Celebrate Glasgow’s Jewish Book Week with us: 30 November, 5:30pm, Mitchell Library Glasgow

Book Week event eflyerMusic

Abi gezunt (as long as you’re healthy)
music Abe Ellstein, words Molly Picon

Afn pripetchik (by the fireside)
music and words Mark Warshawsky

Bay mir bistu sheyn (to me you’re beautiful)
words and music Sholem Secunda

Chicken soup freylekhs
words and music Stephanie Brickman

Di blayene platn fun roms drukeray (the lead plates of Romm’s Printing House) words Avrom Sutzkever, music Stephanie Brickman

Di Fidlroyz (the Fiddle Rose)
words Avrom Sutzkever, music Stephanie Brickman & Phil Alexander

Luftloshn (Skywriting)
words Ellen Galford, music Stephanie Brickman & Phil Alexander

1937 Book Week

Based on research conducted as part of the AHRC-funded Jewish Lives, Scottish Spaces project, Hannah Holtschneider and Mia Spiro talk about some of the history behind the UK’s first ever Jewish Book Week, and the remarkable role of Glasgow Jewish women in creating this landmark event.

Mitchell Library Yiddish Book Collection

The Mitchell Library has a collection of over 400 Yiddish books, most of which had previously been located in the Gorbals Public Library in Glasgow. In recent years a small group of Yiddishists has created a usable database of its contents. Heather Valencia gives a brief introduction to the collection, touching on problems encountered in attempting to create this bibliography, the range of literature represented and the interesting insights it affords into the lives and reading habits of the Jewish immigrant population of the Gorbals in the first half of the 20th century.


Jeffrey Robinson reads from his book Amenia: A Memoir (2002) – poetry and prose re-creations of a childhood idyll with grandparents in upstate New York, far away from but with precarious reverberations to Holocaust and war. He then discusses an extraordinary anthology of poems and visions of the Jews from Tribal Times to the 1970s: A Big Jewish Book, ed. Jerome Rothenberg (1978). ‘Unlike previous anthologies of Jewish poetry, this collection reaches into areas that have been viewed as “sinister and dangerous”, to explore a tradition rich in powers and contradictions.’

Scottish Jewish Archives Centre

SJAC Director Harvey Kaplan gives a brief introduction to the work of the archive and some of the uses to which its collections have been put. Also on display are books and exhibition materials created and published by the Archives Centre.


Phil Alexander is Research Associate on the Jewish Lives, Scottish Spaces project. His PhD focussed on klezmer and Yiddish music in today’s Berlin, and he is currently researching Scottish cantors of the early 20th century. He is also a busy jazz and world musician, leading the klezmer band Moishe’s Bagel and playing and recording with a large number of UK musicians.

Stephanie Brickman started out singing folk music as a child progressing to singing in all sorts of bands as an adult. It was only in her thirties that an interest in singing jazz led to some training. Discovering Yiddish music brought many threads in her life together as singing in Yiddish makes it possible to sing folk, jazz, musical theatre and tango in the same gig. In 2005 she and Phil Alexander formed the Yiddish Song Project and played many gigs for Jewish and non-Jewish audiences all over the UK performing well known favourites and also new compositions in Yiddish.

Hannah Holtschneider is Senior Lecturer in Jewish Studies at the University of Edinburgh. She is the author of German Protestants Remember the Holocaust (2001), and History and Memory in the Museum (2011), as well as numerous articles. As PI on Jewish Lives, Scottish Spaces she is currently working on a monograph on early twentieth century migration history and the impact of continental rabbis on the relationship between the Chief Rabbi, the London Beth Din and the ‘provinces’.

Harvey L. Kaplan graduated MA in History at the University of Glasgow and is director and co-founder (1987) of the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre. He has contributed numerous articles on Scottish Jewish history and genealogy to journals and magazines, and has lectured nationally and internationally. He contributed a chapter on Scotland to the Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy (2004). His booklet The Gorbals Jewish Community in 1901 was published in 2006 by the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre. In 2013, Harvey was one of the 3-man team who produced Jewish Glasgow – An Illustrated History.

Jeffrey C. Robinson’s most recent work includes: Wordsworth Day by Day: Reading His Work into Poetry Now (2005), a paperback edition of The Walk: Notes on a Romantic Image (2006), Unfettering Poetry: The Fancy in British Romanticism (2006), Poems for the Millennium, Volume Three: The University of California Book of Romantic and Postromantic Poetry co-edited with Jerome Rothenberg (2009, winner American Book Award 2010), Untam’d Wing: Riffs on Romantic Poetry (poems) (2010) and Active Romanticism: Essays on the Continuum of Innovative Poetry from the Late-Eighteenth Century to the Present, co-edited with Julie Carr (2015). He has completed a book on late-Wordsworth poetics seen through his manuscripts. Professor Emeritus at the University of Colorado, he is currently Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow.

Mia Spiro is Lecturer in Jewish Studies at the School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow, and Co-I of Jewish Lives, Scottish Spaces. She is the author of Anti-Nazi Modernism: The Challenges of Resistance in 1930s Fiction (Northwestern UP, 2013) and has published several articles on Jewish representation in literature and film in the period leading up to WWII and the Holocaust. She is currently working on a project, entitled Monsters and Migration: Golems, Vampires, and the Ghosts of War, which examines how elements of the supernatural have been used by modern writers and artists to grapple with oppression, migration, and antisemitism in the first half of the twentieth century.

Heather Valencia is a retired lecturer in German (Stirling University). She has been researching and translating modern Yiddish literature since the 1980s, and teaches Yiddish in Edinburgh. Among other publications she has produced a book of literary texts for students of Yiddish, and her bilingual edition of the poetry of Avrom Sutzkever is due to appear in early December.

JLSS at Book Week Scotland!

As we conclude the first quarter of the third year of our project, we reach another milestone in engaging with the wider public. On St Andrew’s Day we are contributing an event to Book Week Scotland 2017. JLSS and the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre have teamed up with the Mitchell Library, and asked knowledgeable friends and colleagues to participate in a celebration of Glasgow’s Jewish Book Week (of 1937!) in poetry, story and song: http://scottishbooktrust.com/about/events/celebrating-glasgows-jewish-book-week-in-poetry-story-and-song

As you can see at the above link, it is a drop-in event, so no need to book a place. Please come along and discover the amazing story of Britain’s first Jewish Book Week, explore the treasures of the Yiddish book collection in the Mitchell Library with Dr Heather Valencia, enjoy original poetry with Professor Jeffrey Robinson, listen to new Yiddish music by Stephanie Brickman and Phil Alexander, and feast your eyes on the display of unique items from the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre.