[Mendele] Mendele Vol. 24.012

Victor Bers victor.bers at yale.edu
Fri Apr 24 18:13:44 EDT 2015

Mendele: Yiddish literature and language

Contents of Vol. 24.012
April 24, 2015

1) Prof. Benjamin Harshav z”l (Gershn Price)
2) Links (Redaktsye)
3) Efsher shraybn nokh a lid (H. Binyomen)

Date: April 24
Subject: Prof. Benjamin Harshav z”l

I join the entire yidish-velt in mourning the loss of scholar, translator,
and poet Benjamin Harshav. Prof. Harshav was instrumental to my earliest
forays into Yiddish poetry as an undergraduate, and I remain forever
grateful to him and his wife and fellow translator Barbara for having let
me into their home to spend countless hours crouched over Halpern,
Glatshteyn, Leyeles, Sutskever, and all the rest. To have even marginally
assisted him with editorial work for his most recent book on Hebrew
versification and for his soon-to-be-published collection of original
Hebrew and Yiddish poetry was an immense privilege. I cherish those few
years I was able to spend in his company.

Any thorough assessment of Prof. Harshav’s transformative role in the
development of a stunning array of fields - Jewish cultural history, Hebrew
and Yiddish literatures, modernism, semiotics, literary theory, art history
- would be an impossible task. Likewise impossible would be an estimate of
the countless students and scholars his work has directly and indirectly

In lieu of that, I offer the image of him folding a triangular hat from a
copy of Der algemeyner zhurnal, a project undertaken for the sake of
illustrating for me and another student precisely what one Yiddish poet had
in mind with his description of such a hat (the exact reference eludes me,
sadly). With a kind of dexterity that was otherwise beginning to escape
him, Prof. Harshav promptly donned the hat and continued reading along with
us. Here was the rigorous, highbrow, cosmopolitan structuralist, deeply and
blissfully immersed in the heymish world of modern Yiddish poetry, ever
aware of the intimate connection between literature and life that so
animated both his academic and belletristic endeavors, ever eager to pass
on a mesoyre, a yerushe, that stretched from Vilna to Tel Aviv to New Haven
and back. May we all aspire to even a tenth of such exuberance and

My deepest condolences to his wife, children, and grandchildren. Koved zayn
likhtikn ondenk.

Gershn Price

Date: April 24
Subject: Links

Mendelyaner are directed to these links for additional information on Prof.






Date: April 24
Subject: Efsher shraybn nokh a lid

The editors reprint here the opening poem of H. Binyomen’s (Benjamin
Harshav’s Yiddish pseudonym) collection “Take af tshikaves” (Wales: Three
Sisters Press, 1994), p. 11-2.

Efsher shraybn nokh a lid

Efsher shraybn nokh a lid
take af tshikaves:
dare faygn, shnit nokh shnit,
verter vi di paves.

Veln kumen afn vint,
shtoybelekh fun gramen -
on a shtram un on a zin,
shtamlendike shtamen

fun an oysgemektn vald,
oysgezipte groypn,
halbe zatsn, mit gevald
bindn zikh in stoypn,

un a diner telefon
klingt in di kaloshn:
s’iz nokh do an alter hon
vos farshteyt dem loshn,

vos farbeygt an oyer shtil
vi a klugn bikhl:
efsher shpiln nokh a shpil,
zikher tsi nit zikher,

efsher dreyen nokh a vayl
fun a gast vos zet a mayl
vert men dokh nit yinger,

efsher tsien nokh a knoyt
fun a knoyl mit vate,
efsher tsindn dine hoyt -
verter tamevate,

efsher shlepn nokh a gram
same af katoves -
funem shtoybn tareram
vekn zikh di oves

un farshteyen nit keyn vort
funem gantsn khoyzek:
on a posek, on a kvort -
shikerer un loyzer.

Efsher shlepn nokh a strof
fun farvishte shpurn -
ergets tsit zikh on a sof,
ergets forn furn,

ergets firn furn hey
in fargramte leyters,
un du ligst dort, elehey
yankev a farkleydter.

Efsher shraybn nokh a lid
take af tshikaves:
dare faygn, shnit nokh shnit,
verter vi di paves.

End of Mendele Vol. 24.012

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