May 28, 2021
2020 was an incredible uncertain, traumatizing, and unpredictable year. Nevertheless, we were heartened by the extraordinary output of publications relevant to Yiddish Studies in English this year, which showcased the breadth and depth of this growing body of scholarship. Below is the newest installment of our annual effort to gather together the latest publications relevant to Yiddish Studies in English. The list includes scholarship in the form of books, articles, book chapters, special editions, and dissertations published in 2020. 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. 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.
Cheyette, Bryan. The Ghetto: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020.
This introduction to the idea of the ghetto examines the ghetto’s history (including the term “ghetto”), the history of different groups’ ghettoization, and experiences of living in ghettos. Scholars of Jewish ghettos, whether the Jewish quarters referred to as ghettos or Nazi-created ghettos, will appreciate the contextualization of the concept. Scholars of memory and of popular history will also find material here.
Estraikh, Gennady. Transatlantic Russian Jewishness: Ideological Voyages of the Yiddish Daily Forverts in the First Half of the Twentieth Century. Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2020.
This monograph examines the ideological development of the longstanding Yiddish newspaper, the Forverts. Drawing on an impressive array of primary sources, this study reveals how the Forverts was a mirror to the acculturation and assimilation processes of many Yiddish-speaking Jewish Americans.
Fader, Ayala. Hidden Heretics: Jewish Doubt in the Digital Age. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2020.
This book is an ethnography of “double lifers,” members of ultra-Orthodox communities who experience life-changing doubt. Fader argues that controversies around the internet are part of a wider crisis of authority in contemporary ultra-Orthodox communities.
Glaser, Amelia. Songs in Dark Times: Yiddish Poetry of Struggle from Scottsboro to Palestine. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2020.
This work examines the manner in which Yiddish poets recorded the experiences of other struggling peoples by making them metaphorically Jewish. Glaser analyzes the use of passwords in the poetry of Yiddish writers, who used these culturally coded terms to merge the Jewish tradition with the experience of other national minorities worldwide during the first half of the twentieth century. Glaser demonstrates how passwords grouped Yiddish internationalist writers with their comrades in a common struggle through close readings of Modernist poets from across the Soviet Union and Western World. This work will be of particular interest to scholars of literary Modernism and trauma studies.
Lewis, Yitzhak. A Permanent Beginning: R. Nachman of Braslav and Jewish Literary Modernity. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2020.
Yitzhak Lewis offers a new approach to R. Nachman of Bratslav’s thought and writing by focusing on how the Hasidic leader represented his changing environment in his texts. The author establishes connections between the emergence of “modern Yiddish literature” in R. Nachman’s storytelling and the imperial modernization processes in Eastern Europe during his lifetime. See Marek Tuszewicki’s review on In geveb: https://ingeveb.org/articles/a-permanent-beginning
Meir, Natan M. Stepchildren of the Shtetl: The Destitute, Disabled, and Mad of Jewish Eastern Europe, 1800-1939. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2020.
Meir argues that outcasts like beggars, disabled people, madmen and women, and orphans played a central role in the modernization of Eastern European Jewish society. The author recovers the lived experiences of these marginalized figures through a combination of archival research and analysis of literary, cultural, and religious texts.
Moskowitz, Golan Y. Wild Visionary: Maurice Sendak in Queer Jewish Context. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2020.
Wild Visionary recondsiders Maurice Sendak’s life and work in the context of his experience as a Jewish gay man. Moskowitz pays particular attention to how Sendak drew on queer and Yiddish sensibilities to shape his singular voice in children’s literature.
Oehme, Annegret. “He Should Have Listened to His Wife!”: The Construction of Women’s Roles in German and Yiddish Pre-modern ‘Wigalois’ Adaptations. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2020.
Oehme uses a gendered lens to compare the original Middle High German Wigalois (1215) to two previously dismissed pre-modern adaptations, the Yiddish Viduvilt (14th c.) and the German Wigoleis (15th c.). This study reveals the centrality of female agency in these German-Jewish Arthurian texts.
Rojanski, Rachel. Yiddish in Israel: A History. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2020.
Rojanski challenges the widespread belief that Yiddish was suppressed or even banned by Israeli authorities. The author traces how Yiddish fared in Zionist Israel from the proclamation of the state until today, revealing that the language’s varying fortune depended on socio-political developments and the cultural atmosphere of Israel.
Rubin, Joel E. New York Klezmer in the Early Twentieth Century: The Music of Naftule Brandwein and Dave Tarras. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2020.
This book traces the development of instrumental klezmer music from 19th century Eastern Europe to 20th century New York and beyond, using the life and work of the iconic clarinetists Naftule Brandwein and Dave Tarras to frame the study. The work blends together ethnographic research, close analysis of commercial recordings and shifts in musical style and ornamentation, and other sources.
Schreier, Benjamin. The Rise and Fall of Jewish American Literature: Ethnic Studies and the Challenge of Identity. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020.
Schreier problematizes the historiography of Jewish American writing and its “breakthrough” moment in the mid-century. With its academic and polemic orientation, Schreier’s work is aimed at specialists who are familiar with tropes associated with the study of literary history and Jewish Studies departments in American universities. In chapter two (70-115), Schreier addresses perceptions of Yiddish literature before and after the “breakthrough,” arguing that in the post-war period, “a new kind of discourse of the American Jew [...] and a new focus across the humanities'' (94) allowed a particular Yiddish literary canon to be “naturalized” and “domesticated” within the American Modernist tradition.
Shandler, Jeffrey. Yiddish: Biography of A Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020.
Shandler offers an introduction to Yiddish as a subject in its own right, as well as the distinctive issues that Yiddish raises for the study of languages more generally. The book takes a biographical approach to the study of Yiddish by dividing the chapters thematically (e.g., name, gender, health), rather than chronologically.
Sinkoff, Nancy. From Left to Right: Lucy S. Dawidowicz, the New York Intellectuals, and the Politics of Jewish History. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2020.
Nancy Sinkoff’s biography charts the political trajectory of Lucy Dawidowitz, a historian of the Holocaust, East European Jewry, and a frequent Commentary contributor, following her from communist circles in New York during her college years, to her time at YIVO in Vilna, to her eventual embrace of political neoconservatism. Sinkoff argues that Dawidowitz was an important neoconservative intellectual, grounded in Yiddish culture and adjacent to the “New York Intellectuals.” The biography also gives a window to major events of American-Jewish history in the twentieth century, and those American Jews who paralleled Sinkoff’s political trajectory.
Terpitz, Olaf, ed. Yiddish and the Field of Translation: Agents, Concepts and Discourses Across Time and Space. Gottingen, Germany: Vadenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2020.
An edited volume on the place of translation into and out of Yiddish literature and culture. The volume’s essays explore themes like the figure of the translator in Yiddish culture, strategies and practices of translation, and the concept of and discourses around translation. Contributors include both scholars and Yiddish culture practitioners on both sides of the Atlantic.
Volovici, Marc. German as a Jewish Problem: The Language Politics of Jewish Nationalism. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2020.
