Choos­ing Yid­dish: New Fron­tiers of Lan­guage and Culture

Lara Rabi­novitch, Goren Shiri, Han­nah S. Press­man, eds.
  • From the Publisher
February 4, 2013

Yid­dish Hip Hop, a nine­teenth-cen­tu­ry Hasidic Slash­er,” obscure Yid­dish writ­ers, and immi­grant Jew­ish news­pa­pers in Buenos Aires, Paris, and New York are just a few of the top­ics fea­tured in Choos­ing Yid­dish: New Fron­tiers of Lan­guage and Cul­ture. Edi­tors Lara Rabi­novitch, Shiri Goren, and Han­nah S. Press­man have gath­ered a diverse and rich­ly lay­ered col­lec­tion of essays that demon­strates the cur­ren­cy of Yid­dish schol­ar­ship in acad­e­mia today.

Orga­nized into six the­mat­ic rubrics, Choos­ing Yid­dish demon­strates that Yid­dish, always a bor­der-cross­ing lan­guage, con­tin­ues to push bound­aries with vig­or­ous dis­ci­pli­nary exchange. Writ­ing on the Edge” focus­es on the realm of belles let­tres; Yid­dish and the City” spans the urban cen­ters of Paris, Buenos Aires, New York City, and Mon­tre­al; Yid­dish Goes Pop” explores the medi­at­ing role of Yid­dish between artis­tic vision and pop­u­lar cul­ture; Yid­dish Comes to Amer­i­ca” focus­es on the his­to­ry and growth of Yid­dish in the Unit­ed States; Yid­dish Encoun­ters Hebrew” show­cas­es inter­ac­tions between Yid­dish and Hebrew in the late nine­teenth and twen­ti­eth cen­turies; and Hear and Now” explores the aur­al dimen­sion of Yid­dish in con­tem­po­rary set­tings. Along the way, con­trib­u­tors con­sid­er famed and less­er-known Yid­dish writ­ers, films, and Yid­dish hip-hop, as well as his­tor­i­cal stud­ies on the Yid­dish press, Yid­dish film melo­dra­ma, Hasidic folk­ways, and Yid­dish cul­ture in Israel. Ven­er­a­ble schol­ars intro­duce each rubric, cre­at­ing addi­tion­al dia­logue between new­er and more estab­lished voic­es in the field.

The inter­na­tion­al con­trib­u­tors prove that the lan­guage — far from dying — is fos­ter­ing excit­ing new direc­tions of aca­d­e­m­ic and pop­u­lar dis­course, root­ed in the field’s his­toric focus on inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research. Stu­dents and teach­ers of Yid­dish stud­ies will enjoy this inno­v­a­tive collection. 

Be sure to check out the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s Yid­dish Lit­er­a­ture” book club read­ing list.

Read Han­nah S. Press­man­’s Posts for the Vis­it­ing Scribe

Yid­dish and Me

Yid­dish and Us

Dream­ing in Moth­er Tongues


Prof. Allan Nadler per­forms an impromp­tu rap based on Shayn Shul­myan’s arti­cle in Choos­ing Yid­dish at the Asso­ci­a­tion for Jew­ish Stud­ies Con­fer­ence, Decem­ber 2012.

Discussion Questions