Uriel Weinreich Summer Program in Yiddish Language, Literature, and Culture: Alumni Voices

This is the third post in a series about alumni of YIVO’s intensive summer program in Yiddish, offered by YIVO and Bard College. The program, which was established in 1968, is in its 47th year. This year’s session runs from June 23 – August 1, 2014. 

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Resonances from Vilna: The Lost Heritage of Jewish Music


On May 22, 2014, four cultural organizations in Vilnius teamed up to present “Resonances from Vilna,” a concert at the Tolerance Center of the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum, featuring works by Jewish composers Joseph Achron, Alexander Krein, and other Jewish Lithuanian composers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The program included a world premiere performance of pieces from Vsevelod Zaderatsky’s 24 Preludes and Fugues.

The event was organized by the European Humanities University (EHU), the EHU Center for German Studies, the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum’s Tolerance Center, and Vilnius University.

Watch excerpts of the concert.

On May 4, 2014, music by Achron, Krein, and other Jewish composers were featured at YIVO at a Sidney Krum Young Artists Concert entitled “The Jewish Sound in Soviet Music.”

From the Pages of Yedies


In September 1953, Yedies celebrated the 15th anniversary of the YIVO Library and Archives in America with a detailed account of its history, beginning with the establishment of its predecessor, the Central Jewish Library and Archives, which had its first headquarters at 1133 Broadway, an office building which has for generations provided relatively low-cost office space to small organizations, including many Jewish ones. A Google search brings up a long list that includes the American Federation for Lithuanian Jews, various departments of the Joint Distribution Committee early in its history, and, most recently, the Congress for Jewish Culture, which unfortunately closed its doors last week. When I worked in a small office in 1133 Broadway with curator Fred Wasserman on the Luboml Exhibition Project in the 1990s, I had no idea that the building we were sitting in had such a rich history.

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The 2014 Jan Karski & Pola Nirenska Prize at YIVO Awarded to Piotr Matywiecki

Piotr Matywiecki of Warsaw, Poland has been named the recipient of the 2014 Karski Award. This annual award was endowed by Professor Jan Karski in 1992 for an author of published works documenting Polish-Jewish relations and Jewish contributions to Polish culture.

The winner was chosen by the Award Committee, whose members are Prof. Pawel Spiewak (Director, Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw), Dr. Jonathan Brent (Executive Director YIVO Institute for Jewish Research), Dr. Joanna Nalewajko-Kulikov, Prof. Szymon Rudnicki, Dr. Joachim S. Russek, Prof. Jerzy Tomaszewski, and Prof. Feliks Tych. The award ceremony will be held in September at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw.

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YIVO Archives to Receive Organizational Records from the Congress for Jewish Culture

On Thursday, July 17, 2014, The New York Times reported on the shutting down of the offices of the Congress for Jewish Culture. The organization was founded by writers and intellectuals in 1948 to promote the work of Yiddish language and culture and once also had offices in Paris and Buenos Aires.

Read more about the Congress for Jewish Culture.

The newly donated records will join an existing collection of Congress for Jewish Culture in the YIVO Archives (Record Group 1148).

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Harry M. Orlinsky: The Philosophy of the New Jewish Translation of the Torah into English (1965)

YIVO MicThis broadcast from February 14th, 1965 presents excerpts from the paper, “The Philosophy of the New Jewish Translation of the Torah into English” delivered by Dr. Harry (Tsvi Orlinsky), at YIVO’s annual conference, which had taken place the month before. Orlinsky was editor in chief of the Torah for The New Jewish Publication Society translation of the Jewish bible.

Yedies February 1965 (issues No. 93) p6As a report on the conference in Yedies noted:

In his address “The Philosophy of the New Jewish Translation of the Torah into English,” at the opening session, Professor Harry M. Orlinsky, chairman of the group that made that translation, traced the history of the translations of the Bible from the Septuagint to date. Beginning with the Septuagint and following through Aquila and Onkelos and up to the present, Jewish translators followed the principle of the most faithful adherence to the original. They rendered a word-for-word translation, with utter disregard for the syntax or the usage of the language into which they translated. Underlying this method was the idea of acquainting the reader of the translation with the character, flavor and texture of the original, in sum, with the spirit of the original. (This was also the method followed in the Jewish schools.) The new translation into English is rooted in a different principle, namely, that of translating the underlying idea of the original, rather than the words in their order, into contemporary idiomatic English. It also takes into consideration the varying exegesis traditions. Thus the opening sentence of the Bible is rendered: “When God began to create the heaven and the earth…” instead of the customary “In the beginning God created…”

At the end of the program, a listener’s question about the names of shtetls in Yiddish is addressed.

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 English].

Gennady Estraikh Appointed YIVO’s First Albert B. Ratner Visiting Scholar

Gennady Estraikh

Gennady Estraikh

Dr. Gennady Estraikh has been appointed YIVO’s first Albert B. Ratner Visiting Scholar in East European Jewish Literature for the fall semester 2014. The Albert B. Ratner Visiting Scholar in East European Jewish Literature is made possible with the generous support of the Seedlings Foundation.

Dr. Estraikh is an internationally recognized authority on Yiddish language and literature and Eastern European Jewish history. As the Albert B. Ratner Visiting Scholar, he will teach the course “Modernism in Yiddish Literature,” give public presentations on the American Jewish novelist Howard Fast, and chair a symposium on Ukranian literary figure Taras Shevchenko. In addition, Estraikh will mentor YIVO fellows, conduct research and participate in the academic life of the YIVO Institute.

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Burning Off the Page: Faith Jones on Celia Dropkin


For the past fourteen years, Faith Jones, Jennifer Kronovet, and Samuel Solomon have returned to the poems of Celia Dropkin, and at long last, their page-facing volume of Dropkin’s selected poems, The Acrobat, has been released from Tebot Bach press with an introduction by poet Edward Hirsch.

Jones, Kronovet, and Solomon began their journey with Dropkin at the Uriel Weinreich Summer Program in Yiddish Language, Literature, and Culture in 2000. Last week, I spoke with Faith about the difficulties of translating Dropkin’s unique Belarusian Yiddish, the advantages of publishing with a poetry press, and the pleasures and challenges of a three-way co-translation.

Faith Jones and Samuel Solomon will read from and discuss The Acrobat on July 16th at 6:30 pm at the Museum at Eldridge Street. Attend the event.

Buy the book.

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YIVO Yiddish Summer Program Opening Reception, June 30, 2014


YIVO Yiddish Summer Program Theater Workshop, June 30, 2014

The first session of this year’s summer program theater class workshop met in an especially theatrical setting – the loft of New York’s acclaimed Circus Amok. Led by theater workshop instructors Jenny Romaine and Shane Baker, and special guest Itzik Gottesman, the students listened to ghost stories and “roasted marshmallows.”

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