As America continues its intensified reckoning with questions of racial justice, parents and educators are keenly aware of the need to speak to children about race in ways that feel authentic and relatable. The Jewish community can look to Yiddish literature for models of antiracist storytelling that took shape long before the storied alliances of the 1960’s civil rights movement. In one key episode, one of the most beloved characters in Yiddish children’s literature proves himself susceptible to unexamined bias and offers a model of how to overcome it.
At a conference devoted to play, teachers learned about the carefree way that children interact with nature in classic Yiddish children’s stories.
I’m no longer translating these texts for their survival or my pleasure: I’m translating them because our country needs desperately to know what they say.