Yiddish Book Center

Yiddish Book Center The Yiddish Book Center is a nonprofit organization working to recover, celebrate, and regenerate Yiddish and modern Jewish literature and culture.
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Saving a million Yiddish books was just the beginning. Our priority now is to advance knowledge of the content and literary and cultural progeny of the books we’ve saved. We offer fellowships and courses for high school students, college students and adults. We translate Yiddish literature into English. We record oral histories and contemporary stories. After three decades, we’ve emerged as one of the world’s largest, liveliest and most original Jewish organizations.

Saving a million Yiddish books was just the beginning. Our priority now is to advance knowledge of the content and literary and cultural progeny of the books we’ve saved. We offer fellowships and courses for high school students, college students and adults. We translate Yiddish literature into English. We record oral histories and contemporary stories. After three decades, we’ve emerged as one of the world’s largest, liveliest and most original Jewish organizations.

Operating as usual

It's been a long week, and what better way to wrap it up than with Daniel Kahn's Yiddish rendition of the Leonard Cohen ...
10/02/2020
A new and very Yiddish ‘Hallelujah’

It's been a long week, and what better way to wrap it up than with Daniel Kahn's Yiddish rendition of the Leonard Cohen classic "Hallelujah." As Kahn says in the accompanying interview, in which he talks about translating the work, "'Hallelujah’ is essentially a Yiddish song Leonard Cohen wrote in English, by which I mean it’s Jewish. It’s like the Song of Solomon, the double working of devotion to God and devotion to a lover, the juxtaposition of eroticism and spirituality. These are all, to my opinion, very Jewish themes. To do it in Yiddish made sense.”

Singer Daniel Kahn tells how he came to translate and perform the Leonard Cohen classic

"Fearful that the occupying Nazi forces in Prague could confiscate a lifetime's worth of artwork, Jewish painter Gertrud...
10/02/2020
Photo Exclusive: Hidden From The Nazis, Murdered Jewish Artist's Trove Of Paintings Discovered In Prague House

"Fearful that the occupying Nazi forces in Prague could confiscate a lifetime's worth of artwork, Jewish painter Gertrud Kauders decided in 1939 to hide her vast array of paintings and drawings.

Nearly 80 years later, in the summer of 2018, Michal Ulvr was leading a demolition team tearing down a decrepit house south of Prague when 'about 30 paintings tumbled out and fell onto my head,' he told RFE/RL."

Two years after an art treasure with a harrowing backstory was uncovered in the walls of a Prague house, the holder has gone public with the historic scale of the discovery.

Tonight, join us at 7pm EDT, via Zoom or Facebook, for a multimedia program with scholar Eddy Portnoy, director of exhib...
10/01/2020

Tonight, join us at 7pm EDT, via Zoom or Facebook, for a multimedia program with scholar Eddy Portnoy, director of exhibitions at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and author of "Bad Rabbi and Other Strange but True Stories from the Yiddish Press," about the role of Yiddish cartoons in addressing the issue of immigration as it pertained to immigrant Jewish communities in New York. This is the first of three upcoming programs in a series on race/ethnicity and social justice. For program info and to register via Zoom, which will allow you to submit questions: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_9lMXsx8LR6O94M3g3RuPfw.

And, as always, find info about other upcoming programs on our website at yiddishbookcenter.org/events-and-store/virtual-public-programs-calendar.

A one-act play from 1908 by "the Lower East Side's best-known poet," the Yiddish poet Morris Rosenfeld, who often wrote ...
10/01/2020
Rent Strike

A one-act play from 1908 by "the Lower East Side's best-known poet," the Yiddish poet Morris Rosenfeld, who often wrote about labor issues. The short play illustrates how rent strikes animated immigrant Jewish communities in early 20th-century New York City. It is translated from the Yiddish and introduced by Eddy Portnoy, who is leading tonight's virtual public program on the role of Yiddish cartoons in addressing the issue of immigration as it pertained to immigrant Jewish communities in New York—which we hope you'll join us for!

A dramatization of the Lower East Side rent strikes of 1908.

The Yiddish Book Center is now accepting submissions of translations from Yiddish for our 2021 Pakn Treger Digital Trans...
09/30/2020

The Yiddish Book Center is now accepting submissions of translations from Yiddish for our 2021 Pakn Treger Digital Translation Issue. The theme for this year is "nature"—broadly and creatively defined. Submissions are due November 16, 2020. Read the full call for submissions on our website at yiddishbookcenter.org/language-literature-culture/translation-initative/pakn-treger-digital-translation-issues/call.

