Jul 09, 2018
Summer is here and that means the close of In geveb’s third publishing year. Each summer as we take a short break and plan for the fall, we look back at the material published over the course of the year to see what readers are responding to and engaging with. What better excuse could there be to create a top ten list? If you haven’t already read all ten, you’re sure to find something of interest. Two themes that connect several of this year’s top reads include contemporary Hasidic experience and Yiddish linguistic resources and research. Also, let’s hear it for all the ladies, queer writers, and young writers on this list! We’re so pleased to see this demonstration of gender and age diversity among our contributors, even as we continue to work to make In geveb a welcoming publishing space for contributors with other ranges of experience, especially people of color and more contributors from outside of North America.
On to the top ten!
10. “Yiddish Linguistics and Digital Humanities: A Conversation with Michelle Chesner about the Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazi Jewry” by Jessica Kirzane.
The LCAAJ was digital humanities way avant la lettre. Begun by Dr. Uriel Weinreich in 1959; almost 60 years later it continues to be a rich resource for research.
9. “Where Text Meets Sweat: Reading Yiddish Utopia in the Utah Landscape” by Erin Faigin.
“In 1911, twelve Jewish men arrived in Utah to establish a Jewish agricultural settlement.” One hundred and five years later, Faigin went to explore what remains, and what it means to study Yiddish literature and history through geography and embodied experience.
8. “Making Sense of Squiggles: Teaching and Learning Yiddish Stenography” by Elena Hoffenberg.
“Stenography is by its very nature ephemeral,” writes Hoffenberg in this piece that uncovers the development of stenographic systems for Yiddish, and uses this seemingly obsolete practice to explore an important moment in Jewish economic, educational and gendered history.
7. “Review of the Comprehensive English-Yiddish Dictionary” by Alec (Leyzer) Burko.
The late entry! Despite being published barely a month ago, Burko’s review of the recent dictionary by Gitl Schaechter-Viswanath and Paul Glasser, based on the research of Mordkhe Schaechter, has already been viewed over 650 times. Even though “go read a review of a dictionary!” sounds like a translation of a mild Yiddish curse, the review’s popularity demonstrates the continued and growing interest in Yiddish language learning, as well as the amazing resource that this review constitutes in and of itself, including thirteen appendices of example word lists created by Burko from the dictionary and other resources. We the editors also think this review is a great demonstration of how In geveb’s online format allows us to publish pieces that would not fit the length and genre standards of many print publications.
6. “Seeking and Queering Utopia: A Chat About the Steiner Summer Yiddish Program” by Noam Green and Tova Benjamin.
Summer programs provide an opportunity for so many students today seeking to learn Yiddish; they often are as close as many of us come to experiencing a Yiddish immersion environment, such an essential experience for language learning. But beyond that, they also provide and create community. A recent Steiner participant (Noam Green) and Steiner RA (Tova Benjamin) talk about the surprising and deep community formed during their summer at the Yiddish Book Center.
5. “Sitra Achra: Shterna Goldbloom on the Ones Who Don’t Follow” interview by Diana Clarke.
A conversation about how Goldbloom’s photographic project of self-portraits entitled “Sitra Achra” explores identity and especially gendered identity in the contemporary Hasidic world and for those living on its peripheries.
4. “Seizing the Means of Cultural Production: Hasidic Representation in Contemporary Yiddish Media” by Rose Waldman.
If Yiddish Studies as a field has begun to realize that contemporary Hasidic Yiddish is worthy of study—linguistically, culturally, sociologially, etc.—(and we think it has!), it’s thanks in no small part to work like this essay by Rose Waldman, which surveys the postwar publishing trends in Hasidic communities.
3. “The Milgroym Project”
Okay, this one is kind of cheating, because it is not one piece, it is an ongoing special issue currently consisting of two translations, three essays, and one manifesto. After partnering with the Historical Jewish Press to digitize a selection of interwar Yiddish literary journals, beginning with Milgroym and the Hebrew-language counterpart Rimon, we are working to publish translations of the most important pieces from these journals along with new scholarly commentary. Want to try your hand at translating material from these journals? Get in touch! It is a collaborative project.
2. “‘They Have Their Own Language, Literally’: A Review of One of Us” by Shayna Weiss.
One of Us is a recent Netflix original documentary following three ex-Hasidic Jews, who left their communities for a different life, in two cases after experiencing various forms of abuse and trauma. Weiss considers what she calls a “missed opportunity” for the documentary to explore the complexities of the individuals’ experiences and the communities.
1. “Yiddish in ale lender! Yiddish Summer Programs Roundup 2018” by Jessica Kirzane.
For those of you who like to root for the underdog (Yiddishists? Rooting for an underdog?), we’re sorry to disappoint. This year’s most popular post was the clear favorite from the outset. Each year we update and expand our list of Yiddish summer programs, and we’re so glad to see that it is a useful resource for many of you. This year we included informal retreats, music, and culture festivals. Have ideas for other programs we should include, or other resources you want us to create? Share your ideas!
“Most popular read” is of course only one (fun) way for us to evaluate the year and highlight some of the excellent writing from our contributors. As a multi-faceted publication, we know that that our materials for teachers, new translations, and peer-reviewed articles may not go viral; they have a different kind of value.
But really, would it kill you to read a new translation every now and again? Here we are, just translating and transcribing and reviewing and editing all year, and you can’t even be bothered to read a poem or a short story? No, it’s fine, we’ll just read all these translations by ourselves. Alone. In the dark. Without even a bit of jam to sweeten our tea. Which has gone cold, anyway.
We want to hear your feedback on what you find valuable about In geveb, how you use it, what you’re reading, and what you think we could be doing differently. So please take a couple minutes to fill out our new reader survey. We’ll send you a stylish In geveb pencil as a thank you! And if one pencil isn’t enough (there are two designs, after all), remember you can receive six or twelve pencils as a thank you for making a donation to In geveb. If you read us regularly, please consider signing up for a small monthly donation.