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Yiddish Book Center goes online with free virtual public programming

AMHERST, Mass.– Though the Yiddish Book Center’s building in Amhearst is closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the organization is offering a lineup of virtual public programs, which will be broadly accessible through Facebook and Zoom and posted on the Center’s website. Highlights of the virtual program lineup include a multimedia presentation by David Mazower on the NYC salon of Yiddish poet Bertha Kling, and talks by Seth Rogovoy on the evolution of klezmer music, and Bob Dylan.

All events will be live streamed on the Yiddish Book Center Facebook page and posted to the Center’s website. Registration to be part of the virtual audience and submit questions will be in advance; space is limited. Information and links to register for specific programs may be obtained at

Programs Include:

Talk: The Essential Klezmer, with Seth Rogovoy
Thursday, May 14, 7 p.m. EDT
A multimedia presentation in which Yidstock artistic director Seth Rogovoy—the author of The Essential Klezmer a guidebook to Yiddish roots and soul music—recounts the evolution of klezmer from Old World shtetls to New World nightclubs and concert stages.

Reading: Kaddish for My Father,” with Ilan Stavans, playwright.
Sunday, May 17, 7 p.m. EDT
As a famous Mexican theater and telenovela actor lies in his deathbed, his son tries to come to terms with the emotional trail he left behind and with the tension between the public figure and private man. Directed by Daniel Lombardo. Stavans is an internationally renowned writer and cultural critic.

Director Talk: In Search of Israeli Cuisine,” with Roger Sherman
Thursday, May 21, 7 p.m. EDT
The film, “In Search of Israeli Cuisine, is a portrait of the Israeli people told through food. The film profiles chefs, home cooks, vintners, and cheese makers drawn from the more than 100 cultures that make up Israel today—Jewish, Arab, Muslim, Christian, Druze. The film’s director, Roger Sherman, will discuss and host a short Q&A about the film. Participants are encouraged to view the film in advance, available on several streaming platforms.

Talk: Bronx Bohemians, with David Mazower
Thursday, May 28, 7 p.m. EDT
For several decades in the early 20th century, Bertha Kling and her husband kept open house in the Bronx. The Klings’ apartment was a gathering place for newly arrived Yiddish writers, musicians, and actors, and a place to hear the latest Yiddish literary gossip or news from Paris, Warsaw, Moscow, or Hollywood. In this illustrated talk, David Mazower uses rare family archives to explore this group of Bronx bohemians, whose ranks included writers Moyshe Nadir, Malka Lee, Peretz Hirshbein, and Esther Shumiatsher, musicians Lazar Weiner and Joseph and Lara Cherniavsky, puppeteer Zuni Maud, and the entire Sholem Aleichem family. Mazower is the Yiddish Book Center’s bibliographer and editorial director.

Talk: Featuring Brett Sokol, journalist and editor of Shtetl in the Sun: Andy Sweet’s South Beach, 1977–1980
Thursday, June 4, 7 p.m. EDT

Conversation and Reading: Yiddish Comes to America, with Mindl (Madeleine) Cohen
Thursday, June 11, 7 p.m. EDT
Drawing from the Yiddish Book Center’s recently published 2020 Pakn Treger Digital Translation Issue: Yiddish Comes to America, editor Cohen will talk about the Yiddish writers whose work appears in translation and how the selected works speak to—and inform— the Center’s understanding of this year’s Decade of Discovery theme, “Yiddish in America: Cultural Encounters.” The anthology includes newly translated works; excerpts of some of the translations will be read by actors and translators.

Talk: The Kabbalah of Bob Dylan, with Seth Rogovoy
Thursday, June 18, 7 p.m. EDT
A multimedia presentation in which Yidstock artistic director Seth Rogovoy—the author of Bob Dylan: Prophet Mystic Poet—examines the life and songs of the Nobel Prize–winning rock poet through a Jewish lens.

The Yiddish Book Center is a nonprofit organization working to recover, celebrate, and regenerate Yiddish and modern Jewish literature and culture. Since its founding in 1980, the organization has rescued more than a million volumes, has established and strengthened Yiddish holdings at 700 university and research libraries around the world, and has posted the full texts of 12,000 titles online in its Steven Spielberg Digital Yiddish Library.


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