In Memoriam: Rosaline B. Schwartz

Rosaline Schwartz

Rosaline Schwartz, YIVO, 1992. (YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, RG 100.)

YIVO mourns the passing of Rosaline B. Schwartz (1925-2015) on January 10. Roz was YIVO’s Director of Public Programs from 1981-1996, presiding over YIVO’s cultural and fundraising events for over a decade.

She was also a native-speaker of Yiddish and a linguistics scholar, who translated two books by Isaac Bashevis Singer. Her article, “The Geography of Two Food Terms: A Study in Yiddish Lexical Variation” (1969) was recently cited in the entry on “Food and Drink” in The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe.

“When I worked at YIVO in the 1980s,” recalls Jeffrey Shandler, now Professor of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University, “Roz was part of the very special mix of people on the staff.  There were those who grew up in Eastern Europe before World War II; those who, like Roz, were American-born native speakers of Yiddish; and those of us of the postwar generation—all sharing the same fascination with and devotion to Yiddish language and culture.  We younger members of the staff, who were beginning our scholarly or artistic careers working with Yiddish, were extremely fortunate to have people like Roz to turn to as a source of knowledge.”

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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.

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Classes for New York Public School Teachers and a Course on Yiddish Orthography (1965)

WEVD LogoRachel (Shoshke) Erlich (1909-1991) was a research associate of YIVO for nearly half a century, specializing in Yiddish language and literature. In this episode of YIVO’s radio program on WEVD, originally broadcast on September 26, 1965, she speaks with host Sheftl Zak about classes that YIVO is offering that fall, including “Antecedents of American Jewish Life,” for New York public school teachers, and “Standardized Yiddish Orthography” taught by Dr. Mordkhe Schaechter. Sheftl Zak provides historical background about the development of  standards for Yiddish orthography.

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].

Rakhmiel Peltz Appointed YIVO’s Inaugural Atran Visiting Professor of Yiddish Language and Linguistics

Rakhmiel Peltz

Rakhmiel Peltz

The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Rakhmiel Peltz as the inaugural Atran Visiting Professor of Yiddish Language and Linguistics.

Dr. Peltz, a specialist in the social history of Yiddish language and culture, is the Founding Director of the Judaic Studies Program and Professor of Sociolinguistics at Drexel University. His numerous articles and publications include “From Immigrant to Ethnic Culture: American Yiddish Culture in South Philadelphia,” (Stanford University Press, 1997). Dr. Peltz has been a fellow at the Center for Judaic Studies of the University of Pennsylvania, the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Patt and Choseed Fellowships at YIVO. He is currently working on a book on Uriel Weinreich’s research oeuvre, as well as a book on the future of the Yiddish language.

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A Yiddish Library in Search of a Home: The Yiddish Academy Library in South Africa

by ROBERTA NEWMAN

The Yiddish Academy library is looking for a new home and it needs one fast.

The 2,000-volume library is currently in a temporary storage space at Beyachad, the Jewish Community Center of Johannesburg, South Africa, but has been asked to vacate. “Many of the books are very valuable,” notes Cedric Ginsburg, a Yiddish Academy lecturer and activist. “Some were published in Vilna; some in South Africa. In fact, we have a pretty good coverage of South African Yiddish literature.”

The library is only one project of the fledgling Yiddish Academy, a new organization first conceived in 2001 by translator and scholar Joseph Sherman (1934-2009) and Eli Goldstein, a businessman, who is today based in Johannesburg and Toronto. They started with Yiddish classes for a few students in 2003, and by 2006, the organization was stable enough to register as an official club.

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Panel on YIVO at 2014 Conference of the Association for Jewish Studies

A panel on the history of YIVO was one of the opening sessions at the 46th annual Conference of the Association for Jewish Studies in Baltimore on December 14. Organized by Sarah Zarrow of New York University, it was entitled “YIVO and Jewish Social Science: The Standardization of Practice and Community.”

The three papers presented were “‘Holy Collection Work’: The Relationship Between YIVO and its Zamlers” by Zarrow; “The Joys of Yiddish Standardization: How the YIVO Linguists Reinvented the Language” by Leyzer Burko (The Jewish Theological Seminary); and “Creating a Comparative Social Science: Yiddish Research and African-American Research on ‘Culture and Personality’,” by Professor Leila Zenderland (California State University – Fullerton). Professor Cecile Kuznitz (Bard College) served as respondent and the panel was chaired by Roberta Newman (YIVO).

YIVO in the News & Staff Notes, December 2014

YIVO’s 89th Annual Benefit, which honored Faina Kukliansky, the Hon. Anne E. Derse, and Dr. Yitzhak Arad, has received attention in Lithuana, including the websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania and the Jewish Community of Lithuania.

The Letters to Afar exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York continues to receive attention, including these reviews in the Forward’s Sisterhood blog and Jewish Image.

Ambassador Mal Berisha’s lecture on Albanian-Jewish Relations at the December 14 Ruth Gay Seminar in Jewish Studies was reported on by the UK Albanians Network.

David Mazower wrote about a Jewish festival in the Polish town of Kutno for the BBC and linked to a YIVO Encylopedia article on his great-grandfather, the Yiddish writer Sholem Asch, a native of Kutno.

Staff Notes

An article by YIVO Director of Education Jennifer Young, “Fighting Anti-Semitism and Jim Crow: “Negro-Jewish Unity” in the International Workers Order,” appears in the Fall 2014 issue of AJS Perspectives.

YIVO’s Activities Around the World (1965)

WEVD LogoIn this episode, originally broadcast on April 9, 1965, Hannah Fryshdorf comes into the studio to talk about YIVO’s worldwide reach. Over her long career, Frysdoft rose to be the Assistant Director of YIVO. Her personal papers can be found in the YIVO archives (RG 1243). She first talks about the zamlers (volunteer collectors) who gathered and sent information and books to YIVO. A discussion follows about the various countries that the YIVO publication “Yidishe Shprakh” was mailed to. Lastly, an update on where and how the 4th edition of College Yiddish was being used.

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].

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.

Continue reading

Modernism, Gender, and War in Early 20th Century Hebrew: Interview with Beverly Bailis

2015_WinterProgram_coverFrom January 5-January 23, Beverly Bailis will teach “Modernism, Gender, and War in Early 20th Century Hebrew” in the YIVO-Bard Winter Program on Ashkenazi Civilization.

She currently teaches Hebrew and Hebrew literature at Brooklyn College. She received her BA in Literature from Bard College, her M.A. in Jewish Civilization from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and her Ph.D. in Hebrew Literature from the Jewish Theological Seminary. In addition to specializing in Modern Hebrew Literature, Bailis’s research interests include Modern Jewish Literature, Gender Studies, and Modernism. Recently she completed her dissertation, “Fantasies of Modernity: Representations of the Jewish Female Body in Turn-of-the-Century Hebrew Fiction.” She has taught courses at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, the JCC in Manhattan, Town and Village Synagogue, and other adult education programs in New York City.

She is interviewed here by Leah Falk.

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