Jun 19, 2022
Each year we are pleased to present our annual effort to gather together the latest publications relevant to Yiddish Studies in English. Gathering these materials together allows us to draw attention to the newest scholarship in our field(s) and account for growth and trends in the scholarship. This list includes scholarship in the form of books, articles, book chapters, special editions, and dissertations published in 2021. Each entry is followed by a short summary and available links to online material. The summaries were compiled by In geveb editorial board members and other volunteers. Where available, we have drawn upon the published abstracts for the articles.
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.
Alexander, Phil. Sounding Jewish in Berlin: Klezmer Music and the Contemporary City. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021.
This book brings new methodologies to the study of the contemporary practice of traditional Jewish music. Merging a traditional ethnomusicological and ethnographic approach with theoretical insights from cultural geography and urban studies, Alexander focuses on the klezmer-making and listening community of 2010s Berlin. Alexander moves away from the paradigm that considers twenty-first century klezmer as a solely international and "placeless" phenomenon to consider how that music and the community it engenders becomes rooted in the particular landscape it inhabits. At the same time, the author also breaks with earlier scholarship on Yiddish culture in modern Germany, moving past tropes of German guilt, Jewish absence, or cultural appropriation, to examine how this culture is built, curated, and sonically adapted to reflect contemporary circumstances. Alexander argues that klezmer in twenty-first century Berlin is emblematic of the "bricolage aesthetic" of post-reunification Berlin.
Caplan, Marc. Yiddish Writers in Weimar Berlin: A Fugitive Modernism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2021.
Marc Caplan explores the reciprocal encounter between Eastern European Jews and German culture after World War I. He focuses on Dovid Bergelson, Der Nister, and Moyshe Kulbak, who worked in Berlin during the Weimar Republic. Caplan examines how these writers became central to modernist aesthetics. By concentrating on the character of Yiddish literature produced in Weimar Germany, Caplan offers a new method of seeing how artistic creation is constructed and a new understanding of the political resonances that result from it.
Gollance, Sonia. It Could Lead to Dancing: Mixed-Sex Dancing and Jewish Modernity. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2021.
In the context of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Jewish culture, dance offers crucial insights into debates about emancipation and acculturation. While traditional Jewish law prohibits men and women from dancing together, Jewish mixed-sex dancing was understood as the very sign of modernity––and the ultimate boundary transgression. This book demonstrates how writers of modern Jewish literature deployed dance scenes as a charged and complex arena for understanding the limits of acculturation, the dangers of ethnic mixing, and the implications of shifting gender norms and marriage patterns, while simultaneously entertaining their readers. Combining cultural history with literary analysis and drawing connections to contemporary representations of Jewish social dance, Gollance illustrates how mixed-sex dancing functions as a flexible metaphor for the concerns of Jewish communities in the face of cultural transitions.
Comprehensive English-Yiddish Dictionary, 2nd edition, revised and expanded / Arumnemik english-yidish verterbukh, 2te oyflage, baarbet un fargresert , Gitl Schaechter-Viswanath and Paul Glasser, editors-in-chief. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2021.
This revised and expanded edition of the 2016 Comprehensive English-Yiddish Dictionary offers even more entries for those working with Yiddish on a personal or professional level, including new contemporary terminology, as well long-extant Yiddish words and expressions not included in the first edition. Based on the work of renowned linguist Dr. Mordkhe Schaechter, who collected and researched spoken and literary Yiddish in all its varieties, this landmark dictionary reflects his vision for present-day and future Yiddish usage.
Hillis, Faith. Utopia’s Discontents: Russian Emigres and the Quest for Freedom, 1830s-1930s. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021.
Faith Hillis’ monograph looks at the growth of Russian political life outside of Russia by focusing on émigré colonies across the European continent. Russian revolutionaries, Zionists, and Ukrainian nationalists lived together in exile, and, according to Hillis, it was in these colonies that Russians discovered socialism, anarchism, and Marxism, and where “Bolshevism was born.” In this work, Hillis not only uncovers the movement of Russian revolutionaries abroad, but also argues for a new way of looking at the colonies as communities. This approach allows her to link the growth of political movements between Europe and Russia, looking not just at how Russian colonies in Europe influenced the Bolshevik Revolution, but also at the influence of Russian colonies on emancipatory movements in other parts of Europe. Jews are an important aspect of this history, given that they were overrepresented among the Russian émigré population. By looking at well-known figures like Chaim Weizmann and Vladimir Lenin in exile, Hillis’ study is a new history of socialism, liberalism, anarchism, and Zionism across borders.
Oehme, Annegret. The Knight without Boundaries: Yiddish and German Arthurian Wigalois Adaptations. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2021.
This volume explores a core medieval myth, the tale of an Arthurian knight called Wigalois, and the ways it connects the Yiddish-speaking Jews and the German-speaking non-Jews of the Holy Roman Empire. The German Wigalois / Viduvilt adaptations grew from a multistage process: a German text adapted into Yiddish adapted into German, creating adaptations actively shaped by a minority culture within a majority culture. The Knight without Boundaries examines five key moments in the Wigalois / Viduvilt tradition that highlight transitions between narratological and meta-narratological patterns and audiences of different religious-cultural or lingual backgrounds.
Schachter, Allison. Women Writing Jewish Modernity, 1919-1939. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2021.
https://nupress.northwestern.edu/9780810144361/women-writing-jewish-modernity-19191939/ Women Writing Jewish Modernity contributes to the growing interest in women’s prose writing in Jewish languages. Schachter puts to rest any lingering doubt about the significance of women’s prose in Hebrew and Yiddish. Jewish modernity, often seen as a masculine crisis of identity and authority, here becomes a project that not only includes women but in which women are often the innovators. Schachter illuminates the differences between men’s and women’s education, their relationship to classical Jewish texts and modern world literatures, and the opportunities and obstacles for women in the literary sphere.
Spinner, Samuel J. Jewish Primitivism. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2021.
Jewish Primitivism makes a compelling argument for placing the phenomenon of modernist primitivism practiced by Jewish writers and artists at the center of our attempts to understand the paradoxical position of Jews and Jewish art in twentieth-century Europe. In the examples of Jewish primitivism that Spinner explores, the Jew is both subject and object: the modern Jewish writer or photographer is the observer of the still-existing “primitive” Jewish folk culture. Spinner reads works written in German, Yiddish, and Hebrew — as well as works of visual art — together, as participating in the same project; an appropriately transnational lens through which to explore Jewish modernist creativity.
Rotman, Diego. The Yiddish Stage as a Temporary Home: Dzigan and Shumacher’s Satirical Theater (1927-1980). Berlin: De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2021.
Rotman studies the lives and careers of the Yiddish theater comic duo Shimen Dzigan and Isroel Shumacher. This book traces their careers from their beginnings in the Lodz avant-garde theater to Warsaw, their time in the Soviet Union during WWII, their later attempts to revive Jewish culture in Poland after the Holocaust, and their careers in Israel.
van Straten, Jits. Ashkenazic Jews and the Biblical Israelites: The Early Demographic Development of East European Ashkenazis. Berlin: De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2021).
The author forwards a new hypothesis about the origin of Yiddish that detaches it from the origin of East European Ashkenazis.
Anctil, Pierre. “The Jews of Montreal: At the Crossroads of Languages and Translation.” In Translation and the Global City: Bridges and Gateways, edited by Judith Weisz Woodsworth. New York: Routledge, 2021.
In this article, francophone scholar Pierre Anctil traces the history of Montreal Jewry through the lense of literary translation. After a brief overview of the general history of the city and of Eastern European immigration in broad strokes, Anctil examines the activities of several different cultural figures, using their careers to illustrate broader shifts in Quebec society and Jewish culture. He argues that Montreal is a city that exists in translation, a place where cultural boundaries are porous, frequently and necessarily crossed at all times.
Davis, Joseph. “Friends and Friendship in the Memoir of Gluckel of Hameln: Learning from Experience.” In Friendship in Jewish History, Religion, and Culture, edited by Lawrence Fine, 89-105. University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 2021.
Davis presents Gluckel’s view of friendship across social categories by surveying her relationships with in-laws, family, and nonkin, and exploring the valences of terminology such as “mekhutonim” and “fraynt.” Reading into both Gluckel’s personal recollections and her embedded parables, Davis argues that Gluckel often took a generally pessimistic, skeptical stance on friendship, weighing her relationships in terms of generosity, reciprocity, and loyalty.
von Bernuth, Ruth and Eric Downing, eds. Nexus: Essays in German Jewish Studies, Volume 5: Moments of Enlightenment: In Memory of Jonathan M. Hess. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell & Brewer, 2021.
von Bernuth, Ruth, Lea Greenberg, and Joshua Shelly. “The Papal Game: Telling a Jewish Story from the Mayse bukh, Ayzik Meyer Dik and Marcus Lehmann, 65-100.
