Yiddish Affairs

In Honor of Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky (Brancovskaja) on her 100th Birthday (2022)


[LAST UPDATE]

by Dovid Katz

Compilation of articles, documentaries, videos, and photos. Plus: from the saga of 2008

See Defending History’s Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky Section

Note: This page is a work in progress. A number of older documents, articles, photographs, and recordings remain to be digitized, catalogued, and posted.

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Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, State-Defamed Jewish World War II Partisan Hero, Turns 100 Today



BLAMING THE VICTIMS  |  FANIA BRANTSOVSKY SECTION  |  HISTORY  |   EVENTS  |  YIDDISH CULTURE LITHUANIA  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS

 

The following is a paste-in of today’s Facebook post by Dovid Katz marking Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky’s 100th birthday in Vilnius, Lithuania. The original, along with its Comments section is on FB, accompanied by a modest selection of photographs of Fania, and of Fania with Dovid and others over the years.

Clockwise from upper left: Fania is at far left in family photo from 1932 or 1933 in front of her father’s shop on Vilna’s Zavalna St. (today Pylimo in Vilnius); Fania showing visitors the underground bunkers where she lived while fighting the Nazis in the Jewish partisan fort in the forest (now sinking into the ground, Fania’s last wish is that it be restored and preserved for posterity); Fania and fellow partisan veteran Chasia Langbord Shpanerflig sing the partisan hymn at a May 9th memorial; Fania bring honored at a banquet at the residence of the Irish ambassador to Lithuania, HE Dónal Denham in a pushback against state attempts to prosecute and defame her and other veterans of the Jewish partisans with ambassadors from Norway, Austria, France, the UK and other Western nations joining in; Fania in the Vilna Ghetto (1941-1943); with Dovid enjoying looking at some old Vilna Yiddish books together.

HAPPY 100th BIRTHDAY TO DEAR FANIA YOCHELES BRANTSOVSKY (FANIA BRANCOVSKAJA)

Today, May 22nd 2022, is Fania’s 100th. It has been a privilege to know her and work closely with her for some thirty years. A graduate of Vilna’s remarkable secular Yiddish school built by the legendary Sofia Markovna Gurevitsh, she went on to suffer loss of her entire family in the Holocaust. Her own incarceration in the Vilna Ghetto lasted from the Ghetto’s first day to its last, when she escaped to join the Jewish partisans with whom she fought heroically in the forests of Lithuania against the Nazis, based in the wooden underground bunkers at the “Jewish fort” outside Vilnius, which Fania dreams to this day will be restored and preserved for future generations to remember the Holocaust and the Jewish resistance (it is at present literally sinking into the earth). To come together to make this happen would be Fania’s most cherished 100th birthday present. (Alas efforts to date have faded with various organizations’ timidity, but may that now rapidly change!).

For a summary of the story of the Last Jewish Fort, please see Defending History’s report.

Please try to imagine the mental cruelty Holocaust survivor Fania (who lost her entire family, herself survived by joining the anti-Nazi resistance, becoming a hero of the free world) has had to endure from a major state-sponsored commission in an EU member state. This has been covered in a major documentary film (alternate link). See also recent ultranationalists’ defamation of Fania

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Subtle Art of State Antisemitism ― East European Style (with ubiquitous nod to glorification of Holocaust collaborators)



OPINION  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  (AB)USE OF JEWISH STUDIES FOR HISTORICAL REVISIONISM  |  YIDDISH AFFAIRS  | YIVO IN LITHUANIA  | MEDIA WATCH  | FOREIGN MINISTRIES AND JUDAIC STUDIES  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  | NOREIKA GLORIFIED

by Julius Norwilla (Vilnius)

On the 4th of April 2022, the website of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a news item titled (in Lithuanian, here translated) “Lithuania will expand cooperation with Yivo Jewish Research Institute, preserving and publicizing Lithuanian Jewish history” (as PDF). The site’s English language section uses the headline wording “Lithuania to expand cooperation with Yivo Institute for Jewish Research to protect and promote the history and heritage of Lithuanian Jews” (as PDF).

The news article contains information about the visit of the esteemed American scholar, Dr. Jonathan Brent, the executive director and CEO of the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research in New York, also a famed educator and academic publisher, with his colleagues, and their meeting with the deputy foreign minister. The news item appears intent on communicating to the world how much our country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs cares about its Jewish and Yiddish legacy and how sensitive it is to the history of Lithuanian Jewry.

