Avi Blitz | Delivered in English.
Arguably the most popular book in the history of Yiddish literature, the Tsenerene (alternative Romanization: Ze’enah U-Re’enah) has been reprinted, both in Yiddish and in translation, 273 times since its appearance in the early seventeenth century. Arranged according to the weekly Torah portion, the book employs fragments of biblical verses in Hebrew to open sections of Yiddish text that may include direct translations, midrashic stories, commentaries, and – less often – interpretations original to the author, Yankev ben Yitskhok Ashkenazi of Janów.
In this talk about the Tsenerene, Dr. Avi Blitz will show how the work’s anthological style accommodates curious combinations of commentary and folklore and he will discuss what the book teaches us about the folk beliefs of early modern Ashkenazi society. Using different editions of the work, he will talk about textual variances and diverse paratextual elements that hint at the various ways the book was read throughout its 400-year history. Finally, he will discuss the idea of the book as a “women’s Bible.”
About the Speaker
Avi Blitz is a graduate of Oxford University and holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from Indiana University. He has taught Hebrew, Yiddish, and Jewish Studies in Europe, Israel, Latin America, and the USA. He teaches Yiddish remotely through the Argentinian branch of YIVO (IWO) in Buenos Aires and works with beginners, intermediate, and advanced students across the Americas.