World Jewish Congress to honor “grandfather of Yiddish literature” at Odessa conference

VILNIUS - The World Jewish Congress’ International Yiddish Culture Center will be holding an international conference in Odessa, Ukraine next week (October 22-23) devoted to the centenary of death of the “grandfather of Yiddish literature” Mendele Mokher Sforim.

The program, initiated in cooperation with “Migdal” JCC and other Jewish organisations of Odessa, will open at the Museum of Literature to celebrate the publication of Mendele Mokher Sforim: A collection of prose and memories, a Russian-language anthology of selected articles about the preeminent Yiddish writer and never-released archival photographs.

In an introduction to the book on behalf of WJC President Ronald S. Lauder, WJC CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer wrote: “The World Jewish Congress sees the preservation, study, and dissemination of the Yiddish language and culture as one of our primary goals of activities. 

“The Holocaust not only physically destroyed a third of the Jewish people; it also  inflicted an incurable wound on the spiritual heritage of our people - the language and culture of Yiddish.

“We must do everything possible to remember the millions of Yiddish-speaking Jews, to preserve their language and culture, to transfer their spiritual treasures to future generations, and introduce these values into all systems of Jewish formal and informal education around the world.”

The WJC’s International Yiddish Culture Center was established in 2014, under the leadership of Singer and Yitzhack Averbuch, and has provided Yiddish instruction in dozens of countries to thousands of teachers, students, community workers, youth leaders, and researchers of Jewish culture. Through this program, participants are able to touch on the wealth of the Yiddish language and its literature, folklore, music, theater, cinema, humor.

Lecturers at the Odessa conference next week will include the academic director of the WJC Yiddish Centre Vilnius Dr. Mordehay Yushkovsky; the daughter of great Jewish pre-war actor Benjamin Zuskin Mrs. Ala Zuskin-Perelman; and Emeritus Prof. of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem Wolf Moskovich,

The conference will close with a concert of the Odessa klezmer group “Maminy deti” (Mother’s children).

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