Both the Lithuanian and English versions are illustrated with a three-photo gallery portraying three scenes of the meeting: shaking hands at the welcome, a moment at the meeting table and the final with those at the meeting posing for the official photo-op.

Everything seems to be done according to the usual protocols of such meetings, at which the professional photographer takes numerous photos from start to finish, culminating with the final photo-op. Then the few dozen shots are whittled down to the most informative and appropriate handful for publication. The ones that make the point best. Elementary.

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Antisemitism & Bias, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, ministries, News & Views, State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika, What Do Fake Litvak Games Look Like?, Yiddish Affairs, Yivo Manipulated? | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Subtle Art of State Antisemitism ― East European Style (with ubiquitous nod to glorification of Holocaust collaborators)

Milan Chersonski: 1937 – 2021



Milan  Chersonski

2 Sept. 1937 – 14 April 2021

From his dozen years as editor of the Lithuanian Jewish Community’s former quadrilingual newspaper, Jerusalem of Lithuania

His writings over the last decade in Defending History

His 80th Birthday celebration in Vilnius


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Dictionaries for Intermediate & Advanced Readers of Yiddish Literature & Press


LIMITED SELECTION

UPDATE OF AUTUMN 2022

I

RECOMMENDED FOR PURCHASE:

Solon Beinfeld and Harry Bochner (editors-in-chief), Comprehensive Yiddish-English Dictionary (Indiana University Press: Bloomington and Indianapolis 2013); [also: online version with registration]

French speaking users: Bernard Vaisbrot, Yitshok Niborski & Simon Neuberg,  Dictionnaire Yiddish-français (Medem: Paris 2002) 

See also Yiddish-English antecedents:

Alexander Harkavy, Yiddish-English-Hebrew Dictionary (New York 1928 and numerous photomechanical editions, also hereintro to 1988 Yivo edition
Uriel Weinreich, English-Yiddish Yiddish-English Dictionary (New York 1968 and photomechanical editions)
Aaron Bergman, Student’s Dictionary (edited by Itche Goldberg, New York 1968)

II

FREE ONLINE:

Aaron Bergman, Student’s Dictionary (edited by Itche Goldberg, New York 1968)

Alexander Harkavy, Yiddish-English-Hebrew Dictionary (New York 1928 and numerous photomechanical editions, also hereintro to 1988 Yivo edition

Prof. Raphael Finkel’s online dictionary

Yiddish-Yiddish:

the four completed volumes of Yudl Mark & Judah A. Joffe, The Great Dictionary of the Yiddish Language (print edition still findable):

Volume I (N.Y. 1961)   [PDF]

Volume 2 (N.Y. 1966)    [PDF]

Volume 3 (N.Y. & Jerusalem 1971)   [PDF]

Volume 4 (N.Y. & Jerusalem 1980)   [PDF]

Online digital searchable version  of all four volumes of the Mark-Joffe Yiddish-Yiddish dictionary  by Prof. Raphael Finkel

Note: Yudl Mark completed the set of index cards through to the end of the Yiddish alphabet. Hopefully these will all be scanned and put on line “as is” on a stable and professional website without “improvement and revision”  but with a maximum of added electronic search capacity.

Thesaurus:

Nahum Stutchkoff (Nokhem Stutshkov), Oytser fun der yidisher shprakh [Thesaurus of the Yiddish Language] (NY 1950)  (print edition still findable)

Digitized and latinized free online searchable version


III

Hasidic Yiddish of the Twenty-First Century

Mrs. B. Roth’s indispensable lexicon: Yidish verter oytser (Roth Publishers Inc: Monsey, New York 2009 and subsequent revised editions)

Yutta Rivke Shtein, Milon l’sfat yidish (2011 and subsequent editions)


IV

The Semitic (Hebrew and Aramaic) Component in Yiddish:

Yisroel Shteynberg (Israel Steinberg, with the assistance of A. Roykhverger): Hebreízmen in Yidish  (Wroclaw 1949); Recommended for free download as PDF on your device and/or printout (print edition can be purchased from NYBC).

Note: Yisroel Shteynberg (1894-1970), native of Vonsove [Wąsowo], Poland (west of Poznan), poignantly dedicated his dictionary — destined to become the most important for the Semitic component in Yiddish for 21st century Yiddish students worldwide (primarily because of the thousands of full-phrase quotations from masters of modern Yiddish literature assembled over years of painstaking work) — to his father Avrom-Pinkhes, his children Zalmen and Rivke, and his Yiddish school pupils in Rutke ([Rutka], near Lomzhe [Łomża]), in Zaromb [Zareby Koscielne], in nearby Ostrov-Mazovyetsk [Ostrów Mazowiecka], and in Vasilkov ([Wasilków] near Bialystok), all of whom perished in the Holocaust. Author’s rights are asserted in Yiddish, Polish and English.

For advanced students also:

Yehoyesh and Ch. Spivak, Yidish vérterbukh (NY 1911)   [PDF]

Tsvi-Nisn Golomb, Mílim bilshóyni (Vilna 1910)   [PDF]

Sh. A. Soyfer, Verterbukh (Czernowitz 1920) [PDF]

Nehemiah Pereferkovitsh, Hebreízmen in Yidish (Riga 1929)   [PDF]

Nakhmen Krupin, Hantbukh fun hebreízmen in der yidisher shprakh (Buenos Aires 1957)  [PDF]


Compiled by Dovid Katz for students in his intermediate and advanced Yiddish literature courses seeking a short, selective list. Various instructors’ selective recommendations for this purpose (reading Yiddish literature) will differ. See what works best for you! This purpose is distinct from the variety of English-Yiddish dictionaries (and many other tools) important for developing active abilities in speaking and writing Yiddish. See the compiler’s in-progress Yiddish Cultural Dictionary: An English-Yiddish Lexicon (free online, additions and corrections most welcome at: info@yiddishculturaldictionary.org); and Schaechter & Glasser’s Comprehensive English-Yiddish Dictionary.

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Sanitizing Mass Murder: A Historical Novelette



OPINION  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  (AB)USE OF JEWISH STUDIES FOR HISTORICAL REVISIONISM  |  YIDDISH AFFAIRS  | YIVO IN LITHUANIA  | HUMOR (OF SORTS)

by Saul Chapnick  

from today’s TIMES OF ISRAEL

PREFACE: This is a “must-tell” story. It has, for too long, been deliberately kept away from you, the public. It is a fictionalized account of actual events. This tale has all the components of modern day noire: a lone hero, a jaded country, not admitting to its murderous genocidal past, and a once revered institution, experiencing a moral dilemma that could affect her very existence. 

This is the story of Dr. Raphael L. Hatulay and what he has witnessed over the years between the goings on with what we shall call, ASHKI and the Republic of Fenwick. During this process Professor Hatulay has lost almost everything he worked for in life, but he is still fighting for what is right and just. This story deserves to be told.  You deserve to hear it.

“What is the stated mission of a non-profit institution?”  the Public Health professor asked his students nearly five decades ago.

Depending on the agency, the answers provided from the students differed about the stated mission: from feeding the hungry to educating the masses to caring for the elderly.

“Wrong. Wrong, Wrong! Lies, lies, lies!” retorted the professor, who was also the director of a major governmental agency. “The main purpose of charitable organizations and nonprofits is one thing, and one thing only, continuity and survival, no matter what and no matter who gets in the way. Nothing else matters!”

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Virus-Shmirus: Vilnius Yiddish Class Celebrates 20th Session (Safely via Skype)



YIDDISH STUDIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  JULIUS NORWILLA

Julius Norwilla (standing end of table) with his class of Elementary/Intermediate Yiddish at Vilnius’s Jewish Cultural and Information Center (JCIC) in the Old Town, under auspices of the Vilnius Jewish Community in March 2020. On 24 March, with a pandemic upending life in the Lithuanian capital (as everywhere), the students and teacher decided to continue online via skype and have not missed a week. Standing at left is Rima Kazlauskaite, administrator at JCIC.

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Those Thousands of Yiddish Books in Vilnius?



OPINION  |  YIDDISH AFFAIRS  |  VILNIUS YIDDISH INSTITUTE

VILNIUS—Reports are mounting of inquiries about thousands of Yiddish books donated between 2000 and 2018 to “Vilnius University’s Yiddish institute” being met with Orwellian responses along the lines of “they have been deposited until further donors come forward.” After the Vilnius Yiddish Institute was closed down in 2018, and the one actual Yiddish activity of its final eight years, the intensive Vilnius Yiddish summer program, abruptly discontinued, its executive director, Dr. Sarunas Liekis, a longtime member of the state’s “red-brown commission” on Nazi and Soviet crimes, made the books unavailable to students, local and visiting scholars and the wider community. According to sources, a claim is being made that they are the personal property of the heirs of the late Richard Maullin, the donor who “bought” the (some say fictitious) shares of the institute for $25,000 from Tel Aviv resident Mendy Cahan in 2005, and then, in 2010, purged the institute of Yiddish professors not willing to go along with state Holocaust revisionist PR (Maullin was honored by a Lithuanian government medal in 2015). As a result, the “Yiddish” institute was left with no Yiddish teachers for eleven months a year from 2010 onward, but continued with the widely acclaimed summer course that was established in Oxford in 1982 and moved to Vilnius in 1998.

A documented history of these events is provided by Defending History.

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Has “In Geveb” Done it Again?



IN GEVEB WATCH  |  OPINION | YIDDISH AFFAIRS | MEDIA WATCH | YIDDISH AS EAST EUROPEAN POLITICAL TOY

VILNIUS—Yet again, “The Editors” (which editors?) of the lofty online academic Yiddish studies journal “In Geveb” have omitted mention of Defending History and of publications by any of its editors or contributors (except for occasional unsigned disparaging remarks on papers published, unbecoming of academic discourse). The context this time is a bibliography-style list of articles and opinion pieces that have appeared online concerning Yivo’s tragic recent decision to fire its entire library staff. The one omission in the list of articles? Defending History’s response to Yivo’s actions, titled: “Chelm or New York? Yivo Fires All its Librarians, While Investing ‘Fortune’ in PR for Lithuanian Government’s Jewish Politics.”  Hopefully, it was an oversight.

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Chelm or New York? Yivo Fires All its Librarians, While Investing “Fortune” in PR for Lithuanian Government’s “Jewish Politics”



OPINION  |  YIVO MANIPULATED?  |  JEWISH STUDIES AS COVER  | YIDDISH AFFAIRS

by Dovid Katz

The Yivo Institute for Jewish Research, founded here in 1925, in historic Vilna (then Wilno, Poland; in Yiddish forever Vílne) as the world’s premier Yiddish-in-Yiddish academic institute, has, to the consternation of many of its life-long supporters and participating scholars, in recent years been (temporarily, to be sure) “hijacked” to serve as the prime unit  (with the AJC a close second) for Jewish PR. Not “general” Jewish PR but specifically on behalf of certain circles in the Lithuanian government determined to revise Holocaust history (and “sell” the revisions to American Jews particularly), while covering for the use of major Jewish cemeteries for building projects, all the while projecting adulation of “Litvak and Yiddish culture.”

Two of the best-known protests from Holocaust survivors  in Vilnius came from Milan Chersonski, longtime editor of the Lithuanian Jewish Community’s quadrilingual newspaper, and Vilna-born physicist Professor Pinchos Fridberg. More pain was expressed in responses from the Leyzer Ran Family in New York, and the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel.

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Curious History of a Yiddish Professorship at Vilnius University & its “Vilnius Yiddish Institute”


LAST UPDATE



YIDDISH AND JUDAIC STUDIES MANIPULATED FOR HOLOCAUST REVISIONISM  | VILNIUS YIDDISH INSTITUTE  |  BORNS JEWISH STUDIES PROGRAM AT INDIANA UNIVERSITY  |  RICHARD MAULLIN

Its Prehistory (1990-1999), History (1999-2010) and Posthistory (2010-2018) from the Year of Lithuania’s Declaration of Independence Onward

CAN GOVERNMENT AGENCIES STILL WRITE INDIVIDUALS OUT OF HISTORY IN POST-SOVIET SPACE? DO VILNIUS UNIVERSITY’S DEANS AND RECTOR APPROVE OF THE PRACTICE? CAN A PAST PROFESSOR WITH A PERFECT RECORD OVER 11 YEARS (NO COMPLAINTS, NO INCIDENTS) BE WRITTEN OUT OF THE UNIVERSITY’S HISTORY AND DEFAMED IN THE UNIVERSITY’S NAME ON ORDERS OF SOMEONE AT THE “INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION FOR THE EVALUATION OF THE CRIMES OF THE NAZI AND SOVIET REGIMES IN LITHUANIA” (THE “RED-BROWN COMMISSION“)?

A “for the record” page in progress, developed in response to repeated public statements by the current director of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute, a member of the state-sponsored Commission on Nazi and Soviet crimes, claiming that Defending History’s editor (a) was never a professor at the university, (b) if he was an elementary Yiddish alphabet teacher paid by some surfers in California, he got fired for not turning up to work. Further documents are being processed for inclusion in the bizarre but curiously telling chapter of the history of Yiddish Studies in the 21st century. The political manipulation (ranging from West European far-left to East European far-right) of Yiddish-less “Yiddish” is a theme in the final chapter of Yiddish and Power (Palgrave Macmillan 2015) by the Yiddishist in question, Dovid Katz.

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Vilnius Yiddish Conference: State-Manipulated Stunt to Cover for Vilnius Antisemitic & Holocaust Revisionist Events the Same Day?



Question: Will the Roskies (In Geveb) & Fishman (JTS) “Yiddish PR conference” financed to deflect attention from the painful issues, publish a morally clear statement of protest (and support for the Jewish community)? Do conference participants appreciate concerns they are being used as “useful Jewish idiots” (UJIs) in the wider effort to rewrite Holocaust history and cover for blatant antisemitism? Note: these aspects do not detract from the high academic quality of some of the visitors’ fine papers. These are two distinct issues albeit now morally linked. This is a conference honoring Zalman Szyk (Zalmen Shik, author of the 1939 book on Vilna), who was murdered by the Nazis and their local collaborators. Surely, an event in his memory should not be allowed to cover for state-sponsored glorification of Nazi perpetrators the very same days. A simple, measured, polite statement by the conference’s leaders and participants would have been of paramount importance in the circumstances. But would it have marred those triumphant photo-ops with ministers and officials? (No, actually…)

The Lithuanian Jewish community’s callout to world Jewry came on Aug. 6, smack in the middle of the Roskies-Fishman (In Geveb/JTS) conclave. The world’s Jewish media reported on the situation facing the Lithuanian Jewish community that led to closure of both the synagogue and the community center during the conference (including: Algemeiner Journal, APnewsForward,  France24Jewish Heritage Europe, Times of Israel). Will the conference leaders and participants perhaps  issue a polite statement of support for the Jewish community even  after the event, having failed to dare interrupt glorious photo-ops with parliamentarians and ministers during the proceedings? Perhaps some will be in line for future medals and awards, joining an elite, illustrious coterie.

Group photo of foreign academics flown in, glorified, wined and dined by Lithuanian gov. agencies the same day the capital’s one synagogue and Jewish community had to close because of threats resulting from a publicly sanctioned demonstration glorifying a notorious Holocaust collaborator.  Source: Forverts.

Are they aware of the systematic exclusion from their conference of all the local Jewish scholars in this field who have expressed disagreement with the glorification of Holocaust collaborators (including Holocaust survivors who have written about Jewish Vilna)? Will they consider signing Ruta Bloshtein’s petition on the old Vilna Jewish cemetery? “Just one thing is sure — that Zalmen Szyk is turning over in his grave” (he was murdered in 1942 by the resolute allies of those glorified the very day of the conference)…

BACKGROUND: See DH sections on collaborators glorifiedNoreika sagaRamanauskas sagaseven Lithuanian-Jewish issues that could be easily resolved; abuse of Jewish studies as deflection and smokescreen; the academic background. the Seventy Years Declaration (SYD)

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Midsummer Week of Vilnius Synagogue Closure, Antisemitic Demo Glorifying Holocaust Collaborators; A Roskies-Fishman Conference for Neat Cover?


[updated 29 August 2019]


Twenty years after Joe Melamed named Noreika & Škirpa as Holocaust collaborators in Crime & Punishment. Ten years after Defending History published images of the plaques. Seven years after DH’s Evaldias Balčiūnas brought the case of J. Noreika to the English speaking world. Four years after Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas‘s classic DH essay on K. Škirpa: 

Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius Leads City Council Decision to Rename “Skirpa Street” and Personally Orders Removal of “Noreika Plaque” in 4 AM Raid

Official Lithuanian Jewish Community Closes Premises and Synagogue on  6-8 Aug. in View of Threats, Citing Conservative Party’s Ongoing Campaign to Protest Mayor’s Actions and Glorify Holocaust Collaborators

Media coverage: AFPAJ,  AP/WAPOA7BBCBS,  EJCIHJNS,   JTA,  TOI 

Statement issued by Vilnius Jewish Community;  JTA reports of 6. Aug; 7 Aug; 8 Aug (+TOI); LJC’s circulated reply to VJC

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, History, Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Prof. David E. Fishman's Lithuanian Adventures, State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika, Yiddish Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Midsummer Week of Vilnius Synagogue Closure, Antisemitic Demo Glorifying Holocaust Collaborators; A Roskies-Fishman Conference for Neat Cover?

