The Arty Semite

Yiddish Stories Not Lost in Translation

By Paul Buhle

  • Print
  • Share Share

The Association of Jewish Libraries Guide to Yiddish Short Stories
By Bennett Muraskin
Ben Yehuda Press, 79 pages, $14.50

The title of this small but useful book might have been lengthened to include “in the English language,” but the point is taken. We are now in a veritable golden age of translation, though the “golden” is tarnished somewhat by the retreat of younger generations from reading, and the near-disappearance of the secular Yiddish writer. We are now looking back to an age when pens around the world worked furiously and productively. The Guide proves the point.

The scrupulous overview of the stories themselves, some 130 in number, cannot possibly be complete, considering how periodicals in the grand age of English-language magazines once published translated stories of all kinds. But author Bennet Muraskin covers considerable territory, and his one-sentence to one-paragraph glimpses convey what the reader needs to know. He is wonderfully painstaking in his brief recounting of publishing history, which includes references to scholarly archives. The last major section of the book provides capsule biographies of several dozen authors, and a working bibliography.

Muraskin, an adult education director of the Jewish Cultural School and Society in West Orange, and the union staff representative for state college professors in New Jersey, will be recognized by some Forward readers as a frequent contributor to publications such as Jewish Currents, Outlook and Humanistic Judaism. That is to say, he is an energetic continuator of a tradition that goes back at least to the Workmen’s Circle of the 1890s, and arguably the Bund in Europe at the same time.

It’s a tradition that has thinned in recent decades, without ever quite vanishing. Tireless educators, who in the past were often autodidact historians of their own milieu, have kept Yiddish schools and language classes going. Their tasks have not been thankless but are largely unpaid, and little recognized by the outside world. His place in this tradition alone would make Muraskin and his efforts worthy of attention. “The Guide to Yiddish Short Stories” is a worthy contribution to the Jewish future.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Paul Buhle, Books, Bennet Muraskin, Yiddish

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?








You may also be interested in our English-language newsletters:













We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.