Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

New Turtletaub Book!

December 21, 2011

Dr. Khane-Faygl Turtletaub (Chicago YIVO’s Leyenkrayz Leader) is pleased to announce that her new book Yiddish Songs for Children has just been published.

Yiddish Songs for Children is an 8×11 full-color book with a disc of 14 lively songs with a message, such as: it is good to listen to your parents, enjoy Shabbos, appreciate nature, and give charity.

The book includes Yiddish lyrics with English translation, Yiddish transliteration and musical score. A CD with all the songs (played by  musicians from the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra) is enclosed on the front cover.

To order Yiddish Songs for Children, contact:

Mame-Loshn Productions
8914 N. Central Park
Evanston, IL 60203

(847) 675-3335

Cost: $30 (including sales tax and regular postage)

Jewish Humor

June 3, 2011

Jewish Humor:

A Window into Jewish Culture

Date: July 25 (Mon)

Time: 12:15

Where: Wilmette Public Library

Loyola University Professor Jeffry Mallow was exposed to Jewish jokes early in life (his father told them) but his joke collection began in earnest when he was a graduate student and bought some books on Jewish humor. He was hooked. That led to his joke-collecting habit and many gigs as a standup comic with the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band.

Click HERE to read more about Mallow’s book (winner of an IPPY Humor Award).  Book-signing follows lecture 🙂

Yosl Rakover Mystery

May 25, 2011
“Yosl Rakover: The Mystery of a Holocaust Story”

Jeffry Mallow

Lecture by Professor Jeffry Mallow

Date: July 18 (Mon)

Time: 12:15 PM

Where: Evanston Public Library

Yosl Rakover’s Appeal to God, a story written in 1946, describes  a Jew in the the Warsaw Ghetto uprising who confronts God.

The story, a harsh indictment of Christianity, appears in both Yiddish and English, but the two versions differ.

Professor Jeffry Mallow of  Loyola University (Chicago) will describe his work with a Jesuit priest to resolve this mystery and address the indictments.

An English translation of Yossel Rakover’s Appeal to God can be found in Out of the Whirlwind: A Reader of Holocaust Literature.

May Update

May 25, 2010

As our Summer 2010 Bulletin arrives in mailboxes all around Metro Chicago this week, here’s one last look at our “standing room only” May 2nd program at Temple Beth Israel in Skokie.

Our special guest was  author Fradle Pomerantz Freidenreich discussing her new book Passionate Pioneers: The Story of Yiddish Secular Education in North America, 1910-1960 (published by Holmes & Meier, Inc).

Passionate Pioneers

April 19, 2010

The special guest for this year’s annual Spring Lecture will be Fradle Pomerantz Freidenreich author of the new book Passionate Pioneers: The Story of Yiddish Secular Education in North America, 1910–1960.

This is a joint program co-sponsored by the Chicago YIVO Society and the Chicago Jewish Historical Society.

Date: Sunday, May 2, 2010

Time: 2 PM Lecture

(followed by book-signing/social hour with kosher refreshments)

Location: Temple Beth Israel

3601 West Dempster; Skokie, IL


A little-known chapter in the history of Jewish education in North America involves a wide network of Yiddish schools and camps that sought to transmit a distinctive, authentic sense of secular yiddishkayt. Over a fifty-year period at the beginning of the last century, about 1000 Yiddish cultural schools were established in the United States and Canada, along with at least 39 summer camps, sponsored by a range of organizations. Together these schools and camps comprised a vibrant, multi-faceted educational movement with lasting significance, often overlooked by historians.

Passionate Pioneers: The Story of Yiddish Secular Education in North America, 1910 – 1960 is the first comprehensive, documented record of this movement. Through extensive research Fradle Pomerantz Freidenreich reveals the enormous influence of these Yiddish institutions. For the author, the project was personal and professional. The daughter of a well-known Yiddish poet and a Jewish educator, she attended and later taught at a number of these schools and camps. In this groundbreaking study, she integrates personal narratives and objective reporting.

A professional educator who has worked in formal and informal settings in Jewish education, serving as a teacher, principal, curriculum writer, camp director, consultant and university lecturer, Freidenreich was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Before moving to Israel in 1989, she was the associate director of JESNA (Jewish Education Service of North America). In Israel she worked in higher education helping train teacher educators in universities and colleges.

