The Bund in Sweden: Forgotten History Rediscovered in YIVO Archives

by ROBERTA NEWMAN

Jewish refugees brought to Sweden by the Jewish Labor Committee, 1947. YIVO Archives, RG 120 Territorial Photographs – Sweden, General)

Jewish refugees brought to Sweden by the Jewish Labor Committee, 1947. YIVO Archives, RG 120 Territorial Photographs – Sweden, General)

“No one has ever written about it. No one has ever known about it.” Swedish labor historian Håkan Blomqvist pointed to the documents from the Bund Archives spread out in front of him in the YIVO Archives. “This is an aspect of Swedish history that has gone unexamined.”

Blomqvist, a professor of philosophy in history and the director of the Institute of Contemporary History at Södertörn University in Flemingsberg (a suburb of Stockholm), Sweden was at YIVO last week on one of the research trips he has been taking for several years, since he first learned of the existence of materials at YIVO documenting the Jewish Labor Bund in Sweden. A scholar who has written several books on Swedish labor history with a focus on nationalism and antisemitism related to the Swedish labor movement, he initially came to YIVO in 2010 to research those topics and was then alerted to the Bund materials by YIVO archivist Leo Greenbaum. This most recent trip was funded by a grant from The Foundation for Baltic and Eastern European Studies. He is being assisted in his research by Dr. Paul Glasser, former Dean of YIVO’s Max Weinreich Center.

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 in the News/Staff Notes – October 2014

YIVO’s seven-year project to digitize prewar Vilna collections

The project continues to garner media attention with a piece in JSTOR Daily, “YIVO Vilna Project Will Digitize Jewish History,” that also discusses in detail YIVO’s 1942 autobiographical essay contest. “Why I Left Europe and What I Have Accomplished in America.”

The project was also noted in a Jerusalem Post article, “On My Mind: Heritage Protection.” (YIVO is also mentioned in another article there, a piece by the son of Seymour Pomrenze, a Monuments Man who was instrumental in helping YIVO recover its looted archives at the end of World War II.)

Letters to Afar

The YIVO/Museum of the City of New York installation, Letters to Afar, received prominent attention in the media, beginning with a story in The New York Times on October 22. There were also thoughtful pieces in The Daily Beast and two articles in the  The Jewish Week, “Letters from Afar Close Up” and a piece by George Robinson. The exhibition is also the subject of a feature in Jewniverse.

Continue reading

Letters to Afar Exhibition Opens

On October 21, 2014, Letters to Afar, an exhibition commissioned by the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in 2013, opened at the Museum of the City of New York. This unique multimedia installation by award-winning artists Péter Forgács and The Klezmatics is based on a YIVO collection of home movies that were digitized with support from the Righteous Persons Foundation in 2006.

The exhibition will be on view through March 22, 2015.

Watch more videos of the event.
Read an article about the exhibition in the New York Times.
See a Facebook album of pictures of the exhibition opening.
Attend public programs related to the exhibition:

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

The Yiddish Culture Atlas (1965)

WEVD LogoIn this episode, originally broadcast on March 28, 1965, host Sheftl Zak sits down for a conversation with Dr. Mikhl Herzog, a student of Dr. Uriel Weinreich, about the Yiddish Culture Atlas project. They discuss the ways that the Atlas does more than document different Yiddish dialects. The project also maps differences in sentence construction, as well as variations in social and religious customs in different Jewish communities.

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].

The YIVO Vilna Project – An Update

Vilna Project Documents

Newly discovered documents in the Lithuanian Central State Archive from YIVO’s prewar collection, now in the process of being sorted and conserved. Their damaged appearance is testament to the circumstances in which they were rescued and hidden. Photo by Roberta Newman.

The press conference held by YIVO Executive Director Jonathan Brent and Director of Development Suzanne Leon in Vilnius, Lithuania in late September to announce the launch of YIVO’s international, multi-year initiative, the YIVO Vilna Project, has received wide attention.

The most up-to-date coverage can be found in Split Up by Holocaust, Top Collection of Yiddish Works Will Reunite Digitally” by Joseph Berger in the New York Times, which also breaks the news of a new pledge by the Lithuanian government to provide substantial funding for the project. 

Read the New York Times article.
Read an article about the project in The Jewish Week by Hannah Dreyfus. 
See a picture from the press conference on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania.

For Jenny Romaine, D.I.Y. Stands for Do It In Yiddish

The performer, puppeteer, and former sound archivist turns YIVO upside-down.

By LEAH FALK

The Haunted SukkeJenny Romaine has been spending a lot of time at YIVO lately. This summer, she co-led, with Shane Baker, the theater workshop for the Uriel Weinreich Summer Program in Yiddish Language, Literature, and Culture, introducing students to troll costumes, nigunim and sheydim (demons). This fall, she returns not once, but twice, to remind us of the ghostly roots of sukkes and to help revive one of the most celebrated pair of Yiddish puppets on the Lower East Side.

Romaine’s first stint for YIVO, “The Haunted Sukke,” her immersive-theater brain-child created with street theater troupe The Sukkes Mob, premiered at KlezCanada this summer to great acclaim. Among other things, it’s an effort to get Jews reacquainted with that most pagan and party-friendly of Jewish holidays, the feast of booths. In Hasidic communities, Romaine notes, sukkes is a time for serious celebration: get off the subway at 18th Avenue in the middle of the festival week and witness bounce castles, costumes, dancing, and food. Transmitting this sense of glee to other Jews should be easy, but Romaine also wants it to be rooted in the ancient history of the holiday: namely, the tradition of inviting ushpizin – honored guests and influences – into the sukke. Traditional ushpizin include Moyshe Rabeynu, Avraham, Yitzhak, Yaakov, Rokhl, Rivke, and Leah. A former YIVO sound archivist, Romaine’s ushpizin might range from Max Weinreich to Adrienne Cooper to Avraham Sutzkever, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and beyond.

Continue reading

People Ask YIVO…. (1965)

WEVD LogoIn this episode, originally broadcast on March 21, 1965, Dr. Shlomo Noble visits the WEVD  studio for a program entitled “Mentshn fregn dem YIVO” (People Ask YIVO). Dr. Noble reports on the types of questions that YIVO gets and how YIVO receives the inquiries and answers them, as well as who refers people, especially students, to YIVO for information.  

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].

YIVO in the News and Staff News – September and Early October 2014

Coverage of the Vilna Project

YIVO’s press conference in Vilnius about the launch of its fundraising campaign for the YIVO Vilna Project was covered by numerous Lithuanian news outlets and other worldwide media, including:

Der Standard
Delfi (English-language)
LRT Fonoteka Radio
Lrytas
ELTA
Kauno diena
Alfa
Vilniaus Diena

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania featured a report on the press conference on their English-language website.

The project was written up in the New York Times, The Jewish Week, and the Forward. The New York Times article was picked up by numerous websites, including Haaretz.

Continue reading