Category Archives: Yiddish materials 4: primary sources

Resources in Yiddish Studies: fantastic pages from online journal In Geveb

Emerging scholars have limited opportunities for systematic orientation in the research resources of Yiddish Studies. As Zachary Baker has commented elsewhere, “information literacy” is something that graduate students and faculty are likely to attain informally and on their own; classroom training is generally not available for this purpose. That’s why we’re publishing this online bibliographical series devoted to research resources in Yiddish Studies. It builds upon a day-long workshop devoted to resources in Yiddish Studies, which Baker led in April 2015 at the University of California-Berkeley.

This research guide will be divided into the following units, to be published in installments, each of which will take the form of a stand-alone post:

  1. “Meta”-resources – bibliographies, web gateways, online scholarship, indexes, library and archival resources, encyclopedias.
  2. Full-text electronic resources in Yiddish Studies.
  3. Yiddish linguistic scholarship, including dictionaries.
  4. Yiddish literature and culture.
  5. Bibliographies of imprints (by country or region).
  6. Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust (Yiddish focus).

Each unit is accompanied by a brief introduction. Where warranted, entries include brief annotations.

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חורבן־געשיכטעס אויף ייִדיש קריגן אַ ברייטערן עולם |Holocaust Histories in Yiddish Get Wider Audience

[from פֿאָרװערטס | forverts ]

געוויינטלעך, ווען אַ גראַדויִר־סטודענט פֿאַרענדיקט זײַן דיסערטאַציע, ווייסן ווייניק מענטשן וועגן דעם תּוכן, אַחוץ די פּראָפֿעסאָרן פֿון זײַן אָפּטייל.

מאַרק סמיטס דאָקטאָראַט טראָגט אָבער אַ ספּעציעלן באַטײַט, בפֿרט פֿאַר דער ייִדיש־וועלט: ער שרײַבט וועגן די חורבן־געשיכטעס וואָס פֿינף היסטאָריקער האָבן אָנגעשריבן אויף ייִדיש, און זענען במילא די אַלע יאָרן איגנאָרירט געוואָרן פֿון דער אַקאַדעמישער וועלט צוליב אַ פּשוטער סיבה: ווייניק היסטאָריקער קענען די ייִדישע שפּראַך.

סמיטס 536־זײַטיקע אַרבעט, „די ייִדיש־שרײַבנדיקע היסטאָריקער און דער קאַמף פֿאַר אַ חורבן־געשיכטע פֿון ייִדישן קוקווינקל‟ אַנאַליזירט די ייִדישע חורבן־געשיכטעס אָנגעשריבן פֿון פֿינף היסטאָריקער: מאַרק דוואָרזעצקי, ישיעה טרונק, פֿיליפּ פֿרידמאַן, יוסף קערמיש און נחמן בלומענטאַל.

די דיסערטאַציע נעמט אויך אַרײַן סמיטס איבערזעצונג פֿון דוואָרעצקיס עסיי, „פֿאַרשידן זענען געווען די וועגן‟, אָנגשריבן אין 1946.

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מרדכי געבירטיגס לידער | Mordechai Gebirtig’s songs

דעם שבת פֿאַלט אויס דער 74סטער יאָרצײַט, לויטן סעקולערן קאַלענדאַר, פֿונעם גרויסן ייִדישן פּאָעט מרדכי געבירטיג ז׳׳ל, וועלכער איז אומגעקומען אין דער קראָקאָווער געטאָ, אין 1942.

אַ לעגענדאַרע פּערזענלעכקייט אין דער וועלט פֿון ייִדישער מוזיק בעת זײַן לעבן, איז ער אין דער זעלביקער צײַט געווען צום־מערסטנס אַנאָנים: אַ פּשוטער סטאָליער, וואָס האָט אין זײַן פֿרײַער צײַט געשריבן לידער וועגן די אָרעמע ייִדן פֿון קראָקע, וווּ ער האָט געוווינט זײַן גאַנץ לעבן.

ס׳איז שווער אויף איין פֿוס איבערצוגעבן די וויכטיקייט און השפּעה פֿון געבירטיגס לידער. אויף דעם וואָלט מען געדאַרפֿט אַ גאַנצן אַרטיקל, צי אַ דאָקומענטאַר־פֿילם. ס׳איז כּדאַי פּשוט צו דערמאָנען, אַז פֿון אַרום 100 לידער זײַנע וואָס זענען אונדז פֿאַרבליבן, הערט מען אָפֿט כאָטש אַ טוץ פֿון זיי און זיי בלײַבן צווישן די סאַמע באַקאַנסטע ייִדישע לידער איבער דער גאָרער וועלט.