Tribute to Howard Zinn

March 2, 2010

This post is a modified version of what appeared in Tzivi’s March ’10 Spotlight in Chicago’s  JUF News:

When Howard Zinn died in January at the age of 87, America lost one of the 20th Century’s best-known historians and the mishpokhe lost a mensch. After serving as a bombardier during WWII, Zinn devoted his life to civil rights and anti-war causes. When he took unpopular political stands (such as his early opposition to the Vietnam War), he did so with the full weight of history on his shoulders.  He also became a strong critic of Israel, calling it “an expansionist power,” following the Six Day War.

You don’t need to log onto Wikipedia to know this man was Jewish; the fact that both parents were immigrants from Eastern Europe is evident in every sentence that he wrote. Here are the final words of his autobiography You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train:

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic… If we remember those times and places… where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act… And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

Documentary filmmakers Deb Ellis and Denis Mueller released a solid film version of Neutral in 2004, and it’s certainly an engrossing survey of Zinn’s life and times, but a more fitting tribute is The People Speak. Produced for the History Channel and now available on DVD, The People Speak is based on a program held at NYC’s venerable 92nd Street Y in 2003, celebrating the fact that sales of Zinn’s book A People’s History of the United States had just crossed over the one million mark.

Zinn personally narrates as a stream of stars (including Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman, Sandra Oh, Sean Penn, and Marisa Tomei) read from the letters, poems, and speeches of great American “rebels, dissenters, and visionaries,” with musical accompaniment by the likes of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. This is a thought-provoking and awe-inspiring ensemble of sounds and images!

Zinn married his wife “Roz” (born Roslyn Shechter) in 1944. Her parents were also Jewish immigrants. Partners in life and work right up to the time of her death in 2008, the Zinns leave behind two children, five grandchildren, innumerable mitzvot, and lots of controversy. May their memories be for blessing.

Tzivi (aka Jan Lisa Huttner) is Chicago YIVO’s eMaven.

New Rebecca Goldstein Novel

December 22, 2009

New Goldstein Novel

From Tzivi’s January ’10 Spotlight in the JUF News: Rebecca Goldstein is about to release a new novel called 36 Arguments for the Existence of God, and she’ll be at Spertus Institute on Thurs, Jan 21 to read excerpts and sign copies.

36 Arguments is set in Boston, and the protagonist, Cass Seltzer, teaches at a college very much like Brandeis (where Rebecca herself once taught). Long used to working in relative isolation, when Cass publishes a new book called The Varieties of Religious Illusion, his popularity soars.

In addition to her own significant accomplishments, Rebecca is also Mrs. Steven Pinker, so when she describes what happens to an academic after he’s been called up to The Colbert Report, she speaks from experience. Funny as references to “the Colbert bump” are, however, this is a serious book with erudite concerns, and there’s a clear thread linking it to Rebecca’s ongoing philosophical investigations.

In Nov ‘08, Rebecca was here as a guest of the Chicago Humanities Festival, and when I asked her then about reactions to her book Betraying Spinoza, she said: “We’re reliving the Age of the Enlightenment. Separating religion and politics? I thought we had actually settled that once and for all, but America has always been a very religious country.”

To make reservations for Jan 21, contact Spertus. Click here to read more of my chat with Rebecca about Betraying Spinoza.

Jan Lisa Huttner (“Tzivi”) is the Arts & Culture critic for Chicago’s JUF News as well as a Chicago YIVO board member.

With Rebecca Goldstein @ Spertus

Photo Credit: Rich Miller (1/21/10)

Here’s to the Schvesters who Lunch!

December 11, 2009

Schvesters have lunch with “Rebecca Rubin” at American Girl Place in honor of Illinois’ third annual “Jane Addams Day.”

Excerpted from Tzivi’s Feb ’07 Spotlight in Chicago’s JUF News:

On May 21, 2006, Governor Blagojevich signed HB 5243 making December 10 “Jane Addams Day” in Illinois. The legislation became effective on January 1, so December 10, 2007 will be the first “official” day (in fact, it will be the first day officially commemorating a woman in the entire United States). To prepare for this auspicious occasion, I met with Peter Ascoli, the author of Julius Rosenwald: The Man Who Built Sear, Roebuck and Advanced the Cause of Black Education in the American South, to learn more about “the Jewish connection.”

