Honouring Frieda Forman Z"L

In this blog, CFY member Vivian Felsen honours her fellow translator and dear friend Frieda Forman z"l


1937 to 2024


On the morning of June 9, 2024, Frieda Forman passed away.

Frieda was born in Vienna in 1937 to Yiddish-speaking parents. At the beginning of the war, they managed to cross into Switzerland. She recorded her experiences as a child in a Swiss refugee camp in her book Jewish Refugees in Switzerland During the Holocaust: A memoir of Childhood and History, published in 1994.

Arriving with her parents in the U.S. after the war, Frieda Forman was educated in Boston, where she attended Hebrew College and later taught Hebrew and Jewish Studies. Her move to Toronto in 1970 enabled her to expand her scholarly interests to include women's studies with a subspecialty of Jewish women writers. She taught Women’s Studies and Philosophy at the Ontario College of Art, before assuming a position at the University of Toronto. She founded and directed the Women's Educational Resources Centre at OISE/University of Toronto for over two decades. She sharpened her formal Yiddish by attending the Oxford Yiddish Program and Hebrew University.

An ardent feminist, Frieda attended the annual Women’s Studies conferences, and in 1994, she published the book Taking Our Time: Feminist Perspectives of Temporality.

Today, however, she is best known for her role in the rediscovery of Yiddish women writers, in particular as the driving force behind Found Treasures, the first ever anthology of short stories by Yiddish women authors translated into English. At the time of its publication in 1994, it was the only anthology of Yiddish women’s short stories in any language. It was followed in 2013 by a second volume of short stories, also edited by Frieda, entitled The Exile Book of Yiddish Women Writers. Both books were awarded Canadian Jewish Book Awards.

Throughout the time of her final illness she was actively involved in the preparation for publication of the forthcoming volume On the Waves of Destiny: The Selected Writings of Lili Berger to be published later this year by the University of Toronto Press.

She will be greatly missed by her children, her grandchildren, and her wide circle of friends.


Vivian and Frieda recorded a conversation together last May titled "The Rediscovery of Yiddish Women Writers," in which Vivian interviewed Frieda about her life and work, and they discussed the past, present, and future of translating Yididsh women writers. This talk was presented by the Committee for Yiddish and the Israel and Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies at York University.