Some 1200 delegates have assembled in the Imperial Room of this historic hotel to hear Aaron Lansky, founder of the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Ma., deliver the opening address.
Lansky, who as a young man in his 20s made it a serial habit to go dumpster-diving to rescue discarded Yiddish books, now presides over an extraordinary renaissance of interest in Yiddish literature and culture that he helped to generate.
Whereas once young people stayed away in droves, now the reverse is true as they enrol in academic courses and volunteer to translate some of the many thousands of titles that Lansky and the National Yiddish Book Center has retrieved from the dustbin of history.
Now is not the time for a full report of Lansky’s wonderful talk, which was by turns hilarious, insightful and, yes, inspiring – because my 8:15 session awaits. Suffice it to say that it was a great start to what promises to be a fantastic gathering of the “faithful.” The kinetic energy generated at these conferences is beyond description. This, by the way, is my ninth — I was president of the Toronto Jewish Genealogical Society when we hosted the 1993 conference.
But that’s just a minor achievement. I was talking to Avotaynu publisher Gary Mokotoff at his booth in the market on Sunday afternoon and he told me he had attended 30 of the previous 32 conferences (they used to be called “Summer Seminars”), missing only “the two in London.”
I will try to get a further report in the days ahead. Meanwhile, thanks for visiting! The number of visitors to this site has spiked with more than 1,000 on Sunday! Please email me if you don’t find what you want. ♦