The Frankel Institute in Ann Arbor plans a series of different events that explore the Yiddish language and culture.

As part of its theme year on “Yiddish Matters,” the Frankel Institute in Ann Arbor is presenting a series of events that will explore different facets of the history and culture of Yiddish. The head fellow in the fall semester will be Julian Levinson; he will be joined in this role in the winter by Justin Cammy from Smith College.

The year will kick off with a concert by Daniel Kahn, Yeva Lapsker and Jake Shulman-Ment. In collaboration with the School of Music, the Frankel Institute will host the free concert Sept. 26, 7:30 p.m. at Britton Recital Hall in the Earle V. Moore Building. Detroit-born, Berlin-based singer, songwriter, translator and U-M alumnus Daniel Kahn will return to Ann Arbor for an intimate polyglot program in Yiddish, English, Russian, German and French. Featuring images and surtitles designed and projected by co-translator and partner Yeva Lapsker and acclaimed violinist Jamie Shulman-Ment, Kahn’s songscape traverses the borders of language, culture, history and politics and draws on Kahn’s own original songs and translations of Yiddish folk songs.

The Institute has also planned a series of lectures related to Yiddish studies. U-M professors Geneviève Zubrzycki and Benjamin Paloff will join fellow Karolina Szymaniak Nov. 19 to discuss the revival of Yiddish culture and language in contemporary Poland in a panel titled “Yiddish in Poland: Past, Present and Future.” Head fellow Julian Levinson will be a part of a panel discussion on Yiddish and trauma with Harriet Murav and Hannah Pollin-Galay on Feb. 25.

On Dec. 5, 4 p.m. in Room 2022 of the Thayer Building, there will be a panel titled “Translating from Yiddish: New Approaches in Theory and Practice.” The panel will address the challenges of translating Yiddish into other languages and how translations are affected by phenomena such as the rise of Zionism, the Holocaust and changing relations between American Jews and the immigrant experience. It will feature Frankel Institute fellows Anita Norich, Yaakov Herskovitz and Julian Levinson. Norich and Herskovitz will both be returning to Ann Arbor to participate in the Institute Theme Year after retiring and graduating from U-M, respectively.

The theme year will also include two larger symposia. On Oct. 29, guest scholar Sunny Yudkoff of University of Wisconsin-Madison, and fellows Justin Cammy, Eve Jochnowitz, Saul Zaritt and U-M professor Mikhail Krutikov will discuss the place of contemporary Yiddish in current Jewish culture.

On March 16, Jack Kugelmass, Dov-Ber Kerler, Amy Kerner, Eli Rosenblatt and Nick Underwood will discuss the global role of Yiddish.

Guest scholar Zohar Weiman-Kelman will speak Oct. 16 in Rackham Graduate School’s East Conference Room at 4 pm. Weiman-Kelman’s lecture, “Queer Expectations: A Genealogy of Jewish Women’s Poetry,” brings together Jewish women’s poetry in English, Yiddish and Hebrew from the late 19th century through the 1970s to explore how Jewish women writers turned to poetry to write new histories.

Naomi Seidman will speak on Dec. 3 and David Roskies will speak on Jan. 14, both at 4 p.m. in Room 2022 of the Thayer Building. Seidman is the Chancellor Jackman Professor of the Arts in the Department of Religion and the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the University of Toronto. Her lecture will explore the role of Yiddish in Freud’s writings. Roskies teaches Yiddish and modern Jewish literature at the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His lecture will focus on how first-generation tellers of tales in Eastern Yiddish learned to message their competing truth claims through dialogical means.


Daniel Kahn will be in concert Sept. 26 in Ann Arbor. For more information, visit