Like every year, this December is shtetl time. The festival kicks off on 29 November with an online event marking the centennial of Arkady Gentler. And we’ll also be taking part in the SHTETL FEST on 4 December.
On 31 October 2021 at 3 pm, YIDDISH BERLIN held a reading to remember two important Yiddish poets. On 29 October 1937, Moyshe Kulbak and Izi Kharik were summarily executed. They were among the first Yiddish writers to fall victim to Stalinist purges.
Kulbak and Kharik were both born in Belarus – Raysn in Yiddish – where they spent much of their lives and where they were also murdered. The notion of home and finding home, as well as the tensions between the shtetl and the big city, were central themes for both poets.
Although their lives and their literature moved in rather different directions, they share many commonalities beyond the dark day of their death.
YIDDISH BERLIN read prose and poetry by Kulbak and Kharik (in Yiddish) as well as stories about the poets’ lives (in English).
Our event paid tribute to their immense literary legacy while celebrating living Yiddish culture.
Organized and curated by Katerina Kuznetsova
In cooperation with Base Hillel Deutschland
Every year since 2018, YIDDISH BERLIN has marked the anniversary of the summary execution of the members of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee on 12 August 1952 in the basement of the Lubyanka Building in Moskow. This tragedy became known to history as the NIGHT OF THE MURDERED POETS because the lives cut short that night included those of five prominent Yiddish poets: Dovid Bergelson, Itsik Fefer, Dovid Hofshteyn, Leyb Kvitko, and Perets Markish.
This year, we marked this anniversary with a reading from the trial transcripts (in German, Russian, and English) as well as Yiddish poetry, music, and performances.
Beck | Bernhardt | Haberland | Kuznetsova | Ponizovsky Bergelson | Rozenfeld | Schnee | Sorek | Stazherova
14 August 2021, 8 pm
Supported by the Berlin Senate Department of Culture and Europe via the Stiftung für Kulturelle Weiterbildung und Kulturberatung (Foundation for Cultural Education and Cultural Consulting as part of the DRAUSSENSTADT initiative.
Saving Yiddish Culture in Vilnius
23 January 2020, 8pm
In 1941 the Nazis arrived in the Lithuanian capital. They set about murdering Jewish people and destroying the rich cultural heritage of the city: its many Jewish libraries. A handful of Jewish intellectuals in the Vilnius ghetto bravely resisted by trying to save this heritage. They were called the Paper Brigade. Among them: Avrom Sutzkever.
On the basis of unseen archival material, interviews with protagonist and their descendents as well as historians, this documentary shines a light on an important chapter of spiritual resistance.
Director: Diane Perelsztejn, Belgium, France 2018, 60 min.
Language of the film: German
Admission free – donations welcome!
POETRY | MUSIC | ARTWORK
19 January 2020, 6pm
Sutzkever is one of the great poets of the twentieth century. I do not say this lightly. He is not a philosophical poet; there was no sophisticated philosophy in Jewish culture. Nor is he a descriptive poet; the language of Modernism was opposed to description, and the fictional worlds of Sutzkever’s poetry are presented through evocation and allusion rather than direct statement. But the language of his poetry — the profound sound orchestration and the metaphorical and mythopoeic imagery — is as dense, unmediated, and suggestive as that in the poetry of Mandelstam or Rilke. And his responses to historical reality are as sharp as any in the verse of Brecht. The paradoxical amalgam of these two extremes of twentieth-century poetry — self-focused poetic language and ideological engagement — is successful in Sutzkever’s work because both are presented through the events of the poet’s own biography.Benjamin Harshav
Sutzkever: Life and Poetry, Intodruction to A. Sutzkever, Selected Prose and Poetry, Berkeley, Los Angeles, Oxford, 1991, p. 3
On the eve of Avrom Sutzkever’s 10th yortsayt we are commemorating him and his work.
Arndt Beck | Irad Ben Isaak | Horst Bernhardt | Patrick Farrell | Charles Green | Hilde Haberland | Sveta Kundish | Ekaterina Kuznetsova | Elisabeth Landenberger | Timothy McKeon | Anna Rozenfeld
Discussion in German, poetry in Yiddish.
Accompanying our exhibition farbloyte feder | lekoved avrom sutzkever, we organized a rich program of accompanying events, all at Galerie ZeitZone in Kreuzberg.
You can see photos from the exhibition and events here on the German version of this blog.
17 January, 8pm: OPENING EXHIBITION Ella Ponizovsky Bergelson | Arndt Beck
19 January, 6pm: YIDDISH BERLIN IN HONOUR OF AVROM SUTZKEVER DE | YI
20 January, 7pm: POETRY EVENING Vos iz mer vi lebn? Anna Rozenfeld | Arndt Beck EN | YI
22 January, 8pm: CONCERT Sveta Kundish & Patrick Farrell
23 January, 8pm: SCREENING The Paper Brigade – Saving Yiddish Culture in Vilnius DE
25 January, 7pm: TRILINGUAL READING Ode tsu der toyb Beck | Bernhardt | Schnee DE | EN | YI
26 January, 8pm: SCREENING of Black Honey – The Life and Poetry of Avrom Sutzkever EN | HE | YI
27 January, 12 noon: CONVERSATION with Hadas Kalderon by Lihi Nagler EN
29 January, 8pm: FINISSAGE | CLOSING PARTY
To accompany our exhibition Di farbloyte feder | berliner zeydes, we organized a rich program of events celebrating Yiddish culture and literature.
22 August – 3 September 2019
22 August: SLOW READING with Ekaterina Kuznetsova EN | YI
23 August: Staged reading: Dovid Bergelson’s Berlin short story Tsvey rotskhim with Arndt Beck | Horst Bernhard | Jordan Lee Schnee
25 August: Lecture: Anshel, undzer zeyde: Bashevis Singer’s Yentl from a Trans Perspective with Jonathan-Rafael Balling
27 August: SLOW READING with Irad Ben Isaak EN | YI
28 August: CONCERT with Anna Margolina & Alexey Wagner
31 August: Lecture and Screening: “Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman: The Artist and her Legacy” with Janina Wurbs
1 September: CONCERT Sveta Kundish & Patrick Farrell
2 September – “Der alef-beys fun der libe. An evening of Celia Dropkin’s poetry” – Poetry lecture with Anna Rozenfeld | Lothar Quinkenstein | Jordan Lee Schnee
3 September: FINISSAGE | CLOSING PARTY
August 2020 was probably the most Yiddish month that Berlin had ever seen. It began on Monday the 5th with a screening of the film Black Honey about the poet Avrom Sutzkever. The program included Daniel Kahn playing several songs and an introduction to the poet’s life and work by Arndt Beck.
The marathon continued on 12 August. Not only did Paris’s Medem Library launch its annual Yiddish summer program, this year on the campus of the Freie Universität, but that same evening was also an event commemorating the darkest postwar chapter of Yiddish literature and history: the liquidation of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee – including the writers Dovid Bergelson, Perets Markish, Leyb Kvitko, Dovid Hofshteyn, and Izik Fefer.
If you have any time to spare with all the events going on, you should read Jordan Lee Schnee’s English translations of poems by Dvoyre Fogel in Asymptote or listen to Anna Rozenfeld’s recitation of them in the original.