Building on Jonathan Hess’ research interests, this article examines different iterations of the legend of the Jewish pope, a story about a Jewish boy who was kidnapped, raised by Christians, and eventually elected pope. Three versions of this legend are analyzed: the early modern Yiddish Mayse bukh, an 1874 adaptation thereof by the Yiddish writer Ayzik Meyer Dik, and an 1872 German text by Marcus Lehmann. The article further considers how these versions demonstrate the need to be attentive both to local and historical specificity and to “a broader narrative that ties together Jewish histories.”
Grossman, Jeffrey A. “Freeing the Shtetl from the Ghetto Prism: Sholem Asch and David Bergelson in German Translation,” 115-134.
This article takes as its point of departure the common choice to translate “shtetl” as “ghetto” in early twentieth-century translations of Yiddish literature into German. Grossman problematizes this translation choice and the larger practice of identifying Yiddish literature as a form of “Ghettoliteratur.” In focusing on German-language translations of Dovid Bergelson and Sholem Asch, Grossman considers the aesthetic projects of these writers and compares their varied receptions in the German-speaking world.
Rose, Sven-Erik. “A Poetics of Genocide: The Jewish Dead Confront their German Murderers in Itzhak Katzenelson’s Warsaw Ghetto Poem ‘Vey dir’,” 135-164.
This chapter examines Itzhak Katzenenlson’s poem “Vey dir,” which curses the Germans for their responsibility for the genocide of European Jews. The poem explores the rage and search for voice and agency of people faced with their own individual and collective destruction. The article calls for Holocaust Studies scholars to turn their attention to writing produced by victims during the Holocaust.
Legutko, Agnieszka. “Yiddish in the 21st Century: New Media to the Rescue of Endangered Languages.” In Research Anthology on Religious Impacts on Society, 692-709. Hershey, Pennsylvania: IGI Global, 2021.
This chapter argues that new media have tremendous potential for rescuing endangered languages, drawing upon Yiddish language digital pedagogy in particular. Examining new digital platforms such as Yiddishpop.com, Mapping Yiddish New York, The Grosbard Project, Yiddish audio and visual materials available online, and distance learning opportunities, it discusses the pedagogical advantages and disadvantages of digital tools in language instruction.
Nove, Chaya R. “Outcomes of Language Contact in New York Hasidic Yiddish.” In German(ic) in Language Contact: Grammatical and Sociolinguistic Dynamics, edited by Christian Zimmer, 43-72. Berlin: Language Science Press, 2021.
In this article, Chaya Nove assesses how language contact has led Hasidic Yiddish speakers in New York towards a unified variety that diverges from Eastern European Yiddish parent dialect(s). A bilingual comparison, her study examines how early Hasidic Yiddish-English bilinguals “organize their phonetic system(s), and to explore the degree and direction of cross linguistic influence.” Nove recorded 24 HY-English bilinguals with eight participants per generation, starting with the children of immigrants, and had them read monosyllabic Hasidic Yiddish and English consonant-vowel-consonant words containing certain vowels.
Soyer, Daniel, ed. The Jewish Metropolis: New York City from the 17th to the 21st Century. Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2021.
The Jewish Metropolis covers the entire timeline of the history of the Jews of New York City. Its chapters, each written by specialists in the field of American Jewish history and American Judaism, relate to many diverse topics, including the waves of immigration that shaped New York’s Jewish community, Jewish cultural production in English, as well as Yiddish, Ladino, and German, New York’s influence on the development of American Judaism, and Jewish engagement in New York’s politics and culture.
Alroey, Gur. “From the Pale of Settlement to the Lower East Side: Early Hardships of Russian Immigrant Jews,” 62-90.
Gur Alroey’s chapter traces Jews’ emigration from the Pale of Settlement and their immigration to New York City, with special attention to the socioeconomics of both Russia and the US at the time. Considering both the disadvantages Jewish immigrants in the Lower East Side faced, as well as their advantages, Alroey gives a detailed picture of how Jews adapted to New York and its economic opportunities at the turn of the century.
Brinn, Ayelet, Eddy Portnoy, and Daniel Soyer. “Yiddish New York,” 91-114.
This chapter surveys the history of Yiddish language usage and dissemination in New York City from the eighteenth to twenty-first centuries—from the inclusion of Yiddish terms in the correspondence of a New York-based Sephardi businessman in the 1770s to the gendered politics of language usage among Hasidic communities today. The article further offers detailed summaries of the development of the popular Yiddish press, Yiddish theater, Yiddish literature, Yiddish radio, and Yiddish cultural institutions and language-teaching centers in New York. The article is an excellent resource for introducing students to the scope, history, and reach of Yiddish cultural production in New York, as well as the overall trends in Yiddish language usage and reception in the United States.
Tworek, Wojciech. “Staging Hasidism: Representation of the ‘Yossele Schumacher Affair’ in a Hasidic Yiddish Play Vi iz Yossele?” In Representing Jewish Thought: Proceedings of the 2015 Institute of Jewish Studies Conference Held in Honour of Professor Ada Rapoport-Albert, edited by Agata Paluch, 47-67. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2021.
This chapter uses the Yiddish play Vi iz Yossele? to reconstruct the contemporary Hasidic narrative of the “Yossele Schumacher affair.” The author studies the values that Hasidic artists and educators intended to convey to their young audience through this play.
Zimmerman, Heidy. “Yiddish Songs as an Identificatory Idiom in the Diaspora: Die schonsten Lieder der Ostjuden, Arranged by Darius Milhaud, Stefan Wolpe, and Alvin Curran.” In Armenian and Jewish Experience between Expulsion and Destruction, edited by Ross, Sarah M. Ross and Regina Randhofer, 51-74. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2021.
Using Die schonsten Lieder der Ostjuden (1920) as a point of departure, this book chapter explores how Jewish musicians sought, discovered, and confirmed their identity in traditional song.
“Yiddish Culture and Literature After 1945.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, Volume 20, no. 2 (2021).
Schwarz, Jan. “Introduction,” 135-140.
In this introduction, Schwarz surveys the articles to come as well as the general history of postwar Yiddish culture—its themes, forms, and geographies. He also discusses the current status of Yiddish as an official minority language in Sweden, where in 2012 a conference was held at Lund University on the subject, ““Twentieth Century Yiddish Culture in its European Context,” co-organized by Schwarz, Marion Aptroot, and the late Shlomo Berger.
Gal-Ed, Efrat. “Yiddishland: A Promise of Belonging,” 141-169.
Modernist Yiddish literature was an important part of the Yiddish-cultural response to the existential turmoil caused by the First World War. This “small literature,” to use Kafka’s phrase, came into being without the support of a nation state and in an alien environment. In a 1922 edition of Warsaw’s avant-garde magazine Albatros, Yiddish poets reflected on their “wandering through various centers of their Jewish extraterritoriality.” Five years later, in 1927, when stateless Yiddish literature became a member of the International PEN Club, this existential extraterritoriality underwent a bold reinterpretation with the new concept of “Yiddishland.” Gal-Ed’s paper reconstructs the discourse that led to the transformation of the existential concept of eksteritoryalishkayt along with the creation of the cosmopolitan cultural project originally called “dos land yidish,” and later “Yiddishland:” a republic of words that unified the Yiddish speakers globally via literature and arts.
Wiecki, Evita (z”l). “Lomir kinder lernen–Yiddish Textbooks in Poland 1945-1949,” 170-195.
Textbooks, which are a little-noticed source for historians, offer an interesting insight into the present state of the respective society as well as into the intended concepts for the future, not only of the textbook authors but also of certain social groups or even the state. In which direction and how should the next generation be shaped? These were important questions that surviving Jews in Poland asked themselves after the Holocaust. This article presents and analyzes Yiddish textbooks from 1946-1948. They reflect the search for a Jewish life and a post-Holocaust identity in Poland. In this search, two factors play a particularly important role: the Yiddish language and dealing with the Holocaust.
De Bollardiere, Constance Paris. “The Jewish Labor Committee’s Support of Yiddish Culture in Early Post-Holocaust France (1945-1948),” 196-221.
As soon as the liberation of Europe began, the New York-based Jewish Labor Committee (JLC) started sending material and cultural aid to Jewish and Socialist victims of Nazism. The correspondence resulting from the JLC’s transatlantic work serves as the main source for this research. Through these letters sent on a daily basis, we discover both many of the stakes encountered by Holocaust survivors in their reconstruction process and the practical aspects of transnational relief. This article closely examines the contributions of the JLC to support Yiddish culture. It focuses on the priorities, possibilities, and limits of the JLC in supporting a weakened and displaced Yiddish culture in France in the aftermath of the Holocaust and early Cold War period.
Perego, Simon. “Yiddish or Not? Holocaust Remembrance, Commemorative Ceremonies, and Questions of Language among Parisian Jews, 1944-1967,” 222-247.
Between 1945 and the late 1960s, a large number of Yiddish-speaking Jews lived in Paris where most of them had settled before World War II. In the aftermath of the war, Parisian Yiddish culture – as everywhere else – was deeply marked by the Holocaust and destruction of Yiddish life in Eastern Europe. As the Yiddish dimension of Holocaust memory has mainly been studied through the prism of literature, testimony, and historiography, this essay aims to explore the place accorded to Yiddish in Parisian Jewish commemorations, defined as ceremonies involving different categories of actors, and offering a narrative of the past through speeches, specific places, and rituals.
