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.

Continue reading

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:

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Behind the Lens: New York Jews Between the Wars

On January 21, 2015, YIVO and the Museum of the City of New York presented “Behind the Lens: New York Jews Between the Wars,” a public program in conjunction with Letters to Afar (October 22, 2014-March 31, 2015), an immersive video art installation at the Museum first premiered by YIVO at POLIN – Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw in 2013.

The four scholars on the panel used rarely seen primary source materials to explore the back-story to Letters to Afar, which features home movies of Poland in the 1920s-1930s made, for the most part, by Jews from America on trips back to their home towns.

Continue reading

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

YIVO Autobiography Collection the Subject of Sociological Study (1965)

WEVD LogoOn October 10th, 1965, YIVO Research Associate Moshe Kligsberg was interviewed by host Sheftl Zak about his newly published Child and Adolescent Behavior Under Stress, a study based on life stories of Jewish youth in Poland collected by YIVO in the 1930s in the course of two public autobiography contests. Kligsberg’s research was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. (Original drafts of the 34-page pamphlet can be found in YIVO RG 719, Papers of Moshe Kligsberg.)

Some of autobiographies collected for the contest have been anthologized in the book Awakening Lives: Autobiographies of Jewish Youth in Poland Before the Holocaust (Yale University Press).

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].

Solomon (Shloyme) Krystal (1912-2015)

Shloyme Krystal

Shloyme Krystal

YIVO’s Board of Directors and staff mourn the passing of Solomon (Shloyme) Krystal, who died on February 2, 2015, just shy of his 103rd birthday.

Shloyme’s long and extraordinary life spanned almost the entire 20th century and a piece of the 21st. Born in Warsaw before World War I, he was the oldest of 4 children. At the end of the 1930s, he worked at the Medem Sanatorium, an educational and health retreat for children and adults at risk for tuberculosis. He survived World War II in the Soviet Union and went to Sweden in 1946, after a short time in Poland.

After he immigrated to the United States in 1952, Shloyme worked in the New York Cloak Joint Board of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union. He and his sister, Hannah Fryshdorf, became involved with YIVO: Hannah as its long-time assistant director and Shloime, around 1980, as a volunteer in the YIVO Archives and a member of YIVO’s Board of Directors.

Continue reading

“The Culture That the Terrorists Wished to Destroy”: The Rescue of IWO Collections After the 1994 AMIA Bombing

The death of Alberto Nisman, the Argentinean federal prosecutor who was investigating the terrorist attack on the AMIA building in Buenos Aires in1994, in which 85 people died and many rare and irreplaceable collections of IWO (the Argentinean branch of YIVO in existence since 1928) were destroyed, has drawn renewed international attention to this unsolved crime. IWO was located on two floors of the building that was bombed.

In this difficult, contentious time in Argentinean history, we take inspiration from a documentary posted on IWO’s website, Rodolfo Compte’s The Young Who Preserved Our Memory, which chronicles the work of young volunteers who worked after the attack to recover books, documents, and artifacts from the wreckage.

Continue reading

“A Place Where Polish-Jewish Relations Could Start Anew”: Interview with Kamil Kijek


Almost immediately after the end of World War II, a new center of Jewish life in Poland began to take shape in western Poland, in Lower Silesia, a formerly German territory de facto awarded to Poland in the Potsdam Conference of July 1945.

Kamil Kijek

Kamil Kijek

This little-known chapter of postwar Jewish life is the topic of research now being conducted by Dr. Kamil Kijek, a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Jewish History. His study, entitled “Polish Shtetl after the Holocaust? Jews in Dzierżoniów, 1945–1968” focuses on one particular town in Lower Silesia, which was settled by survivors who stayed in the region after liberation. They were later joined by Jews repatriated from the Soviet Union, and others who had survived in hiding in Poland or returned from concentration camps in Germany. Jews also migrated to the region to escape anti-Jewish violence in central Poland, including the 1946 Kielce pogrom. There were soon enough Jews in Lower Silesia to make it a good base for revival of Jewish life in Poland.

Continue reading

YIVO Public Program Video and Audio Archive

Visit yivo.org/video to view or listen to many of YIVO’s public programs from 2005 to the present. Our most recent addition is:

Thursday, November 20, 2014: Towards Life: Reviving Jewish Life in Contemporary Poland. Scholars Konstanty Gebert (European Council on Foreign Relations), Geneviève Zubrzycki (University of Michigan), and Samuel Kassow, moderator (Trinity College), and artists Katka Reszke (writer and filmmaker) and Piotr Paziński (novelist) discuss the needs of the Polish Jewish community, the reasons for Poles’ increasing interest in Jewish culture, and the complicated use of the word “revival” in connection to Jewish life in Poland today. Watch the video.

Continue reading