Mapping Jewish L.A. Exhibit


Recovering Yiddish Culture in Los Angeles

Mapping Jewish L.A. Exhibit, curated by Caroline Luce

“Recovering Yiddish Culture in Los Angeles” aims to apply the digital strategies that have so greatly enhanced the field of Yiddish Studies to recover a long-forgotten body of Yiddish works: those produced by the Yiddish writers and poets who settled in Los Angeles. Published in small batches thousands of miles from the cultural capitols of Europe and the American east coast, these works – nearly 100 books and several dozen periodicals – have received very little scholarly attention.

Yiddish Studies Events 2020-2021

The Blood Libel in Modern Eastern Europe: A Social History

Elissa Bemporad (CUNY) in conversation with Boris Dralyuk (LA Review of Books) and David N. Myers (UCLA)

October 20, 2020

In our latest virtual book talk, Elissa Bemporad (Queens College) discusses her book Legacy of Blood: Jews, Pogroms, and Ritual Murder in the Land of the Soviets (2019) with David N. Myers (UCLA) and Boris Dralyuk (L.A. Review of Books). Together, they consider the per­sis­tence, per­mu­ta­tions, and respons­es to anti­se­mit­ic vio­lence and how ritual murder accusations can be used as a canvas to explore neighborhood sociology, memory, and violence in modern society.

Michael and Irene Ross Lecture in Yiddish Studies

Yiddish Studies Events 2019-2020

Contagion, Culture, and Care

Sunny Yudkoff (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Nayan Shah (USC), and Caroline Luce (UCLA)

June 3, 2020

How do we come to understand and give meaning to epidemics? How do communities respond and give care? This webinar will bring together two scholars whose innovative approaches have advanced our understanding of the history of disease in multiethnic American life – Prof. Nayan Shah, author of Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and Prof. Sunny Yudkoff, author of Tubercular Capital: Illness and the Conditions of Modern Jewish Writing – to explore the resonances of their work in our current moment with host Dr. Caroline Luce (creator of “The White Plague in the City of Angels”).

Yiddish Studies Events 2018-2019

Image (Akers)

Radicals in the Barrio


October 16, 2018

The lecture will cover a comprehensive study of the long and rich history of political radicalism within the Mexican and Chicano working class in the United States. Chacón will place emphasis on the contributions of Mexican radicals, Jews, and other immigrant groups to the labor movement in early 20th century Los Angeles.


Pogrom: Kishinev and the Tilt of History

Steven J. Zipperstein (Stanford)

January 24, 2019
Kishinev’s 1903 pogrom was the first instance in Russian Jewish life where an event received international attention. The riot, leaving 49 dead in an obscure border town, dominated headlines in the western world for weeks. It intruded on Russian-American relations and inspired endeavors as widely contradictory as the Hagannah, the precursor to the Israeli army, the NAACP, and the first version of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” How did this incident come to define so much, and for so long?


The Matter of the Neighbor: Budd Schulberg, James Baldwin, and the Watts Writers Workshop

Dean Franco (Wake Forest College)

February 28, 2019
This talk explores the Watts Writers Workshop, founded in the heart of Watts by Jewish American writer Budd Schulberg immediately after the Watts Rebellion of 1965. To explore Schulberg’s outsider-insider status, it investigates a conversation between Schulberg and James Baldwin, recalibrating what “Jewish” and “black” meant to each other in Watts and beyond.


The Bund in the Borderlands

Caroline Luce (UCLA)

April 18, 2019
In this lecture, Dr. Caroline Luce will offer a preview of her book-in-progress, Yiddish in the Land of Sunshine: Jewish Radicalism, Labor and Culture in Los Angeles, 1900-1950. The book follows a group of young Jewish radicals – most veterans of the Russian Revolution of 1905 – as they moved from the borderlands of the Russian Empire to the borderlands of Southern California and then into the multiethnic “borderhood” of Boyle Heights.

Mickey Ross Program in Yiddish Studies Events 2014-2015


A Bintel Brief: Love and Longing in Old New York

November 13, 2014
The original “A Bintel Brief” (“A Bundle of Letters”) was an advice column for Jews fresh off the boat in The Jewish Daily Forward, a.k.a. The Forverts, a feature regarded by many as the prototype for “Dear Abby.” This seminar will discuss Liana Finck’s new, widely acclaimed graphic novel, A Bintel Brief: Love and Longing in Old New York (Ecco, 2014), which brings a selection of these letters to life and includes an imaginative conversation with the paper’s editor, Abraham Cahan.

Photo (Thissen)

Kol Nidre on Broadway: New Perspectives on the success of the Jazz Singer

May 12, 2015
Based upon extensive research on the marketing and reception of The Jazz Singer, the first “talking picture” and the hit movie of 1927-28, Judith Thissen sheds a different light on its enormous success at the box-office. She positions the Warner Bros. production in the broader context of the commercialization of the High Holidays and the efforts of Broadway picture palaces to attract Jewish holidaymakers by integrating Jewish elements into their shows around Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Yiddish Star Tour


December 8, 2013
Los Angeles was once a center of Yiddish culture, trailing New York in size but not in quality! This special tour visited where the “stars” of Yiddish culture lived and worked, from Boyle Heights to Hollywood. Participants learned how poets, novelists, journalists, and industry insiders developed the local scene and contributed to the flourishing of American and global Yiddish literature. The tour concluded with a performance of classic and original Yiddish Swing Music by Six Points Fellow Tali Tadmor.

Yiddish Star Tour Guides:

Samuel Spinner (Johns Hopkins)
Rob Adler Perkerar (Yiddishkayt)
Karen Wilson (UCLA)
Caroline Luce (UCLA)



UCLA’s First Yiddish Moment: Max Weinreich at UCLA in 1948
By Mark L. Smith

In the summer of 1948, Max Weinreich brought the world of Yiddish culture to UCLA. He was the leading figure in Yiddish scholarship in the postwar period, and the two courses he taught at UCLA appear to be first instance of Jewish Studies at the university. His courses gave new direction to his students’ careers and to the academic study of Yiddish. From these courses there emerged six prominent Yiddish scholars (and at least three marriages) and evidence that Yiddish culture was a subject suitable for American research universities.

Read More (eScholarship)

Archive of the Yiddish Literary Journal Kheshbn


One of the most enduring Yiddish literary journals in the world, 150 issues of Kheshbn (Reckoning) were published by the LA Yiddish Culture Club from 1946 to 2008. Its readership was global, with an international roster of contributors including the greatest literary and intellectual Yiddish luminaries of the day. Contributors included Chaim Grade, Avrum Sutzkever, Aaron Tseitlin, Alex Robin, Abraham Golomb, Melech Ravitch, and Bella Schaechter-Gottesman, just to name a few. Kheshbn also featured the works of LA’s resident prize-winning Yiddish poet, Warsaw-born Moshe Shklar, along with those of budding Yiddish writers. And thanks to the generous support of the UCLA/Mellon Program and CIYCL, Kheshbn will be the first fully digitized Yiddish literary journal available on-line.

View Kheshbn archive