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Embracing Ambiguity: Reflections on Translating Yiddish by Anita Norich

[From In geveb]

thumbnail.imgTranslation theorists and many keners of Yiddish are remarkably alike in their mystification or obfuscation of what it means to translate. How often do we hear indignant exclamations of “S’hot nisht keyn yidishn tam,” or “you just can’t translate that” followed by such proofs as hak mir nisht keyn tshaynik or nisht geshtoygn, nisht gefloygn? And how often have we been stymied by illustrious theorists (Walter Benjamin’s opaque and pivotal “The Task of the Translator” chief among them) announcing versions of the following: “We only ever speak one language. We never speak only one language.” (Jacques Derrida). “Nothing is translatable… . Everything is translatable.” (Emily Apter). “Benjamin defines translation as untranslatable.” (Carol Jacobs).We would do better to simply acknowledge that “don’t knock on my teakettle,” or “didn’t rise, didn’t fly” really are inadequate literal translations of rich idioms. Or that Benjamin gives us the best and most difficult advice when he writes that “the task of the translator is to find in the translator’s language that latent structure which can awake an echo of the original.”

Fundamental to discussions of translation have been questions about fidelity and transgression. “Traduttore, traditore” (translator, traitor) goes the familiar Italian adage. Or, to cite a line perhaps closer to home, we read in the Talmud Rabbi Yehuda’s verdict that “one who translates a verse literally is a liar; one who adds to it is a blasphemer and a libeller.” Add to this the history of Yiddish and Yiddish-speaking people in the twentieth century and translators are, indeed, faced with a daunting task. The fear is not only that we may lose culturally specific nuances (always a concern in translation from any language) but the history and culture of pre-Holocaust Askenazic Jewry.

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Translating the Iceberg: Reflections on the Possibilities of In geveb’s Texts & Translations Section by Madeleine Cohen

[from In geveb]

vorobeichic_heyfThe very first seminar on Yiddish literature that I took in graduate school was called “Yiddish Modernisms in Eastern Europe Between the Two World Wars.” I wrote a seminar paper on Moyshe Kulbak’s poem “Vilne,” and thank goodness, because here I am don’t-ask-how-many years later writing my dissertation, in part, about concepts of place in Kulbak’s writing. I still have my copy of the poem from that course, absolutely covered in notes and definitions of Yiddish words and cultural concepts I learned from reading that poemMaybe this was the first time I read the word “Bund” in Yiddish? And I distinctly remember learning about the cultural beliefs associated with water carriers from the poem. A great poem like “Vilne” is always something of an iceberg, its total mass and weight and meaning and power invisible at first sight, its larger shape only becoming perceptible with careful investigation. But it becomes all the more iceberg-like from the position in which I and many young readers and potential translators of Yiddish find themselves: learning a foreign language and culture, especially given the extra challenges of immersing oneself in the many layers of Yiddish culture that inform any one work of literature. By extra challenges I mean the extreme disruptions to Yiddish cultural continuity given the many upheavals and catastrophes Yiddish underwent in the twentieth century: the disruptions of World War I, emigration, pressure to assimilate, World War II, Stalinism. Not only is the poem an iceberg, hiding most of its mass, but so much of the culture, the material history, the contexts of the poem are hidden from us as well, requiring real dedication from the reader and so much more so from the translator to understand.

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Yiddish dada sound poem

“Coney Island” is one of a series of ritmish retsitatsye (rhythmic recitation) poems written by Victor Packer and performed by him live on New York radio station WLTH in the late 1930s. Never before published, the poem was transcribed from surviving broadcast disks housed at the Henry Sapoznik Yiddish Radio Archives at the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress. Additional transcription by Michael Yashinsky.

Click here for the sound poem

Click here for the text

[From the Yiddish Book Center]

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Semester 2 seminar 4 (final seminar)

In this final seminar we cover some more revision (past tense verbs and periphrastic verbs) and talk about the final language test

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Online DP camps collection is poster child of post-war Jewish rebirth

[from the Times of Israel]

Online DP camps collection is poster child of post-war Jewish rebirth.

Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 17.39.17In the years directly following World War II, more than 250,000 displaced Jewish people began to rebuild their lives. In the process of moving ahead after the horrors of the Holocaust, they renewed former religious, social, political and cultural interests while waiting in Central European displaced persons (DP) camps for permission to immigrate to other parts of the world.

For decades historiography tended to jump from the end of the Holocaust directly to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. However, in recent years, more attention has been paid to the experience of Jews who resided in the DP camps in Germany, Austria and Italy until 1952.

Currently, a digitization project by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research is publishing an online collection of 1,178 posters and some 6,500 photographs attesting to the rebirth of Jewish communal life in the DP camps immediately following the war.

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Semester 2 seminar 3 (week 4)

Introduction to more texts about the Holocaust

Introduction to so-called “periphrastic” verbs

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semester 2, seminar 2 (week 3)

Introducing cases in Yiddish

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Semester 2, seminar 1

Please see the link below for the first seminar of semester 2

In this session we covered separable verbs in the past tense and looked at a series of short holocaust texts

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Language Seminar 7: Reading our first Holocaust-themed text in Yiddish

In this seminar, we look at our first Holocaust-themed text together, and cover some key Holocaust vocabulary:

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Comprehensive Yiddish-English dictionary (highly recommended)

by Solon Beinfeld and Harry Bochner

9780253009838_medThis new dictionary (published just two years ago) is by the far the best resource for Yiddish-English translation and is a wonderful investment. The hard copy costs around £30 or you can access the online version for the same price here:

http://verterbukh.org

A real must if you want to invest in just one book for this module!

There is a review of the dictionary here.

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Hochkarätiges Festival der jüdischen Kultur [High-calibre Festival of Jewish Culture]

[From Deutschlandradio Kultur]

The Yiddish Summer Weimar has now become a permanent fixture on the international festival calendar. For 15 years, there are four-week learning and Concert Festival – and that’s why is the motto is also “Yiddishkayt [in Yiddish lit.: “Yiddishness and/or Jewishness”] Revisited”.

Lunch break in the Ottmar Gerster Music School  in Weimar. The chairs set out in a circle in the auditorium are empty. A man sits at the piano and plays, just for himself. It is Ilya Schneyveys from Riga, professor of Klezmer music. Even as a child he came into contact with the Yiddish language.

“It was the same for my grandfather and my mother. I understand Yiddish because I’ve played a lot of Yiddish music; I haven’t sung so much, but accompanied a lot. I’ve been occupied with Yiddish music for 12 years, or so.”

Since 2006, Ilya has been coming every year to Weimar, to teach and to inform himself about new developments.

Click here to continue reading in the original German or click on “Beitrag hören” to listen to the programme

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Eine Forschungsreise in Sachen jüdische Musik [A Research journey into Jewish music]

[From Deutschlandradio Kultur]

In Lviv, formerly Lemberg, where 120,000 Jews lived before the Holocaust, and only 800 after 1945.

The cantor Shulamit Lubowska has brought the music of Jewish composers to the Philharmonic in Lviv. During the Soviet era, issues such as the Jewish past were taboo – but now Jewish-Ukrainian songs are to be made audible again.

The Jewish cantor Shulamit Lubowska stands on the stage of the Philharmonic in Lviv. She is one of the soloists, who were on tour in the Ukraine with the Weimar Chamber Choir of the Academy of Music a few months ago .

On the program: music of Jewish composers such as Israel Goldstein, Louis Lewandowski, a Kiddush by Kurt Weill, an Aramaic prayer by Maurice Ravel, works by Meir Finkelstein and many others.

“We want to bring these very consciously Jewish songs to the stage,” says Jascha Nemtsov, a professor of Jewish history of music in Weimar. His goal is to collect Jewish-Ukrainian songs from archives, to explore them and let them be heard once again.

