From the Vilna Ghetto to Nuremberg: Memoir and Testimony
Abraham Sutzkever and Justin Cammy
In 1944, the Yiddish poet Abraham Sutzkever was airlifted to Moscow from the forest where he had spent the winter among partisan fighters. There he was encouraged by Ilya Ehrenburg, the most famous Soviet Jewish writer of his day, to write a memoir of his two years in the Vilna Ghetto. Now, seventy-five years after it appeared in Yiddish in 1946, Justin Cammy provides a full English translation of one of the earliest published memoirs of the destruction of the city known throughout the Jewish world as the Jerusalem of Lithuania.
Based on his own experiences, his conversations with survivors, and his consultation with materials hidden in the ghetto and recovered after the liberation of his hometown, Sutzkever’s memoir rests at the intersection of postwar Holocaust literature an history. He grappled with the responsibility to produce a document that would indict the perpetrators and provide an account of both the horrors and the resilience of Jewish life under Nazi rule. Cammy bases his translation on the two extant versions of the full text of the memoir and includes Sutzkever’s diary notes and full testimony at the Nuremberg Trials in 1946. Fascinating reminiscences of leading Soviet Yiddish cultural figures Sutzkever encountered during his time in Moscow – Ehrenburg, Yiddish modernist poet Peretz Markish, and director of the State Yiddish Theatre Shloyme Mikhoels – reveal the constraints of the political environment in which the memoir was composed.
Both shocking and moving in its intensity, From the Vilna Ghetto to Nuremberg returns readers to a moment when the scale of the Holocaust was first coming into focus, through the eyes of one survivor who attempted to make sense of daily life, resistance, and death in the ghetto.
A Yiddish Book Center Translation
Introduction to The Canvas and Other Stories by Salamea Perl
The Canvas and Other Stories by Salomea Perl is a bilingual Yiddish-English text featuring the only known stories Perl wrote and published in the various Yiddish newspapers of her time. Uncovered after two years of research and translated by Ruth Murphy, the book presents the original Yiddish text and English translation in a side-by-side format. Murphy's translations present Perl's voice to English readers, while Perl's rich, authentic Yiddish brings readers back to the Jewish, Yiddish-speaking streets of turn-of-the-century Poland. The insightful introduction by Dr. Justin Cammy gives the historical background of both the text and its author. The work of Salomea Perl, an author completely unknown until these translations, is an important addition to ongoing discovery of female Yiddish writers.
Salomea Perl (1869-1916) was born in the town of Lomża (now Poland) and raised in the larger city of Lublin. After completing studies at the University of Geneva, she settled in Warsaw. Her Yiddish first stories were published n Yontev Bletlekh, the self-proclaimed radical magazine published by Y. L. Peretz, starting in 1895. Her seventh and final known Yiddish work was published in 1910.
"The publication here of all seven known stories by Salomea Perl is not only important because it marks the rediscovery of a forgotten Yiddish writer. It also allows us to consider her unsentimental portraits of a Jewish world in transition. Her stories reveal deep class divisions and the prevalence of Jewish poverty. She investigates how the religious values that guided everyday life often lacked compassion for lived experience. Perl explores the social and cultural ruptures caused by internal migration from small towns to big cities, and new manifestations of secular Jewish identity associated with modern life.
"At the same time, for every frayed relationship between a husband and wife or a daughter shunning her father, Perl's fiction also reveals unassuming acts of self-sacrifice and modesty. For every abandonment of religious obligation in favor of the seductions of the secular-modern world there remain those who are content to carry on lives of relative simplicity."
From the Introduction by Justin Cammy, Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and Comparative Literature at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts
The Yiddish Trace in American Fiction
The Yiddish Trace in American Fiction was part of The Frankel Institute Annual 2020: Thinking Through Yiddish.
This year the Frankel Institute convened a diverse group of scholars, translators, and cultural leaders engaged in the field of Yiddish studies. This multidisciplinary field has witnessed a resurgence in recent years, thanks to renewed interest in the Yiddish language as an indispensable key to understanding Ashkenazi Jewish culture--past, present, and future. Signs of this resurgence include the proliferation of courses and summer programs around the world, the range of Yiddish-based camps and festivals in the United Stats and abroad, the increase in Yiddish publications in the Hasidic community, and a growth in the quality and quantity of scholarly publications and translations from Yiddish into English, Hebrew, French, German, Polish, Japanese, and many other languages.
