21 May: Lider mayne, dumes mayne // Думи мої, думи мої – Yiddish-Ukrainian Literary Connections

Image designed by Iryna Zadnipriana

Today, we find it especially important to raise awareness of Ukrainian culture, literature, and language. We are Yiddishists, and our contribution to this cause is speaking about Yiddish and Ukrainian connections, mutual influences, and literary and cultural intertwinings.

As languages, Yiddish and Ukrainian have much in common. They both still suffer from neglect and stereotypes, often being dismissed as “not proper languages” but rather dialects of the dominating German and Russian. The attitude towards the languages reflects cultural and political oppression.

In the event, we will give voice to Yiddish and Ukrainian poets of the 19th and 20th centuries by reading their works in original and translation. The first part focuses on the Ukrainian classics: Taras Shevchenko, Ivan Franko, and Lesya Ukrainka. In the 1930s, Dovid Hofshteyn, a Yiddish modernist poet born in Ukraine, translated their works into Yiddish. This project was more than just a translation. Hofshteyn found a way to express his own ideas on national identity and alienation through the works of Ukrainian poets.

The second part of the event includes works by Leyb Kvitko translated by the famous Ukrainian poet Pavlo Tychyna, as well as Yiddish modernist poetry by women such as Dvoyre Fogel. Our special guest, Ukrainian Yiddishist Iryna Zrobok , a Lviv-born translator from Yiddish and German into Ukrainian, will present her project about Yiddish female writers.

Readers:

Katerina Kuznetsova, Sofya Chernykh, Dina Gidon, August Kahn, Alina Klimanska, Boris Shavlov, Jake Schneider, Iryna Zadnipriana, Iryna Zrobok


Reader for the event (pdf)


21 May 2022, 7 pm

Galerie Zeitzone
Adalbertstr. 79
10997 Berlin-Kreuzberg

The language of the event is English, with poetry readings in Yiddish and Ukrainian. (A booklet with all the texts, including English translations, will be available.)

Admission is free. Donations are welcome.

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The event is a part of the exhibition “Plague | War | Mother Tongue” (20 May – 1 June 2022), where you can see works by Helmut J. Psotta, Ella Ponizovsky-Bergelson, and Arndt Beck.

28 May: The Yiddish Encyclopedia Returns to Berlin

A Book Presentation with Historian Barry Trachtenberg

We are pleased to host a book presentation by historian Barry Trachtenberg of Wake Forest University, author of the new book The Holocaust and the Exile of Yiddish:  A History of the Algemeyne Entsiklopedye (Rutgers University Press). His study traces an ambitious project that started in the 1930s, right here in Berlin: to publish a comprehensive encyclopedia of general knowledge completely in the Yiddish language. This dream drastically changed course within several years as the editors fled the Nazi regime and their intended readership of Eastern European Jews was decimated by genocide, dispersed by mass migration, and diluted by cultural assimilation.

In the mid-twentieth century, the project sparked tremendous controversy in Jewish cultural and political circles: What should a Yiddish encyclopedia be for? What knowledge and perspectives should it contain? By the time the last volumes were published, in 1960s New York, both the Yiddish-speaking world and the encyclopedia itself had been completely transformed by postwar circumstances. As Trachtenberg argues, this is not only a story about destruction and trauma, but also one of tenacity and continuity, as the encyclopedia’s compilers strove to preserve the heritage of Yiddish culture, to document its near-total extermination in the Holocaust, and to chart its path into the future.

The English-language book presentation by Barry Trachtenberg will be moderated by Jake Schneider of YIDDISH BERLIN. Questions from the audience are welcome – feel free to ask them in English, Yiddish, or German. This event accompanies our current exhibition Plague | War | Mother Tongue, which you can view at the gallery, featuring artworks by Ella Ponizovsky Bergelson, Arndt Beck, and the late Helmut J. Psotta.

More information about the book here  on the website of Rutgers University Press.

Event information

  • 28 May 2022, 7pm
  • Galerie Zeitzone, Adalbertstraße 79, 10997 Berlin
  • Admission free
  • Presentation and discussion in English, questions in Yiddish or German welcome
  • Copies of the book will be available for sale

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Barry Trachtenberg holds the Rubin Presidential Chair of Jewish History at Wake Forest University in North Carolina (USA). He is the author of The Revolutionary Roots of Modern Yiddish, 1903-1917 (2008) & The United States and the Nazi Holocaust: Race, Refuge, and Remembrance (2018).

14 August 2021: YIDDISH BERLIN DERMONT: Night of the Murdered Poets

Night of the Murdered Poets. Design by Ella Ponizovsky Bergelson

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
Free admission

NOVILLA (outdoors)
Hasselwerderstr. 22
12439 Berlin-Schöneweide

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.

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Berlin’s Most Yiddish August Ever

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.

di farbloyte feder
Ella Ponizovsky Bergelson | Arndt Beck: Di farbloyte feder

Then, on 21 August, the exhibition Di farboyte feder with Ella Ponizovsky Bergelson und Arndt Beck opened in Kreuzberg, followed by a rich two-week program of concerts, readings, and talks.