2015-2016 Max Weinreich Center Research Fellowships

YIVO is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2015-2016 Max Weinreich Center Research Fellowships.

With a large number of highly qualified applicants from a diverse number of countries and disciplines, the selection committee tackled the daunting task of choosing just one fellow for each category. We thank all who applied, and encourage those who did not receive an award this year to re-apply in following years.

Projects that received awards this year will entail investigation of YIVO’s rich archival and bibliographic resources in the areas of children’s literature, literary correspondence, survivor testimony, records of philanthropic activity and pogroms, and Yiddish dance, theater, and performance archives.

The projects of the 2015-2016 cohort of fellows embody YIVO’s commitment to the highest levels of scholarship and inquiry, and we look forward to seeing the results. Stay tuned for upcoming programs and public lectures featuring our fellows!

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Di gantse velt af a firmeblank: The World of Jewish Letterheads

Assemble the letterheads of Jewish organizations, institutions, and individuals in Europe, North and South America, and Palestine from the 1890s to the eve of World War II in 1939 and you have a portrait of the Jewish world: transnational; diverse in language, political, and religious orientation; and flourishing.

Di gantse velt af a firmeblank (The Whole World on a Letterhead) is an experiment in building that portrait. Here, we hope to bring you several times a month, a different example of letterhead from a single collection in the YIVO Archives, the Papers of Kalman Marmor.

Facts About Yiddish in America (1965)

WEVD LogoThis episode was originally broadcast on November 7, 1965. Host Sheftl Zak provides some facts about Yiddish in America that he thinks will be of particular interest to two types of listeners: people using the textbook College Yiddish to learn the language and people who have written in to YIVO with questions about Yiddish.

From 1963-1976, YIVO had its own program on WEVD, the radio station established by the Socialist Party of America in 1927 (its call letters stand for the initials of American socialist leader Eugene V. Debs), which was purchased by the Jewish Daily Forward in 1932 and became a major venue from Yiddish programming.

YIVO used its spot on WEVD for Yiddish-language interviews and discussions with leading New York Yiddish cultural figures, as well as for reporting on its own scholarly and cultural work.

A new podcast of this program in the order in which it was originally broadcast will be posted here every two weeks.

Presentation of series curated by Matt Temkin, YIVO Sound Archives.

Listen to the program [in Yiddish].

Joshua Fishman (1926-2015)

Joshua Fishman

Joshua Fishman

YIVO mourns the passing of Joshua Fishman, who died on March 1, 2015 at age 88. A world-renowned linguist, Professor Fishman was also a towering figure in the field of Yiddish and an important shaper of the work and scholarship of YIVO in America.

Born in Philadelphia in 1926, Joshua (Shikl) Fishman was brought up by immigrant parents who were devoted to Yiddish and active members of the Workmen’s Circle, in whose schools Fishman received his earliest education in Yiddish. His sister Rukhl (1935-1984) became a Yiddish poet.

While still a teenager, he befriended YIVO founder Max Weinreich, and his sons, Uriel and Gabriel, who had recently fled Europe for the United States. Under Max’s tutelage, both Shikl and Uriel would become linguists of note. Shikl would go on to pioneer the field of sociology of language, while maintaining a lifelong dedication to and scholarship in Yiddish. Both Shikl and Uriel helped create and foster connections between Max Weinreich and YIVO and the wider American academic world.

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Planning for the Jewish Future: A Lecture by Dr. Rakhmiel Peltz

by ROBERTA NEWMAN

On February 17, 2015, about 60 dedicated YIVO members and others braved a cold and snowy evening to attend “Planning for the Jewish Future: Standards for Yiddish in the 20th and 21st Centuries,” a lecture by YIVO’s new Atran Visiting Professor of Yiddish Language and Linguistics, Rakhmiel Peltz (Drexel University), followed by a panel discussion by three scholars.

Members of the Yiddish group Yugntruf (Youth for Yiddish) picket the editorial offices of New York Yiddish newspapers against lax standards in spelling and usage, East Broadway, New York City, April 1970. (3rd from left) Dr. Mordkhe Schaechter; (4th from left) Khane Kliger; (near center) Rakhmiel Peltz. Front row from left to right: Binyumin Schaechter, Eydl Schaechter Resnick, and Avreml Fishman.

Members of the Yiddish group Yugntruf (Youth for Yiddish) picket the editorial offices of New York Yiddish newspapers against lax standards in spelling and usage, East Broadway, New York City, April 1970. (3rd from left) Dr. Mordkhe Schaechter; (4th from left) Khane Kliger; (near center) Rakhmiel Peltz. Front row from left to right: Binyumin Schaechter, Eydl Schaechter Resnick, and Avreml Fishman.