Open Access publication original uploaded here: https://www.fulcrum.org/concern/monographs/vt150m68p
Unsettling the Linguistic and Geographical Borders of Jewish American Literature: Régine Robin’s La Québecoite
A multilingual, transnational literary tradition, Jewish American writing has long explored questions of personal identity and national boundaries. These questions can engage students in literature, writing, or religion; at Jewish, Christian, or secular schools; and in or outside the United States.
This volume takes an expansive view of Jewish American literature, beginning with writing from the earliest colonies in the Americas and continuing to contemporary Soviet-born authors in the United States, including works that engage deeply with religious concepts and others that embrace assimilation. It invites readers to rethink the nature of American multiculturalism, suggests pairings of Jewish American texts with other ethnic American literatures, and examines the workings of whiteness and privilege.
Contributors offer varied perspectives on classic texts such as Yekl, Bread Givers, and "Goodbye, Columbus," along with approaches to interdisciplinary topics including humor, graphic novels, and musical theater. The volume concludes with an extensive resources section.
The Full Pomegranate: Poems of Avrom Sutzkever
Yiddish writer Avrom Sutzkever (1913–2010) was described by the New York Times as “the greatest poet of the Holocaust.” Born in present-day Belarus, Sutzkever spent his childhood as a war refugee in Siberia, returned to Poland to participate in the interwar flourishing of Yiddish culture, was confined to the Vilna ghetto during the Nazi occupation, escaped to join the Jewish partisans, and settled in the new state of Israel after the war. Personal and political, mystical and national, his body of work, including more than two dozen volumes of poetry, several of stories, and a memoir, demonstrated the ways in which Yiddish creativity simultaneously balanced the imperatives of mourning and revival after the Holocaust. In The Full Pomegranate, Richard J. Fein selects and translates some of Sutzkever’s best poems covering the full breadth of his career. Fein’s translations appear alongside the original Yiddish, while an introduction by Justin Cammy situates Sutzkever in both historical and literary context.
Arguing the Modern Jewish Canon: Essays on Jewish Literature and Culture
Over the past four decades Ruth R. Wisse has been a leading scholar of Yiddish and Jewish literary studies in North America, and one of our most fearless public intellectuals on issues relating to Jewish society, culture, and politics. In this celebratory volume, edited by four of her former students, Wisse's colleagues take as a starting point her award-winning book The Modern Jewish Canon (2000) and explore an array of topics that touch on aspects of Yiddish, Hebrew, Israeli, American, European, and Holocaust literature. Arguing the Modern Jewish Canon brings together writers both seasoned and young, from both within and beyond the academy, to reflect the diversity of Wisse's areas of expertise and reading audiences. The volume also includes a translation of one of the first modern texts on the question of Jewish literature, penned in 1888 by Sholem Aleichem, as well as a comprehensive bibliography of Wisse's scholarship. In its richness and heft, Arguing the Modern Jewish Canon itself constitutes an important scholarly achievement in the field of modern Jewish literature.
On Long Winter Nights: Memoirs of a Jewish Family in a Galician Township 1870-1890
Justin Cammy and Hinde Bergner
The reader is given an intimate memoir of Jewish adolescence and life from a young woman's perspective in an Eastern European shtetl at the end of the nineteenth century. Hinde Bergner, future mother of one of Yiddish literature's greatest poets and grandmother of one of Israel's leading painters, recalls the gradual impact of modernization on a traditional world as she finds herself caught between her thirst for a European education and true love, and the expectations of her traditional family. Written during the late 1930s as a series of episodes mailed to her children, and never completed due to Bergner's murder at the hand of the Nazis, the memoir provides details about her teachers and matchmakers, domestic religion and customs, and the colorful characters that peopled a Jewish world that is no more. Translated from the Yiddish and with a critical introduction by Justin Cammy, it is a lively addition to the library of Jewish women's memoir, and should be of interest to students of Eastern European Jewish culture and women's studies.
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