This volume tells the Jewish history of the German language, focusing on Jewish national movements in several countries. Volovici argues that it is impossible to understand the histories of modern Hebrew and Yiddish without understanding their relationship to German.
Wolff, Frank. Yiddish Revolutionaries in Migration: The Transnational History of the Jewish Labour Bund. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2020.
This history of the Bund focuses on the movement’s life in North and South America, following activists’ paths from Eastern Europe the urban, working class cities of the new world. Wolff is interested in producing a networked social history that thinks both locally and transnationally.
Zaritt, Saul Noam. Jewish American Writing and World Literature: Maybe to Millions, Maybe to Nobody. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020.
Zaritt’s monograph presents a new conceptualization of Jewish American writing in dialogue with current theories of world literature and transnational American studies. It broadens current approaches toward American multiculturalism to include Jewish language politics. This study argues for an analysis of Jewish American cultural production through discourses on race and empire.
Astro, Alan. “The Holocaust in Works by Two Yiddish Writers in Argentina: Simja Sneh and Israel Aszendorf.” In The Palgrave Handbook of Holocaust Literature and Culture, edited by Victoria Aarons and Phyllis Lassner, 181-198. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-33428-4_11
This essay considers two Yiddish writers from Poland who settled in Argentina after the war: Simja Sneh (1908–1999) and Israel Aszendorf (1909–1956). The essay tracks how the two writers contend with the Holocaust and how this coincides with a reckoning with their Soviet pasts.
Bar-Levav, Avriel and Uzi Rebhun, eds., Textual Transmission in Context in Contemporary Jewish Cultures. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020.
- Schwarz, Jan. “The Lost Souls of Meshugah: Textual Transmission of Isaac Bashevis Singer's World Literature,” 49-69.
This essay examines how Bashevis began to fashion himself as a Jewish American world writer in English translation in the mid- to late-1950s. It does so through a close reading of his novel Farloyrene neshomes (Lost Souls), which he wrote in the early 1950s, serialized in the Forverts (1980-1), and later translated into English in collaboration with Nili Wachtel (published posthumously in 1994 with the new title Meshugah).
- Estraikh, Gennady. “Yiddish Publishing in the Soviet Union, 1953-1991,” 70-86.
This article discusses the state of Yiddish publishing in the Soviet Union after Stalin’s regime. The article dedicates special attention to the periodical Birobidzhaner shtern (Birobidzhan Star), the only Yiddish publication that continued being printed during the repression.
Baumgarten, Jean. “Relations Between Jews and Christians in Shimon Guenzburg’s Book of Customs in Yiddish (Venice, 1593).” In Non contrarii, ma diversi: The Question of the Jewish Minority in Early Modern Italy, edited by Alessandro Guetta and Pierre Savy, 143-153. Rome: Viella, 2020.
This chapter analyzes Christian-Jewish relations in Shimon Guenzburg’s Book of Customs in Yiddish. Guenzburg’s volume included the customs of Ashkenazim living not only in the Rhine Valley, but also in Italy.
Kahn, Lily. “Yiddish Metal as a Manifestation of Postvernacularity.” In Multilingual Metal Music: Sociocultural, Linguistic and Literary Perspectives on Heavy Metal Lyrics, edited by Riita-Liisa Valigarvi, Charlotte Doesburg, and Amanda Digioia, 9-26. Bingley, England: Emerald Publishing Limited, 2020.
This chapter studies Yiddish-language heavy metal music through the lens of postvernacularity. It shows how the bands Gevolt (Israel) and Dibbukim (Sweden) use the lyrics of Yiddish folksongs in metal music to reinterpret traditional Jewish music for the twenty-first century.
Khiterer, Victoria and Erin Magee, eds. Aftermath of the Holocaust and Genocides. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2020.
- Gennady Estraikh, The Holocaust’s Instrumentalization in Soviet Propaganda of the Thaw Years, 118-131.
Estraikh analyzes the peculiarities of Holocaust-related Soviet publications in the first decade after Stalin’s death. The chapter shows that publications mentioned or discussed anti-Jewish atrocities with specific propaganda goals: notably, anti-Zionist propaganda.
- Marat Grinberg, “Gorenstein’s ‘Bloodlands’: The Intertwined Legacies of the Holodomor and Holocaust in Friedrich Gorenstein’s Traveling Companions,” 132-148.
This chapter introduces the significant yet understudied Freidrich Gorenstein’s complex Russian-Jewish poetics and his uncomfortable legacy in late and post- Soviet literature. Grinberg shows how Gorenstein intertwines the Holocaust and the Holodomor by blending historical and mythological imagery, as well as Russian, Ukrainian, and Yiddish languages.
Kirzane, Jessica. “The “Yiddish Gaze”: American Yiddish Literary Representations of Black Bodies and Their Torture.” In Judaism, Race, and Ethics: Conversations and Questions, edited by Jonathan Crane, 124-160. University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 2020.
Kirzane reads Yiddish poetry and prose by Yehoash, A. Reyzin, A. Leyeles, H. Leyvik, and J. Opatoshu on the subject of race and lynching alongside the work of philosophers George Yancy (Black Bodies, White Gazes) and James Cone (The Cross and the Lynching Tree) to situate the “Yiddish gaze” as an interpretive stance through which Yiddish authors saw through, within, and against the dominant white gaze of racial supremacy.
Koerber, Jeff. “Autobiographies of Jewish Youth in Prewar Poland as Holocaust Sources.” In Agency and the Holocaust, edited by T. Kuhne and M. Rein, 13-29. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020.
Koerber analyzes six of the autobiographical essays gathered in the 1930s by YIVO. The essays are geographically linked as all six writers hail from the northeastern region of interwar Poland, and Koerber finds further continuities between them in the kinds of social and political lives each autobiography describes.
Margolis, Rebecca. “French Canada as a Site of Holocaust Representation.” Translated Memories: Transgenerational Perspectives on the Holocaust, edited by Bettina Hoffmann and Ursula Reuter, 69-98. Washington, D.C.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2020.
This article provides a close comparative study of contemporary literary works related to the Holocaust by five francophone writers from Quebec, including two Ashkenazi writers (Régine Robin, Catherine Shvets), one Sephardic writer (Serge Ouaknine), and two non-Jewish writers (Chantal Ringuet, Catherine Mavrikakis). Margolis situates these works within debates about the place of Holocaust discourse in Canadian culture writ large in English and in French, and examines how each author’s work lies in conversation with broader scholarship on memory and representation.
Terpitz, Olaf and Marianne Windsperger, eds. Places and Forms of Encounter in Jewish Literatures: Transfer, Mediality and Situativity. Leiden: Brill, 2020.
- Stepien, Anieta. “‘Folk-lore’, Modernism and Psychoanalysis in the Work of Isaac Bashevis Singer,” 11-42.
This chapter examines Bashevis’ unpublished lecture notes in English and his literary criticism to provide a fuller picture of the writer’s literary strategies and views on Yiddish literature. It focuses on Bashevis’ formulation of “folk-lore,” which reveals the main aspirations of the writer’s style.
