Global Yiddish Culture, 1938-1948

The 8th Annual Symposium in Germanic Studies, University of Toronto


Sunday, April 19, 2015

8:00pm Concert: "Defending the Homeland: Rare Yiddish Songs of World War II"

Featuring Psoy Korolenko and Anna Shternshis

Al Green Theatre, 720 Spadina Avenue

Tickets $10 at the door. Free for students.

"Avant-bard" singer/songwriter/performer Psoy Korolenko and U of T Professor Anna Shternshis bring to life "lost" Yiddish songs of the Holocaust in this all-new concert and lecture program. Written and transcribed by surviving Ukrainian Jewish writers of the Kiev Cabinet for Jewish Culture after the war as a testament to their struggle for survival, these rare Yiddish artifacts were confiscated and hidden by the Soviet government in 1949, and have only recently come to light. Learn about the incredible stories behind these treasures, savour the music and revel in the creativity of Yiddish-speaking Holocaust survivors.

Co-presented by Ashkenaz Festival and Miles Nadal JCC


Monday, April 20, 2015

Jackman Humanities Building, Room 100, 170 St. George Street

8:30am–9:00am Welcome and Greetings

David Cameron, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science

Markus Stock, Chair, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures

Walter Stechel, Consul General of Germany

Jeffrey Kopstein, Director, Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies

9:00am–11:15am Panel I: Uncertainties and Hopes of 1939–1941

Chair: Doris Bergen (University of Toronto)

Nick Underwood (University of Colorado), "Jewish Culture on the World Stage: The Modern Jewish Culture Pavilion at the 1937 World's Fair in Paris"

Gennady Estraikh (New York University), "The Yiddish Literary Center in Białystok, September 1939–June 1941"

David Shneer (University of Colorado), "How Fascism and Yiddish Culture Dragged Dutch Jewry into the Modern World: 1935–1941"

Naomi Nicholas Kaufman (Université Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle), "Translating on thresholds: The 'impossible possibility' of Yiddish translation (on Golden Peacock, 1939)"

11:15am–11:45am Coffee Break

11:45am–1:00pm Panel II: From Ukraine to Tashkent to Birobidzhan and Back

Chair: Lynne Viola (University of Toronto)

Mikhail Krutikov (University of Michigan), "From Berdichev to Birobidzhan: Der Nister's Last Decade, 1939–1949"

Zeev Levin (Hebrew University and Ohalo College), "Yiddish meets the Orient: Ashkenazi Jews in Soviet Central Asia"

1:00pm–2:00pm Lunch

2:00pm–3:45pm  Panel III: Yiddish Culture in the Ghettos

Chair: Jeffrey Kopstein (University of Toronto)

Sam Kassow (Trinity College, Hartford), "Yiddish Reportage in the Lodz Ghetto: the Case of Joseph Zelkowicz"

Hannah Pollin-Galay (Columbia University), "Rhyming is Believing: Witnessing with Avrom Sutskever in the Spring of 1944"

Arkady Zeltser (Yad Vashem), "Ghetto Resistance during the Holocaust in Contemporary Soviet Yiddish Texts"

3:45pm–4:15pm Coffee Break

4:15pm–6:30pm Panel IV: Yiddish Theatre and Film

Chair: Andrea Most (University of Toronto)

Joel Berkowitz (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), "Yiddish Drama and the Holocaust"

Diego Rotman (Hebrew University), "Rubber Bullets on False Targets: Dzigan and Shumacher's theater between 1939 and 1947"

Harriet Murav (University of Illinois), "The Global Resonance of Prince Reuveni"

Olga Gershenson (University of Massachusetts-Amherst), "David Bergelson's I Will Live! (1942), un-memory of the Khurbm"


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Jackman Humanities Building, Room 100, 170 St. George Street

9:30am–10:45am Panel V: Looking from the Distance

Chair: Willi Goetschel (University of Toronto)

Rebecca Margolis (University of Ottawa), "Melekh Ravitch as Yiddish Catalyst"

Rakhmiel Peltz (Drexel University), "Uriel Weinreich Forges the Field of Yiddish: Bridging Vilna and New York, 1938–1948"

10:45am–11:00am Coffee Break

11:00am–12:15pm Panel VI: What Now?: Yiddish After the Holocaust

Chair: Kalman Weiser (York University)

Jack Kugelmass (University of Florida), "Borders to the Sky: The WarTime Journeys of Mordkhe Tsanin"

Miriam Trinh (Johns Hopkins University), "'Yiddish', the 'Sheyres-Hapleyte' and 'Medines-Yisroel' as main aspects in the correspondence between Mordkhe Shtrigler and H. Leyvick - Paris - New York, 1945–1952"

12:15pm–1:00pm Concluding Remarks


Sponsored by the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies and by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, with additional support from the Al and Malka Green Program in Yiddish Studies, Centre for Comparative Literature, the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies, the Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies, Ray Wolfe Chair in the Holocaust Studies, the Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, the Committee for Yiddish, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto,  the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto, Ashkenaz Festival, and Friends of Yiddish.

Organizing Committee:

Anna Shternshis, Al and Malka Green Associate Professor of Yiddish Studies

Doris Bergen, Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor of Holocaust Studies

Jeffrey Kopstein, Professor of Political Science

Please note: Tickets are required for the concert on April 19. The conference proceedings on April 20–21 are free and open to the public. No registration is required.

Date & Time
Monday, April 20, 2015 (All day) - Tuesday, April 21, 2015 (All day)

Jackman Humanities Building, Room 100, 170 St. George Street