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Aaron Lansky of The Yiddish Book Center

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Talk by Aaron Lansky
How We Rescued a Million Yiddish Books and Why They Matter
Aaron Lansky was 24 years old in 1980 when he took what he thought would be a two-year leave of absence from graduate school to rescue unwanted and discarded Yiddish books. At the time, scholars estimated there were just 70,000 Yiddish volumes left to be saved, but Lansky and his young colleagues recovered that number in the first six months and went on to collect more than 1.5 million volumes. Today, the Yiddish Book Center is one of the largest, liveliest, and most optimistic Jewish organizations in America. With insight and humor Stockbridge resident, Aaron Lansky will offer a candid, first-person account of the Yiddish Book Center’s unlikely
story, and ask why Yiddish, once denigrated, sentimentalized, and relegated to obscurity, is speaking louder today than ever before.

Click here for a New York Times article on Aaron and the Yiddish Book Center.

Biography – Aaron Lansky is the founder and president of the Yiddish Book Center, a nonprofit organization working to recover, celebrate, and regenerate Yiddish and modern Jewish literature and culture. Since 1980, Lansky and his colleagues have rescued more than a million Yiddish books, most of which would otherwise have been lost or destroyed. Today, they are bringing old books to new readers through groundbreaking initiatives in digitization, translation, oral history, and education. Aaron holds a B.A. in Jewish History from Hampshire College, an M.A. in East European Jewish Studies from McGill University, and honorary doctorates from Amherst
College, Hebrew Union College, and the State University of New York. He has received numerous awards and recognitions, including a so-called “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation. His bestselling book, Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books, won the Massachusetts Book Award in Nonfiction in 2005. In
2014, the Yiddish Book Center received the National Medal for Museum and Library Service in a White House ceremony.