- Nath, Holger. “Nokhem Shtif and His Berlin Feuilletons,” 94-120.
This chapter examines the Yiddish philologist and linguist Nokhem Shtif’s depictions of life in Weimar Berlin in the series of feuilletons he published for the New York daily Der morgen zhurnal.
- Mikula, Thomas. “Autobiography as an Intermediary between Russian and Yiddish Literature: Osip Dymov’s Vos ikh gedenk (Zikhroynes)/What I Remember (Memoirs),” 73-93.
Mikula analyzes Osip Dymov’s strategies of interlocking Russian and Yiddish cultures in his 1941-1942 autobiography, Vos ikh gedenk (Zikhroynes). Dymov’s memoirs were written in Yiddish for a Yiddish-speaking audience, but deal primarily with Russian culture.
- Terpitz, Olaf. “Ambivalences of the ‘Schlemiel,’ the ‘Schelm’ and the ‘Don Quijote’,” 121-138.
Terpitz compares the figures of Don Quixote and the ‘Schlemiel’ and ‘Schelm.’ The author argues that these figures create a zone of encounter and transformation, despite apparent linguistic and cultural divides.
- Reichert, Carmen. “A Kulturnation in Verse: Yiddish and German Folk Poetry Anthologies in the National Jewish Discourse,” 226-254.
Reichert studies how folk poetry anthologies show a fruitful exchange between Eastern and Central European cultures. The article compares Russian and German sources to argue that Russian collections used the notion of authenticity to invent a tradition, while most German translators tried to create a utopian future of a united Jewry deeply rooted in its own culture.
Zepp, Suzanne, et al., eds. Disseminating Jewish Literatures: Knowledge, Research, Curricula. Berlin: Walter De Gruyter, 2020.
- Pollin-Galay, Hannah. "Producing Radical Presence: Yiddish Literature in Twenty-first Century Israel," 235-241.
This article examines the challenges and opportunities of teaching Yiddish literature in the contemporary Israeli setting, especially in groups that include both Jewish and Palestinian participants. Using Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht’s suggestion that physical presence can have a radical impact on human well-being, she discusses how the classroom presence of different students has reshaped her reading of Mendele Moykher Sforim’s classic novella, Di kliatshe. In her new reading, the author sees the story as a warning against using literature as a means of exclusion. The alternate, positive potential of literature requires a willingness to witness the people in our spaces as we witness the text.
- Stromberg, David. "The Yiddish Roots of Modern Jewish Writing in Europe and America," 251-255.
This article proposes a framework in which late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Yiddish and Hebrew literatures are considered in relation to each other, drawing upon the works of Rabbi Nahman and Abramovich. Stromberg argues that linguistic tensions between Yiddish and Hebrew are characteristic of the roots of modern Jewish literatures in Europe.
Davidson, Jillian and Avraham Rosen, eds. “There’s a Jewish Way of Saying Things: Essays in Honor of David Roskies.” In geveb (Jun 2020).
This special issue is a collection of essays in honor of David Roskies that considers the resonances between Jewish speech and Jewish texts across diverse time periods and languages. The articles explore a broad range of texts grouped under the themes “Speaking Jewish Traditionally,” “Speaking in Jewish Tongues,” “Speaking Jewish and the Holocaust,” and “Speaking Anglo Jewish.”
“Yiddish in the City.” East European Jewish Affairs, Volume 50, no. 1-2 (Sept 2020).
- Karen Auerbach and Nick Underwood, “Yiddish in the City,” 1-5.
This introduction situates the special issue in the extant scholarship on Yiddish culture as a global phenomenon and recent studies of individual cities’ Jewish populations. The authors call for further research into how urban spaces, particularly the city, contributed to the construction of “Yiddishland.”
- Madeleine Cohen, “Do’ikayt and the Spaces of Politics in An-sky’s Novella In shtrom,” 6-20.
Cohen examines how Sh. An-sky used the “lived Jewish space” of the city park to further the cause of building a revolutionary Jewish identity in his novella In shtrom (In the Stream). The author argues that the novella’s use of space comprises a “literary do’ikayt” (hereness).
- Mikhail Krutikov, “Yehupets as Fantasy and Reality: Sholem Aleichem’s Kiev,” 24-41.
Krutikov analyzes how Sholem Aleichem used shtetl Jews as narrators of his texts set in the imaginary city of Yehupets, based on Kiev, to defamiliarize the city. In so doing, Sholem Aleichem enabled his educated readers to view their familiar environment critically.
- Jordan Finkin, “The Revolution is a City: Moyshe Kulbak’s Poem ‘The City’,” 42-56.
This article examines the complex urban dimension of Kulbak’s work, focusing on his long poem, “The City.” Finkin argues that the city itself becomes a revolution in this poem.
- Gil Ribak, “Reportage from Blotetown: Yisroel-Yoysef Zevin (Tashrak) and the Shtetlization of New York City,” 57-74.
This article examines the writings of the Yiddish humorist Tashrak. Ribak argues that Tashrak’s works offer opportunities to discover understudied aspects of the Jewish urban experience, as well as the less-refined culture of Yiddish-speaking Jews in America.
- Thomas R. Prendergast, “Yiddish-Language World History and the Emergence of a Jewish Nationalist Politics in Late Imperial Russia,” 78-94.
This article analyzes the understudied genre of popular Yiddish-language histories to show how they contributed to the emergence of Jewish historical consciousness and the “new Jewish politics” of 1881-1917. Prendergast argues that this genre’s narratives of cultural work provided a conceptual framework for the articulation of Jewish mass politics in the post-1905 era.
- Ellen D. Kellman, “Goles Berlin, goles Pariz: The Kultur-lige’s Unsuccessful Effort to Cultivate a Transnational Yiddishist Organization (1921-1924),” 95-114.
This article studies the Kultur-lige, a Yiddishist cultural organization founded in Kiev in 1918, and its attempts to establish centers of activity in early 1920s Berlin and Paris. Kellman analyzes the conflicts and communications between Kultur-lige’s different centers.
- Mariusz Kalczewiak, “Yiddish Buenos Aires and the Struggle to Leave the Margins,” 115-133.
Kalczewiak argues that Buenos Aires emerged in the 1920s as a producer of Yiddish culture, but one that was distinctly and self-consciously marginal, with the hope of leveraging a transnational network toward the elevation of its subordinate status. This interwar preoccupation with cultural prestige provided the basis for post-Holocaust discourse on Argentine Jewish responsibility for the maintenance of Yiddish culture.
- Kalman Weiser, “‘Kopl Not Filaret, Sore Not Salomea’: Debates about Jewish Naming Practices in Pre-World War II Poland,” 134-156.
This article examines debates concerning Jews’ naming practices in Poland since the 1860s and attempts to resolve the practical and social problems they engendered. Polemics within the Jewish press in Poland reveal competing conceptions of authentic and socially appropriate Jewish names, as well as reflecting changing perceptions of Yiddish.
