50 years after declaring that he wanted to follow in I.L. Peretz’s footsteps, Seth Rogovoy is helping to bring one of his works to life at Yidstock.
Isaac Loeb Peretz’s “Bontche Schweig” is one of those tales that deepens and provokes more as history bears down on it. Anne Roiphe revisits a brave story that is anything but a lullaby.
Yiddish author Jacob Dinezon is not nearly as well known as Sholem Aleichem or I.L. Peretz, his longtime friend and colleague. A masterful new translation could help to change that.
Three central Jewish thinkers, Heinrich Heine, Theodor Herzl, and I. L. Peretz were all profoundly inspired by the medieval legend of Tannhäuser, a knight and poet who worshipped the goddess Venus. Herzl and Peretz were also fans of the 1845 opera based on this legend, by the notoriously anti-Semitic Richard Wagner. This paradox is explored in a study out in October from Purdue University Press, “A Knight at the Opera” by Leah Garrett — whose great grandfather, Baruch Charney Vladeck, was the manager of the Forverts in the 1930s as well as a founder of the Jewish Labor Committee.
The Yiddish poet Yirmiye (Jeremiah) Hesheles died on October 16, 2010. When he celebrated his 100th birthday a group of dedicated Yiddishists, myself included, celebrated the occasion by paying him a visit at the New York State Veterans Home in St. Albans, Queens. A herd of geese, as if out of an Eastern European legend, greeted us in the parking lot. The building was big, its corridors cold. Veterans were rolling around in their wheelchairs or lying quietly in bed. We were looking for the last great Yiddish modernist alive. We found him asleep in one of the geriatric wards. The nurse did not let us see him. Showing her a picture of the young Hescheles did not help.
If Yiddish songs were popular in your childhood home, then the recently released new edition of “Pearls of Yiddish Poetry” may help put forgotten pieces of your auditory past back together. Many of us remember fragments of songs that we heard as children, songs that come back to us while doing the laundry, or scrubbing the kitchen, or taking a leisurely stroll. Often, all we can recall is a particular refrain, but not the entire song, neither its name nor that of the author or composer.
Canada is home to less than three percent of the world’s Jewish population, but every other year, Jewish artists from around the world congregate in Toronto for the Ashkenaz Festival, which returns this year from August 31 to September 6 at the city’s Harbourfront Centre.
In attending “A Gilgl Fun A Nigun” (“The Metamorphosis of a Melody”), which opened its five-performance run at the New York International Fringe Festival on August 14, I was charged with answering a single massive question: Can Yiddish theater appeal to a mainstream audience? As a lifelong theater lover and gentile, I had never been to a Yiddish performance before. So the question was, would I get it?
In the 1920s, Yiddish was more than just a lingua franca for East European Jewish émigrés; it was also a language of high culture, as demonstrated by a brilliant new book, “Yiddish in Weimar Berlin: At the Crossroads of Diaspora Politics and Culture” (Legenda Books), edited by New York University Yiddish scholar Gennady Estraikh and University of Michigan professor Mikhail Krutikov.
The far-flung commemorations of the centenary of the 1908 Yiddish language conference in Czernowitz, including a conference in December, 2009 at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, continue to have repercussions today. The recent essay collection from Lexington Books, “Czernowitz at 100: The First Yiddish Language Conference in Historical Perspective” edited by Joshua Fogel and Kalman Weiser, both of York University in Toronto, is one example.