You don’t have to fly all the way to Moscow to view the Schneersohn Library.
After almost a century in the bowels of Russian’s state library, the Schneersohn books are available online for anyone around the world to see.
You can view the books in a web browser or even, in many cases, download them as a pdf.
Because the Russian State Library’s website is clunky in Russian — and even clunkier in English — I thought it might be helpful to give non-Russian speakers a few tips.
To view the complete catalogue of the Schneersohn books follow this link.
To view a book, click on the number on the left of the screen.
In the next window, click on the link next to the words «Эл. адрес»
Next, you need to click the box on the bottom left of the screen to continue.
On the next screen, select “Онлайн-просмотр” to view the book online or “Acrobat Reader” to view the book as a pdf.
Finally, click the “открыть документ” button at the bottom of the screen to view your book!
What mazel! Last week, Yiddishists round the world woke up to find an article by Joseph Berger about the Forverts — in the New York Times, no less — entitled: “For Yiddish A Fresh Presence Online”.
The next day, a Hebrew translation of the article appeared in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, with a slightly different headline: “Will Yiddish be Revived through the Internet?” Basically the same story, but with a more skeptical twist.
So what’s the big deal? After all, the Forverts has had a website since 1999. In fact, the Yiddish language has felt very much at home on the web for years, coining new terms for the electronic revolution (e.g. blitspost for email). Even Hasidic users have set up a haymish Yiddish-language community on the internet.
In other words, the virtual world has been hearing Yiddish for quite some time.
On the other hand, let’s enjoy this moment in the limelight — especially since discussions about Yiddish tend too often to veer towards eulogies. For the past 60 years, Yiddish writers have had to contend with the cliched question: “So how long do you think that Yiddish will survive?”
Often, these are the same people whose knowledge of Yiddish literature extends to just two or three writers, and their fluency in the language to roughly five or six words, like latkes, gefilte fish and … schmuck.