Summer Glut of Lithuanian Gov. Awards for (Alleged) “Useful Jewish Enablers” of Holocaust Revisionism



OPINION  |  AWARDS FOR WESTERN AND JEWISH ENABLERS  | BACKGROUND TO EAST EUROPEAN HOLOCAUST REVISIONISM  |  WHEN FOREIGN MINISTRIES PLAY WITH HOLOCAUST HISTORY FOR POLITICAL GAIN | DOUBLE GENOCIDE  |  (AB)USE OF JEWISH, JUDAIC, HEBRAIC & YIDDISH STUDIES  |  UPS AND DOWNS OF ISRAELI POLICY  |  LITHUANIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY SAGA  |  YIVO MANIPULATED

More Lithuanian Government Glories & Medals for Alleged “Useful Jewish Enablers” of Baltic Holocaust Revisionism

♦ To the outgoing Israeli ambassador, HE Amir Maimon, after he posed with a portrait of an alleged Nazi collaborator Adolfas Ramanauskas (Vanagas) in support of the collaborator’s glorification. Defending History’s Evaldas Balčiūnas has reported for years on the collaborator, who is also featured on the front banner of neo-Nazi torchlit parades. The Wiesenthal Center had spoken out in good time.

♦ To the “fudged election” government-backed head of the state-supported Jewish community, eminent attorney Faina Kukliansky, after she granted “legitimacy” to the erection of a statue in Chicago to the same alleged Nazi collaborator, the first on American soil. The same monument was soundly rejected a year earlier by the democratically elected town council of New Britain, Connecticut. Head of the Jewish Agency now calling for monument’s urgent removal.

♦ To the current head of New York’s Yivo, Dr. Jonathan Brent, after a decade of intimate collusion in Holocaust obfuscation, glib betrayal of Holocaust victims and survivors and defamation of Yiddish scholars who disagree with far-right instrumentalization of this fragile language and literature and are loyal to the survivors and their families. See the plea by Vilnius’s last Vilna-born survivor, Prof. Pinchos Fridberg.

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, A Stolen Election and a Small Jewish Community's Protest, Debates on Adolfas Ramanauskas (Vanagas), Faina Kukliansky, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, History, Identity Theft of Litvak Heritage, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, ministries, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Yiddish Affairs, Yivo Manipulated? | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Summer Glut of Lithuanian Gov. Awards for (Alleged) “Useful Jewish Enablers” of Holocaust Revisionism

Will Joshua Price, Dory Fox and Saul Noam Zaritt Explain their Notion of a Colleague’s “Characteristic Bravado”?



OPINION  |  IN GEVEB WATCH

In an otherwise fair and objective listing of academic papers (archived here) recently published in the field of Yiddish studies, Joshua Price, Dory Fox and Saul Noam Zarrit label Dovid Katz’s paper on Yiddish normativism (“The Yiddish Conundrum: A Cautionary Tale for Language Revivalism” in the Palgrave Macmillan Handbook of Minority Languages and Communities) with the rather personalized characterization “With characteristic bravado”… They were (or were not?) aware that the paper expresses academic disagreement with a 1970 publication edited by D. Roskies, among others, but of course they would never abuse the In Geveb academic platform to exact retribution on behalf of a current boss. That would be unethical, unacademic, untoward and for the fragile field of Yiddish scholarship rather unbecoming.

Perhaps the three Yiddish scholars woudl then explain why the views and arguments in this paper contain more “bravado” than the other papers that express robust academic views on their august list?

It seems, incidentally, that the same author’s recent paper “Methodology in Yiddish Historical Linguistics” (in Yiddish with English abstract page, in Jewish Identity and Comparative Studies = Medievales 68), reaches a higher level of inadmissibility, that of remaining unreported, unmentioned, stricken from the record in the leading online survey of Yiddish academia. Do the editors of In Geveb somehow fear a robust diversity of academic views in twenty first century American academia? Are young scholars entering the field meant to remain ignorant of diverse views in a small and fragile field? Or perhaps this exclusion from any listing in any part of In Geveb has nothing to do with authors or their views, but is based on the paper having been published in Yiddish. And if so, is that an appropriate policy for an academic publication on Yiddish Studies (see the final part of the introduction to the In Geveb Watch section).

Defending History welcomes replies to all posts published (list of authors to date). This post is part of the In Geveb Watch section.

 

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Yiddish Author Aaron Garon’s New Book to Feature at 20 Feb. Yiddish Reading Circle



BOOKS  |  EVENTS  |  YIDDISH AFFAIRS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH COMMUNITY

by Dovid Katz

The Vilna Yiddish Reading Circle, now in its twentieth year and open to all, announced today that its weekly session on Wednesday evening 20 February (as usual, from 6 PM sharp at the Vilnius Jewish Community at Mesiniu 3 in Vilnius Old Town) would be dedicated to the just-published handsome book of essays, articles and memoirs by the beloved Yiddish (and Lithuanian language) journalist Aaron Garon (1919−2009). The book, Di yídishe velt fun Vílne (The Jewish World of Vilna) is a collection of some of his Yiddish prose (essays and memoirs) with full Lithuanian translation, published in avant-garde vertical format, designed by the prominent young book-design maestro Greg Zundelovitch. It was brought out by the author’s children, longtime Israeli residents Tamara and Evgeni Garon, thanks to support from the Lithuanian government’s Good Will Foundation.

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Once Again, Sophomoric and Substandard Journalism at the Yiddish Forward



OPINION  |  YIDDISH AFFAIRS  |  VILNIUS YIDDISH INSTITUTE (VYI)  |  “YIDDISH” AS COVER FOR HOLOCAUST REVISIONISM IN EASTERN EUROPE  |  MEDIA WATCH

by Dovid Katz

Over many years, the jaundiced personal attacks by the Yiddish Forward (Forverts) on colleagues in the field of Yiddish who may hold different opinions, or are just not part of the “Yugntruf” or “Sovetish Heimland” cliques that took over the paper at the turn of the century, have been a cause for concern. For that matter, not the only cause for concern at the many millions of dollars squandered that could have built a genuine revival of Yiddish-in-Yiddish culture among younger generations worldwide that has instead gone on these two clubs and their very specific agendas. I have myself over the years been the object of a number of attacks, for the most part published without the name of the author, in the worst traditions of a yellow press. On one occasion, back in 2011, when “Mr. Jacob London of Oxford” wrote about the Vilnius-based issues of Yiddish studies in the city and its abuse by far-right elements intent on rewriting history in the spirit of East European ultranationalism, we responded on these pages with a piece entitled “Has the Forward Association Abandoned Elementary Ethics?” that was, naturally, signed by its author.

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The Yiddish Conundrum: A Cautionary Tale for Language Revivalism



YIDDISH PROJECTS   |  YIDDISH AFFAIRS

by Dovid Katz

This paper appeared this month as: Dovid Katz, “The Yiddish Conundrum: A Cautionary Tale for Language Revivalism” in: G. Hogan-Brun  and B. O’Rourke  (eds), The Palgrave Handbook of Minority Languages and Communities (Palgrave Macmillan: London 2019), pp.  553-587.

For those who cherish the goal of preserving small, endangered languages, some developments (and lessons) from the case of Yiddish might be illuminating, though not in the sense of some straightforward measure of ‘success’ or ‘failure’. There is no consensus on the interpretation of the current curious — and contentious — situation. If the issues raised might serve as a point of departure for debate on its implications for other languages, particularly the potential damage from exaggeratedly purist ‘corpus planning movements’ as well as potentially associated ‘linguistic disrespect’ toward the majority of the living speakers of the ‘language to be saved’, then this paper’s modest goal will have been realized. Moreover, the perils of a sociolinguistic theory overapplied by a coterie with access to funding, infrastructure and public relations need to be studied.[1]

Ultimately, the backdrop for study of the current situation is the pre-Holocaust status quo ante of a population of Yiddish speakers for which estimates have been in the range of ten to thirteen million native speakers.[2]

