'Little Stories' In Yiddish

One important feature in the historical works of “ma’asalech” (little stories), written in Yiddish for children, is a practice of “Juda-izing” popular stories. Instead of translating children’s stories into Yiddish, translators would often adapt stories to reflect Jewish society and values. For example, in 1913, a Yiddish version of a Hans Christian Anderson story was “translated” into Yiddish and titled “Big Fievel and Little Fievel.” In this remade version, the main characters were Jewish boys.

El Lissitzky. Illustration for "The Hen Who Wanted a Comb", 1919.  WiKiPaintings

The Yiddish Heart – Still Beating

The majestic Bartos Forum at the New York Public Library was nearly packed on November 6th for The Yiddish Heart, directed by Target Margin Theater’s David Herskovits, the first in a series of evenings aimed at bringing to life the collections of the Library’s Dorot Jewish Division. The crowd was interested and enthusiastic, but unless they read their programs carefully, they were at first a bit confused. This was because before the formal program, there was an informal one and this first program was, essentially, a three ring circus.

Shane Baker is a Yiddish maven. Andrew Ingall

‘The Queen’ Of Yiddish Song

Remembering YIVO archivist Chana Mlotek, one of the major figures in the revival of klezmer.
11/04/2013 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

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

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

Chana Mlotek with her son, Zalmen, center and husband Joseph in a 1985 photo. Milken Family Archive

Keeping Adrienne’s Dream Alive

Concert marking singer and Yiddish revival leader’s first yahrtzeit brings together a community of musicians.
12/09/2012 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Sometimes you just have to drop everything else and do what’s right.

Frank London always has a busy schedule. Between the Klezmatics and his numerous side projects (the most recent being a Latin jazz-Jewish fusion essay with Arturo O’Farrill), there is never a convenient time for London to be interrupted.

Michael Winograd has a new CD being released this month with launch gigs in Boston and Brooklyn. December 2012 is not a rest period for him.

Cooper will be remembered and celebrated with a blow-out concert. Lloyd Wolf

Beyond Kvetch, Kvell: A New Lexicon

Professor launches web-based dictionary, invites entries from everybody.
11/19/2012 - 19:00
Staff Writer

From alte kaker, or old man in Yiddish, to zatar, an Israeli spice, Americans’ Jewish identity has long flavored their English.

Now a professor has harnessed the Internet to collect those heimish (cozy and warm) expressions that have made their way into the vernacular from sources including, but not limited to, Aramaic, Ladino, Yiddish and Hebrew.

Sarah Benor is the professor behind the Jewish English Lexicon. Bill Aron

Honoring ‘The Queen’ Of Yiddish Preservation

06/04/2012 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Chana Mlotek admits that at 90 she’s a little less productive than she used to be.

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

Chana Mlotek with sons Zalman, left, and Mark. Gillian Segal

Rock-a-bye, My Baby, With A Yiddish Melody

01/23/2012 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Somewhere in the world a restless child is waiting for sleep to come. A doting mother leans over her offspring, murmuring a song to speed the little one to slumber. The odds are pretty good that the lullaby with which she soothes the child is in not in Yiddish.

Lorin Sklamberg and the Workmen’s Circle/Arbeiter Ring probably won’t shift that probability much, but they’re going to try this winter, with the Klezmatics founder and lead singer teaching a series of workshops on the Yiddish lullaby beginning on Feb. 7.

Sweet dreams: Yiddish lullabies, like Masha Benya’s, are experiencing a revival with the help of Workmen’s Circle.

Adrienne Cooper, Mother Of Yiddish Revival Movement

Singer served as bridge between generations.
12/26/2011 - 19:00
Special to the Jewish Week

When Adrienne Cooper died Sunday night, Dec. 25, she left a gap in the world of Yiddish that no one person could possibly fill. Yet she had filled it for decades.

Adrienne Cooper.

Philip Levine, Poet Laureate; Or "A dirty Detroit Jew with Bad Manners"

It was announced this week that Philip Levine, 83, will be the new U.S. poet laureate.  If it isn't obvious from his name, he's Jewish.  But that's no surprise with regard to poet laureates--Louise Gluck was the last Jewish honoree, in 2003, and Robert Pinksy held the distinction (i.e. laureate and Jewish) three years before that. Plus, there's Joseph Brodsky, Karl Shapiro, and many others I'm skipping.

Meet Joseph Dorman, Director Of "Sholem Aleichem, Laughing In The Darkness"

Joseph Dorman is director of a riveting portrait of the great writer whose stories became the basis of the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof. "Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness" tells the tale of the rebellious genius who created an entirely new literature. Dorman calls Sholem Aleichem the "grandfather of all Jewish comedians today."

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