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Yiddish Book Center Reopens

AMHERST – The Yiddish Book Center began a phased reopening on June 24.

Since closing its doors to the public on March 12, 2020, due to the pandemic, the Yiddish Book Center has been and will continue to offer an ongoing series of free virtual public programs. But now the Center will be open to the public on Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays, and Mondays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Center’s English-language Museum Store, which can be accessed online through its website, also opened for in-person shoppers on June 24. 

“We’re so looking forward to welcoming visitors back to the Center,” says Lisa Newman, director of publishing and public programs. “Our Yiddish Writers Garden is in full bloom, our permanent exhibits are in place, and we’ve just installed a dynamic new visiting exhibit that spans two galleries.” 

“Through the Hat” and “The Golden Medina”, the two visiting exhibits by multimedia artist Steve Marcus will be on view at the Center through fall 2021. 

Through the Hat includes wood-carved objects that seamlessly weave together Marcus’ childhood memories of bagels and bialys, pickles and green tomatoes from the barrel, and paper-wrapped whitefish chubs with his personal journey and passion for his own roots and culture. The Golden Medina expands on this series, welcoming the viewer deeper into Marcus’ world of contemporary kosher folk art through humorous depictions of everyday Jewish life that communicate wisdom from Yiddish proverbs

This year, the Yiddish Book Center’s annual YIDSTOCK: The Festival of New Yiddish Music will be presented as a 75-minute, pre-recorded, virtual program on July 11 at 4 p.m.

YIDSTOCK will feature a dozen musicians from around the world, including Eleanor Reissa, Lorin Sklamberg, Frank London, and Daniel Kahn and Sveta Kundish from Berlin, all performing Yiddish songs of social justice. 

These include labor anthems, protest songs, humanitarian odes, songs of struggle, and songs based in Yiddish poetry. The program’s theme of social justice is drawn from the Yiddish Book Center’s Decade of Discovery, a ten-year programming initiative, which in 2021 is themed to “Yiddish and Social Justice.” 

“Issues related to social justice have deep roots in Yiddish literature, songs, and dramatic works,” Newman said. “We’re excited to see how these performers are regenerating and reimagining this in their work at this year’s YIDSTOCK.” 

Other artists taking part include Cilla Owens, Sarah Myerson and Ilya Shneyveys, Niki Jacobs from the Netherlands, Polina and Merlin Shepherd from Brighton, UK, Sarah Gordon and Michael Winograd from Brooklyn, Tatiana Wechsler, Éléonore Weill and Zoë Aqua, and Patrick Farrell. 

The pre-recorded program will be emceed by YIDSTOCK artistic director Seth Rogovoy. 

“Moving this year’s event to online provides us the opportunity to present musical artists from around the world,” said Rogovoy. “It allows us to include a number of artists who haven’t performed at YIDSTOCK previously—fully half of the artists will be making their YIDSTOCK debuts.” 

In addition to the pre-recorded program on July 11, the Yiddish Book Center will be presenting a series of virtual public programs in July on the theme of Yiddish and social justice, including a talk about Yiddish music of the Holocaust and one about Jewish protest singers of the 1960s, as well as a conversation with several YIDSTOCK performers. Check the Yiddish Book Center events calendar for details and registration for these events coming soon.

For more information about YIDSTOCK, other YBC programming and visitor protocols, visit

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