June 23-26, 2024 | Yiddish and the Holocaust: New Approaches, an online conference

By Stephen Naron - June 6, 2024

Yiddish in Holocaust Studies was for a long time, in Perla Sneh’s apt formulation, an “absent absence.” This has begun to change. Within Holocaust scholarship, scholars such as Samuel Kassow, David Roskies, Laura Jockusch, Katarzyna Person, Dominic Williams and Nicholas Chare, Mark Smith and others have published groundbreaking research based on the abundant Yiddish language testimony that emanated from East European Jewish communal efforts, both during and after the Holocaust.

Our upcoming conference, Yiddish and the Holocaust: New Approaches, seeks to build on the critical contributions of this previous scholarship and, working together with participants from around the world, articulate a purposive, innovative role for Yiddish in the future of Holocaust Studies.

The conference will be held online between June 23 and June 26, 2024 and is a cooperation between the Jona Goldrich Institute for Yiddish Language, Literature and Culture at Tel Aviv University, Yale's Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, and the Department of Literature, Tel Aviv University.

Please contact yiddish1@tauex.tau.ac.il to request access to the online lectures (the program is below). Some lectures are prerecorded and already available at Iberzets.

The conference organizers,

Hannah Pollin-Galay (Tel Aviv University)
Sven-Erik Rose (UC Davis)
Stephen Naron (Fortunoff Archive, Yale University), Dominic Williams (Northumbria University)
Katarzyna Person (Warsaw Ghetto Museum)


All times listed in UTC/GMT +3 (Israel)

Day 1 | Sunday, 23 June, 2024

16:00-16:15 | Conference Opening
16:15-17:15 | Panel 1 What is Khurbn Yiddish? (Discussion of prerecorded lectures)
• Hannah Pollin-Galay (Tel Aviv University), “The Destruction of Yiddish or Destruction-Yiddish?”
• Malena Chinski (Instituto de Desarrollo Económico y Social), “Ironic Narrative: Nachman Blumental’s Approach
to Yiddish Literature Under Nazi Occupation”
• Perla Sneh (National University of Tres de Febrero), “Khurbn Yiddish – Unveiling that Absent Absence”
Moderator: Sven-Erik Rose (University of California, Davis)

17:15-17:30 | Break

17:30-19:00 | Panel 2 Performing Catastrophe, Performing Yiddish: The Holocaust in Yiddish
Theatre and Film
• Joel Berkowitz (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), “In These Days of Job: Yiddish Drama After the Holocaust”
• Rebecca Margolis (Monash University), “Yiddish and the Holocaust on Screen”
• Sonia Gollance (University College London), “Children’s Trauma and Holocaust Commemoration in Tea Arciszewska’s Miryeml (1958/59)”
Moderator: Avinoam Patt (New York University)

19:00-19:30 | Break

19:30-20:30 | Panel 3 (Parallel panels)
1) Panel 3A. Yiddish Beyond Yiddish: On the Challenges of Translation
• Jeffrey Grossman (University of Virginia), “The Problem of Translation: Abraham Sutzkever’s Holocaust Writings
in English and German”
• Yaakov Herskovitz (Tel Aviv University), ““I Have No Time”: Translating Yiddish Letters from the Holocaust into
Hebrew Poetry”
Moderator: Jan Schwartz (Lund University)
2) Panel 3B. Holocaust Memory Without a Final “Nun”: The Soviet Perspective
• Alexandra Polyan (University of Regensburg), ““Di tsores zenen geven af yidish“: Dovid Bergelson Imagines
his Postwar Audience”
• Anika Walke (Washington University), “Untern fridlekhn himl: Hirsh Reles Chronicles Jewish Life After the
Holocaust in Belarus”
Moderator: Anna Shternshis (University of Toronto)

Day 2 | Monday, 24 June, 2024

Works-in-progress sessions (attendance limited to presenters and mentors)

Workshop #1 | 17:30-18:30
Mentor: Hannah Pollin-Galay (Tel Aviv University)
• Daniel Stein (Graduate Theological Union), “The Function of Poetry in Yizker Bikher”
• Christin Zühlke (Washington University in St. Louis), ”Yiddish, Religious Voices and Narratives in Extremis”

Workshop #2 | 18:00-19:00
Mentors: Sven-Erik Rose (University of California, Davis) and Dominic Williams (Northumbria University)
• Jowita Pańczyk (Tel Aviv University), “Khurbn Literature in Di goldene keyt Journal. World Literature Perspectives”
• Joanna Spyra (University of Bergen), “Navigating Temporal Paradigms: Yiddish, Holocaust, Decoloniality, and
the Argentine Experience”

Workshop #3 | 18:00-19:00
Mentors: Katarzyna Person (Warsaw Ghetto Museum) and Stephen Naron (Fortunoff Archive, Yale University)
• Agnieszka Ilwicka (University of Florida), “The new canon of Yiddish literature immediately after WWII, including
oral testimonies from Lower Silesia”
• Rami Neudorfer (Tel Aviv University) “Kovno ghetto songs”

