Back to the Ghetto

William Pimlott

What might Yiddish studies stand to gain from recent books seeking to contextualize how the meaning and uses of term "ghetto" have changed over centuries?


Review of Marina Mogilner’s A Race for the Future: Scientific Visions of Modern Russian Jewishness

James Nadel

With a focus on Russian Jewish race scientists, Mogilner traces how biology informed notions of Jewish difference mobilized by communal organizations and political activists in imperial Russia and the early Soviet period.


My Mom Drank Ink: The “Little Negro” and the Performance of Race in Yente Telebende’s Stage Productions

Gil Ribak

The case study of Yente Telebende is merely one example of popular Yiddish culture — theater, pulp fiction, and newspapers — that strove for commercial success by appealing to the tastes of its audience, shaped by American culture's vocabulary and images of Blackness.


Translating a Text on Racist Violence as a Yiddish Student

Giovanna Truong

As a final project in a course on "Reading Yiddish" at Yale University, Giovanna Truong took on the challenge of translating Aaron Meisel's "The Death of Ted Dennis."

Texts & Translation

An Excerpt from Mississippi

Leyb Malakh

Translation by Ellen Perecman

Edited by Alyssa Quint

An excerpt from Leyb Malakh’s Yiddish-language play entitled Mississippi, which was written and performed for the first time in Warsaw in 1935.


Reckoning with American Racism and Racist Violence, af Yiddish

Jessica Kirzane

In this updated version of our special issue on Race, af Yiddish, we offer a range of texts about local and international Yiddish representations of early twentieth century American racist violence.


“The Most Awful Scenes”: The Tulsa Massacre and Racist Violence in the Yiddish Press

Uri Schreter

Uri Schreter traces attitudes about race in the United States evident in Yiddish newspapers' coverage of the Tulsa massacre — often simultaneously denouncing the violence and propagating racist ideas.

Texts & Translation

Selections from Neger-Dikhtung in Amerike (Negro-Poetry in America)

Ani­ta Scott Cole­man , Angeli­na Weld Grimke and Claris­sa Scott Delaney

Translation by Robert Magid­off

Edited by Eli Rosenblatt

Eli Rosenblatt introduces three poems by African American women poets of the Harlem Renaissance, translated into Yiddish by Robert Magidoff for the 1936 anthology Neger-Dikhtung in America (Negro-Poetry in America), published in Moscow.


The Skotsboro Boys in Soviet Minsk

Andrew Sloin

Andrew Sloin guides us through a Soviet Yiddish pamphlet about the Scottsboro trial in the United States to reveal how this incident "became a prism to refract the long history of racial and class domination in the United States and a rallying cry to cultivate the spirit of internationalist socialist solidarity among Soviet readers."

Special Issue

Race in America, af yidish

Translations, articles, and reflections focusing on Yiddish perspectives on race in the United States.


Teaching Race Through Yiddish Literature in Israel

Hannah Pollin-Galay

In this piece Hannah Pollin-Galay reflects on the possibilities and limitations of teaching race through Yiddish literature at an Israeli university.


Voices from Black Lives Matter Protests: קולות פֿון בלעק לײַװס מעטער פּראָטעסטן

Zackary Sholem Berger, Sara Feldman and Anthony Russell

Bilingual reflections compiled by Zackary Sholem Berger and authored by Berger, Sara Feldman, and Anthony Russell, Jewish activists who took part in recent Black Lives Matter protests.


The Yiddishist Vote: Responses to Trump

The Editors

A round-up of responses to the election of Donald Trump by scholars of Yiddish. 


Teaching Guide for Dik's "Slavery or Serfdom" (trans. Rosenblatt)

Jessica Kirzane

The first in a series of teaching guides, this one for Eli Rosenblatt’s translation of Isaac Meir Dik’s introduction to his 1868 adaptation of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852).

Texts & Translation


A Lynching

Joseph Opatoshu

Translation by Jessica Kirzane

The gritty, and controversial 1920s account of a lynching by Joseph Opatoshu.


Af der shvel un in der fremd: A feuilleton on Yiddish, Race, and the American Literary Imagination

Adam Zachary Newton

Adam Zachary Newton examines the American Jewish literary impulse to claim both whiteness and alienation while identifying with Black Americans. 


Beyond the Color Line: Jews, Blacks, and the American Racial Imagination

Jennifer Young

NYU Doctoral Candidate Jennifer Young explores the complicated ways in which American Jews claimed whiteness while examining and often identifying with Black American struggles.


Yiddish Exceptionalism: Lynching, Race, and Racism in Opatoshu’s “Lintsheray”

Marc Caplan

How can Yiddish describe the scene of a lynching of a black man? Marc Caplan examines the language strategies of Opatoshu's "Lintsheray."


“This is How a Generation Grows”: Lynching as a Site of Ethical Loss in Opatoshu’s “Lintsheray”

Jessica Kirzane

What can Opatoshu's controversial story about a lynching tell us about the complex Jewish encounter with American culture and the potential loss of an ethical tradition.

Texts & Translation

די שקלאַפֿערײַ אָדער די לײַב־אייגנשאַפֿט

Slavery or Serfdom

Isaac Meir Dik

Translation by Eli Rosenblatt

Dik's introduction to his 1868 translation of Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin.