“From you, the killers have taken away what to see with, and from me, they have taken away what to see.”
A hospital in the Soviet Union, 1946. Tropimov can’t sleep. In the morning, when the bandages are finally removed, he will find out whether he can see. Meanwhile Dr. Soyfer, who operated on him, is dreaming of the mother he will never see again.
A dramatization of a story written immediately after the war by one of Berlin’s greatest Yiddish authors, Dovid Bergelson (1884–1952).
Original story by Dovid Bergelson, dramatized by Dovid Likht
Initiated and directed by Daniel Galay, chairman of the Leyvik House in Tel Aviv
The reading will be in Yiddish with no translation.
Featuring Daniel Galay as Yerofey Simyonovitish Tropimov, Jake Schneider as Dr. Soyfer, Anna Rozenfeld as Krankenshvester, and Osian Evans Sharma as the narrator.
History is written by the powerful. But what happens when the powerless insist on preserving and interpreting their own experiences: sharing them in secret gatherings, publishing them in underground newspapers, and burying the archives in milk cans for survivors to read? What does it mean to write collective and creative chronicles in a language with no army or navy? What makes our stories into histories?
Yiddish Guerrilla Histories will dig up and translate a few of these defiant acts of memory from 1914 to 2023, including poems, songs, and sagas, and share them with a trustworthy audience.
Reading and presentation in English and (translated) Yiddish
With a mixed program of and about Avrom Nokhem Stencl, Yiddish.Berlin presents some of its first impressions of Stencl’s Berlin period. Together with the author, we will wander through 1920s Berlin homeless shelters. We will also listen to some of his poems in the original Yiddish and brand-new translations, anecdotes from his life, and a few exclusive excerpts of Rachel Lichenstein’s unpublished book about the poet. An evening in Yiddish, English, and German.
Arndt Beck | Horst Bernhardt | Hilde Haberland | Rachel Lichtenstein | Jordan Lee Schnee | Jake Schneider
Years before Yiddish.Berlin was established as a group in 2019, Berlin had a Yiddish reading circle, which Tal Hever-Chybowski started at the Polish-German bookstore BUCH|BUND. After Tal’s departure, Ilay Halpern kept the circle going; finally, Arndt Beck took it over in late 2016. Until 2020, a small group of Yiddish speakers met nearly every Sunday to read and discuss Yiddish writing, mostly prose, by a wide range of authors.
After a pandemic pause, the reading group resumed a while back and now meets every Sunday at Galerie ZeitZone. Most recently we have been focused on the Berlin writings of Avrom Nokhem Stencl.
To mark the exhibition celebrating Stencl’s life and work, we are now inviting those without a Yiddish language background to attend the reading group as guests and listeners for the first and possibly only time. But above all, Yiddish readers of all levels are encouraged to join us for the reading and discussion.
At this special session, we will be reading and discussing Stencl’s long poem “Oyfn rog” (At the Junction), which he published in Berlin in 1935. The poem, like most of Stencl’s Berlin-era work, has not been translated into any other language. Plenty of copies will be available on the day, but if you would like to prepare in advance (which is not necessary), you can find the poem here:
For more than a year now, our “Shmues un Vayn” (Conversation and Wine) group has been meeting around twice a month at Berlin bars, parks, apartments, bookstores, and courtyards with a very simple concept: to socialize while speaking only Yiddish over a glass of wine or beer. Attendance ranges from six (cozy) to twelve (average) to forty (last summer’s street party). Apart from the occasional board game or impromptu Yiddish singalong, our structure is deliberately loose and open-ended.
One rare moment of structure came last April, a few months after the group’s founding, when member Laura Radosh hosted a “Passover Salon” at her apartment. We read each other Yiddish poems new and old, sang some Ashkenazi Passover classics, and recited together from an old Bundist Haggadah. Without realizing it, we were revisiting a half-forgotten tradition that started in 1910: the “third seder.” In addition to the two ritualized seder evenings that open the festival of Passover, this third one is an open-ended, secular space for reflection, modern interpretation, and creative expression.
This year, during the exhibition celebrating the poet Avrom Nokhm Stencl, we have decided to hold another third seder (deliberately this time) at Galerie Zeitzone, as the twenty-fifth meeting of Shmues un Vayn. Yiddish speakers of all levels are invited to join us and share a song, poem, joke, text, artwork, or other contribution – new or discovered – on the themes of Passover: oppression and liberation. Or simply come, listen, and chat with us in Yiddish. In honor of the holiday, there will be plenty of wine. And while there, you can take a look at the exhibition.
If you have other plans that night, but speak some Yiddish and are interested in attending Shmues un Vayn in the future, email us at nayes [at] yiddish.berlin to receive future invitations. We have also organized satellite gatherings in Tel Aviv and New York and hope to spread the concept to more cities soon.
7 to 12 April 2023 | Rachel Lichtenstein | Manchester Writing School | Manchester Poetry Library and Yiddish.Berlin present:
Avrom Nokhem Stencl (1897—1983)
Yiddish Writer — Poet of Whitechapel — Berlin Bohemian
EXHIBITION | READING | RADIO DOCUMENTARY | FILM
Else Lasker-Schüler called him “Hamid,” Arnold Zweig wrote a foreword for him, and Thomas Mann praised his poetry: Avrom Nokhem Stencl, a Berliner from 1921 to 1936, was one of the most acclaimed modern Yiddish poets in Weimar-era Germany, and he laid the foundations of his multifaceted and prolific poetic work in Berlin. Together with writer and artist Rachel Lichtenstein, the Manchester Writing School, and the Manchester Poetry Library, Yiddish.Berlin is setting the stage for an almost forgotten Berliner.
The exhibition gives an introduction to Stencl’s eventful life and includes multimedia work from Rachel Lichtenstein’s research including artwork, a film and radio programme, which are available in the gallery.
It is exactly 10 years since Helmut J. Psotta died largely unnoticed. Arndt Beck remembers an idiosyncratic artist who gathered important experiences of his development in Latin America, gives insights into his own work with the estate and exemplifies some backgrounds and motifs in Psotta’s work.
The exhibition is open from 6 pm — for the last time.
Arndt Beck, works as a freelance artist mainly in photography, drawing and text. As the heir of H.J. Psotta, he represents his work as if it were his own. He has also been working intensively with Yiddish for several years and is one of the initiators of yiddish.berlin.