Click here to read in original German

To listen to the programme click on “Beitrag hören” to listen to the programme after clicking on link above

 

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טאָגבוך פֿון קולטורפֿעסט (7): ליִאַ קעניג און המנס מפּלה

[From Forverts]

Kulturfest Diary (day 7)

די באַקאַנטע אַקטריסע ליִאַ קעניג האָט פֿאַרווײַלט דעם עולם מיט קאָמישע סקיצן און ליטעראַרישע רעציטאַציעס

The beloved actress Lea Koenig performs hysterical skits and gave literary recitations: In Yiddish with English subtitles:

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Remembering Theo Bikel, a Fighter to the End

[From the Jewish Forward]

Theodore Bikel, who has died at the age of 91 in Los Angeles, was a shtarker, unlike many showbiz stars who merely play shtarkers on TV or onscreen. The barrel-chested, booming-voiced actor and singer had talent and stamina, the kind that allowed him to play Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” over 2000 times. After over sixty years as a folk singer Bikel offered resonant, blunt, direct performances that captivated audiences.

A lifelong fighter, as a youngster in Vienna after the 1938 Anschluss, he returned home bloodied from schoolyard brawls with anti-Semitic classmates, as he recounted in “Theo: An Autobiography” . Bikel was equally combative as an ambitious young Israeli actor after his family made Aliyah. Bikel’s Bukovinian Jewish father Josef, who toiled in an insurance company, was a deeply cultured, ardent Zionist who made sure his son’s Hebrew lessons began at age five, before any other schooling. At-home readings of Hebrew and Yiddish classics made Bikel ultra-aware of Jewish heritage, as to be expected for a boy named after Theodor Herzl, whose birthday he shared.

In Tel Aviv, Bikel struggled for roles at the Habima, Israel’s National Theatre, only getting a bit part in a 1943 adaptation of stories by Sholem Aleichem. So he co-founded his own chamber group in 1944, the still-thriving Cameri Theatre After training in London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, Bikel did not return to live in Israel after its statehood was declared in 1948, although he narrated the film “Ein Breira” (Song of the Negev;1949) a U.S.-Israel co-production directed by the Polish Jewish filmmaker Joseph Lejtes (1901–1983). Bikel wrote in “Theo”: “A few of my contemporaries regarded [not returning to Israel] as a character flaw, if not a downright act of desertion. In me there remains a small, still voice that asks whether I can ever fully acquit myself in my own mind.”

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Leo Melamed recites Avrom (Abraham) Sutzkever’s poem “Dos Yingl fun Ayzn.”

[From Yiddish Book Centre]

Leo Melamed – child survivor of the Holocaust and former chairman of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange – recites Avrom (Abraham) Sutzkever’s poem “Dos Yingl fun Ayzn.”

Click here to read about the Wexler Oral History Project

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1,000 Songs From Holocaust Survivors Archived

[from nprmusic, with thanks to Sebastian Weil for pointing me to this]

In the summer of 1948, an amateur folklorist named Ben Stonehill recorded more than 1,000 songs from Holocaust survivors in the lobby of New York City’s Hotel Marseilles. This week, 66 of those songs become available online through the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, complete with translations; another 300 songs will go up over the next few months — all free for anyone to hear.

Some sing in Russian; some sing in Polish, Czech, Lithuanian, Hebrew. But the majority sing in Yiddish, a language whose speaking population was dramatically reduced during WWII. That loss is a big part of what brought Stonehill to that lobby. He was looking to capture the sound of something he’d feared might disappear.

Miriam Isaacs, a sociolinguist who has been studying the collection, says there’s all kinds of stuff in the music. “There’s babies crying, there’s women giggling, there’s people helping each other out, sometimes joining in song.”

Stonehill described the scene in the lobby of the Hotel Marseilles in a recording he made while practicing for a lecture in 1964.

Boys, girls and mothers would gather about the recorder and beg permission to sing into the microphone in order to hear their own voices played back. The thrill and glow that spread over their faces, and the tears that came to their eyes, was patently an admixture of witnessing an electronic miracle and having the satisfaction of knowing that their intimate, closely guarded songs from home, camp and ghetto were being preserved for academic study.

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Leyenzal | דער לײענזאַל

Yet more fantastic content added at Leyenzal.

check it out here:

http://leyenzal.org/

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More material at new Yiddish-language site

Checkout what’s a happening at leyenzal:

http://leyenzal.org

2 new lectures loaded up and plenty of materials for students of Yiddish. Well worth another look.

 

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New Yiddish-language site for learners of Yiddish

Leyenzal is an online educational resource for readers and students of Yiddish. Every two weeks, users are able to download an excerpt of a novel, a story, or a selection of poems along with an original Yiddish-language lecture about the text. The site’s goal is to encourage active readership by making this incredible body of literature more accessible.  Lecturers include some of the most sought-after educators, researchers, and activists in the world of Yiddish today. The site’s readers include individuals, khavruses (learning partners), and reading groups who engage with the materials all around the world.

Click here to read more.

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‘The Queen’ Of Yiddish Song

[From The Jewish Week]

Remembering YIVO archivist Chana Mlotek, one of the major figures in the revival of klezmer.

When she was interviewed by The Jewish Week in June 2012, the outstanding Yiddishist Chana Mlotek confided that at age 90 she had lost a bit of her ferocious productivity.

“My legs don’t go as fast as they did,” she joked. “But I can still work three times a week at YIVO, I still write a column for the Forverts, and the work is always interesting.”

A unique and generous resource for Yiddish scholars and Jewish musicians, Mlotek died at her home in the Bronx Monday, Nov. 4, at the age of 91. Her death was announced by her sons Mark and Zalmen.

Working with her husband Joseph until his death in 2000, and on her own afterwards, Mlotek was the ITAL source of information on thousands of Yiddish songs and co-editor with Joseph of three major compilations, “MirTrogn a Gezang” (“We Are Carrying a Song”), “Pearls of Yiddish Song,” and “Songs of Generations.”

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900 of Earliest Holocaust Testimonials Available Online

[from The Jerusalem Post]

Imagine stumbling upon a three-decade-old interview of your grandmother’s Holocaust experiences on YouTube, and then listening to her retell her account of Jewish resistance against Nazis in Poland. Gal Nordlicht, who had never heard his grandmother’s story, before could only describe the experience as “incredible.”

The Nordlicht’s are just one of many families who have discovered a relatives’ Shoah testimony online through the Holocaust Oral History Collection website, created by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Oral History Division in the Institute of Contemporary Jewry. It was launched last Thursday to overlap with the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass.

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Click here to access these testimonials

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Yiddish song of the week (website)

This site is extremely useful. It’s worth a look: http://yiddishsong.wordpress.com/

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Some pointers on reading Yiddish texts

I thought it might be helpful to load up a few tips re reading Yiddish texts, based on some of the pitfalls I’ve noticed you falling foul of (to mix my metaphors :-))

One common problem relates to orthography: have a look again at lecture 5 from semester 2. This runs through the key orthographic issues. Also look at the chapter we talked about from:

Zucker, Sheva, Yiddish: An Introduction to the Language, Literature and Culture Volume 2 (The Workmen’s Circle/arbeter ring, 2002).

The key issues relating to orthography and other common errors are as follows:

  1. sometimes where, in YIVO orthography, you would always encounter a pasekh (אַ pasekh alef, ײַ pasekh tsvey yudn, for example) you may find the ‘bare’ letter in other orthographies: א or ײ
  2. in fact, it is not at all uncommon to encounter alef without its pasekh or komets: א instead of אַ or אָ. Try not to get thrown by this: just try thinking about which letter might actually be meant. Hence דאס clearly refers to דאָס, for example
  3. where you will always find a dagesh in YIVO orthography for kof (in loshn-koydesh words), you may not in other systems: כמעט instead of YIVO כּמעט, for example
  4. sometimes, in loshn-koydesh words not in the YIVO system, you may not see the line across the top of the veys: טוב instead of YIVO טובֿ, for example
  5. try not to confuse samkh and shlos-mem. They look very similar, especially in early hand-typed scripts, but a shlos-mem will usually have the very square bottom right corner: ם [shlos-mem] as opposed to ס [samekh] where the corner seems to have been ‘worn away’ or smothed over
  6. in hand-typed texts, sometimes a final langer tsadik ץ can look like two letters (yud, langer-nun, ין, for example). Make sure you have read it right and look up both possibilities
  7. in some texts, it’s easy to confuse nun and giml: נ and ג. In very clear fonts they are easy to distinguish, but in hand-tyoed texts, they can look very similar. Again, try different possibilities until you get something that makes sense
  8. proper names can be tricky, especially given names, which are almost always loshn-koydesh in their spelling, usually being traditional names from the Bible. Hence משה , רבֿקה  and other loshn-koydesh names re very common. If you’re stuck, just drop me a line and I’ll do my best to decipher them for you. It’s worth  noting that many surnames are spelt according to the phonetic system, hence for Emanuel Ringlblum, רינגלבלום is a phonetically spelt surname  whereas the given name עמנואל is spelt according to the traditional system. If you’re really interested, look at this presentation by Warren Blatt given at the 18th Seminar on Jewish Genealogy, Los Angeles, July 1998
  9. in many hand-typed texts, or texts produced on manual roll presses, a beys [ב] can look like a khof [כ] (and vice versa); make sure you have it the right way around
  10. many of you are struggling to recognise past tenses. Try to work out what the stem of the verb is by reverse engineering it: remember to check against the following files (also available on blackboard):

I’ll add other issues here as I come across them.

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Filed under Yiddish materials 1: alphabet, Yiddish materials 2: language and grammar, Yiddish materials 4: primary sources

Yiddish Sources

This site is very useful:

Yiddish Sources is a portal for anyone who is interested in Yiddish and Yiddish Studies. It is part of the WWW Virtual Library History Central Catalogue.

The information on this website is arranged in three main sections: reference, research and events. A new addition is the Yiddish Studies Bibliography, which lists relevant scholarly literature in the field of Yiddish Studies.

Yiddish sources is a work in progress and new content is regularly added. It is easy to stay updated by email, using our RSS feeds or by following us on Twitter and Facebook.

Registered users can create a personal list of bookmarks and leave comments.

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Useful Yiddish-language texts

Click here to access a list of Yiddish-language sources you might find useful.

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Useful Archives Worldwide

American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, Ohio
Bagnówka: galleries of nearly 60,000 images (and select videos) from Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine
Bibliothèque Medem, Paris, France
The Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People, Jerusaelm, Israel
The Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem, Israel
Centropa: Jewish Witness to a European Century
Dartmouth Jewish Sound Archive, Dartmouth University
Early Hebrew Newspapers, a digitization project of the Jewish National and University Library, Jerusalem, Israel
Florida Atlantic University Judaica Sound Archive
Ghetto Fighters’ House: Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Heritage Museum, Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot, Israel
Hebrejská knihovna kabalistikých textu (Hebrew Kabbalistic Books)
HebrewBooks.org
Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religions Libraries, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, New York, Jerusalem
Index to Yiddish Periodicals
The Israel Genealogical Society
JewishGen
The Jewish Museum, New York
Jewish Music Resources on the Internet
Jewish National and University Library, Jerusalem, Israel
Jewish Public Library of Montreal, Montreal, Canada
Jewish Theological Seminary Library, New York
Jewish Women’s Archive, Brookline, Mass.
Judah L. Magnes Museum Library and Archives, Berkeley, California
Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry
Mendele: Forum for Yiddish Literature and Yiddish Language
Michael Davidson Early Hebrew Printing Homepage
The Museum of Family History, The Yiddish World
Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw, Poland
National Yiddish Book Center, Spielberg Digital Yiddish Library
New York Public Library–Dorot Jewish Division, New York
Penn Libraries Judaica Collections
“People of a Thousand Towns”: The Online Catalog of Photographs of Jewish Life in Prewar Eastern Europe
RAMBI, The Jewish National and University Library’s Online Index of Articles on Jewish Studies
Robert and Molly Freedman Jewish Sound Archive
Simon Wiesenthal Center Library and Archives, Los Angeles, California
Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.
Yad Vashem
Yeshiva University Libraries, New York
Yiddish Poetry, Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation, Monash University
Yiddish Sources
YIVOLibraryBooks.org, full digital texts of hundreds of religious and other rare books from YIVO’s collections

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Filed under Knowledge entries, Other primary sources (not Yiddish), Other resources, Yiddish materials 4: primary sources

Yiddish texts (Mendele)

A useful list of Yiddish texts, available from Mendele, the online forum for Yiddish Language and Literature. Well worth a look.  Includes texts about life in the ghettos, poetry, belle lettres, stories and novels.

Click here to access the texts.

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First Days of the Latvian Holocaust (Dovid Katz)

Eyewitness testimony, filmed and compiled by Dovid Katz, of the onset of the Holocaust in Latvia.

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First Days of the Lithuanian Holocaust (Dovid Katz)

Eyewitness testimony, filmed and compiled by Dovid Katz, of the onset of the Holocaust in Lithuania on 22 June 1941 and in the following days, in some cases before the arrival and/or establishment of authority by German Nazi forces at various localities. Some testimonies carry parts of the narrative further into July and August of 1941.

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Di velt fun yidish: Audio Stories

This excellent site, part of Haifa University’s  site di velt fun yidish contains some 35 recitations of short stories by such classic Yiddish writers as Sholem-Aleikhem (shown in picture), Peretz, Moykher-Sforim, Bergelson, Ash and so on. It also has full texts of the stories downloadable in PDF in the original Yiddish so you can listen whilst you read to help you with your pronunciation. All stories read by Sara Blacher-Retter, in beautiful litvish Yiddish (Yiddish from Lithuania).

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Yiddish-language podcasts (SBS Australia)

This site contains podcasts for the Australian Special Broadcasting Service (Public TV). Podcasts feature latest news and current affairs, cultural, traditional, Shoah, historical, entertainment, comedy, theatre and community segments, as well as interviews with local and overseas guests.

פּאָדקאָסטס אַנטהאַלטן נײַעסן און לויפֿיקע ידיעות, קולטורעלע, טראַדיציאָנעלע, חורבן, היסטאָרישע, פֿאַרוויילערישע, קאָמעדיע, טעאַטער און קהלישע אויסצוגן פֿון פּראָגאַמען ווי אויך געשפּרעכן מיט געסט פֿון הי און אין אויסלאַנד.

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Anthology of Yiddish Poetry of Poland between the two World Wars (1918 – 1939)

אַנטאָלאָגיע פון דער ײִדישער פּאָעזיע אין פּוילן צווישן ביידע וועלט מלחמות

This site (construction ongoing) presents a fresh selection of the best Yiddish poetry of Poland during the golden period between the two world wars, together with translations into English, French, Polish and Hebrew, and Yiddish sound files: most poems are recorded by native Yiddish speakers.

Based in Melbourne Australia, the site uses the services of Yiddish poetry readers and translators worldwide. Read more.

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Voices of the Holocaust: David Boder’s interviews of Holocaust survivors

David P. BoderThis site give access to many of David P. Boder’s recordings of interviews he conducted with Holocaust survivors.

In 1946, Dr. David P. Boder, a psychology professor from Chicago’s Illinois Institute of Technology, traveled to Europe to record the stories of Holocaust survivors in their own words. Over a period of three months, he visited refugee camps in France, Switzerland, Italy, and Germany, carrying a wire recorder and 200 spools of steel wire, upon which he was able to record over 90 hours of first-hand testimony. These recordings represent the earliest known oral histories of the Holocaust, which are available through this online archive. (from the site)

The site gives a wide range of useful background contextualisation to the project as well. Extremely valuable resource.

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Some Yiddish texts available online

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Avrom (Ahraham) Sutzkever’s poetry in translation

Abraham Sutzkever (Yiddish: אַבֿרהם סוצקעווער — Avrom Sutskever; Hebrew: אברהם סוצקבר; July 15, 1913 – January 20, 2010) was an acclaimed Yiddish poet. The New York Times wrote that Sutzkever was “the greatest poet of the Holocaust.”

Click here to read some of his work in English translation.

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Yiddish Book Center, Amherst Massachusetts

This site is extraordinary – it has a searchable portal of the complete holdings of the Yiddish Book Center, and contains 11,000 digitally scanned and freely available books, some useful video classes in Yiddish conversation and an online bookstore. Absolutely indispensable resource.

  • Click here to access Yiddish conversation classes ‘a smek yidish’ delivered by Yuri Vedenyapin
  • Click here to access the searchable database (use the keyword search if you don’t know how to spell the Yiddish word or term you’re looking for)

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Yizker bikher (memorial books)

The Public Library of New York gives direct online access to hundreds of Jewish memorial books, some in Yiddish, some in Hebrew:

Click here to access them.

Click here to read more about Yizker Bikher.

“Yizker-bikher are commonly understood, both by scholars and community members, as substitute gravestones for martyrs who never received proper Jewish burial. The scope of the genre is unprecedented and commensurate with the Jewish disaster in the Holocaust.” (YIVO website)

“In the wake of the events of 1933-1945, the yizkor book re-emerged as one of the most important elements in Jewish literary endeavor for a whole generation. The rise of this quintessentially medieval genre and its return to the forefront in the twentieth century can serve as a pair of matching bookends for northern Europe’s lengthy run as one of the poles of global Jewish civilization.” (New York Public Library website)

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