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10 article(s) translated from Yiddish

Two Miniatures

Yekhiel Shraybman’s tightly-crafted miniatures, narrated by the proverbial everymen from anywhere, invite readers to fill in the gaps and reinterpret them as products of their local context. New Grass Spring. Somewhere in the corner of my concrete courtyard, right at the start of those first sunny days, a few blades of grass sprang to life, quickly, practically overnight. Soft green grass shot up, growing up through the cracks of the hard gray slabs, giving that corner a...

Sing Ladino

Yankev Glatshteyn mines the richness of Yiddish, pushing its limits.  Sing Ladino, you blond songer, Our magicjargonino, Multicolored chattering, Multitongued languageing Sundownino, nino-nino, Finegolden radiating, bursting— Multicoloredthoughtingness. All the breads, all the deaths, All the taigas, all the tundras, All the wonders multicolored, Multirhymerino, Multiguesterino, All the wicks, all the skins, Yellowred and Falashino, Palestino speakerino, Ours, our...

Ingathering of Exiles

Yenta Mash interrogates the uneasy position of Jewish immigrants in the new state of Israel. I don’t know about other cities, but in Haifa the street called Kibbutz Galuyot—Ingathering of Exiles—is definitely worthy of the name. Other cities may have bestowed the name when the street was still under construction, without knowing whether it would turn out to be a good fit. In Haifa, though, the street was already in its glory when it got its name. If they’d called it...

An Unexpected Guest

In the following chapter from his novel Nomansland, AZ, Boris Sandler looks at the US through the lens of fantasy and rollicking satire as down-on-his-luck traveling salesman Eddie Hoffman hawks his wares in a forgotten desert town at the end of the millennium. There’s no such thing, so the saying goes, as a party you can’t crash. The heady feeling that I’d stumbled into a party—a loud, unruly party—washed over me as I dragged and scraped my way through...

From “Ode to The Dove”

Trapped on the lips are sounds, like pearls of forts oceanate are mute for thousands of years, and over the muteness—a blade. "Dove darling, childhood's child, let the lips speak, give them speech Become now the cry of the sounds, or else the dream is extinct . . ." A sudden kiss on my lips. Who and where am I? Finally The locks all unlock themselves. Muteness is cut by a knife. Pearls, pearls, and pearls, with secret rushes of sea Raining from my lips now. A pearly...

Pesach Eve

I cleaned the house top to bottom. In all the years' corners dusted life's stray leaves. Polished the proud candlesticks of numberless Sabbaths, the kiddush cups and the Seder plate— gifts for our wedding. Spread out the white tablecloth in the shabbes-yontev room where holy books and family pictures inherit radiance. All my years shine before my eyes while quiet prayers are noble in the light. From Step by Step: An Anthology of Contemporary...

Sorting Laundry

Clean laundry bleached dried piled everywhere. We shake out silently a shirt a sock underwear. Laid out nicely smooth and square nimble hands side by side. The pile is gone. Between us grows a tidy clean cold divide. From Step by Step: An Anthology of Contemporary Yiddish Poetry, forthcoming in 2009 from Quodlibet. By arrangement with the authors. Translations copyright 2008 by Zachary Sholem Berger. All rights reserved.

A Song

In the Jewish parliament The walls are burning. People are learning Talmud, arguing over commentaries. Suddenly--quiet, please! A gentile comes in And says in gentile-ese: Gentlemen, That's the kind of world this is. The learners split into equal parties Forbidding, permitting, and deriving. What did the gentile mean when he said "The kind of world it is"? They grab their heads. Oh, dearest God, the kind of world this is! The right says: It may not suit the...

The Happiness of Also Refusing Happiness

The happiness of refusing happiness The joy of refusing joy Passionately keeping passion back Proudly breaking pride in ecstasy. Night in the forest on trouble's path All rustling has become one tree One secret calling cry for help One star glowing, a small eye. What's sense here? I don't know why-- Still walking, now I'm at the door Chaos behind. The door's a lamp Inside the cry of help before. The mussar house inside of me Murmurs, mirage of...

Seclusion (from the poem “Kotzk”)

When the decadent genius of Chasidus Comprehended what the secret of the Jew is, He lived by himself for many years. The Jew is loneliness. His sole belovèd is The world's alone one, the Creator. Who Can comprehend their twin aloneness? Chasidus: Chasidism. The Kotzker Rebbe, Menachem Mendel of Kotzk (1787-1859), secluded himself in his chambers for twenty years, refusing all contact. The Kotzker (as he was known) was famous for his strict judgment and as a...

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