WATCH: Yosl Birstein Gave A Yiddish Voice To Israel’s Charms And Foibles by the Forward

WATCH: Yosl Birstein Gave A Yiddish Voice To Israel’s Charms And Foibles

This article originally appeared in the Yiddish Forverts.

Yosl Birstein was such a terrific storyteller, both in Yiddish and in Hebrew, that he eventually became a legendary figure on the Israeli radio.

In this video filmed in 1994, Birstein portrays with authentic Yiddish charm and humor the various characters he met after settling in Israel: Conversations and arguments on the Egged buses, a scene of a couple in love standing next to the Kotel, his discoveries while working as a shepherd in Kibbutz Gvat and the reactions met by his attempts to write Yiddish poetry.

Birstein was born in Biala-Podolsk, Poland in 1920. At age 17 he emigrated with his friend, the artist Yossel Bergner, to Australia. After a stint in the Australian Army, he married an immigrant from Frankfurt, Margaret Vaisberg, and in 1950 they settled in the new Jewish state. They raised two daughters and Vaisberg helped translate his work into English.

This documentary is one of ten in which acclaimed Yiddish writers of the pre-war generation speak openly about their lives. The films, in Yiddish with English subtitles, were directed by award-winning writer and former Forverts editor Boris Sandler and produced through the Forward Association as a DVD series called “Monologues of Yiddish Writers.”

This story "WATCH: Yosl Birstein On Israel’s Charms And Foibles" was written by Forverts Staff.

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

WATCH: Yosl Birstein Gave A Yiddish Voice To Israel’s Charms And Foibles

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close