Guesnet, François, Benjamin Matis, and Antony Polonsky, eds. “Jews and Music-Making in the Polish Lands.” Polin Studies in Polish Jewry 32 (2020).
- Daniel S. Katz, “A Chestnut, a Grape, and a Pack of Lions: A Shabbos in Plock with a Popular Synagogue Singer in the Early Nineteenth Century,” 15-29.
Katz studies the life and legacy of the cantor named Solomon and known as Kashtan (c. 1781-1829) and his son, Hirsch Weintraub (c. 1813-1881). The article is predominantly concerned with the history, biography, and literature surrounding these famous cantors.
- Akiva Zimmermann, “Moshe Koussevitzky (1899-1966) in Vilna, Warsaw, and Russia,” 31-44.
This article examines the prominent cantor Moshe Koussevitzky’s career in Eastern Europe.
- Bret Werb, “Musical Afterthoughts on Shmeruk’s ‘Mayufes’,” 63-82.
This article reexamines the obscure song-and-dance genre mayufes from the perspective of music rather than Polish-Jewish relations.
- Michael Lukin, “Servant Romances: Eighteenth-Century Yiddish Lyric and Narrative Folk Songs,” 83-107.
This article examines a subset of Yiddish folksongs that the author calls “Yiddish servant iromances.” Lukin analyzes these songs’ distinctive aesthetic and formal features, including their poetic motifs and textual lexicon.
- Amanda (Miryem-Khaye) Seigel, “Broder Singers: Forerunners of the Yiddish Theatre,” 109-124.
Seigel examines the Broder singers, troubadors or secular wedding entertainers, within the context of Yiddish theater history.
- Michael Aylward, “Gimpel’s Theatre, Lwow: The Sounds of a Popular Yiddish Theatre Preserved on Gramophone Records 1904-1913,” 125-145.
This article uses the understudied resource of the gramophone record to study Yiddish popular theater at the beginning of the twentieth century.
- Tamara Sztyma, “On the Dance Floor, on the Screen, on the Stage: Popular Music in the Interwar Period: Polish, Jewish, Shared,” 165-175.
Sztyma analyzes Yiddish popular music in the context of interwar Polish mass entertainment. This article pays close attention to connections and exchanges between Polish and Jewish popular cultures.
- Joel E. Rubin, “Szpilman, Bajgelman, Barsht: The Legacy of an Extended Polish Jewish Klezmer Family,” 193-218.
This article studies the extended family of the Szpilmans, Bajgelmans, and Barshts, professional Jewish instrumentalists (klezmorim), to show how the contributions of klezmer musicians in Congress Poland were central to the development of the genre.
- Ronald Robboy, “Abraham Ellstein’s Film Scores: Some Less Obvious Sources,” 235-256.
Robboy analyzes Abraham Ellstein’s scores for Yiddish films produced in interwar Poland, like Yidl mitn fidl, Mamele, and A brivele der mamen.
- James Loeffler, “The ‘Lust Machine’: Recording and Selling the Jewish Nation in the Late Russian Empire,” 257-277.
This article examines disparate views on gramophone recordings of cantorial music at the turn of the twentieth century. Loeffler uses the careers of the cantors Pinkhas Minkovsky and Volf Isserlin to rethink the economic genealogy of Jewish culture.
- 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 examines Menachem Kipnis’s World-Famous Jewish Musicians (1910), a collection of biographies of nineteenth-century composers with a Jewish background. Riegel compares this project to Kipnis’s work as a folklorist in Poland, collecting songs from Yiddish-speaking Jews.
- Joseph D. Toltz, “‘My Song, You Are My Strength’: Personal Repertoires of Polish and Yiddish Songs of Young Survivor of the Lodz Ghetto,” 393-410.
This article draws on interviews with two teenage survivors of the Lodz ghetto, which document and preserve the personal musical experiences and memories of Jewish Holocaust survivors. Toltz argues for a scholarly model of ethical attentive listening to a wide variety of material, including the living musical testimony of survivors.
- Eliyana R. Adler, “Singing Their Way Home,” 411-428.
Adler offers a comparative perspective on the vexed question of spiritual resistance during the Holocaust. The article focuses on the experiences of Polish Jews who escaped the Holocaust by fleeing to the Soviet Union.
Belk, Zoe, Lily Kahn, and Kriszta Eszter Szendroi. “Complete Loss of Case and Gender Within Two Generations: Evidence from Stamford Hill Hasidic Yiddish.” The Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics 23 (November 2020): 271-326.
In the space of less than two generations, Hasidic Yiddish has lost the grammatical categories of case and gender. The authors suggest several reasons: interrupted language transmission due to the Holocaust; partial creolization due to an influx of new Hasidim who learned the language imperfectly after the war; lack of familiarity with non-Hasidic Yiddish; the low prestige of Yiddish compared to loshn koydesh; and varying levels of competence (i.e., some speak Yiddish badly).
Belk, Zoe, Lily Kahn, and Kriszta Eszter Szendroi. “The Loshn Koydesh Component in Contemporary Hasidic Yiddish.” Journal of Jewish Languages 8, no. 1-2 (December 2020): 39-89.
The loshn koydesh component of Contemporary Hasidic Yiddish displays some innovations partly due to greater exposure to Modern Hebrew and to loshn koydesh, with some variation according to geography and gender. The authors examine the gender of nouns, Hebrew periphrastic verbs, and adjectives based on loshn koydesh past participles.
Bleaman, Isaac L. “Implicit Standardization in a Minority Language Community: Real-Time Syntactic Change among Hasidic Yiddish Writers.” Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence 3 (May 2020): 1-20.
Hasidic Yiddish has developed a new syntactic variant: in addition to the traditional placement of the preposition tsu in the middle of a verb with a separable prefix (oyf-tsu-esn), the new variant places the tsu before the prefix (tsu oyf-esn). Analysis of the language of the Hasidic forum Kave Shtiebel shows that the new variant is becoming more common. At the same time, the longer members take part in the forum, the more they tend to use the traditional variant. They are subject to a process of informal standardization as they become more familiar with the Yiddish literary language.
Brackney, Kathryn L. “Beyond Bearing Witness. Avrom Sutzkever’s Surreal Griner akvaryum.” S.I.M.O.N. Shoah: Intervention. Methods. Documentation, No. 1 (2020): 128-132.
This article examines Avrom Sutzkever’s Green Aquarium poetry cycle as a surrealist alternative to more austere, traditional modes of Holocaust remembrance. Brackney demonstrates how Sutzkever’s fantastic, dreamlike writing performs as more than testimony by allowing Sutzkever to directly address the dead and conceptualize the destruction of the Holocaust. Brackney situates Sutzkever’s work among other Jewish writers and artists who have used their art to communicate grief during the first half of the twentieth century.
Brinn, Ayelet. “Beyond the Women’s Section: Rosa Lebensboym, Female Journalists, and the American Yiddish Press.” American Jewish History 104, no. 2-3 (April/July 2020): 347-369.
