print | Share: email to a friend share with facebook share with twitter share with LinkedIn share with Pinterest

Yiddish Book Center Museums

adjacent to Hampshire College
1021 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002
(413) 256-4900
Fax: (413) 256-4700
Click to Learn More

about us

The Yiddish Book Center works to rescue Yiddish and other modern Jewish books and open up their content to the world.

In 1980, when he was a 23-year-old graduate student, Aaron Lansky stumbled upon an alarming fact: thousands of priceless Yiddish books - books that had survived Hitler and Stalin - were being discarded and destroyed. As an older generation passed on, their Jewish volumes were often thrown in the trash by children and grandchildren unable to read the language. An entire literature was on the verge of extinction.

Lansky issued a public appeal for unwanted and discarded Yiddish books, and Jews from all over America rallied to the call.

Soon Lansky and a handful of co-workers were on the road, hauling Jewish books from cellars and attics, synagogues and abandoned buildings. The work of rescue and collection continues to this day.

Originally, scholars estimated there were 70,000 Yiddish books extant and recoverable. The Center saved that number in six months and has gone on to recover one million volumes; the achievement has been hailed as the ''the greatest cultural rescue effort in Jewish history.'' In recent years, the Book Center has developed innovative educational programs that open up these books to new generations of readers, students, and scholars.

Our beautiful 37,000-square-foot headquarters in Amherst, Massachusetts is a lebedike velt - a lively world - featuring an open Yiddish book repository, theatres, art galleries, museum exhibitions about Yiddish language and culture, and more.

highlights

  • Over one million Yiddish volumes
  • Educational programs - cook Jewish food, learn Yiddish language and songs, and more
  • Theaters, art galleries, museum exhibitions, and book repository
  • Special events