By Associate Librarian – Readers’ Advisory Specialist Debbie
This year the Bexley Library is one of 29 libraries across the country chosen to participate in the Yiddish Book Center’s “Stories of Exile” Reading Group!
The Yiddish Book Center is in Amherst, Massachusetts and was founded by Aaron Lansky, who started collecting Yiddish books when, as a college student, he and his classmates had trouble finding Yiddish books to read. They realized that since Yiddish wasn’t spoken by the current generation, Yiddish books were being thrown away – and it was happening at an alarming rate. Aaron Lansky’s adventures saving Yiddish books and the founding and evolution of the Yiddish Book Center are chronicled in his wonderful book Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books.
Before WWII Yiddish was spoken by 11 million people and there was a lively and robust Yiddish culture – newspapers, plays, magazines and books all in Yiddish. After WWII Yiddish culture was almost lost. The Yiddish Book Center “Stories of Exile” Reading Group will discuss four books; re-introducing three wonderful Yiddish authors and a fourth non-Yiddish book that shares the universal theme of exile. Although Yiddish is a particular culture it has universal messages and has a lot to say.
The first book for the Reading Group is the lyrical On the Landing: Stories by Yenta Mash. On the Landing is a book of interconnected, semi-autobiographical short stories tracing the exile of Jewish residents to Siberia and then emigration to Israel. It’s a slim volume but the stories are powerful. On the Landing is available in print and is an eBook on Hoopla.
Our first Reading Group is on Monday, May 15th, and due to popular demand there will be an additional discussion of On the Landing on Monday, July 10th. The July 10th Reading Group will be virtual and you can sign up here.
There will also be a Virtual Field Trip to the Yiddish Book Center on Monday, July 17th! Jennifer Young, the Education Manager at the Yiddish Book Center will give a live tour and be able to answer questions. Don’t miss this amazing opportunity to explore the Yiddish Book Center! You can sign up here.
The Reading Group continues in the Fall with In the Land of the Postscript by Chava Rosenfarb on Monday, October 16th, and The Glatstein Chronicles by Jacob Glatstein on Monday, December 4th, and then concludes next Spring with Beloved by Toni Morrison.