JTS Scholar Receives Prestigious Award for Yiddishlands: A Memoir

Press Contact: Nina Jacobson
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June 1, 2009, New York, NY

Montreal native Dr. David G. Roskies, Sol and Evelyn Henkind Chair in Yiddish Literature and Culture and professor of Jewish Literature at The Jewish Theological Seminary, has won the Abraham and Eve Trapunski Award in the category of Yiddish literature in the 21st annual Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Awards for Yiddishlands: A Memoir (Wayne State University Press, 2008).

Dr. David G. RoskiesSponsored by the Koffler Center for the Arts in Toronto, the Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Awards celebrate excellence in Canadian writing on Jewish themes and subjects.

Yiddishlands lovingly recreates Dr. Roskies' remarkable family saga in a series of lively, irreverent, and interwoven stories and through the medium of Yiddish song. Born after World War II to the sound of his mother, Masha, singing "Az der Rebbe Elimeylekh," Dr. Roskies was raised in Montreal, where his family had fled from Europe in 1940 and where they created a home that was a salon for Yiddish writers, actors, and artists. (A CD of his mother singing accompanies the volume.)

A product of the city's Yiddish schools, Dr. Roskies today is one of the leading American scholars of Yiddish literature and a renowned cultural historian of eastern European Jewry.

A prolific author, editor, and scholar, he has published nine books and received numerous awards. One major focus of his work is the Holocaust. In 1971, Dr. Roskies published Night Words: A Midrash on the Holocaust, one of the first liturgies on the subject ever to appear. Night Words has entered its fifth edition and has been adapted into Hebrew. In 1984, his Against the Apocalypse: Responses to Catastrophe in Modern Jewish Culture won the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize from Phi Beta Kappa and has since been translated into Russian and Hebrew. In 2007, Dr. Roskies served as the J. B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Senior Scholar-in-Residence at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

A second focus of his work has been the folklore of Ashkenazic Jewry. Co-author of The Shtetl Book: An Introduction to East European Jewish Life and Lore, Dr. Roskies was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1985 to study the modern Jewish return to folklore and fantasy, which resulted in The Dybbuk and Other Writings by S. Ansky (Yale, 1992) and A Bridge of Longing: The Lost Art of Yiddish Storytelling (Harvard, 1995).

In 1981 (with Dr. Alan Mintz), Dr. Roskies cofounded Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History, published by Indiana University Press, and has served since 1998 as editor in chief of the New Yiddish Library, published by Yale University Press. He is also a member of the editorial board of the Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization.