Tag Archives: Isaac Bashevis Singer

Robert D. King (1936-2023):


Works in Yiddish Studies


 toward a bibliography with scan-ins of the original publications

initiated in honor of Bob King on his 85th birthday, now in his cherished memory


This is the start of a bibliography with scan-ins undertaken in cooperation with my dear friend for close to half a century, Professor Robert D. King. Additions and corrections welcome. Prof. King expressed his fervent wish that PDFs of all his work in Yiddish linguistics be made available free online on this page (and no doubt, elsewhere as well — a university or library website with professional scans would be most appropriate).  Shortly after our intense cooperation on this page started, Bob’s final illness, which he bore with extraordinary dignity and an inimitable blend of Mississippi-Texas with Yiddish humor, cut short his plan to actually arrange for the PDFs via Austin. Thanks in anticipation to readers and libraries that can supply them from their collections (accreditation cab be supplied at each entry). Hopefully this modest effort can help inspire Bob’s professorial colleagues and former students to pursue an online university library page with all his splendid work in Yiddish studies, and, we hope, before too long, a beautiful new book too. One possible title: Robert D. King: Works in the Field of Yiddish.

Publications in honor of Robert D. King are listed below

אונדזערע שמועסן מיט די שקלא⸗וטריאס, טערער חבר, וועלן מיר שוין מירצעשעם ווטערפירן אויף יענער וועלט, אויפן אינדזעלע פון יידישע לינגוויסטן. אַ ליכטיקן גן⸗עדן…

Dovid Katz (Vilnius)


1969

Historical Linguistics and Generative Grammar (Prentice Hall 1969). PDF of prelims and pages referencing Yiddish.

Review of U. Weinreich, English-Yiddish Yiddish-English Dictionary (1968) in Journal of English and Germanic Philology 68, pp. 465-466.

1972

Review of  Werner Weinberg, Die Reste des Jüdischdeutschen (1970) in Journal of English and Germanic Philology 69, pp. 510-513.

1976

The History of Final Devoicing in Yiddish (Indiana University Linguistics Club 1976).

1979

“Can Historical Linguistic Evidence Support the Rhineland Theory of the Origins of Yiddish?” (paper placed before the First International Conference on Research in Yiddish Language and Literature at the Oxford Centre for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies, 6-9 August 1979).

1980

“The History of Final Devoicing in Yiddish” in Marvin I. Herzog, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Dan Miron, Ruth Wisse (eds), The Field of Yiddish. Studies in Yiddish Language, Folklore and Literature. Fourth Collection (Institute for the Study of Human Issues 1980), pp. 371-430.

& Alice Faber, “Historical Linguistics and History: Yiddish Prehistory” (paper presented at the Linguistic Society of America Winter Meeting).

1984

Alice Faber & Robert D. King,  “Yiddish and the Settlement History of Ashkenazic Jews” in  The Mankind Quarterly 24 (1984), pp. 393–425. Republication in David Blumenthal (ed.), Approaches to the Study of Judaism in Medieval Times (vol. II of Brown Judaica Series, Scholar’s Press: Chico, California), pp. 73-108.

1985

“Humanistic Byways: Yiddish for Beginners” in The Texas Humanist 7, pp. 35-36.

1987

“Proto-Yiddish Morphology” in Dovid Katz (ed.), Origins of the Yiddish Language (Pergamon Press 1987), pp. 73-81.

“More about Uriel Weinreich’s Four Riddles” in Shofar 6 (1987).

1988

“Two of Weinreich’s Four Riddles Revisited” in Dovid Katz (ed.), Dialects of the Yiddish Language (Pergamon Press 1988), pp.  85-98.

The Weinreich Legacy. Fifth Annual Avrom-Nokhem Stencl Lecture in Yiddish Studies (Oxford Centre for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies 1988; frontispiece by S. S. Prawer; series edited by Dovid Katz).

1990

“On the Origins of the -s Plural in Yiddish” in Paul Wexler (ed.),  Studies in Yiddish Linguistics (Max Niemeyer 1990), pp. 47-53.

“A Conspiracy and a Question Mark” [in Yiddish: “A konspirátsye un a fráge-tseykhn”] in Dovid Katz (ed.), Oksforder Yidish, vol. 1 (Harwood Academic Publishers 1990), pp. 247-251.

1991

“Matisyohu Mieses” in Dov-Ber Kerler (ed.), History of Yiddish Studies (Harwood Academic Publishers 1991), pp. 25-38.

1992

“Migration and Linguistics as Illustrated by Yiddish” in  Trends in Linguistics 58: Reconstructing Languages and Cultures (1992),  pp. 419–439.

Review of Joshua A. Fishman, Yiddish: Turning to Life (1991) in Language 68, pp. 831-833.

1993

“Early Yiddish Vowel Systems: A Contribution by William G. Moulton to the Debate on the Origins of Yiddish” in  The Field of Yiddish. Fifth Collection (1993), pp. 87–98.

Review of Marvin I. Herzog et al, Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry, vol. 1 (1991) in Michigan Germanic Studies 19, pp. 84-86.

1995

Review of Jack Kugelmass (ed.) , Going Home = YIVO Annual, vol. 21 in Shofar 13:4 (1995), pp. 99-101.

1998

“The Czernowitz Conference in Retrospect” in Dov-Ber Kerler (ed.), Politics of Yiddish (Alta Mira Press, 1998).

“On the Uses of Yiddish Linguistic Geography” in Shofar 27 (1998), pp. 81-89.

“Yiddish Evidence for Early Uvular [r] in German” in Studies in Germanic Philology  10 (1998), pp. 279-290.

1999

Review of Marvin I. Herzog et al, The Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry, vol. 3 in Michigan Germanic Studies 24, pp. 230-232.

2001

“The Paradox of Creativity in Diaspora. The Yiddish Language and Jewish Identity” in Diaspora, Identity, and Language Communities = Studies in the Linguistic Sciences 31:1, pp. 213-229.

Review of Gennady Estraikh, Soviet Yiddish: Language Planning and Linguistic Development in Language in Society 30:1 (March 2001), pp. 118-121.

2004

“A Different Side of Isaac Bashevis” in Jewish Affairs 59, pp. 36-39.

2005

“Lessons of Yiddish for Nostratic” in Proceedings of the Conference on Nostratic in Pecz, Hungary (2005).

2019

Lucy Dawidowicz, the Yiddish Eagle of the Bronx” in Tablet (5 Dec. 2019).

2020

The Groundbreaking Memoirs of Glikl of Hamel” in Mosaic Magazine (4 Feb. 2020).

“Lucy the Warrior” (review of Nancy Sinkoff, From Left to Right: Lucy S. Dawidowicz, the New York Intellectuals, and the Politics of Jewish History) in Commentary (May 2020).

◊Lucy the

2021

Goodbye Chomsky and Other Essays on Language (Austin Macauley 2021), chapter 13, select pp.

Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Afterlife in Texas” in Tablet (23 July 2021).


Publications honoring Robert D. King:

Patricia C. Sutcliffe (ed.), The Polymath Intellectual: A Festschrift in Honor of Professor Robert D. King (Agarita Press, 2020).

Dovid Katz, I Kings (Mlókhim Alef) and II Kings (Mlókhim Beyz) Translated into Lithuanian Yiddish from the Biblical Hebrew. In Honor of Professor Robert D. King.

 

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Menke Katz Resource Page


UPDATES TO

2024

CONTENTS

Books (9 in Yiddish, 9 in English)Translations of Yiddish books.   Editor.   Folksongs.   Essays.   Translations in book formAbout Menke & his poetry (inc. I. Bashevis Singer, Sh. Niger,  M. Olgin, A. Pomerantz, M. Ravitch).   Menke’s Audio & Video.   Video about Menke Katz.    Biographies and researchMenke’s poems set to music.  Poems on Menke.   Maps.   PhotographsEvents.   

“The question is, to tell the truth, whether in generations to come, a hundred years hence, someone will love Menke’s poetry enough (in any language) to name a child (be it son or daughter) Menke (not something or other that starts with M)” (—Menke Katz)


Menke’s 18 Books: 9 Yiddish, 9 English: all online

  1. The nine Yiddish Books: Dray shvester [Three Sisters] (Milwaukee 1932); Der mentsh in togn [As Humanity Dawns] (NY 1935); Brenendik shtetl  [Burning Town] vol. I & vol. II (NY 1938); S’hot dos vort mayn bobe Moyne (PDF) [Grandmother Mona Takes the Floor] (preface by William Abrams, NY 1939); Tsu dertseyln in freydn [To Tell It in Happy Times] (NY 1941); Der posheter kholem [The Simple Dream] (N 1947); Inmitn tog [Midday] (NY 1954); Tsfas [Safad] (Tel Aviv 1979). Posthumously: Menke sonetn [Menke Sonnets] (NY 1993); 2nd edition of Dray shvester (Rowen, Wales, 1993).

  2. The nine English books: Land of Manna [PDF] (Chicago 1965); Rockrose [PDF] (NY 1970); Burning Village (NY 1972—not a translation of the 1938 Yiddish vols); Forever and Ever and a Wednesday with illustrations by Lisa Smith (NY 1980); (with Harry Smith:) Two Friends (NY and London 1981); A Chair for Elijah (NY 1985); (with Harry Smith:) Two Friends II (NY 1988); Nearby Eden (NY 1990); posthumously: This Little Land, edited by Stanley H. Barkan (NY 1992).

  3. Online selections of poems by Steven Lawson (English); and Dovid Katz (Yiddish and English).

Translation of the Nine Yiddish Books into English

Benjamin and Barbara Harshav (translators), Menke: The Complete Yiddish Works [in English translation] with preface by Harry Smith and introduction by Dovid Katz (NY 2005). PDf of proofs only of: introductions; pp. 1-452; pp. 453-779.

Menke’s Collections of Yiddish Folk (and other) Songs

  1. Digital edition of Menke Katz’s 1985 collection of Yiddish folk (and other) songs.

  2. As PDF of his manuscript with illustrations by Rivke Katz.

  3. Recordings of Menke singing folksongs self-accompanied on his mandolin (digitization in progress).

  4. Sheh Sheh (Shelley Handler Murphy), Songs of My Grandfather (audio cassette format).

Periodicals Edited

  1. In Yiddish: Founding co-editor of Mir (in Yiddish): 3 issues in 1944.

  2. In English: Founding (/only) editor-in-chief of Bitterroot (in English), 100 issues, 1962-1991. Associate editors: Sol Karp (issues 1–39 [1962–1972]); Stanley H. Barkan (issues 40-43 [1972–1973)]); Ruth Katz (issues 44–48 [1974]); Henry F. Beechhold (issues 49–63 [1974–1978]); Henry F. Beechhold & Norman Andrew Kirk (issue 64 [1978]); Norman Andrew Kirk & Merle Molofsky (issues 65–81 [1978–1983]); Martin Golan & Norman Andrew Kirk (issues 82–-85 [1983–1985]); Shirley Horowitz & Norman Andrew Kirk (issues 86–100 [1985–1991]).

  3. Anthology editor: Guest Editor of Freshness of the Ancient. Oceania’s Double Annual 1986-1987. Modern Yiddish Poetry [in English translation], (T.I.C.W. International: Madras, India.

Essays and Articles

  1. In Yiddish: “Symbolizm: element tsi metod” in Signál (eds. William Abrams, Aaron Kurtz, B. Fenster), May 1935; “Der Braver Pakhdn” (manifesto for a Yiddish poetry free of socialist political correctness and leftist demands), in the Frayhayt (ed. M. Olgin, 14 Aug. 1938); preface to Ben Yomen’s Zing Mayn Folk (NY 1943); “A bisl Mikhálishker loshn un folklór” in Yídishe shprakh (ed. Mordkhe Schaechter), vol. 35, 1976; “A vort vegn ortográfye” & “A vort vegn férz-takt in der yídisher poézye” in his Tsfas (Tel Aviv 1979); “Mayn kháver Yosl Grínshpan” in Yidishe kultur (ed. Itche Goldberg), vol. 49, no. 7-8 (July-August 1987); “Zéygermakheráy in Mikháleshik” in Oxford Yiddish I (Chur 1990); “Form in poézye un natúr” in Oxford Yiddish II (Chur 1995). “Zikhroynes fun Svintsyan un Mikhaleshik in Yiddish Pen (1996), no 21; “Makhshóves fun a nyu-yórker yídishn poét un lérer” in Yidishe kultur (ed. Itche Goldberg), vol. 63, no. 5-6 (Nov-Dec 2001) & vol. 64, no. 1-2 (Jan-Feb 2002).

  2. In English:
    “A Word or Two” (introduction to the first issue of Bitterroot, Fall 1962); “A Word or Two Against Rhyme” (inaugural essay of the Aspects of Modern Poetry series) in Poet Lore, 1966; “The Greatest Sex Story Ever Told” in Pulpsmith (ed. Harry Smith), vol. 1, no. 1, Spring 1981); “How Daughter-in-Law Turned a Trick on Judah”in Pulpsmith, vol. 1, no. 2, Summer 1981); Preface in Norman Andrew Kirk, Panda Zoo (Wayland, Massachusetts, 1983); “Dilon [Zhuravitski], Avrom-Moyshe” & “Grinshpan, Yosl” in The Blackwell Companion to Jewish Culture (ed. Glenda Abramson), Oxford 1989.

Translations of Menke’s Poetry in Book Form

  1.  Stanley H. Barkan (ed), International Festival of Poetry and Art, Menke Katz’s “Death of a Day Old Child” [translated into Chinese, Esperanto, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Ibo, Italian, Japanese, Kannada, Korean, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Tagalog, Yiddish] (Cross-Cultural Communications, Fall 1973). Online in Point Eidtions.

  2. Belarusian: pamphlet-format offprint of fifteen poems translated by Tatiana Halliday. Introduction by Vital Zajka. In Zapisy, no. 27, New York & Minsk 2004, pp. 391-408.

  3. English: Benjamin and Barbara Harshav, translators: Menke, The Complete Yiddish Poems (edited by Harry Smith & Dovid Katz, NY 2005).

  4. French: Alexandre Amprimoz (trans. & ed.), Initiation à Menke Katz (Les Presses Libres: Montreal 1972).

  5. Greek: Hugh McCinley (ed. & trans.), Th Toy Manna (bilingual Greek-English edition, Alvin Redman Hellas: Athens 1968).

  6. Hebrew: Dov Vardi (trans.), Menke Katz: Perah Selah (Sifriat Poalim, Merhaviah & Tel Aviv 1973).

  7. Italian: Alexandre Amprimoz (trans. & ed., Menke Katz: Choice Poems in Italian (Rome 1974).

  8. Japanese: Twelve Poems of Menke Katz (bilingual edition, Subterranean Books: Tokyo 1967).

  9. Kannada: G. S. Sharat Chandra (ed.), On the Death of a Day Old Child and Other Poems of Menke Katz (translated by G.S. Sharat Chandra & G. S. Manjula, G.S.S.C. Publications: Bangalore, India 1968).

  10. Lithuanian: Kerry Keys (ed.), Selected Poems (bilingual edition; translations by Laurynas Katkus, Birutė Ušinskaitė, Alvydas Bausys, Sonata Paliulytė, Artūras Valionis (Versus Aureus: Vilnius 2008).

Debates, Book Reviews, Literary Portraits (on his Yiddish poetry)

1938 Braver Pakhdn debate: Menke Katz (14 Aug). Martin Birnbaum (21 Aug).  Moyshe Katz (28 Aug). Editor’s note (3 Sept)Aaron Kurtz (4 Sept).  L. Yurman (11 Sept). William Abrams (18 Sept)B. Tepper (2 Oct). English editor’s note (6 Oct).

Entries/chapters in encyclopedia/collective volumes and portrait articles/prefaces:Alexander Pomerantz (1935). William Abrams  (1939). Moyshe Shtarkman (1945) with extensive bibliography). M. Olgin (1949). William Abrams (1942).  Melech Ravitch (1958). Yosl Kohn (Cohen) (1960). Sholem Shtern (1982).

Dray shvester (1932): Yankev Botashansky (15 April 1932). Yankev Pilovsky (21 June 1945). 

Der mentsh in togn (1935): Sh. Karakushansky (31 May 1935).  Yankev Pilovsky (21 June 1945, part 1 only). Unknown (1935).

Brenendik shtetl (vols 1-2, 1938): Book launch. M. Olgin I (English, 27 Apriol 1938). M. Olgin II (Yiddish), 1938 (1949 reprint).

Bobe Moyne  (1939): Book announcement slip. Moyshe Shtarkman (1939). Isaac Bashevis Singer (1940). L. Zhitnitzky (1940).

 Tsu dertseyln in freydn (1941)Book launch. Fragments of two reviews.

Der posheter kholem (1947): NY Book launch poster.  Washington DC Yosl Kohn (1947). Unknown fragment.

Inmitn tog (1954): Avrom Lev (1954). Isaac Bashevis Singer (1956). 

Audio & Video by Menke Katz

  1. Menke Katz playlist on Dovid Katz’s Youtube channel.
  2. Interview with Louis Ehrenkrantz (radio) “World of the Little Magazine” series, no 24, 196?).

  3. Interview with Stan Rubin of the Writers Forum at Brockport College (local TV) on 22 April 1977.

  4. Interview with Prof. Stanley (Shimke) Levine (video, in Yiddish, 197?; file under repair).

  5. Interview with Prof Stanley (Shimke) Levine (video, in English, 197? file under repair).

  6. Dozens of audio cassettes (two from the 1950s, most from c. 1971–1991), have been digitized and will be organized and posted online as soon as resources permit. A small number of videos from family gatherings that include folk songs accompanied on the mandolin are being digitized.

Video about Menke Katz

  1. Troim Katz Handler interviewed by Christa Whitney (2013, video, in English) for the National Yiddish Book Center.

  2. Rivke Katz interviewed by Romas Lileikis in the documentary film (Vilnius 1992).

  3. Yeiske (Joseph) Katz interviewed by Dovid Katz, filmed by Saulius Berzinis (Vilnius c. 2000).

  4. Dovid Katz interviewed by Noah Barrera and Gustavo Emos  (2020,  video, in Yiddish) for their series of interviews in Yiddish with children of Yiddish writers.

Biography, Memoirs, and Literary Research

  1. Menke Katz’s autobiographical essay in Contemporary Authors, vol 9 (Detroit 1989, pp. 49-71).

  2. Harry Smith’s preface to the 2005 collection of Menke’s nine Yiddish books translated by Benjamin and Barbara Harshav (Menke: The Complete Yiddish works).

  3. Memoirs, essays, and research by Dovid Katz.  In Yiddish: in Yidishe kultur (1991); in Oxford Yiddish II (1991, pp. 293-311); in Di goldene keyt (1991,no. 132, pp. 98-123); On Dray shvester in Yidishe kultur (1992,vol. 54, no 4, pp. 41-49 and  no 5: pp 37-46). In English: Intro to the Complete Yiddish Poems translated by the Harshavs (2005); parts of intro to Amelia Glaser, ed. Proletpen (2005, pp. 3-25).

Menke Katz’s Poems Set to Music

  1. Emes: music composed and performed by Joanna (Ashke) Czaban (2021).
  2. Emes: music composed and directed by Daniel Galay, sung by  Naah Bizansky at Leyvik House (19 May 2021).
  3. Emes: music composed and performed by Mayer Bogdanski (198os).
  4. Yidish: music composed by Mikhl Gelbart in his Naye gezangen. New Songs for School, Home and Concert (no. 28).

Poems about Menke Katz and his Poetry

  1. Zelig Dorfman’s poem Dray shvester

  2. Stanley H. Barkan’s To a Brooklyn Poet

  3. E. M.  Schorb

  4.  Harry Smith (link coming)

Maps

  1. Geography of Menke’s boyhood in Lithuania by Giedrė Beconytė.

  2.  Geography of Menke’s life (Lithuania, USA, Israel) by Giedrė Beconytė [in progress].

Photographs

  1. Photos from family collection in Menke Katz Album on Facebook.

    Events and Public (/Online) Readings

    1. Where Yiddish Laughs and Cries: A Celebration of the Poems and Life of Menke Katz by Raquel Yossiffon and Marinka Yossiffon at the Kiever Shul of Downtown Toronto, 25 April 2021. Program. Video of the event on youtubePP presentation. Yiddish poems included. Online event details with all links. With the participatin of Kiever Shul staff and Stanley H. Barkan, Noyekh Barrera, Miriam Borden, Zishe Carlow, Ori Carmona, Stacie Carmona, Joanna Czaban, Gustavo de Oliveira Emos, Daniel Galay, Claudia Handler, Barbara Harshav, Charles Heller, Masha Kalmanovitch, Benjamin Miller, Shelley Murphy, Alon Nashman,

    2. World of the Lower East Side Radical Yiddish Writers of Proletpen. Menke Katz’s reflections as remembered by his son. Kolya Borodulin interviews Dovid Katz (in Yiddish) at Workmens Circle online event on 2 May 2021. Event announcement  (also: here). PDF presented. Video.

    3. Children of Yiddish Writers series produced by Noah Barrera and Gustavo Emos: guest appearance by Dovid Katz speaking on Menke Katz,  29 November 2020. On youtube.

    4. Syndic Literary Journal: Eight  Poems by Menke Katz 1906 – 1991. Narrated in English Translation by Stanley H. Barkan.  In the Original Yiddish by Masha Kalmanóvitch.


Corrections, additions and suggestions are welcome. Please write to Dovid Katz at: info@yiddishculturaldictionary.org. Thank you.

 

 

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Dovid Katz: Online Courses to End of 2023


Fall-Winter 2023: online in Yiddish at Workmens Circle

Jan. 2023: History of the Yiddish Language (online in English, at Yivo)

2022-2023: online in Yiddish at Workmens Circle

Recorded online seminars


Autumn-Winter 2023

Details can be obtained as needed from the Workmen Circle’s webpage, and via email to the program’s director, Nikolai Borodulin (nborodulin@circle.org), or its coordinator, Baruch Blum (bblum@circle.org).

Readings in Isaac Bashevis Singer

Mondays 2:30 – 4:00 PM: Oct. 9, 16, 23, 30, Nov. 6. 13, 20, 27, Dec. 4, 18

Course Goals: The premise here is that intermediate students are ready and willing to read a modern Yiddish master in the unadulterated original edition (not in a watered-down version for students). We will read together, slowly and deliberately, in the classic Yiddish reading circle tradition of everybody having an opportunity to read, with emphasis on enjoying cultural, linguistic and historical nuance. The aim is to sharply enhance students’ abilities to cope with bona fide literary Yiddish of the modern masters. Because of the active language-enhancement focus, each session will, however, start with a conversational warm-up enabling practice of spoken Yiddish before we move on to the selections from Bashevis Singer.

Additional Info: For intermediate students only.


Readings in London Yiddish Literature 

Thursdays 3:30 – 5:00 PM: Oct. 12, 19, 26, Nov. 2, 9, 16, 30, Dec. 7, 14, 21

Course Goals: The course aims to present a diversity of shorter readings from Yiddish literature created in London (and in most cases about London) in the century from around 1880 to around 1980. In the classic tradition of the Yiddish reading circle, participants will take turns reading selections which are then discussed (entirely in Yiddish). The course will get underway with excerpts from Sholem Aleichem, Morris Rosenfeld, Morris Winchevsky, and Dovid Eydlshtat reflecting on London during their sojourns in the city. After a brief excerpt from Rudolf Rocker, the focus will shift to a selection of works from the twentieth century, featuring first and foremost, A. N. Stencl, and, among others, Katie Brown, L. Sh. Kreditor, Esther Kreitman (Hinde-Ester Singer), Y. Kh. Klinger, Yosef-Hilel Leyvi, I.A. Lisky, Morris Myer, Moyshe Oyved, N.M. Seedo (Sonia Chusid), Ben. A. Sochachevsky. Dovid Zaydnfeld. The course will conclude with retrospectives by Mayer Bogdanski and A.N. Stencl. Plays and daily press, which merit separate courses, are not included. The list is subject to modification as the course moves along.

Additional Info: Conducted entirely in Yiddish. For advanced students. Intermediate students are welcome with the usual understandings that they may follow much or most but perhaps not all of the points covered in class, and they may be called upon to read only brief segments of the text being studied.


Autumn-Winter 2022-2023

Details can be obtained as needed from the program’s director, Nikolai Borodulin (nborodulin@circle.org), or its coordinator, Baruch Blum (bblum@circle.org).

Six of the online Workmens Circle Yiddish courses, all via Zoom, now scheduled for the autumn-winter 2022 semester. More details on these (and many other courses by other instructors) appear on the WC Yiddish courses webpage. Five of these six courses comprise ten 1.5 hour sessions, running weekly from late October to the end of Dec. 2022 (and in one case, Hasidic Yiddish, with two final sessions in January); the sixth (on A.N. Stencl) is a five session mini-course in October and November. 

Five of these courses are held entirely in Yiddish, and one is in Hebrew. In either case, participants who can follow the language, are passionate about the texts read and analyzed, are welcome to sign up even if not (yet) fluent. Course titles, dates and times, and brief descriptions follow in sequence of days of the week. Times are New York City, please check for corresponding time in your location. LA and San Francisco are three hours before NY; London and Manchester five hours later; Paris and Berlin six hours later; Tel Aviv and Vilnius seven hours later.


Mondays: Readings from the 1920s-1930s New York Leftist Yiddish daily Fráyhayt (Advanced; Intermediate students welcome)

2—3:30 PM NY time on Oct. 24, 31; Nov. 14, 21, 28; Dec. 5, 12, 26 (2022); January 2, 9 (2023)

Readings from scan-ins of original pages from the New York leftist Yiddish daily, the Fráyhayt from the 1920s and 1930s with emphasis on diversity: front page headlines and news columns on the bustling everyday American Yiddish life as well as wider American culture of a century ago; also on international affairs of the day; editorials and opinion pieces; original poetry and prose (with emphasis on women authors); literary criticism and passionate debates on writers and works; views on Yiddish and issues of usage; women’s and children’s sections; secular Yiddish education in North America. Discussions of attitudes toward free love, religion, social and political activism and the battles within the distinct lanes of the Yiddish progressive environment; nostalgia for the East European Old Country; advertisements for products and esp. for social events (ranging from multiracial balls featuring dancing until sunrise, spanning the spectrum to religious events and kosher upstate hotels). Note: The course is not a history of the Jewish labor movement or any part of it, though students thereof may find some relevant materials toward their own further research in that field. Conducted entirely in Yiddish. See the course page for background readings and samples of texts read. The course is affectionately dedicated in honor of S. Chic Wolk of Santa Monica, California, who made it possible in the first place.


Tuesdays: Reading Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Yentl in the Original (for Intermediate students only)

2—3:30 PM NY time on October 25; November 1, 15, 29; Dec 6, 13, 20, 21, 27 (2022); January 3 (2023)

The premise here is that some Intermediate students are ready and willing to read a modern Yiddish master in the unadulterated original edition! We will read together, slowly and deliberately, in the classic Yiddish reading circle tradition, with emphasis on enjoying cultural, linguistic and historical nuance. The aim is to sharply enhance students’ abilities to cope with bona fide literary Yiddish of the modern masters. Because of the active language-enhancement focus, each session will, however, start with a conversational warm-up enabling practice of spoken Yiddish before we move on to Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Yentl der yeshíve-bókher. Students are warned that Bashevis Singer’s prose includes explicit sexual content.


Wednesdays: Introduction to Ashkenazic Hebrew

3—4:30 PM NY time on Oct. 19, 26; Nov. 2, 9, 16, 30; Dec. 7, 14, 21, 28 (2022)

A chance to bid farewell to some old fears, hesitations and taboos, and fulsomely relish the pleasures, cultural uniqueness and humor of the rich, exotic (yet so very near) and variegated world of Ashkenazic Hebrew, from medieval Passover songs, through the great Hebrew poets of the language’s revival (including the original of Israel’s national anthem) to today’s Haredi world, with equal emphasis on religious and secular Ashkenazic creativity over the last thousand years of Jewish history. Suitable for participants who have some familiarity with any variety of Hebrew (ancient, medieval or modern — or just prayers). Conducted in Ashkenazic Hebrew (with occasional brief explanations in English, Yiddish, or Israeli as required). If your Hebrew is not Ashkenazic, please don’t worry, that will be taken care of on site. Knowledge of Yiddish helpful but not required. Earlier offerings of this W.C. course led to this early draft of the instructor’s Manual of Ashkenazic Hebrew and A Mini Dictionary of Ashkenazic Hebrew (both available free online). Another spinoff of this course is the instructor’s evolving Ashkenazic Hebrew youtube playlist.

Thursdays: Chaim Grade’s Shorter Fiction set in Old Jewish Vilna (Advanced)

2—3:30 PM NY time on October 20, 27; November 3, 10, 17; December 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 (2022)

Each of the ten sessions will comprise two components: (a) a close, detailed reading from a Chaim Grade novella set in old Jewish Vilna (Yiddish Vílne) and (b) presentation of a select aspect of (or artefact from) Vilna Jewish culture. The instructor will provide stylistic, cultural, linguistic, religious and Vilna-specific commentary, sharing relevant extracts (and maps) from his book, Lithuanian Jewish Culture and exhibits from his online Mini-Museum of Old Jewish Vilna. Those interested are invited to visit the Lithuania page of the author’s website at www.dovidkatz.net. NOTE: Readings will not repeat those of previous courses (but some of the cultural artefacts will have been displayed in earlier courses). Conducted entirely in Yiddish.


Fridays: Poems, Prose, & Life of A. N. Stencl

(a five-week advanced-level mini-course)

11 AM —12:30 PM NY time on October 21, 28; November 4, 11, 18 (2022)

The mystic Yiddish poet A. N. Stencl (1897-1983), scion of grand hasidic and rabbinic masters, is remembered for two distinct periods: Weimar (and, remarkably — Nazi) Germany (1921-1936), where he published a series of expressionist, avant garde works; and London (1936-1983), where he arrived in 1936 and became the Yiddish Bard of Whitechapel in London’s East End. He was a guru-like figure to generations of Yiddishists, instituting a weekly literary gathering, while publishing exquisite anthologies and a folksy magazine that elevated Whitechapel to the permanent repository (and lore) of Yiddish literary history. The instructor (who was a close friend of Stencl’s) will recount from his memories and share some keepsakes and reports on Stencl’s personal (often controversial) views on Yiddish and Yiddishism. But the core of this course is an actual close reading of extracts from a limited number of selected works from both the Berlin/Leipzig and London-Whitechapel periods (in the classic Yiddish reading circle spirit of taking turns reading followed by group discussion). Those interested may look at the instructor’s 1993 essay published on Stencl’s tenth yórtsayt in Itche Goldberg’s Yidishe kultur (online). In Stencl’s memory, the instructor established the A.N. Stencl Lecture at Oxford University, edited its first 6 years’ published lectures, starting with Professor S. S. Prawer’s Stencl of Whitechapel (1983) and William J. Fishman’s Morris Winchevsky’s London Yiddish Newspaper, and coordinated the successful efforts to rescue Stencl’s library and archive at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. See also instructor’s other work on Stencl and London Yiddish literature. Conducted entirely in Yiddish.


Sundays: The Yiddish of Today’s Hasidic Yiddish Periodicals (Advanced)

Sundays 2:00–3:30 PM NY time on October 23, 30; November 6, 13, 20; December 4, 11, 18 (2022); January 8, 15 (2023)

Readings from current Hasidic periodicals, primarily magazines (in the Yiddish reading circle spirit of taking turns reading selections) with emphasis on diversity and discussion of style, grammar, vocabulary, spelling and “linguistic directionality” in the spirit of ascertaining the actual structure and grammar of current Hasidic Yiddish in Print. This text-based course is concentrated on the readings, with opportunities for open and tolerant discussion on varying interpretations of the data presented. Note that it is not a course about contemporary Hasidism or its groups and issues. Conducted entirely in Yiddish. The course has been developed with the generous assistance of Genesis University and Mr. Albert Rosenblatt of New York City.


Summer 2022

Online courses in the New York Workmens Circle Yiddish Studies program. Registration information. Details can be obtained as needed from the program’s director, Nikolai Borodulin (nborodulin@circle.org), or its coordinator, Baruch Blum (bblum@circle.org). Four of these five-session courses are held entirely in Yiddish, and one is in Hebrew. In either case, participants who can follow the language, are passionate about the texts being read and analyzed, are welcome to sign up even if not (yet) fluent. Course titles, dates and times, and brief descriptions follow in sequence of days of the week. Times are New York City, please check for corresponding time in your location.

Sundays: Structure of Hasidic Yiddish (in periodic publications from 2022)

2 – 3:30 PM on July 17, 24, 31; August 14, 21

Readings from current Hasidic periodicals, primarily magazines (in the Yiddish reading circle spirit of taking turns reading selections) with emphasis on diversity and discussion of style, grammar, vocabulary, spelling and “linguistic directionality” in the spirit of ascertaining the actual structure and grammar of current Hasidic Yiddish in print. This text-based course is concentrated on the readings, with opportunities at the end of each session for open discussion on varying interpretations of the data presented. Note that it is not a course about contemporary Hasidism or its groups and issues. Conducted entirely in Yiddish. The course has been developed with the generous assistance of Genesis University and Mr. Albert Rosenblatt of New York City.

Mondays: Readings from the New York Leftist Yiddish daily Fráyhayt (1920s / 1930s)

2 – 3:30 PM on July 11, 18, 25, August 1, 8

Readings from scan-ins of original pages from the New York leftist Yiddish daily Fráyhayt (from 1929: Morgn-Fráyhayt) from the 1920s and 1930s with emphasis on diversity: front page headlines and news columns on American and international affairs; editorials and opinion pieces; original poetry and prose (with emphasis on women authors); literary criticism and passionate debates on writers and works; views on Yiddish and issues of usage; women’s and children’s sections; secular Yiddish education in North America. Discussions of attitudes toward free love, religion, social and political activism, the East European ‘old country’ and the new American homeland; advertisements for products and esp. for social events (as well as religious events and kosher products). Note: The course is not a history of the Jewish labor movement or any part of it, though students thereof may find some relevant materials toward their own further research in that field. Conducted entirely in Yiddish.

See the course page for background readings and samples of texts read. The course is affectionately dedicated to S. Chic Wolk of Santa Monica, California.

Tuesdays: Intellectual History of the Vilna Yivo (prehistory from 1908 through the 1925 founding to Max Weinreich’s departure in 1939)

2 – 3:30 PM on July 12, 19, 26, August 2, 9

Readings from the original works of the Yivo’s precursor theoreticians (Matisyohu Mieses, 1908 and Ber Borokhov, 1913), and of leading figures in Yivo’s founding (Nokhem Shtif, Max Weinreich), and in the realization of its programs, projects, and publications (in and outside of Vilna), during the years from 1925 to 1939: Zelik-Hirsh Kalmanovitsh, Yudl Mark, Noyekh Prilutski, Zalmen Reyzen, Nokhem Shtif, Elyóhu Tsherikover (Cherikover), Max Weinreich, with greater representation for the policy-determining works of Weinreich. The goal is to grasp the actual original ideas, style and milieu of these figures and their work and aspiration via brief excerpts from their own writings, read in class in the Yiddish reading circle spirit of taking turns reading. While only short excerpts can be read in the time allotted, participants will be given links or PDFs of the entirety of each work excerpted for further private reading if desired. Conducted entirely in Yiddish.

For brief background reading, see the instructor’s pages on Yivo in his 2007 revised edition of Words on Fire: The Unfinished Story of Yiddish, available free online (pp. 294-300; 355-360; 408-411).

Wednesdays: Introduction to Ashkenazic Hebrew

2 – 3:30 PM on July 13, 20, 27; August 3, 10

An opportunity to say goodbye to hesitations and taboos, and fulsomely enjoy the rich and variegated world of Ashkenazic Hebrew, from medieval Passover songs, through the great Hebrew poets of the language’s revival (including the original of Israel’s national anthem) to today’s Haredi world, with equal emphasis on religious and secular Ashkenazic creativity over the last thousand years of Jewish history. Suitable for participants who have some command of any variety of Hebrew (ancient, medieval or modern). Conducted in Ashkenazic Hebrew (with occasional brief explanation in English, Israeli or Yiddish as required). Knowledge of Yiddish helpful but not required.

Earlier offerings of this W.C. course led to this early draft of the instructor’s Manual of Ashkenazic Hebrew and A Mini Dictionary of Ashkenazic Hebrew (both available free online). Another spinoff  of this course is the evolving Ashkenazic Hebrew youtube playlist.