Shneer, David (z”l). “Singing between Two Worlds: Lin Jaldati and Yiddish Music in Cold War Europe and Divided Berlin, 1945-1953,” 248-273.
Although post World War II Berlin is usually held up as the front line of the Cold War, it was precisely in Berlin where the “Iron Curtain” was porous. Lin Jaldati (pronounced “Yaldati”), a Dutch Jewish Communist Yiddish cabaret singer and dancer […] and Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen survivor, had been performing in Berlin since 1947. She gave her first wildly popular concert for displaced persons there in an American DP camp. Her popularity all over Berlin after the 1949 division of Germany, her 1952 move from the Netherlands to Berlin, and the 1953 division of Berlin’s Jewish community shows how her Communist and Jewish identities and communities found a kind of unity in a ruined Berlin landscape. The city’s peculiar political geography after World War II meant that until the Wall was built in 1961, Berlin functioned as one highly idiosyncratic space, in which the Communist Jaldati and her Yiddish music successfully straddled ideologies and communities. A close examination of Jaldati’s early Berlin performances shows how Yiddish music was reintroduced into a German cultural landscape that had tried to exorcize the reminders and remainders of eastern European Jewish culture. Jaldati’s successful reintroduction of Yiddish music to Germany took root specifically in Berlin, where DPs and Berlin residents, Jews and non-Jews, cohabitated in a postwar city full of physical, political, and cultural porousness.
Guesnet, Francois, et al. “Jewish Religious Life in Poland since 1750.” Polin Studies in Polish Jewry, Volume 33 (2021).
Cooper, Levi, “Shtrayml: An Ethnographic Tale of Law and Ritualization,” 117-149.
Hasidic fur hats come in different styles, most prevalently spodik, kolpik, and shtrayml (pl: shtraymln, shtraymlekh). This headwear is worn by married men, and is reserved for the Sabbath, festivals, and other significant days like the wedding of a son or daughter. As cultural markers of identity, groups of Hasidim have adopted particular types of headwear that distinguish individual communities.
Gellman, Uriel. “Popular Religion and Modernity: Jewish Magic Books in Eastern Europe in the Nineteenth Century,” 185-202.
The author offers a new perspective on the complex relations between magic and modernity with a focus on the Jews of eastern Europe in the nineteenth century. The author argues for the complexity of Jewish magic and modernity by studying the dissemination of Jewish magic literature within the contexts of modernity and religious life.
Maslak-Maciejewska, Alicja. “A Forgotten Network? New Perspectives on Progressive Synagogues in Galicia and the Kingdom of Poland,” 261-283.
In the post-partition Polish lands there functioned a number of prayer houses and synagogues that strove for the ‘modernization’ of religious life and introduced some innovations and moderate liturgical reforms. Those innovations, which were different in different places and changed over time, ranged from simply putting more emphasis on aesthetics, order, and decorum to more radical yet still limited changes. The author argues that these synagogues functioned as a network, rather than individually.
Tworek, Wojciech, “The Scroll of 19 Kislev and the Construction of an Imagined Habad Lubavitch Community in Interwar Poland,” 309-337.
The author argues that Rebbe Joseph Isaac Schneersohn’s Scroll of 19 Kislev was part of a broader top-down strategy aimed at constructing, in Benedict Anderson’s term, an imagined Habad community, with its new center in Otwock. The Habad elite used schooling, the press, literature, and invented traditions to construct a community that would be distinct from all others, Hasidic or non-Hasidic, sharing a collective memory, united by a common purpose, and defined by kinship ties that transcended state borders and actual local or familial affinities. This imagined community would be immune to the detrimental effects of the rebbe’s physical frailty, his constant wanderings, and the socio-political upheavals of the 1930s.
Rudnicki, Szymon and Jaroslaw Garlinski, “The Vilna Pogrom of 29-21 April 1919,” 463-494.
This article provides an overview of the events of and historical sources about the Vilna pogrom.
Lewis, Yitzhak, ed. “Yiddish and the Transnational in Latin America.” In geveb (May 2021).
Lewis, Yitzhak. “Introduction: Yiddish and the Transnational in Latin America.”
The title of this issue — Yiddish and the transnational in Latin America — draws attention to the unique encounter of Yiddish and Spanish. The special issue shows that, in studying Latin American (and American continental) Yiddish culture, we need to appreciate the effects of encounter and interaction between these two well-established transnational languages.
Solomon, Claire. “Musical Comedy as Compromise Formation: Judio and Judia (1926) by Ivo Pelay.”
In 1926, the well-known Argentine playwright Ivo Pelay premiered two plays about Jews. Judio [Jew] recast the Merchant of Venice as a comical “Shylock criollo [Creole Shylock].” Judia [Jewess] premiered three months later. This article argues that Judio was a foundational text for the formation of Argentine musical comedy, as was Yiddish theater more generally.
Fabro, Lila. “On Yiddish Nuances: Yiddishkeyt as Listening Key in the Music of Osvaldo Golijov.”
This paper explores the strong links between the concept and imaginary of Yiddishkayt and the poetics of Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov through an analysis of several of his musical pieces. The author situates Yiddish and Jewish themes within the poetics of Golijov’s works by focusing on the transnational connections between Yiddishkayt, the Yiddish postvernacular, the acoustic culture of Yiddish, and the concept of Ashkenaz.
Baker, Zachary M. “The Goldenberg Variations: The International ‘Star System’ and the Yiddish Theater of Buenos Aires in 1930.” In geveb (May 2021).
This article focuses on the star culture in Yiddish Argentine theater, focusing on the year 1930. It does so by looking at the reception of several New York Yiddish theater stars’ Argentine tours, as well as developments in Buenos Aires’s local Yiddish theater scene.
Radvilė Racėnaitė, and David Roskies, eds. “Reading Vilna in Jewish Writing and Urban History.” Colloquia 48 (2021)
Mikhail Krutikov, “Vilne undzer Meka: A City on the Border between Old, New, East, and West.”
Vilnius is often represented as situated on a symbolic spatial and chronological border. Depending on the ideological agenda of a particular imperial or national discourse, Vilnius can be located on the western or the eastern frontier of the imaginary imperial realm (Russian or German respectively), or as a historic national capital (for Poles, Lithuanians and Belarusians). Correspondingly, different national and imperial narratives evaluated particular historical periods differently, usually portraying the more remote past positively, as opposed to the most recent past. Unlike these dichotomous representations, Jewish Modernist poetry, exemplified by two poems entitled ‘Vilna’, by the Hebrew poet Zalman Shneour and the Yiddish poet Moyshe Kulbak, as well as the Yiddish city guide by Zalmen Szyk, sought to restore the imaginary unity of time and space, celebrating the complexity and diversity of the city.
Cecile E. Kuznitz, “Touring Vilna: Images of the City and its Jews in Guidebooks and Travelogues, 1856-1939.”
From the mid-19th century through the end of the interwar
period, a variety of texts about Vilna were published to guide and inform both tourists and armchair travellers. The Polish, French and German-language guidebooks and travelogues considered in this article were composed both by native sons and visitors who wished to share their impressions of the city, its notable sights, and its residents. While some overlooked the presence of Jews, most devoted some space to Vilna’s Jewish landmarks. Overwhelmingly, they focused their attention on the Jewish quarter, the traditional heart of Jewish life, although a minority ventured to newer neighbourhoods, where they discovered a vibrant modern community. Their attitudes included a mix of sympathy, fascination and revulsion; many employed the language of orientalism, even as they invested that language with a variety of meanings. These authors’ narratives were shaped by their views of the various groups that comprised Vilna’s diverse population, as well as by commitments ranging from Polish nationalism to pacifism. Such accounts thus illuminate competing visions of the larger society and the place of Jews within it.
Joanna Degler (Lisek), “Between Ethnocentrism and Multiculturalism: The Cultural Landscape in Polish Guidebooks to Vilnius (1856–1939) and Zalmen Szyk’s Toyznt yor Vilne.”
This article explores changes over time in the manner in which
multiculturalism in Vilnius was shown and evaluated in tourist guidebooks written between 1856 and 1939. It provides an overview of narratives which serves as a background reflecting the uniqueness of Zalmen Szyk’s Yiddish-language publication Toyznt yor Vilne (1939). From the mid-19th century on, one can detect an increasingly strident nationalist patriotism in Polish-language books of this genre, underscored by ethnocentrism and nationalistic megalomania. The city is depicted in most of these guidebooks as a bastion of Polish spirit and martyrdom, the quintessential example being a guidebook published by Juliusz Kłos in 1923. Zalmen Szyk, on the other hand, evinces a much greater readiness to incorporate various models of historical memory and interpretations of urban space: Vilnius in his work is unashamedly multicultural, without a trace of ethnocentrism. Szyk is extremely meticulous and unprejudiced in his treatment of all the ethnic
groups living in the city and the heritage they left behind. He writes about each group in turn: Lithuanians, Poles, Ruthenians, Tartars, Germans and Jews, and the adherents of Catholicism, Judaism, Orthodoxy, Protestantism and Islam are all accounted for. In comparison with the Polish-language guides, Szyk’s Yiddish guide to multicultural Vilnius contains by far the most comprehensive description of the Polish cultural presence; notably, he does not shy away from incorporating elements of the romantic model of Polish martyrdom.
