Pearls of Yid­dish Poetry

Joseph and Chana Mlotek; Bar­nett Zumoff, trans.; Mark Mlotek, ed.
  • Review
By – November 1, 2011
Kudos to the pro­duc­ers of this col­lec­tion of Yid­dish poet­ry and song, com­piled from the Pearls of Yid­dish Poet­ry sec­tion of Forverts, the Yid­dish Jew­ish Dai­ly For­ward news­pa­per. The work of thir­ty-eight writ­ers is includ­ed, both men and women, span­ning a cen­tu­ry of Yid­dish poet­ic writ­ing, pre­sent­ed side by side in Eng­lish and Yid­dish. This book was orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished in Israel, in Hebrew, in 1974

Many of these poems are deeply poignant, inti­mate­ly lament­ing exile and the gen­er­a­tions lost in the Shoah. Vignettes of Yid­dish life in pre­war Europe and immi­grant Amer­i­ca are pre­sent­ed in great detail. Songs and poems cross class and gen­der bound­aries and strike the read­er as vivid­ly, star­tling­ly authen­tic, mar­bled with expres­sive joy and tragedy. With clas­sic, bit­ter, bit­ing Yid­dish humor, much of this work is imme­di­ate and acces­si­ble; you can taste and smell the worlds that have been lost. 

There is well researched bio­graph­i­cal infor­ma­tion about each poet includ­ed with his or her work, adding to the rich­es of this Yid­dishkeit anthol­o­gy. High­ly rec­om­mend­ed, whether you are a Yid­dish read­er or not.

Ellie Bar­barash is a writer, musi­cian, and dis­abil­i­ty activist liv­ing in Philadel­phia. Her non-fic­tion has been pub­lished in Bridges. Ordained as a Kohenet, she is work­ing on pro­duc­ing an anthol­o­gy, Clear­ing the Spring, Sweet­en­ing the Waters: A Renewed Call to Torah.

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