Weekly Bite of Yiddishkayt: Learning Yiddish with My Father, Rachmil Bryks

Lekoved (in honor of) Father’s Day, Bella Bryks-Klein fondly remembers how her father, Yiddish writer Rachmil Bryks, tutored her in Yiddish.

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Weekly Bite of Yiddishkayt: Ida Maze, “Den Mother” of Yiddish Montreal

This short documentary opens a window into the life and legacy of Yiddish poet Ida Maze, a poet and activist who cultivated a community of Yiddish writers in Montreal. The film interweaves an interview with her son, Irving Massey, a literary scholar who has written about and translated his mother’s poetry, with archival audio recordings from an event held in honor of Maze at the Jewish Public Library of Montreal in 1956. Together, Irving’s poignant memories of his mother and the warm words of praise from Ida Maze’s colleagues offer a compelling perspective on her life, poetry, and legacy.

Weekly Bite of Yiddishkayt: What’s In a Name: Menke Katz on Changing Names and Changing Destinies

What’s in a name? Troim Katz Handler, daughter of Yiddish writer Menke Katz, explains her father’s mystical feelings about her unusual first name (Yiddish for “dream”).

Weekly Bite of Yiddishkayt: Peysekh (Passover) Seders at the Home of Yiddish Writer Solomon Simon

Miriam Forman and David Simon, children of Yiddish writer Solomon Simon, remember all the humorous particulars of their Peysekh (Passover) seder growing up.

On yikhes (legacy), Mitchell Waife, and Sholem Aleichem

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It’s not often I get to witness such a tangible representation of yikhes (legacy) as I did when I interviewed Mitchell Waife at his home in Florida in the spring of 2013. An oral history interview is usually an intimate affair; part of its success lies in the sustained, deep listening of one person to another. While the main goal is to document stories for the historical record, my hope is that the person I interview and their children, families, and friends will enjoy the interview. However, I rarely have the luxury to get to know a narrator’s community first-hand. The interview is often the only time I will ever see the narrator.

This time, though, my visit just happened to coincide with Mitchell’s 89th birthday, so many members of his family were there, too. After my interview and before they all headed out to dinner in celebration, I managed to take this photograph. In the displayed frame is a well-known portrait of Mitchell’s grandfather, the famous Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem (Shalom Rabinovitz; 1859–1916) surrounded by his family. (Mitchell would be born some odd years later, so is not pictured.) Next to the photograph, Mitchell is likewise surrounded by his wife and descendants. Sholem Aleichem is more than a literal fixture of family lore. Mitchell passed down an interest in Sholem Aleichem and Yiddish literature to his son, Robert, who took it upon himself to learn Yiddish. Robert now heads the Sholom Aleichem Network, the newest form of the Sholom Aleichem Memorial Foundation, committed to educating future generations about the great writer.  Surely, Sholem Aleichem would be shepn nakhes (deriving great pride and satisfaction) from the way his descendants have connected to their yikhes. Mitchell passed away on January 6th – may his memory be a blessing.

Weekly Bite of Yiddishkayt: Israel Zamir Recalls Attending His Father Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Nobel Prize Ceremony

Israel Zamir recounts an unbelievable story about attending the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony of his father, Isaac Bashevis Singer. Zamir passed away on November 22. May his memory be a blessing.

Weekly Bite of Yiddishkayt: A “Strange” Arrangement: Growing Up With My Yiddish-Speaking Grandparents So My Father Could Write

Troim Katz Handler, daughter of Yiddish poet Menke Katz, describes the unique household in which she was raised. She speaks of her distant relationship with her father, as well as the beloved grandparents who helped raise her.