2014-2015 Max Weinreich Center Research Fellowships

YIVO is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2014-2015 Max Weinreich Center Research Fellowships.

With a record number of applicants this year, our committee had a difficult task in choosing the awardees in each category. We thank all who applied, and encourage those who did not receive an award this year to re-apply in following years. Projects that received awards this year tended to focus more specifically on YIVO’s strong collections in the fields of Yiddish language, culture, and scholarship. Diverse in terms of scope, chronology, and cultural geography, the projects of the 2014-2015 cohort of fellows embody YIVO’s central commitment to investigating the Jewish past and present. Our fellows can anticipate a fruitful experience in our unique archives and library, and we look forward to seeing the results of their scholarly research. Look for upcoming programs and public lectures featuring our current and incoming fellows!

A very special thanks to our Selection Committee, which this year included:

  • Dr. Edward Portnoy, Max Weinreich Center Academic Advisor, YIVO
  • Dr. Katherine Hellerstein, professor of Yiddish Literature at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Dr. Marc Caplan, formerly the Zelda and Myer Tandetnik Professor in Yiddish Language, Literature, and Culture, at Johns Hopkins University
  • Dr. Michael Steinlauf, Director of Holocaust and Genocide Studies and Associate Professor of History at Gratz College
  • Dr. Gennady Estraikh, Rauch Associate Professor of Jewish Studies at New York University
  • Dr. Tony Michels, George L. Mosse Associate Professor of American Jewish History at the University of Wisconsin
  • Dr. Daniel Soyer, Professor of History at Fordham University
  • Dr. Kalman Weiser, Associate Professor at York University
  • Dr. David Fishman, Professor of History, Jewish Theological Seminary
  • Dr. Elissa Bemporad, Assistant Professor of History, Queens College

Fellowship in East European Jewish Studies
Fellowship Funds: The Professor Bernard Choseed Memorial Fellowship and the Natalie and Mendel Racolin Memorial Fellowship

trinhDr. Miriam Trinh, who is based in Israel, will conduct research related to her new project, Chaim Grade, Avrom Sutzkever and their Literary Answer to the Khurbn. Ms. Trinh is one of the few researchers to have already had the opportunity to explore the Chaim Grade archive, which YIVO acquired in February of 2013. She will also teach Intermediate II and Advanced Yiddish in YIVO’s Uriel Weinreich Summer Program in Yiddish Language, Literature, and Culture this summer.

Fellowship in Baltic Jewish Studies
Fellowship Funds: The Abram and Fannie Gottlieb Immerman and Abraham Nathan and Bertha Daskal Weinstein Memorial Fellowship in Eastern European Jewish Studies, the Abraham and Rachela Melezin Memorial Fellowship and the Maria Salit-Gitelson Tell Memorial Fellowship

grigoraviciuteAkvilė Grigoravičiūtė is a third-year doctoral candidate in Germanic Studies at Université-Paris Sorbonne. Her dissertation, Peripheral Visions: the Development of Yiddish Culture in Lithuania and Latvia (1918-1940), considers Yiddish literature in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia as a marker of Jewish difference and identity in these regions. Members of the selection committee remarked that this project contributes greatly to the study of regions that have often been on the periphery of Jewish historiography. Ms. Grigoraviciute will be primarily utilizing YIVO’s Latvian Yiddish press collections, especially the dailies Dos folk (1920-1927), Letste nayes (1925), and Frimorgn (1926-1934), as well as the illustrated humor magazine Ashmeday (1922-1929), which have largely escaped scholarly attention until now.

Fellowship in Polish Jewish Studies
Fellowship Funds: The Aleksander and Alicja Hertz Memorial Fellowship and the Samuel and Flora Weiss Research Fellowship

rozenfeldAnna Rozenfeld received her Master’s degree from the University of Warsaw, and has lectured on Yiddish and contemporary art and Yiddish pedagogy as an educator at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Rozenfeld’s project, Broadcasts in Yiddish in Polish Radio after World War II, considers the nature of Yiddish radio broadcasting in Poland and its impact on Polish Jews in the years following the Holocaust. A research topic that has rarely been approached, Yiddish language radio in postwar Poland involved a number of important Jewish personalities. In order to gauge the reception of these broadcasts and to understand their significance to the audience, Rozenfeld will spend significant time in YIVO’s music, sound, and theater collections, and will also consult the Esther Rachel Kaminska Theater Museum collection, the Radio Programs collection, and the American Federation for Polish Jews collection, among other materials.

