Koreh finale features Yiddish writing, multi-faith exploration

The inaugural year of KOREH/קרא: Writers in the Sanctuary, Or Shalom’s literary series, will come to a close on March 30 with an evening of Yiddish translations and reflections on multi-faith family roots.

Mame Loshn, which means mother tongues, will feature Faith Jones, Seymour Levitan, Rachel Mines, and Helen Mintz, four Yiddish translators who will be presenting a range of Yiddish works from Ashkenazi communities, in English translation. The works they have translated range from fiction to poetry to erotica. Amal Rana will be presenting a work-in-progress exploring her relationship to her white Jewish grandmother and growing up in a mixed faith, mixed raced family. It’s a mix of memoir and poetry—a work of poetic memoir.

For this edition of Koreh we are delighted to be collaborating with the Peretz Centre for Secular Jewish Culture, home of the the largest Yiddish library in British Columbia. The evening will be MC’d by poet Alex Leslie and Rabbi Hannah will present a niggun. Come enjoy these writers in the sanctuary of Or Shalom on Sunday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m.

About the Presenters:

Faith Jones is a librarian and Yiddish scholar in Vancouver. Her work includes translations of erotic poet Celia Dropkin (1887-1956)—published in book form as The Acrobat—and the short stories of Soviet feminist Shira Gorshman (1906-2001). She is interested in work that widens the scope of what is known about the Eastern European Jewish experience.

Seymour Levitan’s selection and translation of the poems of Rokhl Korn (1898-1982), Paper Roses, won the Robert Payne Award of Columbia University’s Translation Center in 1988. His translations, notably of the work of I.L. Peretz (1852-1915) and Der Nister (1884-1950), have been widely anthologized and published in numerous journals. Seymour is a pioneer of Yiddish literary translation in Vancouver and has provided support to others who’ve begun translating after him. He is the 2008 winner of the Louis Rosenberg Award of the Association of Canadian Jewish Studies.

Rachel Mines, a past participant in the Yiddish Book Center’s Yiddish Translation Fellowship program, has translated a collection of Jonah Rosenfeld’s (1881-1944) stories which will be published by Syracuse University Press. Rosenfeld’s writing foregrounds loneliness, social anxiety, and the inability to form meaningful relationships—themes relevant to today’s Western society, fractured as it is by socioeconomic and political uncertainties. Rachel teaches in the English Department at Langara College.

For Helen Mintz, translating from Yiddish is sacred work, bringing brutally silenced voices to the English-speaking world. Vilna My Vilna, Helen’s translations of stories and short memoirs by Abraham Karpinowitz (1913-2004) was awarded the Canadian Jewish Literary Award for Yiddish (2016), the I.J. Segal Award for Translation (2016), and Honorable Mention for the Sophie Brody Award. Helen is presently working on a second Karpinowitz collection and on translation of selections from Das Mayse Bukh fun Mayn Lebn (The Storybook of My Life) by Melekh Ravitch (1893-1976). Helen’s January 2019 Words without Borders interview on her translation practice can be found here.

Amal Rana is a poet and interdisciplinary performer. Her poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Amal’s writing has appeared in multiple journals and anthologies, including: Room Magazine, Canadian Theatre Review, Arc Poetry Magazine, Adrienne: A Poetry Journal for Queer Women, Writing the Walls Down: A Convergence of LGBTQ Voices, The Feminist Wire, and more. Amal is currently working on an interdisciplinary project exploring the intersections of queerness, race, and mixed Muslim Jewish familial roots. For the past several years, she has been working with Cambium Arts & Education as a community embedded arts organizer and educator, specializing in collaborating with communities on the margins and anti-oppression training. She is currently engaged in a year-long, collaborative artist residency with Carnegie Community Centre. Amal is also a teaching artist with Reframing Relations, a project that brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists to facilitate workshops on reconciliation in schools and community centres. As a member of the Interfaith Institute for Justice, Peace and Social Movements, she works with various faith communities to envision new futures centering deeply radical and liberatory spiritualties. Find out more about her work at cambiumarts.com.

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