The authors will discuss their recently-released book Dear Mendl, Dear Reyzl: Yiddish Letter Manuals from Russia and America by (Indiana University Press, 2014)
As a special session of The Townsend Center for Humanities Working Group on Modern Jewish Culture, the program will also address The Magnes’ extensive collection of Jewish-themed postcards, which animate themes of mobility and modernity.
About the book: At the turn of the 20th century, Jewish families scattered by migration could stay in touch only through letters. How could they make sure their spelling was correct and they were organizing their thoughts properly? Dear Mendl, Dear Reyzl translates selections from model-letter books and includes essays and annotations that illuminate their role as guides to a past culture.
About the Authors:
Professor of Russian and Eurasian Studies and Jewish Studies, Colgate University.
She worked on, and was a member of the editorial board, of the YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe (Yale University Press, 2008). Her publications in Jewish studies include essays on Il'ia Il'f (in Enemies of the People, Northwestern, 2002), Mikhail Zhvanetskii (in Forging of Modern Jewish Identities, Valentine-Mitchell, 2002), and Jewish food and behavior ("The Fugitive World of Russian-Jewish Cooking," in Food and Judaism, Creighton University Press, 2005; "You Are What They Ate: Russian Jews Revisit Their Past," Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, Fall 2006; "Doch’ki Tev’e: chto oni eli i chto eto znachit," Istoriia i kul'tura rossiiskogo i vostochnoevreiskogo evreistva: Novye istochniki, novye podkhody, ed. O. V. Budnitsky, Moscow: Dom evreiskoi knigi, 2006; "Writing Obituaries and Declaring Life: Jewish self-assertion in a New York Russian-language newspaper,” Jewish Literature and History (University of Maryland, 2007). Her translation (with an introduction) of Grisha Bruskin’s memoir Past Imperfect came out in 2008 with Syracuse University Press.
Director of Digital Initiatives at YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
She serves as web content developer/consultant for the Gruss Lipper Digital Archive of Jewish Life in Poland and consultant and researcher for the YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe Online. At YIVO Institute, she oversaw the world's foremost archival collection of over 150,000 photographs and 300 rare films related to the history of East European Jews. Roberta Newman is also a scholar, teacher, and propagator of the Yiddish language.