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Choosing Yiddish

New Frontiers of Language and Culture

Edited by Lara Rabinovitch, Shiri Goren, and Hannah S. Pressman

Cultural Studies, Jewish Studies, Language and Literature, Yiddish Studies

Paperback
Published: December 2012
ISBN: 9780814334447
Pages: 360 Size: 7x10 Illustrations: 17
$34.95
eBOOK
Published: December 2012
ISBN: 9780814337998
Review

Showcases a new generation of top-flight Yiddish scholars. It ranges widely, pulsates with new and exciting research, and demonstrates that Yiddish studies has become a vibrant and creative discipline.

— Jonathan D. Sarna

Yiddish Hip Hop, a nineteenth century "Hasidic Slasher," obscure Yiddish writers, and immigrant Jewish newspapers in Buenos Aires, Paris, and New York are just a few of the topics featured in Choosing Yiddish: New Frontiers of Language and Culture. Editors Lara Rabinovitch, Shiri Goren, and Hannah S. Pressman have gathered a diverse and richly layered collection of essays that demonstrates the currency of Yiddish scholarship in academia today.

Organized into six thematic rubrics, Choosing Yiddish demonstrates that Yiddish, always a border-crossing language, continues to push boundaries with vigorous disciplinary exchange. "Writing on the Edge" focuses on the realm of belles lettres; "Yiddish and the City" spans the urban centers of Paris, Buenos Aires, New York City, and Montreal; "Yiddish Goes Pop" explores the mediating role of Yiddish between artistic vision and popular culture; "Yiddish Comes to America" focuses on the history and growth of Yiddish in the United States; "Yiddish Encounters Hebrew" showcases interactions between Yiddish and Hebrew in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries; and "Hear and Now" explores the aural dimension of Yiddish in contemporary settings. Along the way, contributors consider famed and lesser-known Yiddish writers, films, and Yiddish hip-hop, as well as historical studies on the Yiddish press, Yiddish film melodrama, Hasidic folkways, and Yiddish culture in Israel. Venerable scholars introduce each rubric, creating additional dialogue between newer and more established voices in the field.

The international contributors prove that the language-far from dying-is fostering exciting new directions of academic and popular discourse, rooted in the field's historic focus on interdisciplinary research. Students and teachers of Yiddish studies will enjoy this innovative collection.

Lara Rabinovitch received her PhD in modern Jewish history from New York University in 2012. She is working on a book project about "Little Rumania" and the origin of pastrami in early twentieth-century New York. As managing editor for two years, she helped launch McGill University's CuiZine: The Journal of Canadian Food Cultures/Revue des cultures culinaires au Canada in 2008.

Shiri Goren is a senior lector in modern Hebrew at Yale University. She received her PhD from New York University in 2011. Her areas of specialization include modern Hebrew literature, Israeli culture, Yiddish literature, the novel, and film theory. Goren's current book project, Creative Resistance: Literary Interventions in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, explores how violence affects real and imagined spaces in Israel of recent years.

Hannah S. Pressman earned her Ph.D. in modern Hebrew literature at New York University. Her research interests include autobiographical narratives, translation, Yiddish, and religious-secular dynamics in Israeli culture. She is an affiliate instructor for the Stroum Jewish Studies Program at the University of Washington, as well as editor of JewDub.org.

Contributors Include:
Adriana X. Jacobs, Anita Norich, Anna Shternshis, Ari Y. Kelman, Asya Vaisman, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara Mann, Dara Horn, Edward Portnoy, Ela Bauer, Gennady Estraikh, Gerben Zaagsma, Hannah S. Pressman, Hasia Diner, Jeffrey Shandler, Jennifer Young, Jeremy Dauber, Jordan Finkin, Josh Lambert, Kalman Weiser, Lara Rabinovitch, Rebecca Kobrin, Rebecca Margolis, Sarah Bunin Benor, Shachar Pinsker, Shayn Smulyan, Shiri Goren, Tony Michels, Zehavit Stern

"An impressively wide-ranging survey of current work in Yiddish studies, Choosing Yiddish is at once a sgule-a remedy-for Yiddishist fears about the future of the discipline and an inducement to non-Yiddishists to become part of that future, if only to hang out with the smart kids."

– Michael Wex

"Choosing Yiddish showcases a new generation of top-flight Yiddish scholars. It ranges widely, pulsates with new and exciting research, and demonstrates that Yiddish studies has become a vibrant and creative discipline."

– Jonathan D. Sarna, Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, Brandeis University

Optimistic Yiddishists find signs of life for the Yiddish language. One of the most surprising ones is the resurgence of interest in Yiddish in the academic world. The number of students actually studying the Yiddish language at most universities is low, but the number of professors researching and writing about Yiddish language, literature and culture is growing quickly. . . . I enjoyed this book and recommend it if you're interested in Yiddish.

– Martin Lockshin, Canadian Jewish News

Much can be gained from reading the articles in Choosing Yiddish.

– Zelda Kahan Newman, H-Net Judaic

Choosing Yiddish fills a niche not yet addressed by previous collections, and marks the growth of Yiddish Studies in tandem with Jewish Studies. The essays provide for the most part a fresh and timely perspective on historical and current topics, utilizing innovative research sources and methods to shed light on issues that remain relevant. . . . Diverse, intriguing, and inspiring, Choosing Yiddish is indeed a worthwhile choice. Recommended for academic libraries collecting in the area of Jewish Studies.

– Amanda (Miryem-Khaye) Seigel, Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews: May/June 2011, Volume III, No. 2

From a research point of view, those who would document, understand, and study Yiddish today must come prepared with revised notions about what comprises linguistic, religious, ethnic, and cultural identity. Indeed, it is precisely the mix of descriptive realism and prescriptive advocacy elicited by Yiddish that makes it such a fascinating topic of sociolinguistic research and that makes Lara Rabinovitch, Shiri Goren, and Hannah S. Pressman’s Choosing Yiddish: New Frontiers of Language and Culture such a welcome addition to the Yiddish studies conversation.

– Tatjana Soldat-Jaffe, Journal of Jewish Languages