This article examines the journalistic career of Rosa Lebensboym, including her column “In der froyen velt” as well as her often unattributed editorial and secretarial work and translations. Even as Lebensboym was constrained by her assignments in “women’s writing,” she used her columns to question this gendered category. Brinn argues that Lebensboym’s case reflects a “hidden history of women’s work,” exposing how female journalists navigated the contingencies and opportunities of their roles in the American Yiddish press.
Bunis, David M. “Adjectives of Hebrew and Aramaic Origin in Judezmo and Yiddish.” Journal of Jewish Languages 8, no. 1-2 (December 2020): 189-268.
This article offers a historical comparative analysis of the structure and use of Hebrew- and Aramaic-origin adjectives in Judezmo (Ladino, Judeo-Spanish) and Yiddish. Bunis examines how these adjectives have been incorporated into the syntactic and semantic systems of Yiddish and Judezmo and compares the relative quantity and function of the adjectives in the two languages.
Epstein, Anna. “Melekh Ravitsh, Yosl Bergner, History, Symbolism, Dreaming and Reality.” Australian Jewish Historical Society Journal 25, no. 1 (2020): 45-57.
This article examines Yosl Bergner’s often counterfactual writings about the Australian adventure of his father, the poet and essayist Melekh Ravitsh. Epstein argues that the father’s quest shows a profound understanding of refugee reality, despite his son casting his journey as fantasy.
Ferdinand, Siarl. “An Overview of the Language History of the Hungarian Jewish Community in the Carpathian Basin and Diaspora with a Special Emphasis on Yiddish.” Hungarian Cultural Studies 13 (2020).
Ferdinand provides a historical overview of the Hungarian Jewish communities’ languages since their establishment in the region to the present day, with a special emphasis on Yiddish. This article contributes to the understanding of group dynamics in bilingual communities, especially the language situation among Hungarian Jewry.
Freis, David. “Ecstatic Expeditions: Fischl Schneersohn’s ‘Science of Man’ Between Modern Psychology and Jewish Mysticism.” Transcultural Psychiatry 56, no. 6 (December 2020): 775-785.
This article examines Fischl Schneersohn’s (1887–1958) “science of man” as a psychotherapeutic approach situated between modern psychology and Hasidic mysticism. Freis focuses on Schneersohn’s Studies in Psycho-Expedition, which proposes employing a universalized and secularized version of the Kabbalah at the foundation of its very modern practice.
Friedman, Joshua B. “Serious Jews: Cultural Intimacy and the Politics of Yiddish.” Cultural Dynamics 32, no. 3 (2020): 151-169.
In this article, Friedman applies the concept of cultural intimacy to his ethnographic research with Yiddishists to demonstrate its use in analyzing “ethnoracial identity politics” in the US. As Friedman explains, Yiddishists explain their engagement with Yiddish through a discourse of “seriousness,” marked by intensive study, work, and dedication. Seriousness is not only an “affective orientation,” but a way through which Yiddishists differentiate themselves from the American Jewish establishment or mainstream, and resignify “dominant American Jewish language ideologies about Yiddish as signs of American Jewish cultural intimacy.”
Garellek, Marc. “Phonetics and Phonology of Schwa Insertion in Central Yiddish.” Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics 5, no. 1 (2020): 1-25.
This article studies the typologically unusual and synchronically difficult to explain patterns of schwa insertions in Central Yiddish. It argues that they can be traced back to the phonetic transitions between specific vowels and coda consonants: vowel-coda sequences that produce formant transitions through the mid-central acoustic vowel space are those that are most likely to exhibit schwa insertion.
Herskovitz, Yaakov. “The Facade of Hebraism: Aharon Reuveni and the Search for Monolingualism,” Jewish Social Studies 25, no. 3 (Spring/Summer 2020): 71-102.
Herskovitz’s article examines Ahron Reuveni’s self-translation between Yiddish and Hebrew in his World War I trilogy Ad Yerushalayim (To Jerusalem, 1919-25). It argues that this self-translation practice shows the multilingual reality of pre-state Palestine.
Jelen, Sheila E. “Gender and Assimilation in I. J. Schwartz’s ‘New Earth’ (1921-1922).” Journal of Jewish Identities 13, no. 2 (July 2020): 181-194.
This article offers a gender-centered reading of I. J. Schwartz’s epic poem “Nayerd” (New Earth), part of the poem-cycle Kentucky. Through this new lens, Jelen offers two main contributions to the extant scholarship: the role of women and the prospect of assimilation. In focusing on gender, the role of wives and women is discovered to be intertwined with the inevitable dangers and allure of assimilation, with women playing key roles in not only opposing or succumbing to assimilation, but also in grieving and refashioning Judaism as responses to assimilation.
Karasick, Adeena. “Speaking Jewish: The Talmudy Blues of Semantic and Semitic Environments.” Explorations in Media Ecology 19, no. 2 (June 2020): 205-210.
This article explores both the structures of Yiddish and Kabbalistic hermeneutics. It focuses on the aphoristic nature of Yiddish as a series of media ecological probes and how thirteenth-century Kabbalah offers multiperspectival strategies for negotiating truth. It exposes how, both through its form and presentation, speaking ‘Jewish’ reshapes culture and provides a model for survival.
Keeda, Peter. “The Yiddish Theatre in Sydney, 1900-1945.” Australian Jewish Historical Society Journal 24, no. 4 (2020): 699-721.
This article provides a historical overview of the Yiddish theater in Sydney during the first half of the twentieth century. Keeda chronicles the Yiddish theater’s major events in the interwar period and during World War II.
Kuznetsova, Ekaterina, and Anastasiya Lyubas. “The Image of Streetwalkers in Itzik Manger’s and Debora Vogel’s Ballads.” In geveb (December 2020).
This article focuses on three ballads by Itzik Manger (Di balade fun der zind, Di balade fun gasn-meydl, Di balade fun der zoyne un dem shlankn husar) and two ballads by Debora Vogel (Balade fun a gasn-meydl I and II). The authors argue that Manger and Vogel subvert the ballad genre and gender hierarchies by depicting promiscuous female embodiment, theatricality, and the “lowbrow” culture of shund in their sophisticated modernist poetry.
Levenson, Alan T. “From Translation to Transmission: A Chapter in the Odyssey of Maurice Samuel.” Modern Judaism-A Journal of Jewish Ideas and Experience 40, no. 3 (October 2020): 285-311.
This article proposes a reevaluation of the work and legacy of Maurice Samuel (1895-1972), an author, translator, polemicist, and Zionist. It addresses the role he played in conveying works from German, French, Hebrew, and Yiddish to an American audience.
Lightstone, Vardit. “Becoming Canadian: Folk Literary Innovation in the Memoirs of Yiddish-Speaking Immigrants to Canada.” Canadian Jewish Studies/Etudes Juives Canadiennes 29 (2020): 12-32.
