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The Vilnius Yiddish Institute Newsletter, No. 15
In this issue:
Announcing the 2007 Vilnius Summer Program in Yiddish
The 26th annual European one-month summer program in Yiddish language and literature (founded at Oxford in 1982 and relocated in Vilnius in August 1998) will be held from Sunday, 29 July (Registration Day) through Friday, 24 August (last day of classes and graduation) 2007. Details will be forthcoming. Be sure to watch our website!
A full report on the recently concluded 2006 Summer Program (group photo above!) will be issued soon as a special Newsletter. Suffice it to say for now that the program scored a resounding success. Have a look at the photo gallery on our website at http://www.judaicvilnius.com
After winter break, on 8 February, a new series of cultural seminars began with Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky, director of Chabad-Lubavitch in Lithuania. Rabbi Krinsky spoke on "The Jewish Notion of the 'Seven Universal Laws of Noah' and Their Relevance in Our Time." Attended by members of four faiths, the seminar led to a discussion of the contributions to universal ethics by diverse religious traditions through the ages. The participants included the Economist's editor for central and eastern Europe, Edward Lucas, who commented on parallel thought in various church traditions.
On 13 February, Justus van de Kamp, historian, lexicographer, and Yiddishist from Amsterdam, delivered a talk titled "Yiddish Language and Amsterdam." He illustrated his talk with dozens of rare images and some exceedingly rare antiquarian items that he circulated among the participants. The talk led to a broad discussion of the fate of Yiddish in a number of western capitals. On 22 February, focus shifted to Canada when that country's ambassador to Lithuania, Mr. Brian Herman, spoke on "A Century of Jewish Life in Canada's West." Many of ambassador Herman's examples came from the region of his native Regina in the prairie lands of western Canada. Gracefully interweaving deep historical knowledge with his own family history, Mr. Herman sparked a discussion of his personal feelings of complete ease as both a Canadian and a Jew of East European heritage.
On 1 March, Rabbi Chaim Burstein, rabbi of the Jewish Religious Community of Lithuania, spoke on "The Mussar Movement in Lithuania: Origins, History, and Current Incarnations." Beside sketching the main features of the famed 19th-century movement founded by Rabbi Israel Salanter, Rabbi Burstein provided a fascinating autobiographical sketch, explaining how an assimilated Jew in what was then Leningrad rediscovered his Jewish roots. He described the journey that led him to become an Orthodox rabbi, settle in Israel, and now serve as a rabbi in Vilnius.
For our report on the Fall 2005 seminars, please see Newsletter Nr. 14 on our website. Information on the next season of VYI cultural seminars can be gotten by contacting the VYI's associate director, Ms. Ruta Puisyte (email@example.com; +3705 268 7187).
Two members of the VYI's academic staff, professors Dovid Katz and Sharunas Liekis, have contributed a number of commissioned articles to the forthcoming YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe, which will be published by Yale University Press. YIVO has now made one of them, the 14-page entry "Yiddish" by Prof. Katz, available online (http://www.yivo.org/downloads/Yiddish.pdf).
Prof. Liekis's articles cover once significant Jewish regions and towns such as Kurland, Suvalki, and Ventspils, and such figures as the Latvian Jewish surgeon Vladimir Mintz, his criminologist brother Paul Mintz, Jewish educator in interwar Estonia Shmuel Gurin, and Vice Minister of Trade and Industry after Lithuanian independence in 1919 Nachman Rachmilevich.
Professor Liekis has also been commissioned to write three articles on the Baltic States for the 5-volume Encyclopedia of Protest and Revolution in World History (Facts on File, Inc.). This work will be the most comprehensive historical reference source on protest and revolutionary movements worldwide.
On 4 July, the Senate of Mykolas Romeris University appointed Sarunas Liekis full professor in the Department of Political Science.
VYI faculty member Professor Marija Krupoves maintains her busy schedule of Yiddish folk song concerts and ethnomusicological lectures. On 3 February, she performed and was interviewed on the radio talk show "The Jewish Hour" in New York City. Returning to Vilnius, on 13 March she sang a concert in the former Vilna Ghetto Theater in memory of Shmerke Kaczerginsky. This was followed on 2 April by "Jewish Melodies," a concert organized by the Jewish Cultural Society of Vilnius. The month of April saw Marija back in the United States. Invited by the Jewish Arts Program at Indiana University (Bloomington), on 25 April she lectured on the cultural life of the Vilna Ghetto and sang the program of Vilna Ghetto Songs for which she has been widely acclaimed (for information on the CD, please contact the VYI, address below). On 30 April, likewise at Indiana University, Marija lectured on and gave a concert of Yiddish folksongs. Then, on 8 May, she performed during the ceremony of the Vilna Award at YIVO in New York City. Once again in Vilnius, on 24 May Marija offered a concert at the Tolerance Center, as the VYI's contribution to the "Vilna and Beyond Heritage Tour" announced earlier on our website. Participants in the 2006 Summer Program in Yiddish had ample occasion to hear Marija Krupoves sing and, of course, to meet her personally during the four-week August session.