Thursdays: Readings on Old Jewish Vilna

2 – 3:30 PM on July 14, 21, 28, August 4, 11

On the eve of the 700th anniversary (in 2023) of the city Vilna (Wilno, modern Vilnius, in Yiddish forever Vílne): readings reflecting the unique cultural character and concrete achievements of Jewish Vilna over the centuries, with emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. After a brief look at earlier centuries, excerpts will be read (in the Yiddish reading circle tradition of taking turns reading) from works selected from those of Daniel Charney, Esther Frumkin, A. I. Goldshmid, Chaim Grade, Sofye Markovne Gurevitsh, Avrom Karpinovitsh, Israel Klausner, Meyshe Kulbak, Chaikel (Khaykl) Lunski, Kalmen Marmor, Leyzer Ran, and Max Weinreich. Conducted entirely in Yiddish.

Participants interested in pre-course background reading are invited to read selections from Leyzer Ran’s three volume illustrated masterpiece Jerusalem of Lithuania (N.Y. 1974). The course itself will include excerpts from Ran’s book, Vilne: Ash fun Yerusholáyim d’Lite (N.Y. 1959). Participants are also invited to look at several of the instructor’s works online: Windows to a Lost Jewish Past: Vilna Jewish Book Stamps, Seven Kingdoms of the Litvaks, and his Lithuanian Jewish Culture (selections available on his Lithuania page). Those who enjoy artefacts may also wish visit the virtual Mini Museum of Old Jewish Vilna.


Winter-Spring 2022

January 2022:

History of the Yiddish Language [in English] Six-session online seminar course taught in English  at the Yivo-Bard Winter Program on Ashkenazi Civilization. Choice of afternoon or evening sections. Details and registration information here.

March-May 2022:

Online courses in the New York Workmens Circle Yiddish Studies program [in Yiddish]. Registration information. Details can be obtained as needed from the program’s director, Nikolai Borodulin (nborodulin@circle.org), or its coordinator, Baruch Blum (bblum@circle.org). The five ten-session courses offered are held entirely in Yiddish, but folks who follow Yiddish, are passionate about the texts being read and analyzed, are welcome to sign up even if not (yet) personally fluent in Yiddish. Course titles, dates and times, and brief descriptions follow in sequence of days of the week.

Sundays: 1:00 – 2:30 PM: Current Hasidic Yiddish Publications

Readings from diverse genres of current (and recent) Hasidic Yiddish publications with emphasis on magazines. The goal is to acquaint participants from the “wider world of modern Yiddish” with current Published Hasidic Yiddish. Emphasis on stylistic, linguistic, cultural, religious, historical and societal nuance. NOTE: Readings will not repeat those of previous courses. Conducted entirely in Yiddish.

The course has been developed with the generous assistance of Genesis University and Mr. Albert Rosenblatt of New York City.

March 6, 13, 20, 27; April 3, 10, 24; May 1, 8, 15.

Mondays 1:00 – 2:30 PM: Readings in New York’s Daily Fráyhayt (Freiheit) from the 1930s

Read and analyze original pages of New York’s leftist daily newspaper, the Fráyhayt (later the Morgn Fráyhayt) with emphasis on 1930s Yiddish creativity (including now-forgotten writers, particularly women writers) on New York City’s Lower East Side. NOTE: Readings will not repeat those of previous courses. Conducted entirely in Yiddish.

The course is offered thanks to the generous support of S. Chic Wolk (Santa Monica, California) to whom the course is affectionately dedicated.

March 7, 14, 21, 28; April 4, 11, 25; May 2, 9, 16.

Tuesdays 2:00 – 3:30 PM: Readings in Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Shorter Fiction

Close, detailed readings from Isaac Bashevis Singer’s short stories set in the Polish Jewish shtetl, designed to enhance participants’ abilities for their own future reading of sophisticated modern Yiddish literature with maximum capture of nuance. Emphasis on cultural, Talmudic, and Kabbalistic references and on stylistic detail. Note that some of the texts may contain material of an explicit erotic nature. NOTE: Readings will not repeat those of previous courses. Conducted entirely in Yiddish.

March 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; April 5, 12, 26; May 3, 10.

Wednesdays 3:00 – 4:30 PM: Introduction to Ashkenazic Hebrew with Dovid Katz

Emphasis on enjoyment of Ashkenazic Hebrew conversation and study of a range of texts stretching from medieval times (including the Aramaic Chad Gadyo) to the modern Hebrew poets of the 19th and 20th century (including Lebensohn, Mikhal, Gordon, Bialik, Imber, Tchernichovsky) all the way to today’s Hasidic polemics. Religious texts include samples from Hasidic, Litvak, and Muserist milieus. The course is appropriate for participants who have some working proficiency in any form of Hebrew (knowledge of Yiddish helpful but not required). Participants are urged to become acquainted with the online manual (and slowly evolving dictionary), both of which grew out of the spring WC’s online Spring and Summer 2021 programs. Conducted in Ashkenazic Hebrew (with occasional explanations/translations as needed in Yiddish, English, or Israeli Hebrew).

March 2, 9, 16, 23, 30; Apr. 6, 13, 27; May 4, 11.

Thursdays 1:00 – 2:30 PM:  Chaim Grade’s Fiction and Old Jewish Vilna 

Each of the ten sessions will comprise two components: (a) a close, detailed reading from a Chaim Grade novella set in old Jewish Vilna (Yiddish Vílne) and (b) presentation of a select aspect of (or artefact from) Vilna Jewish culture. The instructor will provide stylistic, cultural, linguistic, religious and Vilna-specific commentary, sharing relevant extracts (and maps) from his book, Lithuanian Jewish Culture and his online Mini-Museum of Old Jewish Vilna. Those interested are invited to visit the Lithuania page of the author’s website at www.dovidkatz.net. NOTE: Readings will not repeat those of previous courses (but some of the cultural artifacts may have been displayed in earlier courses). Conducted entirely in Yiddish.

March 3, 10, 17, 24, 31; Apr. 7, 14, 28; May 5, 12.

April 2022:

Lecturer [in English] in Vilnius for the Hebrew Union College (Jerusalem) study trip in Lithuania under the direction of Jeremy Leigh.

May 2022:

Scholar on Board [in English] for the Lithuania component of the Workmens Circle Yiddishland trip to Lithuania and Poland 22-31 May 2022. Details here. UPDATE: POSTPONED & RESCHEDULED FOR 21–30 MAY 2023. 


AUTUMN-WINTER SEMESTER 2021

Isaac Bashevis Singer. Chaim Grade & Old Jewish Vilna. Current Hasidic Yiddish Publications. Ashkenazic Hebrew. Yiddish literature in 1920s & 1930s New York in the old radical daily Fráyhayt.

Information & Registration at

the Workmens Circle website

Inquiries: please contact program coordinator Baruch Blum: bblum@circle.org

Sundays: Current Hasidic Yiddish Publications

Fall 2021: 1 PM — 2:30 PM NY time (10 AM LA; 6 PM London; 7 PM Paris & Berlin; 8 PM Tel Aviv & Vilnius) on the following Sundays: Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24, 31; Nov. 7, 14, 21; Dec. 5, 12

The course provides a selection of readings from diverse genres of current (and recent) Hasidic Yiddish publications with a substantial emphasis on magazines and journals, but with some reference to books and newspapers in the final sessions. The goal is to acquaint participants from the “wider world of modern Yiddish” with current Published Hasidic Yiddish. Following the classic Yiddish reading circle tradition, participants who wish to read take turns reading segments, which are then analyzed with reference to stylistic, linguistic, cultural, religious, historic and societal nuance. Some friendly ghosts (Is it real Yiddish? Is it any good?) are confronted head-on. The emphasis is roundly on language, with comparison with features of non-Hasidic Yiddish, including the last generation of secular literary masters, the language of 20th century Yiddish immigrant communities internationally, and the language emanating from “our own” courses, study books and groups.  Note: The course does not deal with religious, political, or demographic aspects of today’s Hasidism and its internal groupings and divisions (nor with the forces behind any specific publication). It is about ― the Yiddish language in a published form that serves a vast number of 21st  century native Yiddish speakers of all generations. Conducted entirely in Yiddish.