Through a discussion of three twentieth-century autobiographical Yiddish texts, this article examines how Yiddish-speaking immigrants’ adaptations of folklore created and expressed hybrid Canadian-Eastern European Jewish culture(s) and identity(s).
Lisek, Joanna. “‘Two Write? What’s This Torture For?’ Bronia Baum’s Manuscripts as Testimony to the Formation of a Writer, Activist, and Journalist.” Jewish History 33 (2020): 61-113.
Lisek contextualizes the multi-lingual poetic output of Bronia (Breyndl) Baum (1896-1947) using autobiographical material --including Baum’s diary -- as well as a wealth of sources on religious and literary trends among Jewish women in the Polish lands and Israel in the early twentieth century. Lisek’s exploration of the intertextual in Baum’s work is a particularly interesting turn for scholars of Yiddish literature.
Lyubas, Anastasiya. “Gender, Language and Territory: The Tsushtayer Literary Journal in Galicia and the Contributions of Yiddish Women Writers.” Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women’s Studies & Gender Issues 37 (Fall 2020): 163-184. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/nashim.37.1.11?seq=1
This article discusses the gender politics of the Galician journal Tsushtayer (1929-1931). Lyubas attends to the place of Jewish women writers and readers in the imaginary, literary quasi-territory of this journal as articulated by female contributors such as Rokhl Oyerbakh, Dvoyre Fogel and Kadya Molodowsky.
Malykhina, Svitlana. “Change and Continuity in the Urban Semiosphere of Post-Soviet Kharkiv.” East/West: Journal of Ukrainian Studies 7, no. 1 (2020): 55-101.
Malykhina identifies efforts of urban renewal in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city. After summarizing the city’s complex history of language policy, Malykhina analyzes public art exhibitions and street art within Kharkiv’s contemporary, post-Maidan urban landscape, identifying one exhibition with a significant emphasis on Ukraine’s Jewish past: “Edeniia: V gorode budushchego” (In Edenia, a City of the Future, 2017), which reconstructs the utopian spaces of Kalman Zingman’s 1918 Yiddish-language novella (a work available on In geveb https://ingeveb.org/texts-and-translations/edenia-part-1). Engagement with Jewish history, however, remains limited.
Markenson, Casey Tova. “Jewish Immigrant Theatre and the Argentinean Avant-Gardes: The Case of Ibergus in 1926 Buenos Aires.” Modern Drama 63, no. 4 (Winter 2020): 455-476.
Markenson argues that the Yiddish playwright Leib Malakh’s Ibergus, a naturalistic play featuring a Jewish prostitute, continued a longstanding trend of avant-garde Yiddish theater both in Buenos Aires and within transnational performance networks. In so doing, this article sheds light on the significance of Ibergus in the history and theorization of theatrical avant-gardes.
Masel, Roni. “Who is a Yid? Reading the Journal Der Yid Beyond the Hebraist-Yiddishist Binary.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies (August 2020).
This article explores the Yiddish-language Zionist journal Der Yid (1899-1902), in which self-conscious debates over its title, touched off by no less than Ahad Ha'am, both revealed and concealed the (class-based, ethnic, linguistic) seams in the Jewish nationalist project. Masel thereby interrogates the dichotomy of Hebraist-Zionist-nationalism vs. Yiddishist-diasporism that even recent and welcome studies of Jewish bilingualism have (wittingly or not) reified.
Mendel, Yonatan. “On Palestinian Yiddish and Ashkenazi Arabic in 18-19 Century Palestine: A Language-Oriented New Look on Jewish-Arab Relations.” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (June 2020).
The article offers a non-separatist historical linguistic discussion of Yiddish and Arabic in the yishuv in the 18 and early 19th century. In his article Mandel looks primarily at the influence Arabic had on Yiddish, creating what he calls “Palestinian Yiddish”, and the implications of this development on the intertwinement of communities in Palestine.
Oehme, Annegret. “From Camelot to China, or, ‘A History or Moral Tale about a Young Sir Gabein’s Marvelous Adventures Illustrating Divine Providence’.” Arthuriana 30, no. 2 (Summer 2020): 48-72.
This article offers a scholarly introduction that places Gabein, an eighteenth-century Yiddish tale about Sir Gawain, into the broader contexts of Jewish culture, as well as European, Germanic, and Yiddish Arthuriana. It then offers the text’s first English translation.
Podhajecka, Miroslawa. “Additional Evidence for nu,” American Speech 95, no. 3 (2020): 364-376.
In this article, Podhajecka compares idiomatic usage of the injerjection “nu” in Yiddish and Russian, juxtaposing uses of “nu” in Israel Zangwill’s 1892 Children of the Ghetto and a selection of English translations of late-nineteenth century Russian literature.
Pollin-Galay, Hannah. “‘A Rubric of Pain Words’: Mapping Atrocity with Holocaust Yiddish Glossaries.” Jewish Quarterly Review 110, no. 1 (Winter 2020): 161-193.
This article examines the way that the Holocaust changed the Yiddish language. In Nazi ghettos and camps, hundreds of Yiddish words and phrases were either added to the Yiddish language or gained significantly new meanings. Many Yiddish speakers were preoccupied with the changes they sensed in their own language and attempted to document them, resulting in various dictionaries and glossaries of what Pollin-Galay terms “Khurbn Yiddish.” The article focuses on three different attempts to document Khurbn Yiddish as well as three different themes prominent in this new layer of the language.
Reiser, Daniel. “The Sanctification of Yiddish among Hasidim.” AJS Review 44, no. 1 (April 2020): 163-181.
This article analyzes the sanctification of Yiddish among Hasidim from a theological and sociological perspective. It traces the changing views on Yiddish’s holy status from the eighteenth century to the late twentieth.
Rosenzweig, Claudia. “Magic Apples and Talking Frogs: Fairy Tales in the Mayse-Bukh.” Journal of Jewish Studies 71, no. 1 (2020): 121-140.
Rosenzweig analyzes the fairy tales included in the Mayse-bukh (Book of Stories, 1602), arguing that likely circulated in previous Hebrew and Yiddish manuscripts as culled from contemporaneous Italian collections. Readers turned to the Mayse-bukh not only for didactic and moral teachings and rabbinic exempla, but also for the enchantment offered by a recognizable set of fictional texts.
Shaul, Michal. “The Legacy of Sarah Schenirer and the Rebuilding of Ultraorthodox Society After the Holocaust.” Jewish Culture and History 21, no. 4 (October 2020): 342-358. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1462169X.2020.1836831
Shaul focuses attention on the role of everyday people, specifically the teachers and graduates of Bais Yaakov schools, in revitalizing the world of Torah scholarship after the Holocuast. These women invoked the memory of the school network’s founder, Sarah Schenirer, to instill a sense of hope, mission, and purpose. Schenirer’s legacy served as a bridge over the rupture of the Holocaust and, Shaul argues, as a substitute for Holocuast memory in Ultraorthodox society.
Spinner, Samuel. “Else Lasker-Schuler and Uri Zvi Greenberg in ‘The Society of Savage Jews’: Art, Politics, and Primitivism.” Prooftexts 38, no. 1 (2020): 60-93.