Peter Ascoli Biography

As the book jacket (which shows JR with Booker T. Washington) makes clear, Ascoli’s mammoth 2006 biography focuses primarily on his grandfather’s contributions to African-American history, but feminist threads are woven through-out the text. JR and his wife Gussie support many feminist causes, and when they lived in Washington, D.C. (during World War I) Gussie became “heavily involved in the suffrage movement.”

You will be hearing a great deal more about Jane Addams in the next few months, but for now suffice it to say that JR served as a member of the Hull-House board of directors for over twenty years, contributing significant funds to a full spectrum of activities from underwriting new buildings to paying for new band uniforms. When the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom needed allies in their drive to secure a Nobel Peace Prize for Addams, they turned to JR, who wrote letters to numerous business and academic leaders from John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to James Angell (the president of Yale) personally asking for their support. In due time, Addams became the first American woman to receive the prize, awarded seventy-five years ago on December 10, 1031…

Excerpted from Tzivi’s Dec ’07 Spotlight in Chicago’s JUF News:

Way back in February, I told you that Illinois would celebrate its first annual Jane Addams Day on December 10, and December is now here. According to Gioia Diliberto’s highly-readable account A Useful Woman: The Early Life of Jane Addams: “Of the 19th Ward’s approximately 10,00 voters, 2,500 were Irish, 1,000 were German, 3,000 were Jews, and 2,000 were Italians. Native Americans, Bohemians, and French made up the rest.” In other words, Jews were Jane Addams’ largest group of neighbors.

Hilda Satt Polacheck Memoir

In 1989, University of Chicago musicologist Dena Epstein (now retired) published her mother’s memoir I Came a Stranger: The Story of a Hull-House Girl, a wonderful first-person account of how Jane Addams directly influenced the life of one ordinary Jewish woman.

Learn more about the life and times of Jane Addams at a special program on Saturday December 8 from 10 AM to 1 PM at the Chicago History Museum on Clark Street. The keynote speaker will be Charles J. Masters, author of Governor Henry Horner, Chicago Politics, and The Great Depression. (Horner was the first Jewish governor in the United States.)

Click HERE to read more about “Rebecca Rubin.”  Click HERE to read about American Girl trips to Hull-House in conjunction with their “Rebecca Rubin” roll-out.

Jan Lisa Huttner (aka Tzivi) writes a montly column on Arts & Culture for Chicago’s JUF News, & also serves as a member of the Chicago YIVO Board.  Click HERE to read Jan’s 2009 presentation “The History of Jane Addams Day.”

Photo from Left: Rabbi Batsheva Appel (KAM Isaiah Israel), Roz Lettvin, Suzanne Fraker, Jan Lisa Huttner, Rebecca Rubin, Eileen Kaplan & Elisa Steinberg.

FORVERTS’ American Girl!

June 26, 2009
Rebecca's Grandfather reads the FORVERTS (book 3 page 31)

Rebecca's Grandfather reads the FORVERTS (book 3 page 31)

Meet Rebecca Rubin, the newest member of the “American Girl” family.

The year is 1914 & Rebecca is living on the Lower East Side with an extended family (including Grandpa & Bubbie, plus Papa’s brother who just arrived from Russia with his wife, daughter & two sons).  In the introduction, author Jacqueline Dembar Greene tells us “Rebecca’s parents and grandparents came to America before Rebecca was born, along with milllions of other Jewish immigrants from different parts of the world… Rebecca’s grandparents spoke mostly Yiddish… (see glossary).”

There are six books in the Rebecca Rubin collection, taking her from Ellis Island to Coney Island to an ILGWU picket line!  In the middle of book three, CANDLELIGHT FOR REBECCA, there’s a picture of Rebecca and her grandfather (holding a copy of the FORVERTS).  Can one assume that Grandpa was a proud subscriber — like so many of us still are today?

In addition to the Rebecca Rubin series, Jacqueline Dembar Greene is the author of many wonderful books for young people including THE TRIANGLE SHIRTWAIST FACTORY FIRE (2007) and  THE SECRET SHOFAR OF BARCELONA (2009).  The Chicago YIVO Society sends a sheynem dank to our schvester Jacqueline for a job well done.