kałczewiak, Mariusz. “Yiddish in the Andes: Unbearable Distance, Devoted Activists and Building Yiddish Culture in Chile.” Jewish Culture and History 20, no. 4 (2019): 1-20.
This article explores the activities of Chilean-Jewish cultural leaders to preserve Yiddish culture in the interwar period. It is a case study of Latin American Jewish cultural transfer. The Yiddish culture project in Chile was conducted only by a handful of activists, but they saw it as a future-oriented regional scheme rather than reinterpretation of Eastern European models.
Le Foll, Claire. “Cultural Transfers in Yiddish and Belarusian Children’s Literature and Illustrations in the BSSR (1921-1939).” Detskie chteniia 2, no. 16 (2019): 231-256.
This article examines the production of children’s books in Yiddish and Belarusian between 1921 and 1939. While the author situates this study within the broader development of Jewish and Russian/Soviet children’s literature in the 1920s, the article highlights the peculiarities of the Belarusian context and the thematic transfers between Yiddish and Belarusian children’s literatures.
Majtczak, Tomasz. “Translating the Untranslatable: A Yiddish Text in Japanese Rendering.” Studia Linguistica Universitatis Iagellonicae Cracoviensis 136, no. 4 (2019): 297-307.
This article analyzes the 1999 Japanese translation of Yitskhokh Katsnelson’s “Song of the Murdered Jewish People” and compares it to translations into other languages.
Margolis, Rebecca. “The Keneder Adler and Yiddish community life in Montreal, 1944.” Canadian Jewish Studies / Études juives canadiennes 27 (2019): 115-124.
This article is a study of the Montreal Yiddish newspaper Keneder adler in the month of Elul (August-September) 1944. Within this tight focus, Margolis examines how the paper reported on the Second World War and the Holocaust, describing the ways its reporting both reflected the norms of the mainstream press and differed significantly, especially on Jewish topics. Margolis also details how the paper, for all its coverage of the atrocities in Europe, also documents the parallel vibrancy of Jewish communal life in Montreal and the optimistic tone in which it is described.
Masson, Michel. “From Esdras to Yiddish: Bilingualism and Sacred Language.” La linguistique 55, no. 1 (2019): 32-75.
Michel Masson argues that some aspects of Yiddish echo a conception of language articulated in the Book of Ezra and in the Book of Daniel by using Hebrew and Aramaic in an alternate way.
Mayse, Ariel. “The Voices of Moses: Theologies of Revelation in an Early Hasidic Circle.” Harvard Theological Review 112, no. 1 (January 2019): 101-125.
This article examines the theophany at Sinai as presented in the teachings of three important Hasidic leaders: Menaḥem Naḥum of Chernobil, Ze’ev Wolf of Zhitomir, and Levi Yitsḥak of Berditshev, all of whom were students of Rabbi Dov Ber Friedman, the Maggid of Mezritsh.
McGrath, Alex. “Ideology and Postvernacularity in 21st Century Yiddish Pedagogy.” The Journal for Undergraduate Ethnography 9, no. 1 (2019): 83-98.
In this paper, based on five weeks of ethnographic field work in a Yiddish classroom in Poland, Alex McGrath describes how Yiddish language ideologies were realized and enacted within the classroom by language learners and teachers alike. This paper connects these language ideologies and classroom practices to larger historical negotiations of the Jewish past occurring within contemporary Poland, negotiations that center around memory and space. The author argues that Yiddish can be understood as an object in cultural flux, discursively framed by multiple intersecting and, at times, contradictory narratives.
Mishory, Ishai. “Molded Inexorably by the Times: Rachel Wischnitzer’s and Franzisca Baruch’s Collaboration on the Headlines of Rimon/Milgroym.” In geveb: A Journal of Yiddish Studies. (December 2019).
This article examines the collaborative work of art historian Rachel Wischnitzer (1885-1989) and Jewish-German designer and typographer Franzisca Baruch (1901-1989), demonstrating that Baruch’s revival of medieval Hebrew letterforms in her work on Rimon/Milgroym and her use of fragmentation as a strategy for visual, textual, and cultural revival was in conversation with Wischnitzer’s scholarship.
Muir, Simo. “Merchants of Helsinki: Jewish Stereotypes on a Yiddish Stage.” Scandinavian Jewish Studies 30, no. 2 (2019): 27-45.
This article examines the stereotypes about Jews in Jac Weinstein’s 1929 New Year’s review through the figure of the Jewish merchant. The article questions the role that ethnic stereotypes played in Jewish humor before the growth of National Socialist antisemitism, as well as investigating the purposes such performances served.
Murav, Harriet. “Archive of Violence: Neighbors, Strangers, and Creatures in Itsik Kipnis’s Months and Days.” Quest. Issues in Contemporary Jewish History 15 (2019): 49-73.