In his talk, Rakhmiel Peltz introduced the audience to the role of standards in society in general, using examples from research in the biomedical sciences, as well as the economics of natural resources. For example, he recounted how contemporary researchers published a thousand articles seemingly on breast cancer metastesis, using skin cancer cells by mistake. Adherance to standards in society represents a concern for the common good, in opposition to individual whims. So too is the modern history of standards for Yiddish language linked to the devotion of the leading Yiddish language and culture planners to the needs and future of the Jewish people as a whole. Peltz illustrated this dedication by following the normative work of Yiddish standardizers, including Nathan Birnbaum (1864-1937), Ber Borokhov (1881-1917), Uriel Weinreich (1926-1967), and Mordkhe Schaechter (1927-2007). These leaders were deeply concerned with Jewish continuity and a rich Jewish future.

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YIVO Archives Acquires Important Collection on the Jews of Harbin and Northern China

The Toper brothers, Jewish fur traders, in rural China. (YIVO/Dan and Yisha Ben-Canaan Collection)

The Toper brothers, Jewish fur traders, in rural China. (YIVO/Dan and Yisha Ben-Canaan Collection)

Dan Ben-Canaan and his wife, Liang Yisha, have donated a large collection of research materials about the Jewish community of Harbin and Northern China. Professor Ben-Canaan founded the Sino-Israel Research and Study Center at Heilongjiang University in Harbin in 2002.

The collection is in electronic format, and is 202 gigabytes in size. It is organized into over 2,400 directories, which contain nearly 40,000 files. Besides digital copies of paper documents and of photographs, the collection includes many film and audio files and spans the early 20th century to the 1990s. The audio materials consist primarily of interviews with former Jewish residents of Harbin and their families.

The Dan and Yisha Ben-Canaan Collection on the Jews of Harbin is one of the largest “born digital” collections acquired by YIVO to date. Donations of “born digital” collections (data on floppy disks, CD-Roms, and hard drives) are becoming increasingly common and the archival world is still in the beginning stages of grappling with how best to preserve them and make them accessible to researchers.

An Exhibition & A Class on Yiddish Spelling (1965)

WEVD Logo

In this episode, originally broadcast on October 17, 1965,  Zosa Szajkowski joins Sheftl Zak to talk about a YIVO exhibition on Yiddish orthography that was presented in conjunction with a class by Dr. Mordkhe Schaechter on the same subject. The scope of the exhibition reached as far back as the 16th century, and used books, newspapers, periodicals, brochures, manuscripts, and pictures to demonstrate changes in orthography. A prominent place was also devoted to 20th- century efforts to standardize Yiddish orthography.

Yedies #96

Yedies #96

From 1963-1976, YIVO had its own program on WEVD, the radio station established by the Socialist Party of America in 1927 (its call letters stand for the initials of American socialist leader Eugene V. Debs), which was purchased by the Jewish Daily Forward in 1932 and became a major venue from Yiddish programming.

YIVO used its spot on WEVD for Yiddish-language interviews and discussions with leading New York Yiddish cultural figures, as well as for reporting on its own scholarly and cultural work.

A new podcast of this program in the order in which it was originally broadcast will be posted here every two weeks.

Presentation of series curated by Matt Temkin, YIVO Sound Archives.

Listen to the program [in Yiddish].

David E. Fishman Appointed YIVO’s Jacob Kronhill Visiting Scholar for Spring 2015

David Fishman

David Fishman

New York, New York (February 19, 2015) – The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. David E. Fishman as the Jacob Kronhill Visiting Scholar in East European Jewish History for the Spring 2015 semester.

David E. Fishman is professor of Jewish History at The Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS), and serves as director of Project Judaica, a Jewish Studies program based in Moscow that is sponsored jointly by JTS and Russian State University for the Humanities. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the history and culture of East European Jewry, including Russia’s First Modern Jews (New York University Press) and The Rise of Modern Yiddish Culture (University of Pittsburgh Press). He has taught at universities in Israel, Russia, Ukraine, and Lithuania, and serves on the editorial boards of Jewish Social Studies and POLIN.

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YIVO-Bard Winter Program on Ashkenazi Civilization Now in Its Fourth Year

2015 Winter Program

From January 5-January 23, 2015, a diverse range of students flocked to YIVO to take advantage of a rare opportunity to study the culture, history, language, and literature of East European Jews with some of the leading scholars in the field of Jewish Studies. The courses in the YIVO-Bard Winter Program on Ashkenazi Civilization (inaugurated in 2011) offer something different than the usual survey course in a university or adult education program: a chance to explore in detail fascinating aspects of this world.

Highlights of the program included:

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Feliks Tych (1929-2015)

Prof. Dr. Feliks Tych, an eminent historian and director of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, died on February 17, 2015 at the age of 85.

Feliks Tych was born in Warsaw on July 31, 1929. He grew up in Radomsko, central Poland, where his father owned a metal works.

During World War II, his parents and sibling all perished in the Treblinka death camp. Tych survived in Warsaw on false documents, living with a Polish family.

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