Breaking New Ground

Watch the progress on our planned 21,000 square foot expansion and renovation of existing space!

We Want to Hear From You!

Here at the National Yiddish Book Center, we can hear the rumble of heavy equipment and the pounding of hammers as workers create the Kaplen Family Building for our new school.

These sounds are a welcome reminder that we will soon fill the space with fantastic new educational and cultural programs. We’re contemplating everything from year-round courses for college students and community leaders, to multi-day seminars for anyone with curiosity about Yiddish language and Jewish culture – as well as online classes so you can study from the comfort of your own home. We’ll also have a new multi-purpose performance hall, which will hold up to 275 people for concerts, dances and other events.

As we brainstorm and plan we would love to hear from you. What public programs would you like to attend? What kind of classes would you like to see offered? Would you like to learn Yiddish so you can some day translate your grandfather’s journal? Would you like to explore the history of Jewish food? Jewish theater? What else?

And how would you like to participate? Online? In your own community? Ponim al ponim, face to face, here at our center in Amherst?

We look forward to hearing your responses!



  Louise Abrams wrote @

These plans sound very exciting. I’d love to see a class on Yiddish film. My grandmother was a big Molly Picon fan and I’d like to learn more about her, and who the other Yiddish film stars were. It might also be interesting to learn how those old movies have influenced today’s film industry.

  Sarah wrote @

I’m interested in learning Yiddish, but don’t live near the Center. Are you going to offer any online language courses?

  Bob wrote @

The Jewish culture residency idea is compelling. But, for all such endeavors, I think it is very important to include the visual arts — an aspect of Jewish culture that is often neglected, ignored, or poorly represented by established Jewish organizations. While the NYBC has occasionally presented some interesting art, there appears to be no overarching curatorial vision. And visual art has more often been an after-thought or a side-show, rather than presented as an integral part of Jewish life and culture. So yes, a Jewish culture residency would be great — as would a real functioning art gallery.

  Miriam Udel-Lambert wrote @

As a Yiddish professor at a university, I’d like to see programming during winter and spring breaks that could complement courses in Yiddish language, literature and culture offered in the university setting. Something on the model of Yiddish Break or Yiddish Vokh, perhaps, but harnessing the resources of the Center and bringing students from outside of New England to witness what the Center does.

I would also welcome the opportunity to teach adult learners during intensive day-long or multi-day programs during the summer or winter break times.

  lynn yanis wrote @

Secular Jewish Saturday school for kids!

I grew up hearing about the Workmans’ Circle. Ethical cultural Yiddish children’s education programming would be a dream come true for this Jewish mama.

This would be a wonderful opportunity to bring”unaffiliated” Jewish families into the fold…and there are a lot of us in the Pioneer Valley!

Thanks for asking.

  Jessica Kirzner wrote @

How exciting to read about the work that is underway! As an alumna of the NYBC internship, I would be excited to see programming at the NYBC that would be something like a reunion of NYBC interns or, better still, an opportunity for former interns to gather together for learning. The internship was such a phenomenal experience, and I think it could be made even richer by extending the experience into future years with some kind of follow-up programming.

  Clifton Rothman wrote @

I enjoy the regular emails and the website because you include a lot of information and provide links to more details.
Small amounts of Yiddish and Hebrew culture which one can absorb in a half hour or so would both be interesting and wet our appetite for more of those areas we find appeal to us the most.
It would be an easy way to learn and keep in touch. Excerpts from books and CD’s would be appreciated.
Clifton Rothman

  Art Victor wrote @

Anyone know how to make REAL gefilte-fish? How about Ptcha? and I havn’t had stuffed MILTZ since childhood. or Lungen stew. Good poor-folk soul-food.Anyone drink kvass?

  Jean Braun wrote @

Just returned from visiting the Book Center last weekend and can only express my pleasure and pride in what I saw. Since I am 82 years old and live far away, I would enjoy reading short stories and/or poems in Yiddish online so that I could continue to practice my knowledge of the language.

  Carla Gordon wrote @

I’d love to be able to study Yiddish online. I live too far away to attend regular classes, and online work would be perfect for me. I can read Hebrew, and I’ve begun on my own to practice reading Yiddish, but I don’t understand most of what I’m reading. My goal: to read Singer in the original version.

  Penny Nutbrown wrote @

Could you offer begining Yiddish online? I am a teacher and live in Canada and would like to learn Yiddish but am not near a centre where I might attend a class on site.

  Warren Andiman wrote @

I would like to see “long weekend” and week-long
programs during traditional winter break or
spring break vacations and /or during summer breaks. I would favor programs on any of the following: 1.The Jewish Bible;2. Jewish Culture and
History during the time of the Prophets;3. Jewish
Culture and History during the Middle Ages;
4. Jewish Culture and History during the Renaissance; 5. Jewish -Arab relations from
the 10th to the 15th centuries. 6. “Who Wrote the Bible”. 7. The Torah as Literature.
Each seminar should include readings that are sent to each enrollee long before the seminar begins so that all selections can be read and digested before the session begins. Each seminar should be limited to 15-18 students.
to allow for meaningful participation and dialogue. The readings/books should be included in the cost of tuition.

  Joe Feinstein wrote @

Any chance of recreating some of the Yiddish plays which were performed during the Yiddish theatre’s most productive years? I saw a few in the 1930’s that are still with me.

  Pearl Sauerhaft wrote @

I speak yiddish fluently but I would love an on-line class for reading and writing this wonderful language. I would like to write stories in mama-lushen. Somehow it’s just not the same in English. Hope this is offered.

  Karen Miller wrote @

Please bring back the weekend literature programs with guest Professors such as the ones you did on Issac Babel, etc. We used to love immersing ourselves in Yiddish Culture through readings (in English) of classic Jewish literature.

  Adrian A. Durlester wrote @

As a newcomer to the Pioneer Valley, I’m thrilled to be so near the NYBC. I was pleased and privileged to have been on of the musical performers at the Sweet Harvest Festival last month. I am truly excited at the new potential that can be realized with the expanded facilities. Although my work in the area is as a Jewish religious professional, my own schooling as a child was at the Yiddish Shul held at the Washington Heights-Inwood YM&YWHA. I attended the Educational Alliance camps with my family, and also the Y summer day camps. Though I now work and teach for synagogues (across the spectrum of the movements) I, too, would be thrilled to see regular weekly classes offered for children and youth akin to the ones my sister and I attended as a child back in the early 60s.
Before my present career in Jewish education, I spent two decades as a theatrical professional (stage/production management, design, & technology) and would also love to see (and be involved in) live productions of great Yiddish plays and musicals for adults and kids.
And maybe a regular story reading time for families?

  Kathryn Blatt wrote @

Everyone has such good ideas! I live 3 hours away from the Yiddish Center, so I’m all in favor of some online Yiddish and Hebrew courses. But I also agree with the person who said the visual arts were important–I think your photography exhibits have been excellent, and I would love to see more of these, maybe on a bigger scale now that you have more space. And theater offerings are a great idea,too. I’ve never seen any live Yiddish theater, but would love to.

How about expanding the bookstore? The times I’ve visited the Center, I’ve always been amazed at what a great bookstore you have in such a small space.

And courses–also a wonderful idea.

  Rishl Rosen Hall wrote @

I would really treasure the opportunity to learn to speak (and understand) Yiddish in a non-judgmental atmosphere (tch-tch for not knowing it already). BUT – I live no place near the center (I’m in arizona) and there is nothing out here – How about an intensive several weeks – and remember that we are not all rich – so keep the costs down

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