This article examines Itsik Kipnis’s 1926 Yiddish novel, Months and Days: A Chronicle (Khadoshim un teg: A khronik) an account of the pogroms of 1919 focusing on the events that took place in the shtetl of Slovechno (at the time, Volhynia province). The article centers on Kipnis’s use of the Hebrew and Yiddish word hefker (“ownerless property” or “abandoned object”), which Kipnis uses to describe how he feels on the first night of the Slovechno pogrom. This term has broader ramifications for the particular forms of violence characteristic of this period, and the transformations to which both perpetrators and victims were subject.
O’Keeffe, Brigid. “An International Language for an Empire of Humanity: L. L. Zamenhof and the Imperial Russian Origins of Esperanto.” East European Jewish Affairs 49, no. 1 (2019): 1-19.
This article emphasizes Esperanto’s imperial Russian origins as an essential frame for understanding the larger history of Esperanto and its creator, L. L. Zamenhof (1859–1917). Conceived in the multiethnic borderlands of a Russian empire that he felt had failed him and his fellow Jews, Esperanto was Zamenhof’s utopian vision for a harmonious empire of humanity.
Pollin-Galay, Hannah. “The Epic Demands of Postwar Yiddish: Avrom Sutzkever’s Geheymshtot (1948).” East European Jewish Affairs 48, no. 3 (2018): 331-353.
This article incorporates new archival material from KGB archives and Sutzkever’s manuscript collection to offer an extended reading of Sutzkever’s epic poem Geheymshtot (Clandestine City). The article asks why this poem was highly popular at the time of publication but is deemed nearly illegible today. Issues that the poem raises include animal-human relations, the strengths and pitfalls of Zionism, Soviet Socialism, and Jewish connectivity in general. The author suggests that the cosmic, communal, and political ambitions of the poem make it challenging for audiences today, who prefer a clean, cathartic view of the Holocaust.
Rein, Raanan and Adriana M. Brodsky. “On Kosher Hamburgers, Yiddish Tangos, and Non-Affiliated Jews: Writing Jewish Latin America into the Americas.” American Jewish History 103, no. 3 (July 2019): 345-363.
In their state of the field essay, Rein and Brodsky look at the contributions and challenges of Jewish Latin American historiography. The field of Jewish Latin American studies is relatively new in comparison to the study of US Jewry, but has grown exponentially since the founding of the Latin American Jewish Studies Association in 1982. The essay describes a variety of available articles and books published in English and centered on the modern period, and ends with a call for “comparative and diasporic analysis of Jewish life, which necessitates a reconfiguration of the Jewish geography that includes all the Americas, North and South.”
Schultz, Julia. “The Impact of Yiddish on the English Language: An Overview of Lexical Borrowing in the Variety of Subject Areas and Spheres of Life Influenced by Yiddish over Time.” English Today 35, no. 3 (2019): 2-7.
This article provides an overview of Yiddish contributions to English in the form of new words and expressions over the centuries. The author pays particular attention to Yiddish-derived terms that have become fairly common in present-day usage.
Szulmajster-Celnikier, Anne. “Poetic Methods in Yiddish Song: Cross Influences.” La linguistique 55, no. 1 (2019): 129-160.
This article uses the folksong genre to analyze the Hebrew-Aramaic, Slavic, and Roman components of Yiddish.
Spinner, Samuel. “Reading Jewish.” PMLA 134, no. 1 (January 2019): 150–56.
This article discusses the question: How do you read Jewish? The author points to the idea that knowing how to read Yiddish can imply knowing how to read Jewish (i.e., decipher Jewish identity), while the reverse can also be true—knowing how to read Jewish can imply knowing Yiddish. The author uses this paradox to explore notions of identity and the tensions between cultural homogenization and cultural heterogenization.
Tevis, Britt P. “‘The People’s Judge’: Jacob Panken, Yiddish Socialism, and American Law.” American Journal of Legal History 59, no. 1 (March 2019): 31-70.
Tevis examines the career of Jacob Panken, the first judge elected on a Socialist Party ticket in the United States. The author analyzes some of the cases Panken presided over to illuminate how the judge used legal realism to integrate Yiddish socialism into his judicial decisions.
Torres, Anna Elena. “Circular Landscapes: Montage and Myth in Dvoyre Fogel’s Yiddish Poetry.” Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women’s Studies and Gender Issues 35 (Fall 2019): 40-74.
This article is a thorough assessment of Fogel’s 1934 collection Manekinen. Situating her work in the cultural and intellectual context of the Polish and Yiddish avant-gardes, and looking at some of Fogel’s critical writings, Torres identifies central elements of Fogel’s poetics including stasis and simultaneity, and of her political investments, primarily her critique of commodification. Torres includes complete English translations of a number of the poems.