And please share widely with the Yiddish translators in your networks!

This past week The Shmooze caught up with Heather O'Donnell of Honey & Wax Booksellers and Yiddish book collector and Yi...
09/30/2020

This past week The Shmooze caught up with Heather O'Donnell of Honey & Wax Booksellers and Yiddish book collector and Yiddish teacher Miriam Borden, who collects twentieth-century Yiddish educational materials and who is the winner of the 2020 Honey & Wax Book Collecting Prize. In announcing the prize, Honey & Wax noted, "Borden's collection represents an impressive effort of historical preservation and an inspiring example of how a collection that began as something personal becomes a collective resource." Listen to their conversation: yiddishbookcenter.org/language-literature-culture/the-shmooze/272-twentieth-century-yiddish-primers-and-workbooks-children

And learn more about the Honey & Wax Book Collecting Prize and Miriam Borden's collection, including a few more great images from her collection: https://www.honeyandwaxbooks.com/prize.php

Join us this Thursday, October 1 at 7pm EDT, via Zoom or Facebook live, for the first of a series of virtual programs on...
09/29/2020

Join us this Thursday, October 1 at 7pm EDT, via Zoom or Facebook live, for the first of a series of virtual programs on the theme of race/ethnicity and social justice—"The Door Slams Shut: Reactions of the Yiddish Press to Immigration Issues in the Early 1920s," a multimedia talk with Eddy Portnoy, director of exhibitions at YIVO and author of "Bad Rabbi and Other Strange but True Stories from the Yiddish Press," on the role of Yiddish cartoons in addressing the issue of immigration as it pertained to immigrant Jewish communities in New York.

For more info and to register via Zoom, which will allow you to submit questions: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_9lMXsx8LR6O94M3g3RuPfw

In his Handpicked selections for this month, David Mazower recommends a translation by Elissa Bemporad of a short piece,...
09/29/2020

In his Handpicked selections for this month, David Mazower recommends a translation by Elissa Bemporad of a short piece, both funny and tragic, from a recent issue of Pakn Treger focused on memoirs by Jewish women: "It’s a touching memoir by the writer Rokhl Faygnberg of her friend Mordkhe Spektor, an influential Yiddish author and editor . . . Personal and playful, it’s a great introduction to the scandalously overlooked Faygnberg. A well-respected figure in Yiddish and Hebrew letters for many decades as a novelist, story writer, translator, and journalist, Faygnberg is pretty much at the top of my list of Yiddish writers I’d like to see more of in translation."

Read the translation here: yiddishbookcenter.org/language-literature-culture/pakn-treger/pakn-treger-number-80/good-friend-troubled-times.

Two High Holiday stories by Rosa Palatnik (1904—1981), a prolific Yiddish writer who is little known today. Born outside...
09/25/2020

Two High Holiday stories by Rosa Palatnik (1904—1981), a prolific Yiddish writer who is little known today. Born outside Lublin, Palatnik contributed to Yiddish newspapers in Paris before settling in Rio de Janeiro in 1936. Over the course of her career, she published 200 Yiddish stories, including “The Yom Kippur Light Went Out" and "Ne’ilah," in which the respective protagonists battle between their temptations and obligations as mothers, daughters, and lovers amidst the holiness of the Day of Atonement. One story available for viewing on our website and both available for download as PDFs. Both are translated by the incomparable Jessica Kirzane.

Read the stories: yiddishbookcenter.org/language-literature-culture/yiddish-translation/neilah-two-high-holiday-stories.

Join us this TONIGHT 9/24 at 7PM EDT, via Zoom or Facebook, for an illustrated talk from Marisa Scheinfeld featuring Mar...
09/24/2020

Join us this TONIGHT 9/24 at 7PM EDT, via Zoom or Facebook, for an illustrated talk from Marisa Scheinfeld featuring Marisa’s photographs of abandoned sites in the Catskill Mountains region of Upstate New York, where resorts, hotels, and bungalow colonies flourished during the middle decades of the twentieth century, accompanied by a discussion of the rise, fall, and impact of the Borscht Belt, and the meanings Marisa finds in the series. The presentation will be followed by a short Q&A.