Vladimir Levin, “Maps, Synagogues, the City of Vilne, and Zalmen Szyk.”
The absolute majority of maps of East European cities marked
only one or two major synagogues, while tens or hundreds of smaller
synagogues and Jewish prayer houses were omitted. Using Vilnius as a case study, the article argues that this omission was not only a consequence of viewing the Jews as a ‘not indigenous’ part of the population, but also reflected the reality. The absolute majority of synagogues and prayer houses had no role in the cityscape of Vilnius and other cities of Eastern Europe, and therefore were not noticeable to non-Jewish people. Either synagogues and prayer houses were situated in courtyards, or they had no external features designating them as Jewish sacred places. Only the Great Synagogues and the Choral Synagogues of ‘modernised’ Jews attempted to be visible and prominent in the cityscape. The discussion of the issue of visibility of Jewish sacral buildings is based on the Yiddish guidebook to the city of Vilnius published by Zalmen Szyk in 1939. This book is a unique work, which combines the description of Vilnius ‘in general’ with special attention paid to the Jewish public institutions existing in the city, the majority of them synagogues and prayer houses.
Laima Laučkaitė, “The Iconography of Jewish Vilna during the First World War.”
The aim of the article is to show the picture of Jewish Vilnius/Vilna created by German artists during the First World War. The research
is based on an analysis of works of art published in the press of the time, or stored in institutions in Lithuania, Germany and Belgium, and also on an analysis of writings in German periodicals of that time. The media in Ober Ost during the war took an anti-semitic stance, promoted by the top military leadership, but the author of the article argues that there also existed a different attitude towards the Jews of Vilnius and their heritage. The views and origins of journalists, writers and artists taken on by the editorial boards of German newspapers published in Vilnius and Kaunas influenced the emergence of the Ostjuden discourse. This discourse was rather contradictory, and included both fascination with the traditional religious Jewish community, and its cultural heritage and spiritual values, and at the same time horror at the suffering and poverty of the community.
This discourse also remained viable in postwar Germany, and influenced the identity of Jewish art in Vilnius in the interwar period.
Theodore R. Weeks, “Reading Vilna in the First World War.”
The outbreak of war in August 1914 marked a new era in the history of Vilna for all of the city’s inhabitants, but perhaps for the Jews most of all. The world war accelerated the processes of political and
economic modernisation, to the detriment of local Jews. These processes were not, however, immediately evident to local residents, though the more far-seeing among them feared for the worst. After all, when had Jews gained from military action? This paper offers an overview of the impact of the First World War on Vilna, and highlights two specific, very different, sources: Paul Monty’s Wanderstunden in Vilna, a guidebook for German soldiers, and Hirsz Abramowicz’s Profiles of a Lost World, a memoir published later (in Yiddish) by a long-time Vilna resident.
Samuel D. Kassow, “The Mother City of Jewish Public Life: Zalmen Reyzen’s Image of Interwar Vilna.”
A specific vision of Vilna as the model of an East European Jewish civil society crystallised in the years during and just after the First World War, and Vilna’s professional elites and journalists played a critical role
in the crafting and shaping of this idea. This paper shows how Zalmen Reyzen, a leading Vilna Yiddishist intellectual who edited Vilna’s most important Yiddish daily between the wars, Der tog (1919–1939), tirelessly sought to convince others that Vilna had a special role to play as a model for the entire Jewish Diaspora, as a city uniquely suited to build a Jewish civil society based on a shared language, Yiddish. Reyzen told his readers in articles and editorials that the collapse of the tsarist regime gave Jews an unprecedented chance to build a new secular school system, create a new democratic communal board (kehile), and break the stranglehold of old communal elites.
Mindaugas Kvietkauskas, “From Shulhoyf to Montparnasse: Cultural Collage in Moshé Vorobeichic’s Photography Book The Ghetto Lane in Wilna (1931).”
This article discusses the artistic genesis of the first avant-garde photography book in Lithuanian art history, The Ghetto Lane in
Wilna (1931) by Moshé Vorobeichic-Moï Ver (Moshe Raviv, 1904–1995),
and aims to conduct the first in-depth reconstruction of Vorobeichic’s
early biographical and creative period in Vilnius in the 1920s in the local Jewish and multicultural milieu. Uncovering his biographical contexts it possible to identify new semantic aspects in his
avant-garde photography book The Ghetto Lane in Wilna, and to rethink its artistic concept, allowing the cross-cultural semantics of Moï Ver’s photographic collages of Jewish Vilnius to emerge.
David G. Roskies, “Speaking for the Shulhoyf: The Vilna Voices of
When the Maskil Ayzik-Meyer Dik (ca. 1807–1893) retooled as
a kritiker, a writer of satire, he did so by keeping it local. Most effectively, he exposed the evils and failings of the Jewish body politic by locating his satires in and around the crowded shulhoyf, the Great Synagogue and Courtyard, of his native Vilnius. Endowed with a phenomenal memory and a wicked sense of humour, there was no end to the gallery of schnorrers, shnorrerkes, rogues and misfits whom he could rescue from out of the recent, unenlightened past. But to speak for Jewish Vilna the way that Eugène Sue had spoken for Paris meant learning a new set of skills. Writing popular fiction meant to drawing upon the dialogical nature of language itself: the way low-lives and charlatans mimicked the speech of the learned class, while uncensored speech betrayed their boorishness, voracious appetites and debauchery; the way the speech of servant girls trafficked in the speech
of their mistresses and outperformed them. For Dik, speech was dialogical, because to become a responsible folksshrayber required that one allow others to do the talking.
Avner Holtzman, “Vilna as a Centre of Hebrew Literature: The Journal Hazman.”
In 1904, a Hebrew journalistic and literary initiative was established in Vilna, headed by the writer and publisher Ben-Avigdor, and the journalist and editor Ben Zion Katz. The new initiative revived Vilna
as a magnet for Hebrew writers and journalists, an impressive team that
joined together to create the daily Hazman (The Time) and its supplements. The editors’ policy was not to impose a binding political line on the paper, but to give an opening to all the factions in the Jewish public, while also hoping to expand the target audience of the paper. The year 1905 was the time of glory of Hazman, both for its news and its literary sections. But its momentum was halted during 1906, due to political unrest in Russia and the rapid decline of Hebrew journals, which lost most of their readership to the flourishing Yiddish press. Thus, the Hazman affair embodies a dramatic crossroads. It was the beginning of the decline of Hebrew literature in Eastern Europe, alongside the laying of the foundations for Hebrew literature in the Land of Israel during the first two decades of the 20th century. This essay draws an outline of the affair on the basis of a variety of sources, including the newspaper itself, memories of the personalities
involved, and correspondence.
Lara Lempertienė, “Moyshe Kulbak’s and Zalman Shneour’s Vilnius: Poetic Reality versus Glorious Construct.”
During the interwar period, many attempts were made to
perceive and interpret the legacy of Jewish Vilnius, both in the city itself and abroad. Many of the images of the city created in that period betray nostalgic and half-mythological features, even while they present a living and breathing Jewish environment. This essay examines the Hebrew poem Vilna by Zalman Shneour (1919), and the other is the Yiddish poem ‘Vilne’ by Moyshe Kulbak (1926). Shneour’s poem is an ode to a legendary centre of Jewish learning and spirituality; while Kulbak attempted to capture the pulse of the actual city that he lived in, using the potential of modernised Yiddish and Expressionist poetics to paint a vibrant and exciting portrait of the city. After the trauma of the physical loss of Jewish Vilnius during the Second World War, it was Shneour’s stylistic approach and depiction of the city that would prevail.
Justin Cammy, “The Prose of Everyday Life: Moyshe Levin’s Vilna
This article introduces readers to the fiction by Moyshe Levin,
a member of the Yiddish literary and artistic group Yung Vilne (Young
Vilna). Cammy argues that Levin challenged sentimental myths of Vilna as a centre of Yiddish culture by crafting naturalist fiction and reportage focused on the struggles of Vilna’s Jewish underclass and workers. In doing so, he developed a fictional universe that was directly engaged with and explored the social and political challenges of local Jewish life in the 1930s.
Torres, Anna Elena, Kathryn Hellerstein, and Anastasiya Lyubas, eds. “Walking With Vogel.” In geveb (Oct. 2021).
Torres, Anna Elena, Kathryn Hellerstein, and Anastasiya Lyubas, eds. “Walking With Vogel: New Perspectives on Debora Vogel.”
This special issue offers new perspectives on the Yiddish poet and thinker Debora Vogel. It explores Vogel’s works and legacy through poetry, visual art, translation, and scholarship to follow the many lines of creative and critical inquiry that emerge from Vogel’s work.