Nowadays, on the one hand, millions of dollars a year are spent on ‘saving Yiddish’ among ‘modern Jews’ (secular and ‘modern religious’), interested non-Jews. People may be academically, culturally, literarily, musically, sentimentally, ideologically, and otherwise attracted. The number of Yiddish speaking families these efforts have generated is in dispute, but it is under a dozen. A high proportion of those hail from a postwar movement of normativist language revision, on the Ausbau model of Heinz Kloss. This conscious process has taken their variety ever further from native Yiddish speech of any naturally occurring variety while retaining a steadfast, profound commitment to actually using the language in daily life. Lavish subsidies provide for a newspaper, magazines, myriad programs and a few large architectural edifices dedicated, one way or another, to ‘saving Yiddish’. In academia, endowments have provided a number of positions that are ironically known in the field as ‘poetry fellowships’ in so far as their incumbents may try to be ‘Yiddish writers’ while under no pressure to produce successful doctoral programs that would be generating new generations of scholar specialists who can themselves write and teach in the language (say for advanced courses). In the case of some Yiddish chairs, the elderly East European born donor ‘had the chutzpah to go ahead and die’, leaving his or her children amenable to a program’s ‘rapid enhancement’ via conversion from the low-student-number (‘failing’) Yiddish to the ‘higher student takeup’ (‘winning’) menu of ‘Judaic Studies’ or ‘comparative Jewish literature’ courses.[3] Much of the current ‘language movement’ is focused on ‘Yiddish products’ in English (and other national languages) about Yiddish that have engendered fundraising campaigns for buildings and centers, without seriously attempting to produce new speakers, let alone writers. This has been made possible by what I have called massive American-style PR driven ‘delinguification’ of Yiddish (Katz, 2015: 279-290). The satire, ‘A conference of Yiddish savers’ by Miriam Hoffman, the last major actual Yiddish author born in Eastern Europe before the war, now based in Coral Springs, Florida, continues to delight readers from all sides of the argument (Hoffman 1994). Note that none of this is to suggest that any of these efforts are ‘wasted’.

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The Midnight Plane to Czernowitz: The 2018 International Yiddish Conference



OPINION  |  YIDDISH AFFAIRS  |  UKRAINE

by Saul Chapnick  

from today’s TIMES OF ISRAEL

Have you ever missed an anniversary, a birthday, or event and regretted it for years, or even a lifetime?  I have.  It was missing out in attending the 1908 International Conference on Yiddish Language that took place exactly 110 years ago this year at Czernowitz, a city that served as the regional capital of the Hapsburgs (modern day Chernivtsi, Ukraine).

You may ask even how was it distinctly possible that a man my age could have been around 110 years ago.  For the past nearly thirty years, I have immersed myself in learning about Jewish life and infrastructure in  prewar Europe, plus seeing what the role of Yiddish was, if at all, in that culture.  For most Jews of this age, modern history began with the Holocaust and the creation of the third commonwealth, the modern-day State of Israel.  Events like the Czernowitz Conference, or the Kishinev Pogroms, World War I or the Leo Frank affair are just not in our lexicon, even though they all occurred in the twentieth century, thus making them modern, not ancient, history.

As Jews, it is incumbent upon us to fulfill the obligation of “Zakhor,” “To Remember.”  We are to look back at our history and internalize it in such a way to feel just like we were there, and feel what our brethren felt.  This is just not reflected in our reading of the Passover Haggadah, but everything we do and say in life.  To do “Zakhor” means we have a fuller understanding of ourselves in order to be able to navigate the future. Zakhor enables us to be more comfortable with self.  That is why I went on a personal quest over the last 25 plus years to visit libraries, read books, make visits to Poland and Ukraine to meet with political leaders, rabbis, community leaders, and lay people so that I can learn and experience.

Czernowitz 1908 symbolized to me that turning point in Jewish history.  A part of me felt that I did spiritually attend that conference, but realistically, I knew that it was a physical impossibility.  Then, in July, Dovid Katz, a leading Yiddish scholar, posted in Facebook that he was invited to be the keynote speaker at the 2018 International Commemorative Conference of Yiddish Culture and Language at Czernowitz to mark the 110th anniversary of the very first conference.

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Program of August 2018 Chernowitz (Cernivtsi) Yiddish Conference



YIDDISH AFFAIRS

 

VILNIUS—The organizers of the international conference in Yiddish studies to mark the 110th anniversary of the fabled Chernowitz Language Conference of 1908 have today released the final program for the conference.  It is available as PDF and follows below (use arrows at upper left to turn pages). It will be held in the same building where the 1908 conference took place in today’s Cernivtsi, Ukraine from 6 to 10 August 2018.

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