For more info about the talk and to register: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_AEowtBkDTravBDosQH2dOA.

Our newly posted collection 'Yiddish Book Center Recorded Programs' includes lectures recorded at the Center over the pa...
09/23/2020

Our newly posted collection 'Yiddish Book Center Recorded Programs' includes lectures recorded at the Center over the past 40 years. In this recording, Ruth Behar gives the (2008) Melinda Rosenblatt Lecture: "An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba."
Have a listen, explore the recordings, and check back as we continue to post from the hundreds of lectures we're continuing to digitize and post.

Listen: https://www.yiddishbookcenter.org/collections/archival-recordings/recorded-programs/ybcr-nybc-ybcr-188/island-called-home-returning-jewish-cuba

We’re receiving more book donations than ever….and as we're unpacking the boxes we're finding some real gems - like this...
09/22/2020

We’re receiving more book donations than ever….and as we're unpacking the boxes we're finding some real gems - like this beautiful group of 8 volumes by the classic Yiddish writer Mendele. Published by the Mendele Publishing House, Warsaw, in the late 1920s.
The publisher’s logo features a horse - presumably a reference to one of Mendele’s most popular early novels, Di klyatshe (The Workhorse).

Once a thriving vacation spot in the Catskill Mountains, today the Borscht Belt is recalled through the nostalgic lens o...
09/22/2020

Once a thriving vacation spot in the Catskill Mountains, today the Borscht Belt is recalled through the nostalgic lens of summer swims, Saturday night dances, and comedy performances. But its current state, like that of many other formerly glorious regions, is nothing like its earlier status. Forgotten about and exhausted, much of the Borscht Belt's structural environment has been left to decay.

Join us this THURSDAY 9/24 at 7PM EDT, via Zoom or Facebook, for an illustrated talk from Marisa Scheinfeld featuring Marisa’s photographs of abandoned sites in the Catskill Mountains region of Upstate New York, where resorts, hotels, and bungalow colonies flourished during the middle decades of the twentieth century, accompanied by a discussion of the rise, fall, and impact of the Borscht Belt, and the meanings Marisa finds in the series. The presentation will be followed by a short Q&A.

For more info and to register: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_AEowtBkDTravBDosQH2dOA.

Many of the books at the Yiddish Book Center contain little pieces of evidence about their former owners. Sometimes ther...
09/21/2020

Many of the books at the Yiddish Book Center contain little pieces of evidence about their former owners. Sometimes there is only a name or a similarly small tidbit of information. Other times there are numerous clues left behind, which can show who the owners were and what their lives were like. Many books were gifted, revealing personal relationships and/or the occasion on which the book was received. In some cases, it is even possible to gauge a reader’s interaction with and impression of the book. "Reading the Readers" reveals some of these telling finds:
https://www.yiddishbookcenter.org/language-literature-culture/vault/reading-readers

A gut, gezunt yor—warm wishes for health and happiness in the new year from all of us at the Yiddish Book Center!The cov...
09/18/2020

A gut, gezunt yor—warm wishes for health and happiness in the new year from all of us at the Yiddish Book Center!

The cover of Milgroym, issue 1 (Berlin, 1922), a Yiddish magazine of art and letters whose graphic is featured in the entryway to the education center in our building, and whose name means pomegranate in Yiddish—a fruit typically eaten on Rosh Hashanah.

Join us TONIGHT at 7pm EDT, via Zoom or Facebook, for a multimedia presentation from scholar and cultural historian Shac...
09/17/2020

Join us TONIGHT at 7pm EDT, via Zoom or Facebook, for a multimedia presentation from scholar and cultural historian Shachar Pinsker on the place of coffeehouses in the creation of modern Jewish culture from the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries. Shachar’s book, "A Rich Brew: How Cafés Created Modern Jewish Culture," tells the story of the role of the coffeehouse as central to the modern Jewish experience in a time of migration and urbanization, from Odessa, Warsaw, Vienna, and Berlin to New York City and Tel Aviv, and why Jews became their most devoted habitués.

For more info and to register via Zoom:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Ih_DC5RyTI6yb9ppKWb5Cw.