Misiak, Anna Maja. “Reading as the Shaping Force of Life: Debora Vogel’s Contributions to Education.”
This article considers how Vogel engaged with questions of form in various essays and in her educational work at the Jewish orphanage at borowska 8 in Lwow. The article tracks how Vogel introduced educational reforms and supported the children in her care not only in self-administration, but also in the publication of their own journal.
Burdin, Rachel Steindel. “Hebrew, Yiddish and the Creation of Contesting Jewish Places in Kazimierz.” Journal of Sociolinguistics 25, no. 1 (Jan. 2021): 81-102.
Burdin’s article is an ethnolinguistic investigation into Hebrew and Yiddish and their cultural uses in Kazimierz, the historic Jewish quarter of Kraków. Burdin examines the commodification of and transplantation of fragmented Hebrew and Yiddish into the “Disneyified” landscape of Kazimierz next to more authentically Jewish cultural spaces, and their intertwined relationship, specifically for tourism. Burdin argues that this ethnolinguistic examination of a linguistic repertoire of an area may prove useful as a methodology for other communities, and cautions that these fragmented usages of Yiddish and Hebrew do not always mean inauthentic expressions of Jewishness.
Carpenter, Aaron. “Tied to German, Unable to Find a Foothold in Yiddish: Examining Kafka’s Editing Choices of Yitzhak Lowy’s ‘Vom judischen Theater’.” Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics 44, no. 4 (Winter 2021): 141-149.
This article examines Franz Kafka’s interaction with Yiddish language and culture through his editing work on the Yiddish theater actor Yitzhak Lowy’s German-language article for Der Jude.
Caufield, Catherine. “The Unreliable Narrator: A Literary Study of Traumatic Experience through Chava Rosenfarb’s Rella Character.” Religious Studies and Theology 40, no. 2 (2021): 203-216.
Caufield offers a trauma-informed close reading of “Edgia’s Revenge,” a story by Chava Rosenfarb about the relationship between Rella, a former kapo, and her fellow inmate Edgia, both inmates in Auschwitz. Identifying the intra-textual inconsistencies between Rella’s self-representation and her actual behavior, Caufield argues that Rella is an unreliable narrator and explores how Rosenfarb’s use of this narrative strategy, among others, places this story within the genre of gothic fiction.
Chinski, Malena and Constance Paris de Bollardiere. “A Yiddish Artistic and Intellectual Home for Migrants from Central and Eastern Europe at 9 rue Guy-Patin (1947-1950).” Archives Juives 54, no. 1 (January 2021): 65-88.
Among the tens of thousands of Jewish migrants from Central and Eastern Europe who came to Paris in the late 1940s were artists and intellectuals of Yiddish culture. Many of them became residents or habitual visitors of the “home for Jewish intellectuals” at 9 rue Guy-Patin in the Gare du Nord district. This article presents the first results of research on the “Yiddish period” of this place between the spring of 1947 and the summer of 1950. By focusing on a particular address, this paper analyzes how migrants, many of whom were in transit, attempted to collectively reconstruct Polish Jewish intellectual and artistic life in post-Holocaust Paris.
Chiritescu, Sandra. “A Borderless Yiddish Syllabus: Framing Non-Anglophone Scholarship for Undergraduate Courses.” Progressive Pedagogies for Humanities Research and Citation, 1 (2021).
This “teaching artifact” argues for the inclusion on syllabi of non-English secondary sources and offers some examples of such sources. Chiritescu contributes to the ongoing discussions of Yiddish Studies as necessarily multilingual and transnational. Noting that—especially in the American/Anglophone model of higher education—it is nearly impossible for scholars to gain research knowledge in multiple languages, she insists on the importance of raising awareness of scholarship produced elsewhere and in other languages.
Cohen, Nathan. “No More ‘Little Jews without Beards’: Insights into Yiddish Children’s Literature in Eastern Europe Prior to World War I.” Modern Judaism: A Journal of Jewish Ideas and Experience 41, no. 1 (February 2021): 92-109.
This article focuses on lesser known contributions to Yiddish literature — those Yiddish writings and periodicals intended for children. Focusing on the years leading up to the First World War, Cohen describes the environment in which Yiddish cultural activists and writers felt that there was a growing need for Yiddish children's literature. He argues that the decline in the number of Jewish children receiving a traditional Jewish education prompted a proliferation of Yiddish textbooks, periodicals, and books dedicated to young readers, all in less than a decade. While he considers who initiated these projects and their contributions to modern Yiddish literature, Cohen ultimately concludes that the growing body of Yiddish literature for children lacked the means, institution, and support needed to reach its full potential.
Estraikh, Gennady. “The Soviet Narrative of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.” Acta Poloniae Historica 123 (2021): 289-307.
Gennady Estraikh’s article follows the Soviet press coverage of the 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising, from the time of the uprising itself until after the establishment of Israel. Estraikh argues that during the war, the Soviet press did not consider the topic taboo, but covered it as a minor event—even writing about the uprising without using the word “Jew.” Estraikh then turns to the 20th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, focusing particularly on the more significant coverage offered by the literary journal, Sovetish Heymland, for which he served as the last managing editor. He concludes the article by looking at the effect of the June 1967 war in the Middle East on the existing narratives of the Warsaw ghetto uprising in the Soviet Union. By examining different representations of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, Estraikh shows both how the memorialization of the Holocaust shifted in the Soviet Union over time, and the way that Soviet Yiddish-language outlets covered the Jewish experience during the war.
Flam, Gila. “Raisins and Almonds: A Yiddish Song as a Metaphor of Yiddish Folk Culture in the 21st Century.” Studia Judaica, no. 1 (2021): 51-80.
https://www.ceeol.com/search/article-detail?id=999653 This article traces the hundred-year history of one of the most well-known Yiddish folk songs: Rozhinkes mit mandlen. Based on a Yiddish folk song, it was adapted by Abraham Goldfaden for his operetta, Shulamis. Flam explores the song’s evolution from folksong to theater song to auratic folksong and sees its transformations as a metaphor for Yiddish folk culture.
Fox, Sandra. “‘The Passionate Few’: Youth and Yiddishism in American Jewish Culture, 1964 to Present." Jewish Social Studies 26, no. 3 (2021): 1-34.
In the last two decades, journalists have chronicled a contemporary “Yiddish Revival,” focusing in particular on the language’s popularity among a subculture of young Jews. But, while the Holocaust and other circumstances threatened Yiddish on a global scale by the mid-twentieth century, youthful pursuits of, in, and for Yiddish are by no means new. Indeed, each American-born generation has produced a group of young activists who continued to produce, perform, and engage with Yiddish language and culture, adapting the ideals of the Yiddishist movement to new cultural, linguistic, and historical conditions. Chronicling this generational project through the lens of the Yiddishist youth movement Yugntruf and the Yiddish-speaking farm that grew out of it, this article demonstrates how Yiddishism has evolved to mirror the needs, desires, and visions of each North American cohort at its helm, taking on new forms through the lived experiences and relationships of its activists.
Geller, Ewa and Michal Gajek. “Loanwords vs. Relics: A New Method in Lexical Borrowing Studies Exemplified by Yiddish-Slavic Language Contact.” Diachronica 38, no. 4 (November 2021): 565-600.
One of the major issues in historical and contact linguistics is how to distinguish between inherited and acquired vocabulary in a given language: both traditional historical linguistics and modern contact linguistics are in this respect eventually forced to resort to inferences. The aim of this paper is to propose a diagnostic test to aid in the identification of putative substratum relics in the lexicon. The authors use the example of Yiddish-Slavic language contact, in which contact-induced changes are still relatively transparent.
Herscovici, Lucian-Zeev. “Yakov Psantir: A Maskil Interested in History, Writer in Yiddish and Hebrew.” Studia Judaica, no 1 (2021): 81-115.
The aim of this paper is to present the work and thought of Yakov (Jacob) Psantir (1820-1902) (sometimes spelled Psanter), a maskil who wrote popular historical works in Yiddish and Hebrew about the history of the Jews in Romania. The authors also tackle his position on the Haskalah movement in this country.
Isserles, Justine. “The Twenty-Four Egyptian Days in Yiddish.” Journal of Jewish Languages 9, no. 2 (Sept. 2021): 238-264.
The object of this study is a list of twenty-four Egyptian days in Yiddish discovered at the end of a Hebrew miscellany from medieval Ashkenaz, preserved in the Basel Universitätsbibliothek. Egyptian days are inauspicious days for bloodletting; these are listed according to the Julian calendar and sometimes identified by saint names and feast days. The list is edited and translated into English. Dates and variants of these Egyptian days are then compared with those of the only other known list of its kind, found in the earliest dated astro-medical fragment in Old Western Yiddish, from 1396–1397. A tabular comparison and descriptive commentary of the names and dates in both lists follows. Preceding this analysis, the status and knowledge of Jewish physicians in medieval Ashkenaz is addressed, as well as a brief description of Ms R IV 2, revealing its rich content and some of its codicological and paleographical characteristics.