This article examines the shared primitivism of the German poet Else Lasker-Schuler and the Hebrew and Yiddish poet Uri Zvi Greenburg. It shows how aesthetics and divergent political affiliations intersected in interwar Berlin artistic circles.
Stromberg, David. "The Exorcist: The Mystical Storytelling of Isaac Bashevis Singer." Prooftexts 38, no. 1 (2020): 94-138.
In this article, Stromberg delves into the religious and kabbalistic frameworks underpinning Isaac Bashevis Singer's literary practice.
Tabachnick, Guy. “Uvular Rhotic Weakening in Yiddish Adjectival Suffixes.” The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 148, no. 4 (2020).
Tabachnik analyzes adjectival endings in four speakers with uvular rhotics. This article adds to the studies of this linguistic idiosyncrasy that suggest that it contributes to the loss of gender and case in contemporary Yiddish-speaking Hasidic communities.
Teplitsky, Joshua. “Heroes and Victims Without Villains: Plague in Early Modern Prague.” Jewish Social Studies 26, no. 1 (Fall 2020): 67-76.
Teplitsky analyzes the responses to the 1713 plague outbreak in Prague. The epidemic claimed the lives of over 12,000 residents of the city. It also generated a substantial number of royal and municipal regulations, Jewish communal instructions, rabbinic responsa, Yiddish commemorative narratives, and penitential prayers.
Torres, Anna Elena. “The Horizon Blossoms and the Borders Vanish: Peretz Markish’s Poetry and Anarchist Diasporism.” Jewish Quarterly Review 110, no. 3 (Summer 2020): 458-490.
This article analyzes Peretz Markish’s poetry from the perspective of anarchism. It situates his artistic work and political views in the Soviet context, focusing on his virtuosic and enigmatic poem Der fertsikyeriker man (The Man of Forty).
Turner, Ri. “Confronting the Jewish Rejection of Jewish Particularism: Chaim Zhitlowsky’s Anti-Assimilationist Intervention in the American Yiddish Press.” Res Rhetorica no. 2 (Summer 2020): 17-32.
Turner examines how Chaim Zhitlowsky used the “internal” Jewish space of the Yiddish press to present his “internationalist” model as an alternative to the American melting pot. This article shows how Zhitlowsky’s ideas offer a provocative critique of cosmopolitan tendencies in progressive politics in and beyond Yiddish circles.
Underwood, Nick. “Seeing the Spanish Civil War in the Yiddish Press in Popular Front France.” Jewish Culture and History 21, no. 4 (2020): 373-396.
This article explores photographs that the 1930s Parisian Yiddish communist daily newspaper Naye prese used to depict the Spanish Civil War. Underwood shows how Naye prese sidestepped use of the now famous images of the Civil War to create a visual culture of antifascism that resonated with their Yiddish readership.
Underwood, Nick. “Lending Identity: Circulating Literacy, Current Events, Yiddish Culture, and Politics in Interwar France.” Contemporary French Civilization 45, no. 1 (2020): 71-88. https://www.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/journals/article/49117/
Underwood explores the multifaceted roles of three libraries that served the Yiddish-speaking community of 1930s Paris. Along with the holdings of the libraries and the events they put on, the article analyzes readers’ borrowing practices to demonstrate how the libraries created and sustained a public culture and a shared creativity and aesthetics.
Underwood, Nick. “The Yiddish Art Theatre in Paris After the Holocaust, 1944-1950.” Theatre Survey 61, no. 3 (September 2020): 351-371.
Underwood situates the postwar activities of the Parizer yidisher avangard teater (PYAT, later Yidisher kunst teater [YKUT]) both within the transnational context of mid-twentieth-century Jewish cultural pluralism, as well as the national context of French cultural reconstruction following World War II. This article argues that postwar Parisian Yiddish theatre attempted to balance Frenchness and Yiddishness, showing that Jewish cultural reconstruction in Paris during that period was not solely assimilationist in its aims.
Vallois, Nicolas and Sarah Imhoff, “The Luftmentsh as an Economic Metaphor for Jewish Poverty: A Rhetorical Analysis.” SocArXiv 20 (August 2020).
This article examines how the word Luftmentsch functions as an economic metaphor for Jewish poverty. It also shows how the Luftmentsch character popularized an ambivalent image of Jewish masculinity at work.
Verschik, Anna. “Yiddish-Lithuanian Bilingualism: Incomplete Acquisition, Change through Contacts, or both?” International Journal of Bilingualism (June 2020): 1-20.
Verschik uses two case studies of Yiddish-Lithuanian bilinguals who acquired both languages at home to examine incomplete first language acquisition. The article focuses on the absence of the Yiddish past tense auxiliary in both informants’ speech and the replacement of Yiddish words by their Lithuanian or Yiddish equivalents in the second informant’s speech.
Weinshel, Meyer. “Centering the Centerless: Czernowitz and the Contiguities of German and Yiddish Modernism.” Journal of Austrian Studies 53, no. 3 (Fall 2020): 85-95.
Weinshel examines Czernowitz through Yiddish writers’ engagement with the multiethnic and multilingual city. This article contributes to a deeper understanding of Yiddish culture in East-Central Europe and in Hapsburg area studies.
Wolpe, Rebecca. “When the Days are Long and People are Idle: Two Sixteenth-Century Yiddish Translations of Pirkei Avot.” Jewish Culture and History 21, no. 2 (April 2020): 85-103. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1462169X.2020.1739891?casa_token=ctxr29ktJWEAAAAA%3A7bTsjwbL9AFBxJdjYMgsll28SaQ5dyHl8CYmL0n8iyMNv9On4h5lvgLGG9Z3_RrS83e76i-vsGkd
This article compares two Early Modern Yiddish translations of Pirkei Avot (Chapters of the Fathers, one of the most popular and commonly read tractates of the Mishna. Wolpe argues that these translations suggest the existence of an earlier Yiddish tradition that circulated in written or oral form.
Wolski, Nathan. “Mythopoesis, Mysticism, Messianism, and Modernity in Aaron Zeitlin’s Metatron.” The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy 28, no. 1 (March 2020): 28-94.
Wolski analyzes Aaron Zeitlin’s avant-garde, book-length poem Metatron: Apokaliptishe poeme. This article focuses on the mythopoetic components of the work, which it situates among divergent attitudes toward myth in 1920s Yiddish literature.
Yudkoff, Sunny S. “Monuments of Poetry: On the Publication History of Avrom Sutzkever’s Sibir.” Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 38, no. 1 (Spring 2020): 218-258.
This article looks at the complex publishing history of Sibir, a work by Avrom Sutzkever. Published in Yiddish, Hebrew and English, and in various versions, it is the back and forth of languages and versions that Yudkoff focuses on to show how the poet refashions not only the poems but also his persona and public perception in and through this work. The different contexts and forms this work appeared in from 1937-1963 informed not only changes in the text, but also reflected changes in the position the poet held in the literary world.
