If you read our Nov. 19 cover story about Dr. Henry Lew and his quest to get a Yiddish book about the annihilation of the Jews of Bialystock translated, you may remember that he was inspired by Aaron Lansky’s book “Outwitting History.”
I was inspired, in turn, to read Lansky’s book, and found it lively, poignant, informative, and – yes – inspiring. Because of his book, I am trying to revive my Workmen’s Circle Yiddish – my almost-mama loshen. (Eric Goldman of Ergo Media in Teaneck has provided me with CDs and a manual.)
Lansky is the man who created the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Mass. He has spent his adult life on the worthy cause of rescuing Yiddish books – and the related causes of rescuing Yiddish literature and the very language itself.
The stories he tells are funny, touching, and sad – sometimes all at once.
And he notes many Bergen County connections, people who have supported (sometimes literally, by hauling books, for example) the effort: Jeremy Dauber, who was a Jewish Standard intern many years ago and is an associate professor and director of Yiddish studies at Columbia; Rabbi Aryeh Gotlieb, now rabbi emeritus of the Jewish Community Center of Paramus; Sharon Kleinbaum, now the rabbi of Cong. Beth Simcha Torah in New York City; and Maggie and Bill Kaplen, whose generosity has buoyed many local institutions, including the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades.
At any rate, a highly recommended book – I am sure you will enjoy it, and will catch Lansky’s fervor and sense of fun.