Kalisky, Aurelia and Judith Lyon-Caen. “One Stays, the Other Leaves… The Itinteraries of Two Historians and Holocaust survivors in Paris (1947-1953).” Archives Juives 54, no. 1 (January 2021): 89-115.
Aurélia Kalisky and Judith Lyon-Caen recreate the intersecting paths traveled by Michel Borwicz and Joseph Wulf, two Polish-Jewish Holocaust survivors, historians, and cultural activists who both arrived in Paris after the end of the Second World War. In doing so, the authors recast postwar Yiddish Paris as a “place of passage” (lieu de passage) as theorized by Nancy Green and emphasize the benefits as well as the constraints that the community of Polish Jews could provide for these two men as scholars, cultural leaders, and individuals. This article focuses primarily on the time Wulf and Borwicz were both in Paris, namely from their arrival in July 1947 until 1950 when Wulf left for West Berlin, but draws upon their mutual correspondence in the early 1950s as well. In addition to providing a view into how the these postwar years shaped the trajectories of two figures in the Jewish historiography of the Khurbn, Kalinsky and Lyon-Caen are attentive to the nuances of the dense cultural and social world of Yiddish-speaking Paris without romanticizing its inhabitants or institutions.
Kamusella, Tomasz. “Yiddish, or Jewish German? The Holocaust, the Goethe-Institut, and Germany’s Neglected Obligation to Peace and the Common European Cultural Heritage.” Śląskie Studia Polonistyczne 2, no. 18 (2021): 1-18.
This article proposes that a way to ensure the continued remembrance of the Holocaust in post-war Europe could be the novel school and university subject of Yiddish for reading purposes. As a result, researchers and interested Europeans would start reading documents and books in Yiddish again. Germany’s premiere cultural organization, Goethe-Institut, is uniquely well-placed and morally obligated to facilitate the relaunch, popularization, and cultivation of the skill to read Yiddish-language sources and publications for both the sake of research and for pleasure.
Levi, Yael. “‘What Has All This Got to Do with the Jewish People?’ The New York Yiddish Press and the Founding of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, 1913-1928.” Studia Judaica, no. 1 (2021): 187-215.
By tracing debates about the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in the Yiddish-language press of New York City, Yael Levi finds that initial opposition to the founding of the university—based on pragmatic and ideological arguments—gave way to support for its establishment by the end of the First World War. In this article, Levi focuses on press coverage two events: the Eleventh Zionist Congress in Vienna in 1903, at which Chaim Weizmann delivered a speech on the founding of a Jewish university and the members adopted of a resolution to set up a committee to explore the topic, and the inauguration of the Hebrew University in April 1925. By drawing upon publications in Yiddish from a range of political positions taken in the early-twentieth century Jewish American world, Levi offers a model for how to trace the shifting political and ideological orientation to the Zionist movement through attention to how other movements oriented themselves regarding a specific position closely associated with Zionism.
Margolis, Rebecca. “Forays into a Digital Yiddishland: Secular Yiddish in the Early Stages of the Coronavirus Pandemic.” Contemporary Jewry 41 (2021): 71-98.
This article provides a "semi-ethnographic" account of online activities in the secular cultural space of "Yiddishland" during the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic (March-May 2020). Surveying a wide variety of Yiddish-centered initiatives of various sizes during the initial period of lockdown and crisis, Margolis argues that the already global, interconnected, and largely virtual nature of this "chosen subculture" made it particularly ready for the shift to new forms of "digital sociality". While the author does not claim to provide a comprehensive review of Yiddish activities in this period, she nevertheless includes programs such as Yiddish classes, shmueskrayzn, musical performances, and large festivals in her analysis and events that happened virtually but were based in a range of physical locales across North America, Europe, Israel, and Australia. Margolis identifies the multiple technological limitations and social challenges that prevent this new flourishing of activity to achieve a truly immersive "cybercommunity," but nevertheless sees substantial long-term gains in the ways that these digital endeavors served to accelerate interconnectedness and "defragment" the various farflung segments of the Yiddish cultural community.
Masel, Roni. “Who is a Yid? Reading the journal Der Yid beyond the Hebraist – Yiddishist binary.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 20, no. 3 (2021): 361-383.
In this revisionist article, Masel considers the intimate relationship between Hebrew and Yiddish and Diaspora Nationalism and Zionism, languages and ideologies that scholars typically described as sharply opposed to one another. The article does so by focusing on Der Yid (1899-1902), the first literary Yiddish journal tied to a de-facto Zionist publishing house, famous for printing the writing of the Hebrew-language intelligentsia. Masel explores the convergence between Hebraism-Zionism and Yiddishism-diasporism by analyzing series of articles and letters Ahad-Ha'am published in Der Yid during the journal's first year, questioning who was "the Jew," or the audience in Der Yid's title, asking: "Who is this capitalized and definite Jew after whom the journal is named?" Taking this question as a starting point, Masel argues that among these pages we can see an intermingling of Diaspora Nationalism and Zionism, with the two developing closely at the time of their conception.
Morley, Barbara, Steven Calco, and Elizabeth Parker. “Lessons Learned: Collaborating to Digitize Yiddish-language Collections at Cornell.” Journal of Digital Media Management 10, no. 2 (Winter 2021-22): 110-128.
While written for an audience of library and information science professionals, this article by three archivists—about an initiative to increase access to materials produced by the Jewish People’s Fraternal Order—is valuable for Yiddish studies scholars as well. These documents are held by the Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives at Cornell University; this collection is valuable for researchers interested in the specific topics of Jewish socialism in the United States and its international links, immigrant aid associations, and the fate of the Yiddish Left in the early cold war. Barbara Morley, Steven Calco, and Elizabeth Parker offer insight into the process of selecting, digitizing, describing, and promoting English- and Yiddish-language items from this collection in a detailed fashion that offers general lessons for scholars of Yiddish working with archival material in a digital age.
Nalewajko-Kulikov, Joanna. “Can Fascism Be Good for the Jews? The Response of the Yiddish Press in Poland to Italian Fascism (1922-39): A Research Reconnaissance.” Acta Poloniae Historica, no. 123 (2021): 187-214.
The article studies the stances taken by two Warsaw Yiddish daily newspapers, Haynt and Der Moment, on Italian fascism. These ranged from guarded and benevolent interest, and even a certain fascination, to categorical rejection, depending on the official stance of the fascist movement towards the Jews. The article discusses the initial ad hoc judgments on fascism made in the 1920s, the opinions of Mussolini’s Polish and Jewish emulators, and the opinions of Jewish political journalists on Mussolini’s volte-face regarding the Jews in the 1930s. A separate section is devoted to a series of 1938 reportage that showcases the life of the Italian Jews in Fascist Italy.
Radosav, Augusta Costiuc. “The Semantics of Nineteenth Century Yiddish Periodical Titles in Romania. Identity and Community Subjects and Recurrences.” Studia Judaica, no. 1 (2021): 171-186.
Nineteenth-century Yiddish periodicals were an essential way that Jewish society adjusted itself to the parameters of modernity. Through their concentrated and concise expression, the titles of Yiddish periodicals are an illustrative indicator of the main currents of ideas, debates, realignments, and redefinitions of identity in Jewish society. This article shows that the semantic analysis of these titles of Yiddish periodicals from nineteenth century Romania reveals several thematic sequences.
Resnikoff, Ariel. “A Source Which Is Also a Translation: Toward an Expanded-Yiddish Poetics, with Special Reference to Charles Bernstein.” boundary 2: an international journal of literature and culture 48, no. 4 (Nov. 2021): 184-214.
This article contextualizes the poet, scholar, editor, and translator Charles Bernstein (b. 1950), as an artist and practitioner working within a speculative translingual (language-crossing) field and tradition of expanded Yiddish. Reading Bernstein in relation to other expanded-Yiddish figures, this article makes a case for Bernstein as a writer who works from a position of antinomian Jewish translational originlessness, and a diasporic poetics of “need” (à la Charles Reznikoff), in which every source can be understood as a translation and every translation might be treated as a potential source.
Rom, Michael. "David Markus: From the Holocaust to the Cold War." Jewish Quarterly Review 111, no. 4 (2021): 521-524.
This essay examines the life of Polish Jewish Holocaust survivor David Markus, editor of the Rio de Janeiro Yiddish biweekly the Idishe Prese. Through the lens of Markus’s unique life story, the essay explores three overlooked aspects of Latin American Jewish cultural and political life: the renaissance of the Brazilian Yiddish press after World War II, the importance of Latin American Yiddish newspapers as arenas of communal conflict, and the vital role of Holocaust survivors in Brazilian Jewish politics during the Cold War.
Rosenblatt, Eli. “A Sphinx upon the Dnieper: Black Modernism and the Yiddish Translation of Race.” Slavic Review 80, no. 2 (Summer 2021): 280-289.