Send a New Year's greeting card! In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Jews celebrated the New Year by s...
09/17/2020

Send a New Year's greeting card! In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Jews celebrated the New Year by sending illustrated Yiddish greeting cards with hopes and wishes for the upcoming year. In this episode of The Shmooze, the Center's podcast, Hannah Pressman of the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Washington describes the history of these cards, the companies that produced them, and the nostalgia they inspire. Listen at yiddishbookcenter.org/language-literature-culture/the-shmooze/121-wishing-happy-new-year-yiddish-postcards.

You can send one of these antique e-cards to friends and family of your own this New Year through this link on our website: http://support.yiddishbookcenter.org/site/Ecard?ecard_id=1541.

On The Shmooze this week all the way from Scotland, Morgan Holleb and Joe Isaac talk about how they came to co-found Gla...
09/16/2020

On The Shmooze this week all the way from Scotland, Morgan Holleb and Joe Isaac talk about how they came to co-found Glasgow’s new Pink Peacock Café—a queer, Yiddish-speaking kosher café operated by Jewish self-described anarchists where customers will "pay what they can." Morgan and Joe talk about the idea behind the café, which they plan to open later this year, as well as the roots of Jewish community and their interest in providing a space for Yiddish.

Listen to the podcast at yiddishbookcenter.org/language-literature-culture/the-shmooze/271-glasgows-yiddish-pink-peacock-caf.

A concert for the New Year today at 1pm EDT, in just a few minutes. Watch at link below.
09/16/2020
Folksbiene! LIVE

A concert for the New Year today at 1pm EDT, in just a few minutes. Watch at link below.

Concert: Magda Fishman "A Sweet New Year"

09/16/2020
Yiddish Word of the Day: Rosh Hashanah

Learn the Yiddish terms for Rosh Hashanah holiday traditions just in time for the New Year!

Includes several traditional treats we enjoy on the Jewish new year.

"Although there are conventions, there is no standardized spelling for anything in published—or certainly anything in ha...
09/15/2020
Yiddish Is a Connection to Our Past - Jewish Exponent

"Although there are conventions, there is no standardized spelling for anything in published—or certainly anything in hand-written Yiddish. To add insult to injury, although Yiddish uses the Hebrew alphabet, the 'cursive' script found in Yiddish letters written in the 19th and 20th centuries is not the same script employed by modern or ancient Hebrew.
You can imagine such idiosyncrasies make the translation of Yiddish letters much more difficult, but anything worthwhile is hard, and the peculiarity of Yiddish merely serves to make its translation all the more important."

An article by writer and translator Ollie Elkus, one of the 2020 Yiddish Book Center Translation Fellows.

By Oliver Elkus Now more than ever we are digging letters out of the attic, both literal and figurative ones. Isolation is forced reflection, so it’s only natural if quarantine has us thinking of the past. As a translator of Yiddish, I’m always thinking of the past. But beyond that, some of us h...

Join us this Thursday 9/17 at 7pm EDT, via Zoom or Facebook live, for a multimedia presentation from scholar and cultura...
09/15/2020

Join us this Thursday 9/17 at 7pm EDT, via Zoom or Facebook live, for a multimedia presentation from scholar and cultural historian Shachar Pinsker on the place of coffeehouses in the creation of modern Jewish culture from the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries. Shachar’s book, "A Rich Brew: How Cafés Created Modern Jewish Culture," tells the story of the role of the coffeehouse as central to the modern Jewish experience in a time of migration and urbanization, from Odessa, Warsaw, Vienna, and Berlin to New York City and Tel Aviv, and why Jews became their most devoted habitués.

For more info and to register for the event via Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Ih_DC5RyTI6yb9ppKWb5Cw.

"When Russia annexed parts of Poland in the late 18th century, it got an added bonus—the largest Jewish population in th...
09/14/2020
5 Jewish authors who wrote about life in Imperial Russia

"When Russia annexed parts of Poland in the late 18th century, it got an added bonus—the largest Jewish population in the world, complete with their towns and culture. That civilization, however, was destroyed in the first half of the 20th century by decades of revolution, civil war, genocide and two world wars. Today, all that remains are depictions of Russian Jewish life found in stories. Here are five important novels about that lost era [including one by the Yiddish author Sholem Aleichem]."

When Russia annexed parts of Poland in the late 18th century, it got an added bonus - the largest Jewish population in the world, complete with their towns and culture. That civilization, however, was destroyed in the first half of the 20th century by decades of revolution, civil war, genocide and t...

