Selected and translated by Barnett Zumoff
This is the fourth of a series of geographically themed Yiddish poems that have been posted here. Barnett Zumoff conducts the “Mameloshn” column that appears in each issue of Jewish Currents. “Bronx” is translated from the Yiddish as it appears in Emanuel Goldsmith’s Yiddish Literature in America, 1870-2000, Volume 2.
Yisroel Yankev Shvarts (1885-1971) was a poet who was closely associated with Di Yunge. He was particularly interested in translating modern and medieval Hebrew poets into Yiddish; his translation of the poetry of Khayim Nakhman Bialik is a classic. Shvarts’ poems Blue Grass and Kentucky were radical departures from the New York-centricity of almost all the American Yiddish poets of his time. [click to continue…]
From left: Esther Cohen, Cathleen Cohen, Sarah Stern, Quinetta Perle, Janlori Goldman, Michael Carman, Sandra Tarlin, Susan Comninos, Lawrence Bush, Heather Altfeld, Leslie Gerber, Tammy Kaiser, Joe Krausman, Gretchen Primack
“What does it mean to be American? What does it mean to dream? Is there a way to dream in a uniquely American way? Is there a way to be an American in a uniquely Jewish way?” –Gretchen Primack, editor, from her introductory Words to The American Dream
On April 30, 2013 some one hundred poetry enthusiasts filled The Actors’ Temple in New York City to listen to and appreciate readings by eleven of the 250 poets who submitted poems on the theme of “The American Dream” to the first annual Alexander and Dora Raynes Poetry Competition. The readers’ poems were among the forty selected for inclusion in The American Dream, a new book just published by Blue Thread, the book imprint of Jewish Currents.
The festive gathering included a beautiful rendition of a Yiddish folk song by the Temple’s Rabbi Jill Hausman, expertly accompanied on the piano by James Besser. [click to continue…]
In Istanbul, as you descend from Beyoğlu through the streets of formerly Genoese and Jewish Galata, just before you leave the winding streets and come out onto Karaköy Square and Galata Bridge and the Bosporus, is an eccentric white staircase, perhaps the strangest monument to a lost world, the destroyed world of European Jewry and the faded world of Ottoman Jewry: the Camondo Stairs.
Described in tour guides as “Mannerist,” the two levels of stairs make a path between two streets (one of them Banker Street) and were built by the Camondo family to ease the trip between two of their buildings — the Camondos (Kamondo in Turkish) whose travels and banking business led them over the centuries from Spain to Venice to Istanbul where, already wealthy, they became fabulously wealthy, earning the name of “Rothschilds of the East.” By the mid-nineteenth century the family head, Abraham Salomon Kamondo, was the wealthiest of the 800,000 Jews of the Ottoman Empire. [click to continue…]