This literary-historical examination of Yiddish and Black literatures shows the various modes of transatlantic Yiddish, Soviet, and African-American cultural exchange. At the center of this study is Neger-Dikhtung in Amerike, a Soviet Yiddish anthology of African-Diasporic poetry in Yiddish translation, published in 1936. An earlier collection, “Neger-Literature” (1926), was rooted in Romantic and colonial discourses about the Negro folk. Neger-Dikhtung, by contrast, was informed by both Soviet and Black American folklorists and rejected any essentialist view of race. It also considered questions of language loss of particular interest to Yiddish translators then and now.
Rosman, Moshe. "Leah Horowitz’s Tkhine Imohos: A Proto-Feminist Demand to Increase Jewish Women’s Religious Capital." Polin Studies in Polish Jewry 33, no. 1 (2021): 17-50.
In translating and analyzing the late-eighteenth century Tkhine imohos, Moshe Rosman characterizes the author of this booklet of women’s penitential prayers—whom he refers to throughout the work as “Leah”—as a proto-feminist who both upheld and subverted conventions of her early modern Ashkenazi community. A primary example of this is the inclusion of Yiddish and Aramaic texts in this booklet; her ability to compose an original text in the latter stands at odds with gendered norms around language and learning, but the content of her compositions in Yiddish and Aramaic demonstrate her fidelity to the fundamental order of Ashkenazi Jewish society.
Ruta, Magdalena. “‘We Were Slaves’: Deportation to a Soviet Forced Labor Camp during WWII as Depicted in the Memoirs of the Polish-Yiddish Writer Avrom Zak,” translated by Maria Piechaczek-Borkowska. Jewish Quarterly Review 111, no. 1 (Winter 2021): 130-154.
This article discusses Knekht zenen mir geven (We Were Slaves, Buenos Aires, 1956), by Avrom Zak (1891–1980), a Polish-Yiddish journalist, poet, and prose writer who survived WWII in the Soviet Union. While in the USSR, he was deported in summer 1940 to a forced labor camp in the Republic of Komi, where he spent more than a year. The essay focuses on the reconstruction of the existential experience that Zak's memoirs contain against the backdrop of the memoirs of Polish Gulag prisoners who, unlike the Jewish prisoners, have already become the subject of extensive research by literary historians. Moreover, the essay addresses the uniqueness of the Jewish experience. Yiddish memoirs of Polish Jews who were prisoners of Soviet forced labor camps during WWII, heretofore absent from studies of so-called Gulag literature and/or Soviet exile literature and, in a broader sense, from Holocaust studies, are still waiting to become incorporated into that discussion. It is only by collecting the greatest possible corpus of testimonies that we shall be able to reconstruct a wider image of the Soviet aspect of the Jewish experience of WWII.
Schrire, Dani. “Becoming a Version: The Case of Walter Anderson’s Studies of Yiddish Folk Narratives.” Narrative Culture 8, no. 1 (Spring 2021): 129-154.
Variants and versions are key concepts in narrative studies. This article reconsiders these concepts in light of Walter Anderson's pioneering studies of Yiddish folklore in the 1920s. Anderson collected Yiddish narratives in Minsk while he was a teacher in Jewish gymnasia, turning them into versions of international tale types in his publications. An analysis of these studies demonstrate how folk narratives and scholarly narratives are intertwined. By examining teacher/pupil relations and the political context of these Yiddish narratives, this article stresses the collaborative nature of version-making, substituting the question of which stories are versions with the question of when a story becomes a version.
Slobin, Mark. “A Hundred Years of Yiddish Song Mobility.” Arts 10, no. 3 (2021): 65.
Focusing on the century between 1920-2020, Slobin examines the role of music in questions of mobility and argues for a synchronic approach to the study of music. Despite the radical discontinuities of Eastern European Jewish life, there were equally radical continuities in the Yiddish song repertoire. Citing interviews and the stories of individuals, the article traces the ways in which movements to and from Eastern Europe carried folksongs to several generations of singers.
Smith, Mark L. “Two Views of Yiddish Culture in the Netherlands: Yiddishist Universalism vs. Dutch Particularism in Yiddish Scholarly Writing.” Studia Rosenthaliana 47, no. 2 (December 2021): 117-138.
In this new article, Mark L. Smith considers a community in which assimilation had led to the abandonment of Yiddish. The Netherlands had been a center of Yiddish culture in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but the Jewish community became overwhelmingly Dutch-speaking by the end of the nineteenth century. The extant body of work on the subject of Yiddish culture in the Netherlands, Smith argues, offer two contrasting understandings of Dutch Ashkenazi history: the first focuses on “internal continuities,” or “the archetypes that make every expression of Jewish culture recognizably Jewish,” and the second on external influences, or how “contextualized interactions give local character to each expression.” These two views represent two “ever-competing approaches to Jewish history.” Yiddish scholarship regarding the Netherlands, therefore, is a useful case study in comparing these two approaches.
Stromberg, David. “‘Don’t Be Hopeless, Kid”: A Literary-Biographical Consideration of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s First Years in New York, 1935-1937.” Studies in American Jewish Literature 40, no. 2 (2021): 109-139.
Using newly available sources—especially correspondence in Bashevis’ papers at the
Ransom Center at UT Austin and the digitized Forverts—Stromberg describes the first two years of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s life in the U.S., correcting errors and filling in gaps created by the Nobel laureate’s sometimes misleading autobiographical writing (and previous biographers’ reliance on it). Stromberg clarifies who supported the young writer when he first arrived and the significant impact of Bashevis’ anxieties about his immigration status. Most strikingly, Stromberg suggests that the anonymous Forverts column of translations from the English press that the author began at this time (and continued, under different names and titles, for decades) was a means for the author to learn more about American culture and audiences.
Szymaniak, Karolina. “‘No Innocent Words’: Nachman Blumental’s Metaphorology Project and the Cultural History of the Holocaust.” East European Jewish Affairs 51, no. 1 (2021): 106-126.
Nachman Blumental (1902–1983) belongs to a group of early Holocaust historians whose work is being rediscovered by contemporary scholars. Especially noteworthy is Blumental's work on the language of Holocaust victims and perpetrators. This article explores the connection between this work and Blumental's prewar studies in the field of Polish and Yiddish literary theory, focusing on his project of metaphorology, a comprehensive study of metaphor. The essay explores the place of Blumental's interwar project of metaphorology at the intersection of Polish and Yiddish scholarship at a time of rising nationalism in Poland, and investigates the way in which negotiations between the Polish and Jewish contexts shaped the project. It makes a case for the significance of the Eastern European literary theory to the contemporary cultural history of the Holocaust, and the importance of including Yiddish works into the broader history of modern literary theory in Eastern Europe.
Verschik, Anna. “Yiddish-Slavic Language Contact in Multilingual Songs: Describing Deliberate Code-Switching.” International Journal of Bilingualism 25, no. 6 (December 2021): 1696-1717.
The aim of the article is to describe what language contact phenomena are present between Yiddish and Slavic languages. The research questions are as follows: (a) what types of code-switching (CS) are at work; (b) is there any preference for any particular type of CS; and (c) what can Jewish (seemingly) monolingual songs in Slavic languages tell us about contact varieties of Slavic used by Jews.
Wolski, Nathan. “Melancholy and Mysticism: Three Early Yiddish Essays by Hillel Zeitlin.” Kabbalah (Culver City): Journal for the Study of Jewish Mystical Texts 47 (2021): 39-92.
The author presents three early Yiddish texts by Hillel Zeitlin (written between 1907-1910 published in his Yiddish collection Shriftn in 1910) that shed light on the intellectual roots of Hillel Zeitlin's conception of the suffering of the world and on the role of melancholy in Zeitlin's mysticism.
Wolski, Nathan. “The Revealed within the Concealed: The Yiddish Preface to the Yiddish Zohar (Nahles Tsvi) of 1711.” Kabbalah (Culver City): Journal for the Study of Jewish Mystical Texts 48 (2021): 105-130.
Wolski presents a translation of the Yiddish preface to the Yiddish Zohar (Nakhles Tsvi), which he argues was a revolutionary text that captured the imagination of the Yiddish reading masses and precipitated the Hasidic revolution. The Yiddish preface offers a defense of the translation in which Yiddish is presented as a vehicle for the dissemination of Kabbalah and thereby a tool toward the ushering in of redemption.
Wolski, Nathan. “Soydes elyoynim dos men nit darf far etlekhem aroys redn: Three Early Yiddish Versions of the Idra Rabba from the Zohar.” Kabbalah (Culver City): Journal for the Study of Jewish Mystical Texts 49 (2021): 7-68.
This study considers the tension between competing desires to reveal and conceal mysteries in Yiddish translations of kabbalistic texts. It considers three Yiddish versions of the Idra Rabba, among the most esoteric and pivotal sections of the Zohar, from 1691, 1711, and 1725 respectively, and argues that authors and translators were careful in their selection of texts to be translated and the manner in which they presented them because of an assumption that not all texts should be made broadly available, in tension with a desire to disseminate sacred texts. A discussion of these translations reveals the dynamics of disclosure and concealment, facing translators and disseminators of kabbalistic texts in Yiddish and views the literary-cultural enterprise of Yiddish Kabbalah through the lenses of de-canonization, folklorization, and empowerment.
