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From its start, Yiddish in Vilnius has been distinguished by an outstanding international faculty. Its members are widely experienced and command deep and specialized knowledge of their discipline.
Dr. Karolina Szymaniak
Dr Karolina Szymaniak is a researcher, editor, translator and language instructor with a PhD in literary and cultural studies. Her interests range across modern Yiddish literature, theories of modernism and of the avant-garde, and women's literature. Her doctorate dealt with the problems and discourse of Yiddish literary criticism. She edited a bilingual, Polish-Yiddish, anthology Warszawska awangarda jidysz [Warsaw Yiddish Avant-garde, Gdansk, 2005]. In 2006 her book on the aesthetics of a pre-War Polish-Yiddish writer Debora Vogel was published. Her articles appeared in Polish, English and Belorussian. Currently she is preparing for publication in 2011, a bilingual anthology of Yiddish poetry by women; and, together with Joanna Nalewajko-Kulikov, a Polish language anthology of Soviet Yiddish literature and culture (planned for 2012). She is editor-in-chief of “Tsivshn”, a Polish-language literary and arts quarterly devoted to Yiddish culture. She held various scholarships, granted by, inter alia, the Polish Ministry of Education, the Foundation for Polish Science, The Ryoichi Sasakawa Fund and The Centre for Studies of the Culture and History of East European Jews of Vilnius University.
Prof. Dov-Ber Kerler
Born in Moscow in 1958, he emigrated to Jerusalem with the family in 1971 after a protracted struggle with Soviet authorities, led by his late father, the famed Yiddish poet Josef Kerler. Dov-Ber Kerler graduated from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1983 (joint honors BA in Yiddish Literature and General and Indo-European Linguistics). He went on to doctoral studies at Oxford University where he wrote his doctoral thesis. Kerler taught at Oxford for sixteen years, before taking up the Dr. Alice Field Cohn Chair in Yiddish Studies at Indiana University at Bloomington in 2001. For many years, Professor Kerler taught at the Oxford Summer Program in Yiddish, and he was one of the instructors in 1998 here in Vilnius, the year in which the program was relocated to Lithuania.
In addition to his many scholarly publications, Professor Dov-Ber Kerler is a renowned Yiddish poet, who will be signing copies of his newest book for this year’s summer program participants. He is widely considered to be one of the top Yiddish teachers and scholars in the world today, and his return to Vilnius could not be more timely.
Prof. Abraham Lichtenbaum
Prof. Abraham Lichtenbaum is the Executive Director of the IWO Foundation (Institute of Jewish Research) since 1994. He has taught Yiddish in New York, Warsaw, Buenos Aires and Vilnius. Prof. Lichtenbaum is also the lecturer and the author of texts about Jewish history and culture.
Prof. Anna Verschik
In 1990, Anna Verschik earned the B.A. degree in Finno-Ugric languages at Tartu University (Estonia), where she went on to study general linguistics, specializing in Yiddish. In 1996, she completed the M.A. degree with a thesis on the multilingualism of Estonian Jews; and in 2000 she received her Ph.D. with a dissertation titled "Estonian Yiddish and its Contacts with Coterritorial Languages." During this period she also studied Yiddish in the Vilnius Summer Program and at Bar Ilan University (Israel), and Jewish Studies for a year at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies (U.K.).
Anna's long list of publications contains numerous articles on the history, grammatical usage, and sociolinguistics of Yiddish in Estonia. Among her several translations from Yiddish into Estonian, undertaken to acquaint Estonians and young assimilated Jews with Yiddish culture, are Sholem-Aleichem's Marienbad, Dovid Bergelson's When All is Said and Done, stories by I.B. Singer, and, for stage performance, S. An-ski's The Dibbuk.
Among other courses, Anna has taught Introduction to Yiddish Culture, Introduction to Judaism, and a general course in Yiddish literature, all at the Estonian Institute of Humanities. Further, she has taught Elementary Yiddish at the University of Tartu, where she headed the Department of Estonian Language and Literature, at Uppsala University (Sweden), and was docent in Yiddish Studies at Helsinki University (Finland). In June 2006, she was named Professor of Estonian as a Foreign Language at Tallinn University. Each summer since 1998 she has taught Yiddish in the Vilnius Summer Program.
Prof. Jerold Frakes
After graduate study in Medieval Latin, German and Norse, Jerold Frakes became interested in early Yiddish literature in the broader comparative context of late medieval and early modern European cultures, and has published widely in the field, including a thousand-page original-language anthology of Old and Middle Yiddish texts (Early Yiddish texts, Oxford UP 2004). He taught beginning and intermediate Yiddish at the Summer Program several times during its early years in Vilnius. He is currently completing two book projects: a study of epic, lyric, and drama in pre-modern Yiddish ("Cultural Revolution in Ashkenaz: The Emergence of Early Yiddish Literature"); and an introductory textbook of Old and Middle Yiddish language. He teaches in the U.S.A., at the University at Buffalo.
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