A Book Discussion Series on Immigration

Shaker Library Is Among Twenty-Two Libraries Selected to Participate in the Yiddish Book Center’s “Coming to America” Reading Groups for Public Libraries

The Yiddish Book Center has announced that Shaker Heights Public Library is among twenty-two public libraries from eighteen states selected to receive a grant and to be part of the Center’s “Coming to America” Reading Groups for Public Libraries program. The Yiddish Book Center’s “Coming to America” Reading Groups for Public Libraries is a reading and discussion program to engage teens and adults in thinking about the experience of immigrants encountering America. The “Coming to America” reading groups will introduce libraries and the public to Yiddish literature in translation within the context of the broader experience of immigrants adjusting to life in the United States—a topic as relevant today as it was a hundred years ago.

The program will feature Yiddish literature in translation that explores questions of identity, assimilation, language, cuisine, and generational change, presenting American identity as an ongoing conversation, a give and take between insiders and outsiders. Each library’s reading group will compare works written in Yiddish in the early 20th century to works by contemporary immigrant writers.

Book Talk

7 pm Monday, July 20 via Zoom

Twentieth Century Jewish Immigration and Its Effect on American Life with Dr.  Shari Rubin

Dr. Shari Rabin, Assistant Professor of Religion and Jewish Studies at Oberlin College, will discuss Jewish immigration to the United States around the turn of the 20th century and its ramifications on contemporary American life. The program will be presented online via Zoom; please provide an email address when registering.

Book Discussions

Join in one or all of the “Coming to America” discussions held via Zoom. Please provide an email address to receive login information. Books are available via curbside pickup at the Bertram Woods Library one month before the discussion.

7 pm Wednesday, May 27: Motl the Cantor’s Son by Sholem Aleichem

In this book, the author describes how Jewish immigration to the United States could be circuitous and difficult even before the overseas journey began.


7 pm Wednesday, July 22: Enemies, A Love Story by Isaac Bashevis Singer

Herman Broder, refugee and survivor of the Holocaust, finds himself with three wives: Yadwiga, a Polish woman who sheltered him from the Nazis; Masha, his one true love and Tamara, his first wife who has miraculously returned from the dead. He must navigate a congested New York City while battling a constant sense of dread. Read the book, then borrow the DVD to watch Paul Mazursky’s soulful adaptation of the novel.


7 pm Tuesday, August 25:  A Jewish Refugee Refugee in New York by Kadya Molodovsky

In this fictionalized daily journal, a young Polish woman details her struggles to learn the language and find her place in the New York City immigrant community while worrying about her family back in Poland.


7 pm Wednesday, September 30: The Leavers by Lisa Ko

A young boy must learn to adapt when he is adopted by a white couple after his mother abandons him while his mother must come to terms with the mistakes of her past. Set in New York City and China and told from two perspectives, this story highlights issues of migration, adoption, belonging, and the need to chart one’s own destiny.

Books are available via curbside pickup at the Bertram Woods Library. Since this discussion is being held via Zoom, please provide an email address to receive login information. The “Coming to America” Reading Groups for Public Libraries are sponsored by the Yiddish Book Center, made possible by a gift from Sharon Karmazin.

 


About the Yiddish Book Center

The Yiddish Book Center is a nonprofit organization working to recover, celebrate, and regenerate Yiddish and modern Jewish literature and culture.

The million books recovered by the Yiddish Book Center represent Jews’ first sustained literary and cultural encounters with the modern world. They are a window on the past thousand years of Jewish history, a precursor of modern Jewish writing in English, Hebrew, and other languages, and a springboard for new creativity. Since its founding in 1980, it has launched a wide range of bibliographic, educational, and cultural programs to share these treasures with the wider world.

 In 2014, the Yiddish Book Center was awarded a National Medal for Museums and Libraries, the nation’s highest medal conferred on a museum or library, at a White House ceremony.

 “Coming to America” Reading Groups for Public Libraries is made possible by a gift from Sharon Karmazin