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National Yiddish Book Center

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Basic Information

Location 42° 19′ 19.2″ N, 72° 31′ 39.73″ W
Phone number (413) 256-4900
Country United States
City Amherst, MA
Address 1021 West St, Amherst, MA

General Information

Open to visitors yes
Need appointment no
Handicap accessibility yes
Website http://www.yiddishbookcenter.org/
Geographical Coordinates 42.322,-72.5277


Summary

The National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts, United States, on the campus of Hampshire College, is a cultural institution dedicated to the preservation of books in the Yiddish language. It is a a non-profit institution and its cultural programs are funded by memberships and grants.


History and time period

The Center was founded in 1980 by Aaron Lansky. It claims to be the first organization of English-speaking American Jews dedicated to the preservation of Yiddish language and culture. Major Jewish organizations initially refused to fund or aid it, claiming that Yiddish was a dead language.

Lansky was a 23-year-old graduate student in 1980 when he took a leave of absence from McGill University and issued a public appeal for unwanted and discarded Yiddish books. At the time, scholars estimated there were 70,000 Yiddish books still extant and recoverable. Since then, the Yiddish Book Center has gone on to recover more than a million volumes, with hundreds of additional books continuing to arrive each week. Lansky recounts the origins of the Center in his memoir Outwitting History.

In 1997 the Yiddish Book Center opened a permanent headquarters and Visitors Center adjacent to the campus of Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, containing exhibits on the history of Yiddish literature and culture, an English-language bookstore, a theater, a performance space, a Yiddish Writers Garden, and open stacks of Yiddish books.

The Center offers year-round educational and public programs; Yidstock: the festival of new Yiddish music, an annual summer program; films; concerts; and performances.


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