My Old-New Story about Yiddish and Birobidzhan: Koydervelsh


The UJA Committee for Yiddish Presents the 10th Annual Simcha Simchovitch Yiddish Lecture, dedicated to the memory of Toronto Yiddish poet Simcha Simchovitch (1921-2017)




My Old-New Story about Yiddish and Birobidzhan: Koydervelsh


מײַן אַלט-נײַע מעשֹה וועגן ייִדיש און ביראָבידזשאַן: קוידערוועלש


Recorded live on Zoom, Sunday, August 27, 2023

In this Yiddish-language talk, Ber Kotlerman discusses the role of Yiddish culture and his childhood home, Birobidzhan, in his most recent book, "Koydervelsh." Published by Olniansky Tekst, "Koydervelsh" is an astonishing collection of stories from one of the sharpest pens in contemporary Yiddish literature. 

To purchase the book, please visit the Olniansky Books store on Etsy


Read the English translation by Vivian Felsen of Ber Kotlerman's short story about Birobidzhan, "Benkshaft" / "Longing," at


Ber Kotlerman belongs to the new generation involved in the revival of Yiddish. Currently Professor at Bar-Ilan University, Israel, holding the Sznajderman Chair in Yiddish Culture and Hasidism, he spent his childhood in Birobidzhan, Russian Far East, where his family emigrated after the Holocaust. In the late 1990s to the early 2000s he served as Director for the Association of Yiddish Writers and Journalists in Israel and as the Israeli representative of the New York Yiddish Forverts. Since 1999, he has been a contributor to Yiddish periodicals in the USA, Israel, Poland, and France. Author of three fiction books in Yiddish, he was honored with the Canadian Rosenfeld Award for Yiddish and Hebrew Literature and the Rockower Award of the American Jewish Press Association. His novellas have been translated into English, French, German, Spanish, Swedish, and Dutch.

Birobidzhan writers (from right): Buzi Miller, Dov-Ber Slutski, (behind him) Itsik Bronfman, Lyuba Wasserman, Heshel Rabinkov, Yoysef Kerler, Nokhum Fridman, Salvador Borzhes. Birobidzhan 1949.