On The Shmooze this week all the way from Scotland, Morgan Holleb and Joe Isaac talk about how they came to co-found Gla...
09/14/2020

On The Shmooze this week all the way from Scotland, Morgan Holleb and Joe Isaac talk about how they came to co-found Glasgow’s new Pink Peacock Café—a queer, Yiddish-speaking, kosher café operated by Jewish self-described anarchists, where customers will "pay what they can." Morgan and Joe talk about the idea behind the café, which they plan to open later this year, as well as the roots of Jewish community and their interest in providing a space for Yiddish.
Listen at yiddishbookcenter.org/language-literature-culture/the-shmooze/271-glasgows-yiddish-pink-peacock-caf

Tehila the Kosher Diva, the stage persona of Israeli actor-singer Yael Yekel, premieres a new video that takes the belov...
09/11/2020
Kosher Diva debuts new ‘Mizrahified’ version of hit mammeloshen song

Tehila the Kosher Diva, the stage persona of Israeli actor-singer Yael Yekel, premieres a new video that takes the beloved Yiddish standard “Bei Mir Bistu Shein” (To Me You’re Beautiful) and "gives it a Middle Eastern twist."

Originally written in 1932 by Jacob Jacobs and Sholom Secunda, the song "propelled an era of Yiddish swing that was made popular on international stages by blockbuster musicians such as clarinetist Benny Goodman." You can read more about her work and watch this video and others at the link below. While her work is unabashedly kitschy and likely not for everyone, her goal, she says, is to make Yiddish relevant and accessible to younger generations: "My intention [is] to have fun with the language, but not to make fun of it."

After surprise success with Yiddish parodies of 'Toy' and 'Under the Sea,' Israeli actor and singer Yael Yekel delights with original twist on 'Bei Mir Bistu Shein'

Address

1021 West St
Amherst, MA
01002

Pioneer Valley Transit Authority: http://www.PVTA.com Amtrak Peter Pan Bus Lines Megabus

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We are closed during shabbos (Saturdays) and Jewish and legal holidays. View our calendar for closings and events: http://www.yiddishbookcenter.org/calendar

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Our Story

Since our founding in 1980, we’ve rescued more than a million Yiddish books. But that was just the beginning: our priority now is to advance knowledge of the content and literary and cultural progeny of the books we’ve saved. We do that in many ways:


  • Our educational programs include graduate fellowships and courses for high school students, college students, teachers, and adult learners.

  • Our translation initiative includes a fellowship to train new Yiddish-to-English translators and publishing projects that bring this great literature to new audiences.

  • Our Wexler Oral History Project is a growing collection of in-depth interviews with people of all ages and backgrounds, whose stories offer a rich, complex chronicle of Jewish identity.

  • The world's first Yiddish museum, we're home to permanent and visiting exhibits.

  • We offer a full calendar of public programs, such as films, talks, family events, and concerts, including the annual Yidstock: The Festival of New Yiddish Music.

  • We publish an English-language magazine, Pakn Treger, with news from the Center and features on Yiddish and Jewish literature and culture. You can also follow the latest news at Heft (Notebook) and on Facebook, Twitter (@YiddishBookCtr), and Instagram (yiddish_book_center). The Center is open Sunday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Public tours are offered Tuesdays at 2 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