VYI research fellow Mindaugas Kvietkauskas was selected to attend the YIVO Institute's June Training Seminar on Eastern European Jewish History. In addition to acquainting himself with YIVO's wealth of cultural treasures and educational resources, Mindaugas will take part in a series of lectures and workshops. These will be presented by such well- known scholars as professors Michael Stanislawski (Columbia University), Samuel Kassow (Trinity College), Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (New York University), and Zalman Mlotek, director of New York's Folksbiene Yiddish Theater. The chairman of the seminar is Professor Robert M. Shapiro (Brooklyn College). The VYI congratulates Mindaugus on being selected among 35 international candidates.
Hannah Pollin, Summer Program graduate ('02, '04) and the VYI's first Fulbright Scholar, continues to break new ground as Yiddish teacher for the Yiddishkayt LA Education Initiative.
This past school year, with her high school pupils Hannah visited a local elderly home, conducted interviews with Yiddish speakers, and wrote personal letters of introduction to Yiddish speakers in Lithuania and Belarus. One of her pupils was accepted for a highly competitive National Yiddish Book Center summer internship. Another attended the Vilnius Yiddish Institute's summer Yiddish language program.
Hannah's middle school pupils performed Yiddish skits and khanike music at a local elderly home. Hannah also invited a wide range of speakers to the class, where they described their involvement with Yiddish. She also made a "Purim Shpil Film" that combined traditional Yiddish rhyme with contemporary English humor. Her pupils then sent the film to their Yiddish-learning peers in Australia and Israel. Finally, with her pupils, Hannah studied four Polish-Jewish prewar cities and created a pictorial exhibit for Yom HaShoah.
In the coming school year, Hannah will be teaching Yiddish I, Yiddish II, and a course on Yiddish Film and Theater. She will also contribute educational programming to a Yiddishkayt LA citywide festival in October.
Inspired by this innovative education program under Hannah's leadership, world renowned architect Daniel Libeskind agreed to serve on Yiddishkayt LA's advisory board.
The Vilnius Yiddish Institute has increasingly gained notice from commentators and journalists far and wide. London's Economist recently featured a "Letter from Vilnius" which included a description of the VYI's work and its role in the city's cultural life (http://www.economist.com/cities/displayobject.cfm?obj_id=5536202).-- City Paper, widely read by the English- speaking communities in the Baltics, printed an article on the institute's research director, Prof. Dovid Katz (http://www.balticsww.com/katz.htm). Also, the internet journal Outlook carried an appreciation of the 2005 Yiddish Educator Program written by participant Prof. Esther Reiter of Toronto (http://www.vcn.bc.ca/outlook/library/articles/culture/05s_vilna.htm).
In its issue of 16 June 2006, the Forverts (N.Y.) announced that 2006 Summer Program faculty member Dr. Jan Schwarz has been named Senior Lecturer in Yiddish Language and Literature at the University of Chicago. Although Yiddish was taught earlier at the university, Dr. Schwarz's senior lectureship will bring stability to the Yiddish curriculum for the first time.
The VYI's research director, Professor Dovid Katz, continues to contribute a weekly essay, in Yiddish, to New York's Algemeyner zhurnal (Algemeiner Journal), a New York weekly founded by the late Gershon Jacobson in 1972, and now edited by Yosef-Yitzkhok Jacobson, who is, at 33, the world's youngest Yiddish editor. Professor Katz's recent pieces, also available online, include an appreciation of the life and work of Yiddish scholar Professor Eli Katz; a recent visit with Holocaust survivor Hirsh Khosid in Grodna, Belarus; reminiscences about the "advice for everyday life" provided by various Yiddish writers; a review of Rebecca Goldstein's new book on Spinoza; a piece on the most controversial words in the New Testament (in their Aramaic original, and with reference to Mr. Mel Gibson); and a history of the Morgn zhurnal, Tog, Tog - Morgn zhurnal and Algemeyner zhurnal. The Zhurnal also published a brief report, with group photo, on the recently completed 2006 Vilnius Summer Program in Yiddish.
Aleksandra Geller (Warsaw, '04) attained the Master of Studies degree in Jewish Studies at the Oxford Centre in England (2004-05). Her dissertation was titled "Warsaw and Vilna: Two Competing Centres of Jewish Culture during the Interwar Period." Alexandra now plans to pursue an acdemic career in the field of Polish-Jewish relations.
With great pleasure, we call out khosn-kale mazltov to Alexandra and her fellow '04 Summer Program participant Rafal Klajn on their recent wedding in Warsaw.
The Newsletter is produced by the Vilnius Yiddish Institute at Vilnius University.
Editor: Professor Sidney Rosenfeld
|2005 VILNIUS YIDDISH INSTITUTE. Solution: Neosymmetria|