March and April 2024: Upcoming Events and Updates

Although Yiddish.Berlin has been less active lately as an official (or rather, very unofficial) group, Berlin’s decentralized, DIY Yiddish community is livelier than ever.

There is a whole series of major Yiddish-related events coming up in the city:

  • 8 March – On International Women’s Day, Yiddish.Berlin presents works by Yiddish women poets, featuring a varied program of Yiddish poetry and music written, organized, and performed entirely by women.
  • 13 April – PARATAXE Symposium XIV: Hebrew? Yiddish? Berlin? This symposium at the Kulturbrauerei will be devoted to literature written here in Berlin in Yiddish and Hebrew, past and present. The Yiddish scene is the focus of the 4pm panel and will also be represented with original poetry and music in the evening reading at 8pm.
  • 14 April – Haus für Poesie: For you, whoever you are: Yiddish poetry. This reading, curated by Jordan Schnee, brings together the contemporary Yiddish poets David Omar Cohen (Amsterdam) and Beruriah Wiegand (London/Oxford) with music by Daniel Kahn (Hamburg) and text-based visual art by Ella Ponizovsky Bergelson (Berlin).
  • 24-28 April – The 2024 Shtetl Berlin festival! Save the dates. More information on this annual whirlwind of Yiddish music and culture will be available soon on their website. Meanwhile, their next klezmer jam sessions at Oblomov will be happening on 13 March and 11 April, plus a Yiddish singalong on 27 March.

Apart from that, here are some updates on ongoing developments in the local Yiddish community:

  • The Yiddish social club Shmues un Vayn was recently featured in the English section of the Forverts with an article headlined “You can now hear people speaking Yiddish in bars all over Berlin.” That might not be entirely true yet, but we’re well on the way as we approach our fiftieth gathering. The club’s gabbai Jake Schneider gave a workshop in January about how to start and maintain this kind of group, hosted by KlezCalifornia (recording  available on YouTube). He also gave a guest interview about it for the podcast Proste Yiddish in, well, simple Yiddish.
  • A new Yiddish poetry writing group, coordinated by Katerina Kuznetsova, is now meeting every two weeks to discuss its members’ original Yiddish poems, which they have recently performed at the London-based Yiddish Open Mic Cafe, a reading organized by Leivik House in memory of Moyshe Dovid Guiser, and probably more.
  • The longstanding weekly reading group, coordinated by Arndt Beck, remains devoted to our Berliner zeyde Avrom Nokhem Stencl. Besides reading his poems every Sunday, participants have also been translating Stencl’s poetry and prose into four languages.
  • A new initiative is underway to create a mini-library of books in and about Yiddish called the Berliner Tshemodan-Bibliotekl (the Little Berlin Suitcase Library). After a spontaneous fundraising drive (you can still donate here), three of us traveled to Hamburg for a Yiddish book sale by the Salomo-Birnbaum-Gesellschaft. We did indeed return home with a suitcase full of Yiddish books. More information about the library soon.

22 November: Ukraine in the works of Sholem Aleichem

Das verschneite Denkmal des jiddischen Schriftstellers Scholem Alejchem in Kyiv
The statue of Sholem Aleichem in Kyiv, Ukraine (c) Oleh Kushch / Wikimedia Commons

Unfortunately, the event is cancelled due to illness.

With Oleksandra Uralova (Kyiv/Berlin)

Within the literatures of Eastern Europe, Sholem Aleichem is one of the most important Jewish writers who wrote in Yiddish. Sholem Aleichem deals with the life of Jewish communities at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the relationships between Jewish and Christian neighbors, the connection between world history, politics and Jewish everyday life – and all of this is encountered in these texts against the background a Ukrainian landscape.

Born in Pereyaslav in Kyiv region, Sholem Aleichem, the master of “laughing through tears”, has visited many places that can be found on the contemporary map of Ukraine. And so our sarcastic author describes in his works the Ukrainian villages and towns parallel to the shtetln, where in the time of the Russian Empire the Jewish population had to live in the so-called Pale of Settlement.

Oleksandra Uralova is a researcher, writer and Yiddish teacher from Kyiv, who also works in the field of literary translation from Yiddish into Ukrainian. In 2019 she received the Feller Kovba Prize of the Ukrainian Association for Jewish Studies for her translation of Sholem Aleichem’s “Tevye, the Milkman”, and in the spring of 2022 her translations of Avrom Sutzkever’s “From the Vilna Ghetto” and “Green Aquarium” were awarded awarded the Sholem-Aleichem State Prize.

Tuesday, 22 November 2022, 7PM
during the exhibition MIR ZENEN DO!

Event mainly in german language.

Hasselwerder Str. 22
12439 Berlin-Schöneweide

Admission free — Donations welcome

Kindly supported by the Partnership for Democracy Schöneweide with funds from the federal program Demokratie leben!

2 November: The Newest Yiddish Poetry

Flyer for reading in Yiddish and English.

Yiddish Berlin presents:
"the newest yiddish poetry"

jake schneider
katerina kuznetsova
jordan lee schnee

arndt beck

berlin kreuzberg
dresdener str. 14
november 2, 8PM"

Yiddish.Berlin is thrilled. After years of hard work, three gutsy, talented voices from our own circle are ready to present their own original Yiddish poetry. Be there when Jake Schneider, Katerina Kuznetsova, and Jordan Lee Schnee share their creations with the public for the first time. With an introduction by Arndt Beck.

Counterclockwise from top-right: Arndt Beck, Jake Schneider, Katerina Kuznetsova, Jordan Lee Schnee

Spring and Summer 2022

After the closing of our successful exhibition Mageyfe | Milkhome | Mame-Loshn in June, we’ve taken a short break from organizing events to enjoy a busy summer of other Yiddish activities. The one exception is our twice-monthly conversation group (shmueskrayz) “Shmues un Vayn,” which will be meeting next on the 4th and 16th of August. If you are in town and would like to join us, please email us for the locations and to join the shmueskrayz mailing list. Recent guests to the shmueskrayz have included Karo Wegner from Poland, Reb Noyekh Barrera from California, and Prof. Sara Feldman of Harvard University.

An announcement image for the conversation group. The white handwritten Yiddish text, on a blue and pink gradient, translates to: "Conversation and Wine 11: Thursday Fourth of August 2022, 19:30"
Announcement for the 11th Shmues un Vayn meetup (location removed)

On the somber 70th anniversary of the Night of the Murdered Soviet Yiddish Poets, we will not be hosting our own commemoration as we have the past four years. However, we will of course be individually involved in at least two of the many events to mark this sad occasion organized by other groups and institutions. We encourage you to join us at the symposium and reading at the Jewish Museum Berlin on 14 August as part of the Yiddish in Berlin summer program, or the night of remembrance on 12 August in Weimar, as part of Yiddish Summer Weimar.

Meanwhile, members of Yiddish.Berlin have recently been involved in:

  • An ELES Seminar in Rheinsberg about Yiddish run by four of us (Jordan Lee Schnee, Anna Rozenfeld, Irad Ben Isaak, and Katerina Kuznetsova) and featuring a performance by Daniel Kahn
  • The conference “The Avant-Garde in Yiddish Culture: The 100th Anniversary of Khalyastre” at Bar-Ilan University, including a presentation by Irad Ben Isaak
  • Generation J, a Yiddish-themed summer camp for young adults in Weimar
  • The first ever UK Yiddish Sof-Vokh: 48 hours of nonstop Yiddish in Yorkshire, including a Yiddish poetry writing workshop with Jake Schneider
  • Shtetl Berlin’s latest jam-packed “kleznick” (Klezmer picnic) by the Landwehr canal (photo below)
  • The bountiful musical, cultural, and Yiddish language programming at Yiddish Summer Weimar
A photograph of the kleznick (klezmer picnic) in July, showing several dozen people sitting on picnic blankets, playing instruments including fiddles and accordions, and chatting in a grassy, leafy setting
The Shtetl Berlin “Kleznick” in July. Photo: Arndt Beck

Some of us will also be taking part in the comprehensive Yiddish in Berlin summer program organized by the Paris Yiddish Center – Medem Library in partnership with the FU’s Institute for East European Studies , which begins next week and is partnering with us for our second August shmueskrayz gathering.

We will be announcing more events of our own soon, and meanwhile we hope to see you af der yidisher gas!

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.


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

Curated by Katerina Kuznetsova

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.

Facebook event

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

Facebook event

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.

Flyer as PDF | Facebook event

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.