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“Through the Yiddish Looking Glass” exhibit  at Yiddish Book Center

Illustrations offer a glimpse at an overlooked component of Yiddish literature

Der galaganer hon (The Boastful Rooster); Artist: Yosef Tshaykov

AMHERST, Mass. – The visiting exhibit “Through the Yiddish Looking Glass: The Art of Yiddish Children’s Literature is on view at the Yiddish Book Center in the Center’s Brechner Gallery through the fall  of 2018.

The exhibit features Yiddish children’s book illustrations, created by artists who often contributed their work to other aspects of Yiddish culture as well, such as satirical cartoons, theater sets, and literary periodicals. The exhibit also includes “Yidishe kinder: Jewish Children and Their Work Before the Holocaust,” a selection of toys, school notebooks, and periodicals providing viewers a glimpse into the lives of Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazi Jewish children.

Yiddish children’s books were published worldwide and comprise a significant component of Yiddish literature as a whole. During the first half of the 20th century—the heyday of Yiddish publishing—hundreds of children’s books appeared, many of them illustrated.

“It’s a joy to have this stunning exhibition at the Yiddish Book Center,” says Center Bibliographer and Editorial Director David Mazower. “Yiddish educators knew that time wasn’t on their side. Desperate to transmit their beloved language to the next generation, they went to extraordinary lengths to produce beautiful children’s books. The art inside them is by turns whimsical, gritty, sentimental, and surreal. It’s the perfect fit for youthful minds, and it’s one of the glories of modern Jewish culture.”

Information about the Yiddish Book Center’s permanent and visiting exhibits may be found at


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