Day 3 | Tuesday, 25 June, 2024

16:00-17:00 | Panel 4 Writing in Real Time? Interpreting and Translating Yiddish Literature
Written Under Occupation (Discussion of pre-recorded lectures)
• Katarzyna Person (Warsaw Ghetto Museum), “Politics of translating the Underground Archive of the Warsaw
Ghetto, 1946-2024”
• Sven-Erik Rose (University of California, Davis), "The Collapse of Ethics and Justice in the Warsaw Ghetto Writings
of Yitskhok Bernshteyn"
• Anne Christin Klotz (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), “Preventing linguicide in the face of genocide: Eastern
European Jewish landsmanshaftn as keepers of di mame-loshn after the Shoah”
Moderator: Dominic Williams (Northumbria University)

17:00-17:15 | Break

17:15-19:00 | Panel 5 (Post-)Khurbn Yiddish Literature: The Making of New Genres
• Dominic Williams (Northumbria University), “I. L. (Ludovic) Bruckstein’s Night Shift (1947): An Early Encounter
with the Auschwitz Sonderkommando”
• Samuel Spinner (Johns Hopkins University), “Monument and Fragment: Y. Y. Trunk’s Poyln”
• Yael Levi (CJS, Harvard University), “Radiant Jews in a Dark World: Writing Poetry in Yiddish after the Holocaust”
• Miriam Udel (Emory University), “Between Heroism and Coherence: How Yiddish Fiction Helped Child Readers
Make Sense of the Holocaust”
Moderator: Joel Berkowitz (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)

19:00-19:30 | Break

19:30-21:15 | Panel 6. New Yiddish Diasporas 1: From Poland to Sweden
• Simo Muir (University College London), “The Meaning of Yiddish Performance in Dealing with the Trauma of
the Holocaust among Survivors in Sweden”
• Rachel Moss (Colgate University), “From Mordechai and Esther to Julius and Ethel: The Political Nuances of
Postwar Yiddish Theatre in Poland”
• Karolina Koprowska (Jagiellonian University), “Creating a Space for Jewish-Yiddish Culture. Nusekh Poyln as a
strategy of “feeling-at-home” in Poland after the Holocaust”
• Aleksandra Gluba-Pieprz (Adam Mickiewicz University), “Immersed in the Past: The Khurbn as a crucial topic in
the Yiddish newspaper Folks-Shtime after the March 1968 antisemitic campaign in Poland”
Moderator: Katarzyna Person (Warsaw Ghetto Museum)

Day 4 | Wednesday, 26 June, 2024

16:00-17:00 | Panel 7 (Parallel panels)
1) Panel 7A. New Yiddish Diasporas 7A: The Case of Latin America
• Tamara Gleason (University College London), “Yiddish Usage as a Key Element in Early Commemoration Efforts
in Mexico during the Holocaust”
• Rachelle Grossman (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), “A Tragic and Weighty Privilege: The Ascendance
of Buenos Aires as Postwar Yiddish Center”
Moderator: Perla Sneh (National University of Tres de Febrero)
2) Panel 7B. The Khurbn Yiddish of Chava Rosenfarb
• Jan Schwarz (Lund University), “Chava Rosenfarb’s Artistic Journey from the Lodz Ghetto to Post-War Montreal”
• Matthew Johnson (Lund University), “‘...on the loneliness of the Yiddish writer’: Chava Rosenfarb’s Self-Translations”
Moderator: Jeffrey Grossman (University of Virginia)

17:00-17:15 | Break

17:15-18:45 | Panel 8 Piety & Emotions During and After the Shoah
• James Diamond (University of Waterloo), “‘Cries from our Souls’: Bursts of Yiddish in Rabbinic Literature During
the Shoah”
• Daniel Reiser (Herzog College), “The Holy ‘Cover’: Sanctification of Yiddish in Ultra-Orthodox Judaism in the
Wake of the Holocaust” (prerecorded and pre-viewed lecture)
• Anna Shternshis (University of Toronto), “Anger, Devastation and Indifference: Emotions in Yiddish poetry and
music of Transnistria, 1942-1944”
• Avinoam Patt (New York University), "Gelekhter Durkh Trern: Yiddish Humor in the Aftermath of the Shoah."
Moderator: Samuel Spinner (Johns Hopkins University)

18:45-19:15 | Break

19:15-20:15 | Panel 9 Keynote Lecture in Yiddish
• David Roskies (Jewish Theological Seminary), “Tovlkunst vi a shlisl tsu der yiddisher khurbn-literatur 1943-1979”
Moderator: Alexandra Polyan (University of Regensburg)
20:15-20:30 Break
20:30-21:15 | Panel 10 Wrap-up Discussion
Discussants: Dominic Williams, Miriam Udel, Daniel Stein and all participants.
Moderator: Hannah Pollin-Galay (Tel Aviv University)