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    Comments

    । To know the new theory on time read the book. You will know about the constant of the book by reading this book. You'll get the french edition from the bełlow url. This book has reprinted in 8 languages and available all over the world.
    Hi. I saw the story in the newsletter about the antique yiddish cards. I have a small set of postcards that my grandparents wrote to each other when my grandfather was traveling (I think). They are about 100 years old and the front of the cards are in English ("Missing you in Chelsea MA", etc), but they are written in Yiddish -some in tiny script. I have scanned most of them if you'd like to see them... I'd love to know what they were saying to each other! here is one.
    Hi!!! I would like to buy a typewriter in Yiddish, does anyone have some information where can I find one?
    The Night of the Murdered Poets Poetry Revival Join us tomorrow (1pm-3pm PT / 4pm-6pm EST) for a commemorative reading of the Yiddish poets who were killed on August 12th, 1952, during The Night of The Murdered Poets -- Itzik Feffer, David Hofstein, Leib Kvitko, Peretz Markish -- along with 20 other members of the Jewish Anti-fascist Committee in Moscow. The event will be held online through Globus Books, with Zarina Zabrisky and me, and everyone is welcome to attend. For those who are interested in attending, the event is on Zoom; please PM Globus Books if you want a seat. to watch live and participate in the discussion. You can also watch live stream on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/c/GlobusBooksSF/ https://www.facebook.com/events/717125275512324
    Are any children's Yiddish books available as e-books for e-borrowing (my son uses Kobo) - or e-purchase?
    I had signed up for the "Kabbelah of Bob Dylan, but could not connect with you Seth. Is there any way I can still hear your presentation? Thank you, It sounded like a good topic for me!
    I just sent this by email, not sure which is more appropriate or more likely to get answered soonest: I just got a fundraising appeal in the mail offering a Yiddish Phrase Wheel in exchange for financial support. Two problems: it's not clear whether the membership levels listed all include the Phrase Wheel (which is the main reason we're interested; I never heard of the Yiddish Book Center before); and I would have liked to join online, but the online membership application (a) doesn't have the same levels or prices as the mailer (Starts at $56 where the mailer starts as $36 and then goes to $54) nor (b) does it mention the phrase wheel. So do I need to use snail mail to get the phrase wheel? And if so, what is the minimum starting level at which it is part of the offer? Also, there's no "question" below the CAPTCHA; "I'm not a robot" is a true statement, but it's not a question!
    I am looking for someone who can translate some pages from the Trochenbrod Yizkor book that are written in Yiddish. If you are interested, it is a paying job.
    hello, i am looking for some details about chaim spilberg חיים שפּילבערג who worte the book "India: Religions and Beliefs" הודו אמונות ודעות. in yiddish. I am doing some reserch for a movie. if anyone know some details about his family and biografy plese help :)
    "Am Yisroel Khay" / "עם ישראל חי" - The Nechama Lifsh*tz Workshop Art Song Workshop - 16.07.2019 / Watch, Listen & SHARE on YOUTUBE: https://youtu.be/VobHl31bgHw AND on FACEBOOK: https://facebook.com/676490269089003/videos/262778738196949
    Dear Friends: As this 11th plague gradually peaks & subsides (G-D Willing), my most recent thoughts (during our collective isolation) turned intermittently to the plight of Holocaust survivors finding themselves alone and feeling abandoned; the children nationwide needing to be nurtured, schooled and kept lovingly occupied; and the Faith that is required to cope and transcend this surreal environment. So, this Yontef-Shabbos and, for my Christian friends, this eve of Easter Sunday, the following story [which I wrote last year] may hit a few relevant marks. It may, at the very least, remind us of our blessings while instilling a quotient of humility commensurate with the puniness of our beings in the face of the natural world. Parenthetically, Yom Ha'Shoah [Holocaust Remembrance Day] is soon upon us; April 20th/21st... To the extent desired, I will post [on various Holocaust-Group sites I participate in] some vignettes, appropriate to that Memorial, as we go through the Ohmer and reach Schvoo'iss (Pentacost). Keep Well & Stay Safe... Henri _____________________ A HEAVY MORTGAGE Morty's faith was precarious, at best - No, it was actually gone; this, despite orthodox parents, Survivors who had, ostensibly, not permitted the Khoor'bin [Holocaust] to dampen their practice, at least outwardly. Indeed, this was miraculous in itself, after a hell that had transported them beyond the camps, first of extermination, then labor and, thereafter, of the displaced like them, and eventually to the New World. Yet, clearly...oh so obvious to none but their offspring, there remained a chasm so deep that nothing might ever again fill that gaping, psychic void... If you are not the child of a Survivor, dear reader, permit me an otherwise inexcusable moment of patronizing you (for which, my profuse apologies in advance), if only to the extent of suggesting how blessed you have been to be incapable of grasping the trauma of an upbringing shrouded in a cocoon of brooding silence; living inside a wound that bleeds constantly in their heart and infects your brain, expressing itself in their few, hushed