Editor, How Yiddish Changed America and How America Changed Yiddish
This week, Ira spoke with Ilan Stavans, editor (along with Josh Lambert) of How Yiddish Changed America and How America Changed Yiddish. In this haimish episode of Ira’s Everything Bagel, Ilan talks about the reasons why, although vulnerable, Yiddish has managed to survive in the world; the role that language played in assimilation in America; why Yiddish is many things, including a museum, a memory, and a language with no fixed address; how it became part of American culture and what has been sacrificed along the way; why it is a mirror to understanding ourselves; the man who saved Yiddish-language books and the importance of the Yiddish Book Center; Yiddish as a metaphor; why it’s always on the verge of disappearing, yet a symbol of survival; and the most surprising thing he found in his research.
Ilan Stavans is the Lewis-Sebring Professor of Humanities, Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College, the publisher of Restless Books, and a consultant to the Oxford English Dictionary. His books include, most recently, Jewish Literature: A Very Short Introduction (OUP)