[Mendele] Mendele Vol. 19.020

Victor Bers victor.bers at yale.edu
Mon Feb 15 21:35:53 EST 2010

endele: Yiddish literature and language

Contents of Vol. 19.020
February 15, 2010

1) Introducing www.YiddishPoetry.org (Andrew Firestone)
2) khisorn/shvartser ( Elye  Palevsky)
3) Song lyrics sought (Yoyl Sartorius)
4) Bobover purim-shpil (Jeffrey Shandler)
5) Vincent Homolka's comments on "Finding the Jewish Shakespeare: the life 
and legacy
of Jacob Gordin" (Beth Kaplan)
6) shul (Maurice Wolfthal)
7) gefilte fish (Perets Mett)
8) Yiddish aphorism (A.L. Rickman)

Date:   February 6, 2010
Subject: Introducing www.YiddishPoetry.org

With contributions from translators and poetry performers worldwide, and 
with support from several Melbourne institutions - the Australian Centre 
for the study of Jewish Civilizations (ACJC) at Monash University, the 
Pnina Zylberman Fund, and the Kadimah National Library - we are pleased to 
announce that the two existing websites, for the
poets Yisroel Shtern and Yossel Birstein, have been incorporated into
www.YiddishPoetry.org,together with /two new sections/:

1. a multilingual translation site with Yiddish readings, of the Yiddish 
poetry of Poland between the two world wars. So far, poems by four poets 
are on offer:  Simkhe Dan, Maurycy Szymel, Miriam Ulinover, Aaron Zeitlin.

2. a section for contemporary Yiddish poetry. So far works by Yitzhok 
Niborski and Sholem Berger can be found here.

Comments and enquiries are invited by the Editor, Andrew Firestone, 

Khosheve fraynt,

Mir meldn aykh, az oyf dem veb-zaytl www.YiddishPoetry.org 
http://www.yiddishpoetry.org, kent ir gefinen a naye opteylung. An 
antalogye fun der yidisher poezye fun tsvishn beyde velt-melkhomes in 
poyln, ibergezetst oyf english un frantsoyzish. Oyb ayer kompyuter iz 
ayngeshtelt tsu hern, kent ir glaykhtsaytik leyenen un hern dos geleyente 
durkh oysgeshulte leyener. Der program vert untergeshtitst durkh dem 
"Monash" universitet, Yidishe Natsionale Bibliotek bay der "Kadimah" un 
dem "Pnina Zylberman Fond" in Melbourne. A sakh arbet vert arayngeleygt 
durkh genite iberzetser un leyener iber der gantser velt. Mir dervartn 
oprufn un komentarn.

Redaktor, Andrew Firestone

Date: January 24, 2010
Subject: khisorn/shvartser

"Khisorn" means flaw or, more broadly, downside. There's an expression: a 
khisorn di kale iz tsu sheyn ( the flaw is the bride is too lovely). It is 
said when someone always finds flaw no matter how fine the object at hand.

In my Vilner/American born native Yiddish, "neger" was the appropriate 
noun, despite its similarity in sound to the word nigger before the 
supplanting of Negro by black and Afro-American. The use of the word "der 
shvartser/di shvartse"- for domestic helpers, also, "di krstin" as in, "di 
krstin kumt haynt ramen," in my opinion, reflects a social and economic 
divide without pointed prejudice and may have the institution of "shabes 
goy" as a sub-structure.

In addition, Yiddish frequently uses the locution of referring to a person 
by an ascriptive identity in absence of a name and in a neutral manner 
while at the same time reflecting a perception of an "us" and "them" 
world, e.g. yener yid/goy kumt afn yarid yor ayn yor oys = That man ( 
Jew/gentile) comes to the fair year after year.

Elye  Palevsky

Date: February 7, 2010
Subject: song lyrics sought

Mayn bobe hot mikh gelernt dos lid vos iz geshribn untn. Ken emetser dos 
lid? Ikh vil visn di rikhtike verter un mer geshikhte vegn dem lid:

Ikh bin nit mekane
Laytishe glikn,
Abi tsu hobn
Vos tsu pikn?

A sheynem dank,
Yoyl Sartorius

Date:  February 11, 2010
Subject: Bobover purim-shpil

I'd appreciate any information from Mendelistn about where/when this 
year's Bobover Pruim-shpil will take place.

Many thanks,
Jeffrey Shandler

Date:  January 26, 2010
Subject: Vincent Homolka's comments on "Finding the Jewish Shakespeare: 
the life and legacy of Jacob Gordin"

Many thanks to Vincent Homolka for responding to a query about Jacob 
Gordin's Elisha ben Avuya by quoting from my book "Finding the Jewish 
Shakespeare: the life and legacy of Jacob Gordin," and for remarking that 
the book is "a labor of love."

I need to clarify something, however. Homolka then advises the reader to 
treat my book with "a degree of caution" in light of my disclaimer about 
accountability and accuracy, which states, "There are periods of Gordin's 
life about which very little is known. In order to create a vivid account 
I have, based on research and reading, extrapolated my version of the 

The disclaimer is unclear, I now see. It is the Russian period of Gordin's 
life about which very little was known when I researched and wrote the 
book, and so where I chose to deduce and extrapolate. We know, for 
example, that Gordin had 2 sisters but almost nothing about them. Based on 
family information, Russian-Jewish life at the time and their letters to 
him stored at YIVO, I made some deductions about  his upbringing and the 
lives of his sisters. The disclaimer was to make clear that, for certain 
aspects of Gordin's Russian period, my interpretation was a personal one.

A great deal is known about Gordin's life in America. In those sections, 
such as that quoted by Homolka about Gordin's play Elisha, I told the 
story as any biographer would, using information from newspaper clippings, 
first hand accounts, and period documents. I labored with love, yes, but 
mostly with reference books.

Yours sincerely,
Beth Kaplan

Date: January 24, 2010
Subject:  shul

Can anyone shed some light on the origin of the use of the Yiddish word 
"shul" or the Italian "sculoa" to mean a synagogue?

a sheynem dank!
Maurice Wolfthal

Date: February 1, 2010
Subject: gefilte fish

Does anyone know why the form "gefilte fish" exists only in the plural
and not in the singular?

Perets Mett

Date: January 24, 2010
Subject:  Yiddish aphorism

I"m looking for a translation of a Yiddish aphorism. It was quoted to me 
as "Shtam gram, makh mir a letnik."  I have my own theories about this but 
I  want to find out what other people think.


End of Mendele Vol. 19.020
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