Fellowship in East European Jewish Literature
Fellowship Funds: The Vladimir and Pearl Heifetz Memorial Fellowship and the Vivian Lefsky Hort Memorial Fellowship

zarittSaul Zaritt is at work on a dissertation about the place and participation of Yiddish writers such as I.B. Singer, Jacob Glatstein, and Sholem Asch in world literature. A student of Yiddish language and literature for ten years, he is a doctoral candidate at the Jewish Theological Seminary and lives in Brooklyn. In his research, Zaritt explores how Yiddish writers struggled to balance their Jewishness, in particular their devotion to Eastern European Jewish life, with the demands of world literature. He tracks the complex negotiations of Jewish writers as they entered world literature in English and Yiddish – both of their own accord, and through the intervention of criticism and translation. Saul will be utilizing YIVO’s extensive collection of Yiddish literary journals, including Literarishe bleter, Inzikh, Der inzl, Svive, Globus, Undzer bukh, and Di tsukunft, many of which can be found in their entirety only at YIVO.

Fellowship in East European Jewish Music, Theatre, and Arts
Fellowship Fund: Joseph Kremen Memorial Fellowship

biezunskiEléonore Biezunski is a doctoral candidate at the Center for Historical Research at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in Paris. Also a violinist and singer, Ms. Biezunski’s research focuses on contemporary creation in Yiddish songs. Her project, Mapping Contemporary Yiddish Songs: Places of New Yiddish songs as Experienced, Produced and Represented, investigates contemporary Yiddish music and song as a crossroads for Yiddish memory and contemporary identity. Her work involves creating an ethnography of contemporary klezmorim; the selection committee considered the social scientific aspects of this project worthy of merit, considering YIVO’s long history as a center of Jewish folklore, ethnography, and zamlen (collecting).

Fellowship in American Jewish Studies
Fellowship Funds: The Rose and Isidore Drench Memorial Fellowship and the Dora and Mayer Tendler Endowed Fellowship in Jewish Studies

burkoAlec Burko is a doctoral candidate in Modern Jewish Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary. His dissertation Saving Yiddish: Yiddish Studies and the Language Sciences in America, 1940-1970,  focuses on the activities of the YIVO Linguistic Circle, Max Weinreich’s group of linguists and educators who established the renewal of Yiddish as an academic field after World War II. Alec’s project traces the activities of linguists Max Weinreich, Uriel Weinreich, and Yudel Mark in Yiddish language maintenance, documentation and cultural reconstruction. The YIVO Circle was responsible for the first modern textbooks and readers, most notably Uriel Weinreich’s pioneering College Yiddish (1949), and through monumental projects like the Great Dictionary of the Yiddish Language and the Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry. Aware that both the language and the rich folk culture of East European Jewry were vanishing before their eyes, the YIVO linguists tried to document every word and expression of prewar European Yiddish before they were forgotten, and also enabled the reconstruction of modern Yiddish by means of language planning. Alec will spend his time at YIVO focused on the massive collections relating to Mordkhe Schaechter, and to the Great Dictionary of the Yiddish Language.

The Dina Abramowicz Emerging Scholar Fellowship

weiman-kelmanZohar Weiman-Kelman was born and raised in West Jerusalem, and earned her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in 2012. Her research at YIVO will be the first step in her new project investigating Yiddish archives of sexuality, situated at the confluence between sexual expression and the development of the Yiddish language. She will focus on the projects of the two major Yiddish linguists, Max Weinreich and Mordkhe Schaechter, who both dedicated special attention to the question of Jewish sexuality in Yiddish. Framed between Weinreich’s East European-based inauguration of the language of Yiddish sexuality (through his translations of Freud and his original Der Veg tsu Unzer Yugnt [The Way to Our Youth]),  and the American archive of Schaechter’s unpublished Yiddish lexicon of love, Di Libe, Zohar’s research will consider a transnational and cross-temporal Yiddish archive of sexuality, one that could supply contemporary Yiddish speakers with a new vocabulary for the Yiddish past. Zohar will spend her time at YIVO investigating Schaechter’s largely unmined collections on Yiddish terms for sex and love, where he compiled words and phrases from literature, science, advice columns and personal ads, as well as other sources from Yiddish popular culture.

The Workmen’s Circle/Dr. Emanuel Patt Visiting Professorship in Eastern European Jewish Studies

kuznitzCecile Kuznitz will be the 2014-2015 Workmen’s Circle Dr. Emanuel Patt Visiting Professor in Eastern European Jewish Studies. An Associate Professor of Jewish History and the Director of Jewish Studies at Bard College, Kuznitz is the author of the soon to be released YIVO and the Making of Modern Culture. Her new project, Towards a Yiddish Architecture, explores the role of the built landscape of East European urban centers in establishing a modern Jewish identity in the Diaspora. Kuznitz argues that cities of Eastern Europe served as canvasses where Jews asserted their presence, despite their lack of political power. In effect, Jews’ influence on architecture was expressed as a type of Diaspora nationalism. Going beyond synagogues and cemeteries, Kuznitz will explore the architectures of new Jewish ideologies, as expressed in schools, theaters, and other modern institutions. Cecile will search a large array of YIVO collections for guidebooks, architectural plans and descriptions, and commentary and criticism on Jewish places and spaces. While people today tend to think of Tel Aviv as the “first Hebrew city,” Cecile suggests that there may have also been an attempt to create a “Yiddish city” in the Diaspora.

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