The course has been developed with the generous assistance of Genesis University and Mr. Albert Rosenblatt of New York City.


Mondays: Readings from the New York Yiddish Daily Fráyhayt (Freiheit)

Fall 2021: 1 PM — 2:30 PM NY time (10 AM LA; 6 PM London; 7 PM Paris & Berlin; 8 PM Tel Aviv & Vilnius) on the following Mondays: Oct. 4, 11, 18, 25 Nov. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 Dec. 6

Readings, discussion and analysis of original pages of New York’s leftist daily newspaper, the Fráyhayt (later the Morgn Fráyhayt) during its earlier period. Founded in 1922 and closed in 1988, the paper had at various times carried the prose, poetry, essays and journalism of some of the leading Yiddish writers and educators of the twentieth century, including Menachem Boraisho, Moyshe-Leyb Halperin, H. Leyvik, Kalmen Marmor, Nakhmen Mayzl, Moyshe Nadir, Isaac Raboy and Avrom Reisen (most of whom would eventually leave and join the ‘right-wing socialists’  ― strange as the term may sound today).  It is perhaps the later twentieth century politics of McCarthyism and its subsequent (sometimes unconscious) incarnations in academia and mainstream Jewish culture (sometimes extending to condemnation of secular Yiddishism generally), added to the utterly objective evils and massive crimes against humanity of Soviet tyranny, that have in a sense combined forces to prevent a more laid-back, descriptive survey and enjoyment of actual pages from actual issues of a vast reservoir  of vibrant  Yiddish culture. Emphasis on 1920s and 1930s Yiddish literature of New York’s Lower East Side, and on forgotten authors. The instructor, author of the introduction to Amelia Glaser’s and David Weintraub’s  Proletpén, contends that there never was a Frayhayt page (or paragraph!) that could be confused with one from any Soviet publication. Indeed, its unique American social and Yiddish literary character had its roots in virtually every corner of Jewish Eastern Europe and a writing staff and readership whose childhood years were steeped in traditionally Orthodox Jewish religious culture.  A PDF of select pages, starting with issue no. 1 in 1922, will be provided at each session from the instructor’s private collection. Conducted entirely in Yiddish.

The course is affectionately dedicated in honor of S. Chic Wolk of Los Angeles, California, whose own childhood studies in the related progressive Yiddish Ordn  schools in Chicago inspired deeper studies of America’s old Yiddishist literary left, and its daily newspaper, the Fráyhayt. Indeed, the set used for the course was rescued thanks to his timely foresight and generosity of spirit.


Tuesdays: Readings in Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Shorter Fiction

Fall 2021: 2 PM — 3:30 PM (11 AM LA; 7 PM London; 8 PM Paris & Berlin; 9 PM Tel Aviv & Vilnius) on the following Tuesdays: Oct. 7, 14, 21, 28 Nov. 4, 11, 18 Dec. 2, 9, 16

Close, detailed readings from Isaac Bashevis Singer’s short stories set in the Polish Jewish shtetl, designed to enhance participants’ abilities for their own future reading of sophisticated modern Yiddish literature with maximum capture of nuance in the original. Emphasis on cultural, Talmudic, and Kabbalistic references and on stylistic detail. Conducted in the spirit of the classic Yiddish reading circle, with participants who wish to read taking turns reading followed by paragraph-by-paragraph discussion and analysis. Note that some of the texts contain materials of an erotic nature. Conducted entirely in Yiddish.


Wednesdays: Ashkenazic Hebrew II

Fall 2021: 3 PM — 4:30 PM (12 noon LA; 8 PM London; 9 PM Paris & Berlin; 10 PM Tel Aviv & Vilnius) the following Wednesdays: Oct. 6, 13, 20, 27 Nov. 3, 10, 17 Dec. 1, 8, 15

Emphasis on enjoyment of Ashkenazic Hebrew conversation and study of a range of texts stretching from medieval times (including the Aramaic Chad Gadyo) to the Hebrew revival poets of the nineteenth and twentieth century (including Lebensohn, Mikhal, Gordon, Bialik, Imber, Tchernichovsky) all the way to today’s Hasidic polemics. Religious texts include samples from Hasidic, Litvak, and Muserist milieus.

The course is appropriate for participants who have working proficiency in any form of Hebrew (whether ancient, rabbinic, or modern) and who have some passion for East European Jewish culture (and a love of diversity). Knowledge of Yiddish not required. Participation in the previous elementary courses not required, but participants are urged to become acquainted with the online manual (and slowly evolving dictionary), both of which grew out of the spring and summer sessions of the WC’s online program. Conducted in Ashkenazic Hebrew (with occasional explanations as needed in Yiddish, English, or Israeli Hebrew).


Thursdays: Chaim Grade’s Fiction and Old Jewish Vilna

Fall 2021: 1 PM — 2:30 PM (10 AM LA; 6 PM London; 7 PM Paris & Berlin; 8 PM Tel Aviv & Vilnius) on the following Thursdays: Oct. 7, 14, 21, 28 Nov. 4, 11. 18 Dec. 2, 9  

Each session will be divided into (a) an illustrated aspect of the history and culture of Jewish Vilne (Yiddish Vílne) and (b) a close reading of one (or more) of Chaim Grade novellas set in the city.  Emphasis on enhancing participants’ ability to read sophisticated Yiddish literature on their own with maximal capture of nuance.  The course follows the classic Yiddish reading circle tradition of taking turns reading and discussing the material read. The instructor will provide stylistic, cultural, linguistic, religious and Vilna-specific commentary, sharing relevant extracts (and maps) from his book, Lithuanian Jewish Culture and his online Mini-Museum of Old Jewish Vilna. Those interested are invited to visit the Lithuania page of the author’s website at www.dovidkatz.net. Conducted entirely in Yiddish.


SUMMER SESSION 2021

Information on registration at the Workmens Circle website

(email for queries)

All times listed are North American Eastern, please check your local time!

1: Contemporary Hasidic Yiddish Journals

Sundays 1—2:30 PM on June 20; July 11, 25 & Aug. 1, 8

This five-week mini-course provides a survey of readings from Hasidic Yiddish publications from the last five or so years (but mostly from 2020 and 2021). Course goals: to explore the Yiddish of the magazines published by this Yiddish-speaking civilization, and confront all those friendly ghosts out there: Is it really Yiddish? Is it any good? Do they know what they are doing with “Yiddish fit for print”? Does it have a future? How does it compare with today’s Yiddish coming out of our own classes, courses, clubs, and conferences? With the Yiddish of the last generation of non-Hasidic East-European-born Jewish immigrants to America and beyond (and their children….)? If you’re ready to take on a curious Yiddish taboo, and look with an open mind at the actual language used in Hasidic magazines, you might want to try this course, where participants take turns reading and analyzing in a spirit of tolerance and good humor…

Course Notes


 

2: Vilna in Jewish Lore

Mondays 1—2:30 PM on July 5, 12, 19, 26 & Aug. 2

Reading and discussion of short excerpts from writings on Vilna by (among others): sons of the Gaon of Vilna; Shmuel Joseph Fin (Fuenn); Hillel Noah Maggid (Steinschneider); Chaikel (Khaykl) Lunski; Meyshe Kulbak; Kalmen Marmor; Daniel Charny; Max Weinreich; Noyakh Prilutski; Leyzer Ran; Israel Lempert (Izraelis Lempertas). A few of the early readings are in Ashkenazic Hebrew, with full (verbal-only, in-session) translation into Yiddish. Knowledge of Hebrew not required. PDFs of texts will be provided weekly at each session. Participants who volunteer take turns reading segments as per the classic Yiddish reading circle tradition. Conducted entirely in Yiddish.

