May 3, 2010
Sue Fishkoff writes about the revival of interest in Yiddish and Yiddish culture among young Israelis which has led to the launching of a new Center for Yiddish Studies at Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva, Israel.
In recognition of this steadily growing interest, Ben-Gurion University this spring launched a new Center for Yiddish Studies housed in the department of Hebrew literature. The idea is to create an academic fellowship of Yiddish scholars already working in the field and reach out to larger audiences with conferences, publications, analysis of the Yiddish press from Eastern Europe and perhaps even stagings of classic Yiddish theater pieces.
Dr. David G. Roskies, the Sol and Evelyn Henkind Chair in Yiddish Literature and Culture and Professor of Jewish Literature at The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City (JTS), will head the new Center. A preeminent scholar and teacher in Yiddish language, literature and Eastern European Jewish culture, he will work on BGU's Marcus Family Campus one semester per year beginning in February. Roskies is internationally recognized for his work in Jewish literary history.
The Center will organize workshops and colloquia, bring to light forgotten and unpublished Yiddish works of poetry, prose, drama and memoir, and help access the great volume of Yiddish media from Eastern Europe. Catering to the increasing interest in Yiddish culture in Israel, the Center has plans to publish classics of Yiddish literature in Hebrew translation.
The Center will work to forge partnerships with the Goldreich Center for Yiddish at Tel Aviv University, the Centre Medem in Paris and the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst. Within BGU, the Center will also seek to create partnerships with the University's departments of literature, linguistics, Jewish history, Jewish thought and Israel studies.