Stories by Yiddish-Speaking Immigrants, with Vardit Lightstone

The UJA Committee for Yiddish and the Ontario Jewish Archives Present A Canadian Jewish Heritage Month Lecture with Vardit Lightstone

“Why wear fur at the end of May?”: Stories by Yiddish-Speaking Immigrants of Their Arrival in Canada (1890-1930)


"צו װאָס ענדע מאַי אַ פּעלץ?": דערצײלונגען פֿון ײִדיש-רעדנדיקע אימיגראַנטן אין קאַנאַדע (1890-1930)

During the late 1800s and early 1900s thousands of Yiddish-speaking Jews arrived in Canada as part of the Great Migration of Jews from Eastern Europe, unprepared for the range of new experiences they would face. This talk will explore their first impressions of Canada as presented in their own personal Yiddish narratives:  the struggles of migration, as well as the creativity, strength of spirit, and humour with which these Eastern European Jews faced them. The material included in this talk is from published and archival writings, including from the collections housed in the Ontario Jewish Archives.

This program is in English and Yiddish.

Recorded Live on Zoom from Jerusalem and Toronto, May 2, 2021, 1pm ET.


Resources: Many of the published works mentioned in this talk are available for download in the original Yiddish from the National Yiddish Book Center. Several have also been published in English translation. The Yiddish works cited are:

Vardit Lightstone is a doctoral candidate in a collaborative program between the University of Toronto and Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The working title of her dissertation is "Performing Immigrant Identity: Canadian Yiddish Life Stories".  In 2020, her article entitled “Becoming Canadian: Folk literary innovation in the memoirs of Yiddish speaking immigrants to Canada”, appeared in Canadian Jewish Studies, vol. 29.  Her doctoral research this year is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, and the Canadian Friends of Hebrew University.