Escaping from the Vilna Ghetto: An Authentic Memoir

by Shmerke Kaczerginski translated from the Yiddish, with notes, by Rachel Field   SHMERKE KACZERGINSKI  was a Yiddish poet, ethnomusicologist, activist, and cultural leader, who survived the Holocaust in a partisan unit. Born in Vilna in 1908, Kaczerginski was educated in the city’s Talmud Torah, a community-sponsored school for orphans, and became active in the banned […]

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Why Be Anything? Why Be Jewish?

THE JEWISH-UNIVERSALIST DILEMMA by Adam Chalom from the Autumn 2017 issue of Jewish Currents   ONE HUNDRED and thirty years ago, a new language was born. It had regular rules and simple grammar, and could be learned in one tenth the time it takes to learn English. The inventor of Esperanto was a Polish Jewish doctor […]

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The Uncivil Servant: In Praise of Esperanto

by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Bridge of Words by Esther Schor. Metropolitan Books, 2016, indexed, 364 pages SOME TIME NEAR the end of the 20th century, the late, lamented magazine Lingua Franca ran an article about the international language, Esperanto. It presented it so attractively that I immediately picked up some teach-yourself books, […]

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August 17: The Israeli-Hungarian Anarchist

Toma Sik, a son of Hungarian Holocaust survivors who became a highly visible anarchist and conscientious objector to Israeli militarism — in a country in which conscientious objection is not recognized — was born in Budapest on this date in 1939. Sik was an active secular humanist, a defender of Bedouin rights, a proponent for […]

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December 15: Ludwig Zamenoff’s International Language

Dr. Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof, an opthalmologist who created and promoted the world’s most successful language invented by an individual, Esperanto, was born in Bialystok on this date in 1859. Zamenhoff had native fluency in Yiddish and Russian, and his father, a language teacher, gave him knowledge of German and French. Zamenhof also learned Polish, and […]

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July 31: The Only Hebrew-Speaking Child

Ben-Zion Ben-Yehuda, the son of Eliezer Ben Yehuda, who almost singlehandedly turned Hebrew from a religious language into a modern language for everyday life, was born in Palestine on this date in 1882. His lexicographer father and his mother, Devora Jonas, spoke only Hebrew to him, which made him the first native Hebrew speaker on […]

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