Ayzenberg, Shimshon Ignat. “The Jewish Vanguard of the Revolution: Poale Zion in Early Soviet Period, 1917-1928.” PhD diss., Stanford University, 2020.
This dissertation emphasizes the persistence of Poale Zion’s political influence, underscores the centrality of ideology and diplomacy in Soviet politics, and traces its institutional adjustments to the “construction of socialism” in Russia.
Brett, Mia. “The Murdered Jewess: Jewish Immigration and the Problem of Citizenship in the Courtroom in Late Nineteenth Century New York.” PhD diss., State University of New York at Stony Brook, 2020.
This dissertation uses a murder trial of an Eastern European Jewish immigrant in New York City in 1876 to explore the implicit denial of criminal procedure rights to immigrant Jews, as well as women and racialized others. It argues that criminal trials, and the surrounding societal and press reaction to them, are an important site of citizenship performance.
Calof, Ethan. “‘On Account of You I Have No Translator!’ Michael Chabon and Cynthia Ozick’s Literary Conceptions of Intergenerational Yiddishlands.” Ph.D. diss, Vanderbilt University, 2020.
This dissertation analyzes the use of Yiddish as a plot object in Cynthia Ozick’s “Envy; or, Yiddish in America” (1969) and Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (2007). Calof argues that these works perpetuate a postvernacular futurity for Yiddish, inviting readers to Yiddishland through the act of collective linguistic mourning.
Hobson, Marvin Eugene. “Repairers of the Breach: Representations of the Possessed Body and Neo-Ethnic Identity in the Works of Hurston, Ansky, Soyinka, and Perry.” PhD diss., Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 2020.
This dissertation uses comparative analysis to examine representations of possessed bodies and religious identities. It places the Yiddish-Russian author An-sky’s portrayals of spiritual possession in conversation with works rooted in the rural American South and postcolonial Africa.
Katz, Jordan Rebekah. “Jewish Midwives, Medicine and the Boundaries of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe, 1650-1800.” PhD diss., Columbia University, 2020.
This dissertation examines the role and influence of Jewish midwives in early modern Western Europe, addressing their interactions with communal leaders, physicians, Christian medical practicioners, and bureaucrats. It uses archival and print sources in Yiddish, Hebrew, Dutch, and German to argue for the centrality of Jewish midwives in early modern Jewish communal life, medical culture, gender relations, and municipal bureaucracy.
Krongold, Joanna. “When Facts Become Figures: Figurative Dynamics in Youth Holocaust Literature.” PhD diss., University of Toronto, 2020.
This thesis traces the fluctuations of figurative language and imagery in youth literature, illustrating how the Holocaust has been and continues to be represented and manipulated. Analyzing a diverse set of books—from Jacob Glatstein to J.K. Rowling, from Elie Wiesel to Art Spiegelman and Jane Yolen—Krongold considers what she calls “figurative dynamics,” the process and movement of literary techniques that position themselves in contrast to strictly literal tellings and retellings of the Holocaust.
Markenson, Casey Tova. “Entrance Forbidden to the Yiddish Theatres: Performance, Prostitution, and Protest in Buenos Aires (1900-1930).” Phd diss., Northwestern University, 2020.
This dissertation contributes a multicultural and transnational approach to Argentinean theater history by focusing on Yiddish theater in Buenos Aires. Markenson demonstrates how antisemitic, antitheatrical, and misogynist assumptions have prevented scholars from understanding how Jewish immigrant artists shaped the Argentinean theatrical avant-garde.
Masel, Roni. “National Heroism, Popular Pleasure: Violence and the Grotesque in Hebrew and Yiddish Literatures.” PhD diss., New York University 2020.
This dissertation invesitigates the function of depictions of anti-Jewish violence in Hebrew and Yiddish literature. Rather than see depictions of anti-Jewish violence as a device in service of ideological movements, the dissertation focuses on readerly principles like pleasure and anxiety. It sees depictions of anti-Jewish violence as moments when popular themes like sex and the grotesque enter canonic culture. Focusing on the popular literature produced by the “Hibbat Tsiyon'' poets and I. L. Peretz’s early Hebrew poetry, the dissertation uses these new modes to tell the history of Hebrew and Yiddish literature.
Price, Joshua. “‘Groyse goyim’: On the Translation of World Literature into Yiddish, 1869-1935.” Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 2020.
This dissertation explores the history of world literature’s translation into Yiddish. By attending to the ways that translations functioned as sources of livelihood and engines of literary growth, this dissertation examines the desired and intermittently realized modernization and “normalization” of Yiddish literature on the world stage.
Ryer, Benjamin. “Reviving, Continuing, and Transforming: Stylistically Varied Approaches to Klezmer in the Late Twentieth and Early Twenty-First Centuries.” PhD diss., George Mason University, 2020.
Ryer argues that the varied interpretations of klezmer in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries share a set of characteristics, including melodic and harmonic tendencies and a core repertoire that has persisted since the early twentieth century. This dissertation examines how these characteristics can be applied to construct a defined klezmer style. It also outlines different approaches in late twentieth and early twenty-first century klezmer performances.
Shaw Frank, Laura Rachel. “Jewish Marriage and Divorce in America, 1830-1924.” PhD diss., University of Maryland, College Park, 2020.
This dissertation studies changes to Jewish marriage rituals and customs after immigration to the United States during the years 1820-1924. It argues that American Jews redefined both Jewish and American marriage and, in so doing, reshaped both American Judaism and the contours of American identity.
Simmons, Caitlin. “Dispossession and Survivance in the Literature of Atrocity.” PhD diss., University of Iowa, 2020.
This dissertation considers multiethnic literatures in the Americas that have emerged from psychical and historical trauma experienced by individuals who have lost contact with an original language; with ancestors and cultural narratives; or who have been cut off from an historical archive. One of the dissertation’s chapters places the works of the Yiddish-English poet and Holocaust survivor Irina Klepfisz in conversation with her contemporary, Gloria Anzaldua.
Walters, Ashley Elizabeth. “Intimate Radicals and Radical Intimacies: East European Jewish Women in the Early Twentieth-Century Anglo-American Imaginary.” PhD diss., Stanford University, 2020.
This dissertation tells the story of romantic ties between a handful of East European Jewish women and patrician-born, Anglo-American (male) intellectuals on the radical left in the early twentieth century. Challenging commonly held notions of Americanization, Walters argues that through romance these East European Jewish women attempted to meld class aspirations and a desire to integrate with deeply felt political views rooted in foreign revolutionary traditions and cosmopolitan identities.
Welt, Aaron. “The Jewish Strong Arm Men: Organized Crime and Industrial Order in the Jewish Ethnic Economy, 1908-1932.” PhD diss., New York University, 2020.
Welt’s dissertation studies how organized crime emerged as an important player in the development of Jewish immigrant capitalism in early twentieth-century New York City. It focuses on the gangsters known as “Jewish strong arm men,” who were hired to perform violence during strikes and for a variety of industrial functions.