How Yiddish Changed America and How America Changed Yiddish

Restless. Jan. 2020. 496p. ed. by ed. by Ilan Stavans & Josh Lambert. ISBN 9781632062628. $29.99. SOC SCI
Editors Stavans (Lewis-Sebring Professor of Humanities, Latin American and Latino Culture, Amherst Coll.; Angelitos) and Lambert (Dir., Yiddish Book Center) present an anthology of Yiddish culture and how it has influenced American culture in the process. As Jewish immigrants from Eastern and Central Europe arrived in the United States and began to make sense of their new homeland, they founded theaters, newspapers, and organizations. They established a major presence in entertainment industries, published in notable journals, and had leading roles in labor movements of the time. Yiddish was the lingua franca bridging the old and new worlds. This volume is not a chronological exploration of the Yiddish language in America. Instead, the editors offer portions of some of the major works of Yiddish literature, poetry, comics, and political thought, by writers including Isaac Bashevis Singer, Chaim Grade, Cynthia Ozick, and Sophie Tucker, among others. A delightful chapter concentrates on culinary offerings with some recipes included. Finally, a fascinating chapter focuses on the influence of Yiddish in Canada, Argentina, Cuba, Mexico, and Colombia, offering a glimpse of Yiddishkeit outside Eurocentric views.
VERDICT A wonderful compilation sure to please new and old lovers of Yiddish culture, Jewish history, and linguistics.
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