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Itche Goldberg and Yiddishkayt

Yiddish scholar, literary critic and educator Itche Goldberg died at 102 on this date in 2006. Goldberg founded and kept alive the  Yiddish literary journal, Yidishe Kultur, from 1964 to 2004, and was an eloquent and important theorist and cultivator of secular Jewish culture. From 1937 to 1951, he was the educational and cultural director of the Jewish People’s […]

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Aaron Lansky and the Gospel of Yiddish

by Bennett Muraskin   IS THERE A FUTURE for yidishkayt in North America? Aaron Lansky thinks so and offers as a model his National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts. I just heard him speak at a synagogue in Livingston, New Jersey. Anyone who read his outstanding memoir, Outwitting History, would have been familiar with the first […]

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Warding Off Evil Spirits: Two Yiddish Incantations

from the Summer 2016 issue of Jewish Currents A MEMORY: I am 5, walking alongside my baby sister’s stroller. An old woman, the kind you don’t see anymore, comes up beside us. She wears a kerchief over her head and thick, cotton, flesh-tinted, sagging stockings. Her fingers are gnarled. Her dress is mourning-black. “What an […]

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April 17: A Few Words in the Mother Tongue

Poet, writer, and activist scholar Irena Klepfisz, a child survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto, was born there on this date in 1941. Her father Michal, a leader of the Jewish Bund, was killed on the second day of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, when Irena was 2; she and her mother escaped to the countryside and […]

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In the Genizah of Dying Languages

A Jewish Ethnographer Pursues Linguistic Diversity in China by Ross Perlin “There are things than cannot ever occur with any precision. They are too big and too magnificent to be contained in mere facts. They are merely trying to occur, they are checking whether the ground of reality can carry them. And they quickly withdraw, […]

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Kibitznik's Choice: Yiddishkayt

by Alyssa Goldstein If you still have electricity this week, be sure to check out Yiddishkayt’s website. Based in Los Angeles, Yiddishkayt is an educational center for Yiddish language, culture, and history. It challenges the narrative of European Jewish history as little more than a series of pogroms and massacres, and asks, “Do you know […]

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July 12: Harvey Pekar

Underground comic book writer Harvey Pekar, whose autobiographical American Splendor series was illustrated by a variety of America’s greatest comic-book artists, died in Cleveland on this date in 2010 at the age of 70. His parents owned a grocery store, and Pekar was raised in a Yiddish-speaking household (one of his last published cartoons, “Starting […]

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Yiddish Literature in English Translation

An American Tale by Bennett Muraskin Modern Yiddish literature is a prime expression of Jewish humanism. Its creators were typically rebels against authority and proponents of universal ideals of freedom of thought, social justice and human dignity. Yiddish authors did not write for the educated elite, but for the average Jew. They formed a special […]

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