Yudkoff, Sunny. “The Joys of Yiddish in the Work of Mel Bochner.” Word & Image 37 (2021): 337-352.
This article surveys and critiques the U.S. conceptual painter Mel Bochner’s uses of Yiddish and Yinglish words in The Thesaurus Paintings (2004-) and The Joys of Yiddish (2006, 2013). Exploring Bochner’s reliance on Leo Rosten’s comic lexicon The Joys of Yiddish (1968), and the various ways in which Bochner’s understanding of Yiddish “is based on a set of received, postvernacular stereotypes promulgated in American popular culture”—and despite the complex view of language manifested in Bochner’s other works—Yudkoff argues that his artwork “resists differentiation, nuance, or shades of meaning” in its engagement with the Yiddish language.
Zaidman-Mauer, Daniella. “The Power of Song in Amsterdam: Pereq Shira in Yiddish and the Transmission of Piety.” Studia Rosenthaliana 47, no. 1 (January 2021): 48-82.
This article provides an in-depth analysis of the paratexts of both the Yiddish and the Hebrew Amsterdam stand-alone Pereq Shira editions (1692). The author’s main methodology will be a paratextual analysis, using the theory developed by Gérard Genette and introduced into the field of early modern Yiddish studies by the late Shlomo Berger. The spiritual utility of the book in Yiddish is at the forefront, explaining to its potential audience how the book would enhance their religious observance. This research is located at the intersection of the study of early modern Ashkenaz, Amsterdam book history, and Yiddish scholarship.
Zaritt, Saul. “A Taytsh Manifesto: Yiddish, Translation, and the Making of Modern Jewish Culture.” Jewish Social Studies 26, no. 3 (Fall 2021): 186-222.
This manifesto calls for a translational paradigm for Yiddish Studies and for the broader study of modern Jewish culture. The manifesto takes as a paradigm an early name for the Yiddish language, taytsh, which initially means “German,” and leverages the ways in which this name signifies the proximity of Jewish and non-Jewish languages and their intimate entanglements. The call to taytsh is meant to provide an alternative vocabulary for analyzing Jewish modernity that would uncover its embeddedness within global empires while avoiding the siloing of Jewish identity (as stable, unified, and translatable) within multicultural and pluralist systems. Instead, a taytsh paradigm sees Jewish cultural production as constituted by ceaseless translation, in which vernacular inscrutability mingles with the possibility and failure of universal communication. To perform a taytsh reading of a text is to examine the incomplete relations of Jewish modernity — its translational origins and its migratory ends.
Blitz, Avi. “The Tsene-rene: Midrash, Translation, and Commentary.” PhD diss., Indiana University, 2021.
This dissertation is a comparative literary analysis of the Tsene-rene and its Hebrew sources. Putting the Tsene-rene in conversation with the commentary tradition, the study highlights the anthological moves at play in the text, discusses the exegetical scope of the work, and uncovers the hermeneutic ideologies of the author. The dissertation assesses the function of the Tsene-rene, surveys the book’s engagement with spirituality, and finally offers a close reading of the Tsene-rene’s retelling of the book of Esther.
Bonds, Charles Barrett. “‘Without Reason, Without Calculation’: The Repression of Ukraine’s Yiddish Writers and Academics, 1944-1956.” PhD diss., Indiana University Bloomington, 2021.
This dissertation investigates the work and persecution of Ukrainian Jewish intellectuals between 1944 and 1956. Bonds provides a local history of Stalin’s late campaigns against Jewish writers and intellectuals (e.g., Eli Spivak, Chaim Loitsker) and the beginnings of post-Stalinist reform. He reconstructs the efforts of these writers and scholars to collect stories and songs about (or nearly lost to) the Holocaust and how such efforts—and cultural activity in Yiddish more generally—were soon repressed. Bonds explores the implications of the arrests and persecution of these figures for our understanding of Soviet-Jewish history and the history of Stalinist terror.
Sefel, John Michael. “Staging the [Disabled] Jew: The Thematic Use of Doctors, Disability, and Disease in Yiddish Plays on Modernization, 1790-1929.” PhD diss., Ohio State University, 2021.
This dissertation describes how Yiddish-language playwrights and theatre artists repeatedly turned to physical, cognitive, and emotional disabilities as metaphors for the social and legal disabilities faced by Jews in both the “old” and “new” worlds. From portraying anti-modernization Hasidic Jews as “diseased” by their superstitions in both mind and body to tragic rabbinical figures destroyed by their disabilities to Jewish heroes rising above the external pressures of their obstacles, playwrights used the challenges and social “Othering” of disability to explore, encourage, and lament the swiftly changing cultural identity of the “new Jew.”
Greenberg, Leah. “Curious Daughters: Language, Literacy, and Jewish Female Desire in German and Yiddish Literature from 1793 to 1916.” PhD diss., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2021.
This dissertation examines the interplay of language politics and romantic politics in German and Yiddish literature confronting the challenges faced by Judaism in the long nineteenth century. The project brings into dialogue both German and Yiddish texts, from West Yiddish farces to the literature of a new German Jewish elite to the popular stories of Tevye the Dairyman. This diverse body of literature uses a concern with the sexual purity and loyalty of the Jewish daughter to encode anxieties toward Jewish assimilation into the non-Jewish world. Yet these works also share another layer of the daughter’s subversion: an act of rebellion in the form of a linguistic or cultural departure from tradition. Each of these texts depicts how the Jewish daughter’s adoption of European language and literacy operates in conjunction with her romantic transgressions.
Nove, Chaya Rachel. “Phonetic Contrast in New York Hasidic Yiddish Vowels: Language Contact, Variation, and Change.” PhD diss, City University of New York, 2021.
This study analyzes the acoustic correlates of the length contrast in New York Hasidic Yiddish (HY) peripheral vowels /i/, /u/, and /a/, and compares them across four generations of native speakers for evidence of change over time. HY vowel tokens are also compared to English vowels produced by the New York-born speakers to investigate the influence of language contact on observed changes. Additionally, the degree to which individual speakers orient towards or away from the Hasidic community is quantified via an ethnographically informed survey to examine its correlation with /u/-fronting, a sound change that is widespread in the non-Hasidic English-speaking community.
Frohlich, Yaelle Rivka. “‘Why Should Our Inheritance Be for Strangers?”: Diaspora Jewish Perceptions of Palestine, 1839-1881.” PhD diss., New York University, 2021.
Frohlich’s dissertation considers why some Jews supported mass migration to Palestine “on purely practical (rather than religious) grounds” in the mid- to late-nineteenth century. Utilizing a range of sources, but with a particular focus on the Jewish press, she investigates how information about Palestine (e.g., its geography and demographics) and its Jewish population was disseminated in Europe and the United States. In analyzing this information and its modes of circulation, Frohlich provides a revisionist account of what has often been called “proto-Zionism.” She also demonstrates how the press and other sources—including texts by Lady Judith Montefiore, Mordecai Manuel Noah, George Gawler, and Joseph Schwarz—shed light on Jewish and Christian contestation over Palestine in the nineteenth century.
Schulz, Miriam. “Keyner iz nit fargesn: Soviet Yiddish Antifascism and the Holocaust.” PhD diss., Columbia University, 2021.
This study provides a Benjaminian reading of Soviet Yiddish cultural and intellectual history from the 1920s to the 1980s and retrieves the legacy of Soviet Yiddish antifascist thought and activism as a constitutive element throughout its existence. The interconnected ideas of antifascism, anti-capitalism, anti-racism, anti-imperialism, and anti-colonialism are introduced as important reading keys for Soviet Yiddish culture, for its ideas of “Jewishness” and for its varied responses to the Holocaust and its memory – as represented in works of literature, film, theater and monuments.
Kersten, Benjamin. “Confronting Difference in Diaspora: Max Weber’s Woodcuts in the Context of Yiddish Modernism.” M.A. Thesis, University of California, Los Angeles, 2021.
Kersten’s thesis examines the woodcut prints of Max Weber (1881-1961) as materializations of the artist’s interest in modernist aesthetics, especially primitivism, and in the visual representation of Jewishness. Kersten combines a formalist analysis of the woodcut prints with a historical analysis of Weber’s engagement with non-Western cultures and with Jewishness. In so doing, he argues for a more differentiated understanding of modernist primitivism and shows how “Weber’s engagement with African art influenced his methods for visually representing Jewishness.” Kersten further delineates the networks in which the woodcut prints circulated, including “networks structured by the Yiddish language.” He reconstructs Weber’s involvement with the Yiddish group Di yunge and with the journal Shriftn, which published reproductions of his artwork. Weber’s woodcut prints were also adapted as illustrations for H. Leyvik’s Der goylem, and, decades later, they were reproduced in Benjamin and Barbara Harshav’s American Yiddish Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology. In examining the woodcut prints “as negotiations of racial and cultural differences,” Kersten develops a concept of “diasporic primitivism” to account for their formal and historical complexity and their embeddedness in Yiddish culture.