exchanges in Yiddish that you are not meant to understand and which, unbeknownst to them, serve only to pile even more scar tissue over your own neurotic desperation to escape as well. For Morty, life in modern America had evolved as one would dream so casually here. Schools, graduations, jobs, skill-sets acquired and deployed intelligently, a wife, lively and precocious children, bourgeois friends aplenty, entertainment and vacations galore; all, the imprimatur of immense success, leaving Morty prosperous and contented; or so one would have thought. Of Yiddischkeit, nothing....That had gone up with the smoke of the crematoria. Of Tzedokeh ...goornischt...Only the fittest; namely, the most ruthless, had survived (even, as was so often the case, at the expense of others). The wife was a gorgeous, well-bred shikseh; the kids were in the best local parochial school (Saint-something or other); no synagogue affiliation (are you kidding?); no annual donations to the Jewish community (what for...more Yudenrats?)...Nothing whatsoever to perpetuate that which he had finally been able to leave behind. Certainly, no meaningful contact with parents who only reminded him of sorrow, grief, remorse, helplessness and sacrificial submission; everything anathema to Morty and, perhaps understandably, totally counter-intuitive to the life he had built for him and his. In any case, his parents had long since passed, whether peacefully or otherwise Morty knew not, and he had not even bothered to travel cross-country for the funerals. There was one little problem, however - Morty was heavily mortgaged in his real estate empire, his overly-ostentatious mansion, the summer and winter homes and a variety of other investments. The day the real estate bubble and, consequently, the market collapsed, the inevitable call came from his banker. The mortgages were due and, lamentably, the liquidation value of his properties was insufficient to cover his aggregate debt. Bankruptcy was the only alternative and he was recommended to consult with his lawyer immediately, before the Bank went the foreclosure route and all would be lost. So, Schmulik, what do I do? You're the legal mayvin...Give me an Eytzeh [advice]...! His lawyer looked at him rather contemptuously, but realized that the time had arrived to fulfill the mission left for him by Morty's father. Morty, he told him, you had the khutzpeh to skip each of your parents' funerals; not to chant a single kaddish for their respective souls, and to repress even the thought of a yis'kehr or a yohr'tzeit. Still, as ashamed as you should be, your father, Z"L, left a Will for you that you had neither the respect nor the bother to inquire about years ago and, frankly, not the worthiness to receive these many years later. Knowing and expecting full-well the little that could be expected from or of you, his instructions were explicit; namely, never to disclose the Will to you until a time as today, when humility might be your lot, which I hand over to you under cover of the letter I was mandated to withhold till now. The letter read: "My one and only cherished child: Though you have chosen to forsake me, I harbor but love for you. That can never change, ever, no matter what your transgressions against me or your beloved mother, may she rest in peace. That your divine soul proved defenceless to overcome your animal soul is completely my fault and you are totally absolved of any fault or guilt. For, I was given life, yet produced one who only exists. I went through the motions, yet displayed no joy. My grief knew no bounds and only circumscribed my gratitude. The lament of my soul swamped the yearnings of my heart. My broken body never recovered its mantle of genuine service and I never again robed myself in the garment of authentic faith. You felt my weakness when I should have given you strength. You were pilloried with doubt commensurate with my despondency. Why, in the Name of Heaven, would you be expected not to slide further, beyond the depths into which I had fallen? I suffered only one obsessive question, which haunted me night and day, and to which an answer has come only as I sit at the foot of His Throne at a time of your greatest need: "Fehr'voos die kinder...?" [Why the children...?]. That the Al-Mighty might permit such brutality between Men, I could understand; but those children...! They had committed no sin. They were pure like the driven snow; not even old enough to assume sacred duties. Not guilty of anything but living to learn how to live properly...! Eybischter (!), Oh Lord of Hosts and Master of the Universe...How, Why...die kinder...? Am I really to raise more sacrificial lambs...? The answer, my child, is that He did not forsaken His Chosen; it is they who had permitted the guarantee of their protection to expire...! His gift at Sinai required a suitable guarantor of a mortgaged lifestyle to be led by a whole people. A mortgage that large requires sure, stable and sufficient guarantors; in each generation, as in that first...Die Kinder! In my generation, the guarantee had lapsed because the guarantors were too few to cover that commitment. But, the Al-Mighty has permitted both of us a second chance. Where my essential breach of the covenant was my failure to nurture a next generation of guarantors, I can here give you back a life which I implore you to lead in His path and according to His Will, for that which you receive from me now pales against the inheritance we received from Him...". Bequeathed to Morty was a king's ransom far in excess of his debts, and amply sufficient to rebuild a Jewish life, suitably & solidly guaranteed...