A Bridge of Books by The Yiddish Book Center

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The forty-nine books presented in this volume and on display in the Yiddish Book Center’s core exhibition Yiddish: A Global Culture, represent a journey into the modern Yiddish imagina­tion. Yiddish readers were voracious in their curiosity and hungry for news of the world around them. Here you will find books about polar exploration, the life of gauchos and ostrich farmers, the origins of Islam, the Spanish Civil War, and Norse legends. The genres include politics, social science, memoirs, poetry, children’s stories, travel writing, reportage, fantasy, literary classics, guidebooks, scientific writing, and musical theater. A cornucopia of Yiddish literature, these books reflect the practical concerns as well as the hopes and dreams of a migrant people.

Each of these volumes has been donated by friends and supporters of the Yiddish Book Center—a tiny sample of the million-plus books that the Center has received since 1980. They include some real rarities: Yapanishe mayselekh (Japa­nese Tales), a slim pocket book of Japanese stories; Khine (China), an impressively comprehensive guidebook cum statistical primer; and Kavkazer libe (Love in the Caucasus), a Yiddish theater operetta script. All are found in just two or three other collections worldwide.

While some of these forty-nine titles are translations of world classics, most are original Yiddish texts. Of these, one or two at most have been translated. Sadly, that too is representative. Despite the exciting surge of new translations in recent years, the vast majority of Yiddish books—numbering somewhere between 40,000 and 60,000 titles, including outstanding works of fiction and nonfiction—remain inaccessible to all but the relatively small number of Yiddish readers.

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