Tuszewicki, Marek. “Giving Tshuve to the Sick: Correspondence Columns of the Yiddish Medical Press in Poland.” Science in Context 32, no. 1 (March 2019): 25-41.
Tuszewicki’s article focuses Yiddish-language popular medical periodicals in independant Poland published until 1939, many of which featured correspondence corners. In particular, he looks at Der Yidisher Hoyz-Doktor (The Jewish House Doctor), Folksgezunt (People’s Health) and Der Doktor (The Doctor), with special attention to Folksgezunt. Readers wrote to the editors—some of whom, like Dr. Tzemakh Schabad, were trained medical professionals—with a wide range of medical concerns, including problems associated with pregnancy and venereal disease. That readers asked for advice on aesthetic issues is, for Tuszewicki, a striking glimpse into Yiddish-speaking readers’ preoccupation with “modern” problems. The article also addresses clashes between folk medicine and these popular medical periodicals.
Weiman-Kelman, Zohar. “Legible Lesbian Lines: The Bilingual Poetry of Irena Klepfisz.” Journal of Lesbian Studies 23, no. 1 (2019): 21–35.
This article focuses on the 1970s poetry of Irena Klepfisz. Exploring both her turn to the past and her bilingual poetry, this article reveals how Klepfisz puts her politics and scholarship to poetic practice and suggests that Klepfisz offers a model of queer translation that undoes the borders between past and present, English and Yiddish, creating a unique mode of Jewish lesbian reclamation and invention.
Weiman-Kelman, Zohar. “Eroto-Philology: Sex, Language, and Yiddish History.” Orbis Litterarum 74, no. 1 (February 2019): 58-69.
This article explores eroto-philology or the crucial role that linguistic particularities play in the study of sexuality, and the role sexuality plays in the study of language, focusing on the unique case of modern Yiddish. The focus of this article is the role of sexuality in Yiddish linguistic projects spanning 1913–1990, taking each of these projects as an incomplete archive. Taking into account the shifting historical realities of Yiddish and its speakers, eroto-philology serves as a mediation between body and text, activating the materiality of reading each, and both, together.
Weiman-Kelman, Zohar. “Speaking Truth to Power in Yiddish: A Queer Jewish Literary History.” Prooftexts 37, no. 2 (2019): 354-383.
This article offers an analysis of “Ikh bin geven a mol yingling” (“I once was a boy”) written by Anna Margolin and “Der Soyne/ The Enemy: An Interview in Gaza” written by Irena Klepfisz, two Yiddish poems by women that speak in a cross-gendered male voice. The article explores how each poem critiques its present moment while activating multiple histories, poetically disrupting the linear sequence of (hetero-)normative temporality.
Werner, Sylwia. “Between Philosophy and Art: The Avant-Garde Work of Debora Vogel.” East European Jewish Affairs 49, no. 1 (2019): 20-41.
This article examines the work of philosopher and modernist writer Debora Vogel (1900-1942), locating her writing practices and aesthetic ideas in Lviv’s culture of knowledge, specifically situating it in the context of Lviv-Warsaw School of philosophical logic, Cubism, and Surrealism.
Woelk, Emma. “Foreign Stories and National Narratives: Yiddish and Fictionality in Jurek Becker’s Jakob the Liar and Edgar Hilsenrath’s The Nazi and the Barber.” Humanities 8, no. 3 (2019): 143-152.
Woelk uses two postwar German-Jewish novels to explore how literary reflections on fictionality can also subvert and complicate the national narratives that were developed in East and West Germany. Woelk argues that Jurek Becker’s Jakob the Liar (1969) and Edgar Hilsenrath’s The Nazi and the Barber (1977), both novels of lying, create spaces where the foundational myths of both German states are called into question.
Zer-Zion, Shelly. “Jacob Gordin’s Mirele Efros in Habima on the Eve of WWII.” Israel Studies 24, no. 3 (Fall 2019): 26–49.
This article argues that the July 1939 Habima performance of Jacob Gordin’s Mirele Efros, which was well-received in the Yishuv, functioned as a site-boundary work. Specifically, this performance interwove the Eretz-Israeli Zionist culture of the Yishuv with the original Eastern European Jewish culture of most of the Yishuv’s population.
Zimmerman, Kenyon. “Archiving the American Anarchist Press: Reflections on Format, Accessibility, and Language.” American Periodicals: A Journal of History and Criticism 29, no. 1 (2019): 9-11.
This article shows that archives’ material and economic conditions have a direct impact on the research approaches to anarchism in the United States through the reflections of eight contributors.
Brinn, Ayelet Rose. “Miss Amerike: The Yiddish Press’s Encounter with the United States, 1885–1924.” Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, 2019.
