When the Titanic went down, the entire world not only talked about this event but also sang about the tragedy — the Yiddish speaking-masses included.
In Yiddish there are some professions or positions that use the diminutive form of a name as a sign of popular endearment. These include Hasidic rebbes, cantors, thieves and actors.
The legendary Vilna partisan Vitka Kempner Kovner died on February 15. She was credited with carrying out the first act of anti-Nazi resistance in the ghetto.
One of the major artists of the American Yiddish cultural world and an innovator in the art of Jewish papercutting, Tsirl Waletzky, died on December 8 at the age of 90.
A version of this post appeared in Yiddish here.
The prolific literary translator Joachim Neugroschel died on May 23 in Brooklyn, N.Y. He was 73. Neugroschel translated more than 200 books from Yiddish, French, German, Russia and Italian, including the work of Nobel Prize-winner Elias Canetti. His legal guardian and former partner, Aaron Mack Schloff, confirmed Neugroschel’s death.
A Monument to Hatuey in Baracoa, Cuba. Photo by Michal Zalewski.
Maybe it’s a sgule — a remedy prescription, for long life — to become a Yiddish writer. Itche Goldberg and Mordkhe Tsanin both died at the ripe old age of 102 a few years ago; poet Avrom Sutskever died in 2010 at 96. Now the New York Yiddish world has lost another wonderful poet, Jeremiah Hescheles, at the age of 100.
A version of this post appeared in Yiddish here
On Saturday, February 26, my mother-in-law, Judith Socolov, died peacefully in her sleep at age 89. Her death was covered extensively by The Associated Press and The New York Times, and reporters openly discussed her “infamous” past as part of a Cold War drama that had long been forgotten.