Course Notes


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3: Ideas about Yiddish

Tuesdays 2—3:30 PM on July 6, 13, 20, 27 & Aug. 3

This five-week mini-course entails five sessions each devoted to one or more excerpts from a Yiddish scholar’s provocative work about Yiddish (with reference, where relevant, to his/her opponent’s work). Excerpts to be read include works of (in alphabetical order): S.A. Birnbaum, Jean Jofen, Yudl Mark, Matisyohu Mieses, Sh. Niger, Chaya R. Nove, Noyakh Prilutski, I. M. Shpilreyn, Max Weinreich, Uriel Weinreich, L. L. Zamenhof. Conducted entirely in Yiddish.

Course Notes


4: Introduction to Ashkenazic Hebrew

Wednesdays 3—4:30 PM on July 7, 14, 21, 28 & Aug. 4

A five-session mini-course whose prime object is to help participants gain the skills and confidence to speak Ashkenazic Hebrew as a living language and better enjoy classic works written in the language as well as ancient texts as recast in the language over a period of many centuries. The course, conducted in Ashkenazic Hebrew (with occasional explanations as needed in Yiddish, English, or Israeli) is appropriate for participants who have working proficiency in some form of Hebrew (whether ancient, rabbinic, or modern) and who have some passion for East European Jewish culture. Knowledge of Yiddish helpful but not required. The online manual (and slowly evolving dictionary) were initiated as a work in progress during the WC’s first course in Spring 2021.

Handbook (in progress)

Mini-Dictionary (in progress)


 ◊

5: Chaim Grade’s Vilna Vignettes

Thursdays 1—2:30 PM on July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29

Readings of some Chaim Grade vignettes set in prewar Jewish Vilna, selected from his Der mámes shabósim (My Mother’s Sabbaths) and Der shtúmer mínyen (The Silent Prayerhouse) with possible addition of a poem or two. The five-session course follows the classic Yiddish reading circle tradition of taking turns reading and discussing the material read. The instructor will provide cultural, linguistic and Vilna-specific background. Conducted entirely in Yiddish.


SPRING SESSION 2021

Workmens Circle list of all offered courses

1: Intermediate via Sholem Aleichem

2: Advanced via Chaim Grade

3:Topics in Semantics, Grammar, Stylistics & Dialectology

4: Ashkenazic Hebrew


 

(1) Intermediate via Sholem Aleichem:

Course goals: The course follows the “read together and discuss in Yiddish” method of the classic Yiddish reading circle. Emphasis on development and enrichment of participants’ language capabilities. Texts will be analyzed for cultural nuance and dialect as well as religious and civilizational background (including the nature of Yiddish humor). Course Tools: Texts, to be provided as online PDFs of excerpts from Sholem Aleichem, including Menakhem-Mendl, Tevye der milkhiker, Motl Peyse dem khazns, and Funem yarid. (Readings from previous semesters will not be repeated, so “veterans” are welcome to re-enroll if they feel the format is useful to their ongoing Yiddish development.) Additional Information: This course is suitable for those who have completed one year of college-level Yiddish instruction or the equivalent. This course is taught entirely in Yiddish.

TENTATIVE SLOT: Mondays 1—2:30 PM  NY time: on 1, 8, 15 & 22 March; 5, 12, 19 & 26; April; 3 &10 May.

 ◊


(2) Advanced via Chaim Grade:

A close reading of Chaim Grade’s short story (/novella) Di Shvúe (The Oath). Course goals: To  read the text of a modern master as a group with analysis focused on linguistic, stylistic, cultural, historical and religious elements “of every sentence” (rather than aiming for some great number of pages covered). Participants take turns reading with each segment followed by discussion. Course Tools: PDF of the text provided online to participants. Additional Information: This course is taught entirely in Yiddish.

TENTATIVE SLOT: Thursdays, 1—2:30 PM NY time: on 4, 11, 18 & 25 March; 8, 15, 22 & 29 April; 6 & 13 May.


(3) Topics in Grammar, Semantics, Stylistics & Dialectology:

Intended for a wide spectrum of students of Yiddish (at intermediate and advanced levels). No specialized background in technical linguistics required. The course will look  both at issues that continue to confront many Yiddish students in our times, and at others where prevalent variation itself makes way for an array of meaningful observations on usage, including the secular-religious, normativist-descriptivist, and purist-variationist axes, as well as the centuries-old “north-south division” in grammar, semantics and pronunciation. At the first session, students will be invited to propose specific issues under these rubrics that interest them, which will, in the event of wider interest among participants, be added as possible and appropriate. Additional information: The course is conducted entirely in Yiddish.

TENTATIVE SLOT: Tuesdays 2—3:30 PM NY time: on 2, 9, 16 & 23 March; 6, 13, 20 & 27 April; 4 & 11 May.


(4) Ashkenazic Hebrew:

A five-session mini-course whose prime object is to help participants gain the skills and confidence to speak and communicate in Ashkenazic Hebrew as a living language and better enjoy classic works written in the language as well as ancient texts as recast in the language over a period of many centuries. The course, conducted in Ashkenazic Hebrew (with occasional explanations as needed in Yiddish, English, or Israeli as appropriate to participants) is appropriate for participants who have working proficiency in some form of Hebrew (whether ancient, medieval or modern — or Israeli) and who have some passion for East European Jewish culture. Knowledge of Yiddish very helpful but not required.

Far from being a monolith, Ashkenazic comprises an array of variants that are systematically differentiated on two axes. First, that of basic type: (1)  formal synagogue Torah, Haftorah and Megillah reading; (2) prayers; (3) Talmud study; (4) Creators of modern Hebrew (“pre-Israeli”) poetry (Bialik, Gordon, Imber, Lebensohn, Tchernichovsky etc.) and prose (Mendele, Berdichevsky, Gnessin, early Devorah Baron) (5) the Semitic (Hebrew & Aramaic) component in Yiddish per se. Second, the dialect variation for each of these five categories (following the sound patterning of the coterritorial Yiddish dialect). Beyond the sound system, Ashkenazic Hebrew, a vital (and understudied) component of East European Jewish culture, has its own specificities in vocabulary, semantics, syntax and idiomaticity, collectively a manifestation of a unique Jewish (and European) milieu.

Participants interested also in more technical linguistic aspects, particularly in relation to Yiddish linguistics (which will not be the focus of this course) are invited to have a look at the instructor’s papers in English and Yiddish (more: here and here; on the origins of Ashkenazic stress; on the Ashkenazic of a poem by Y. L. Gordon; see also Yiddish linguistics page).

TENTATIVE SLOT: Wednesdays 3—4:30 PM NY time: on 24 February; 3, 10, 17 & 24 March.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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