This dissertation offers a rereading of the history of the American Yiddish press that places issues of women and gender at the center of analysis. This study examines the role of features directed at a female audience, advertisements, editors’ discussions of female audiences, and the changing gender breakdowns of newspaper staffs, in the development of the Yiddish press. Through a close examination of three of the most successful Yiddish dailies, Dos yidishes tageblat, Forverts, and Der tog, this dissertation argues that considerations of women and gender were crucial to the development of the American Yiddish press.
Burko, Alec Eliezer. “Saving Yiddish: Yiddish Studies and the Language Sciences in America, 1940-1970.” Ph.D. diss., The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 2019.
This dissertation examines the flowering of Yiddish studies in postwar America after the formation of the YIVO Linguistic Circle in New York. Burko investigates the strategies that the linguists used to preserve the treasures of the Yiddish language and to maintain it as a spoken idiom, including writing the first modern textbooks; modernizing the networks of supplementary Yiddish schools; founding youth movements and micro-communities in which children could speak Yiddish; compiling an all-inclusive historical dictionary; and writing a history of the Yiddish language.
Casper, Michael Phillips. “Strangers and Sojourners: The Politics of Jewish Belonging in Lithuania, 1914–1940.” Ph.D. diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 2019.
This dissertation investigates how Lithuanian Jews positioned themselves vis-a-vis Lithuanians and the Lithuanian state in the era of democratic nation building and, after a military coup d’etat in 1926, under an authoritarian regime. Across these dramatically different interwar political contexts, Lithuanian Jews honed different strategies to advance the idea that they belonged to Lithuania, leaning on historical, political, cultural, and even linguistic evidence. At the same time, they negotiated a contradictory public discourse that held that Jews were integral to, and yet conditional participants in, the Lithuanian national project. This dissertation argues that, at its core, Lithuanian Jewish belonging consisted of two parts: the Russian Jewish liberal tradition and a deep-seated sense of localness, if not indigeneity. These traditions sometimes worked in tandem but were often in tension.
Geller, D.A. “The Musical World of Joseph Rumshinsky’s Mamele.” Ph.D. diss., City University of New York, 2019.
This dissertation performs three case studies that demonstrate the enormous need and potential for further Yiddish theater music scholarship. Yiddish theater music developed independently from Yiddish drama and therefore needs to be studied from a primarily musical perspective. This dissertation connects scholarship across the fields of Jewish studies and musicology in order to add depth and nuance to the existing, limited scholarship on Yiddish theater music. Drawing on primary source materials, including play scripts, music manuscripts, and commercially published Yiddish broadsides, this dissertation begins to contextualize Yiddish theater’s rich musical legacy on the Yiddish stage and silver screen.
Klein, Zachary Alexander. “Spiritual Narrative in Sound and Structure of Chabad Nigunim.” Ph.D. diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 2019.
This dissertation examines the ways in which musical syntax and spiritual parameters work together to express spiritual narratives in sound and structure of nigunim in the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic community. The work makes use of extensive Chabad writings on nigunim and the psycho-spiritual modes of expression, as well as the written and recorded repository of nigunim. Additionally it offers ethnomusicological and theoretical analysis to reveal the ways in which Hasidic thought is expressed in musical time.
Resnikoff, Ariel. “Home Tongue Earthquake: The Radical Afterlives of Yiddishland.” Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, 2019.
This dissertation traces the poetic and aesthetic relations between five diasporic translingual Ashkenazi writers who each in their own mode recognized the terminal widening gap between themselves and the languages they inhabited, and who wrote into this chasm, rather than ignoring it, using the very rejected accented materials at hand—those cast out by monolingual ideological forces—as sustenance for a resistant poetics of survival. These five translation-facing writers—in English, Louis Zukofsky (1904-1978) and Mina Loy (1882-1966), in Hebrew, Avot Yeshurun (1904-1992) and Harold Schimmel (b. 1935), and in Yiddish, Mikhl Likht (1893-1953)—sensed that the social and political, cultural and economic forces of their times were poised to eradicate once again the translingual realities of the dispossessed. These writers refused to look away, refused to practice their art in any normative monolingual style, and language mixing became their primary modality, a form of cultural and political disruption.
Rom, Michael. “Brazilian Belonging: Jewish Politics in Cold War Brazil, 1930-1985.” Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 2019.
Rom’s dissertation considers Brazilian Jewish politics of belonging during the Global Cold War, arguing that Brazilian Jews used political activism to assert and define belonging in their nation-state, ethnic community, and generation. Using Portuguese and Yiddish newspapers, diplomatic and governmental correspondence, memoirs, police and intelligence records, and oral history interviews, Rom describes Brazilian Jewish politics of belonging during the twenty years of postwar democracy (1945–1964), and the two decades of military dictatorship that followed (1964–1985). His work contributes to the study of ethnic politics during the Global Cold War, demonstrates the impact of state violence on belonging, and illustrates the entangled histories of twentieth-century Zionism and Jewish communism.