A Co-Presentation of the UJA Committee for Yiddish
and the Israel and Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies at York University
The Rediscovery of Yiddish Women Writers: Frieda Forman in Conversation with Vivian Felsen
After decades of neglect by scholars and readers, Yiddish literature written by women is finally beginning to get its due. Join Frieda Forman, editor of the trail-blazing anthology of Yiddish woman writers Found Treasures, in conversation with Vivian Felsen, award-winning Toronto translator. In this special online talk, they discuss their roles in the rediscovery, translation and publication of Yiddish women’s writing and their efforts on behalf of the future of Yiddish.
Recorded Live on Zoom from Toronto, Sunday, May 7, 2023
Frieda Johles Forman was born in Vienna in 1937 into a Yiddish-speaking family. After the war, she and her parents migrated to the USA. Frieda (Freydl) attended Hebrew Teachers' College in Boston and subsequently taught Hebrew and Jewish Studies. She holds a graduate degree in modern philosophy.
Her move to Canada enabled her to expand her scholarly interests to include women's studies with a subspecialty of Jewish women writers. 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.
Among her published books are Found Treasures: Stories By Yiddish Women Writers (1994), The Exile Book of Yiddish Women Writers (2013), Taking Our Time: Feminist Perspectives on Temporality(1989), and Jewish Refugees in Switzerland During the Holocaust : A memoir of Childhood and History ( 1994)
With a background in modern history, modern languages, and law, Vivian Felsen is a Toronto translator of both French and Yiddish into English. Her published translations from Yiddish include books on Canadian Jewish history, Holocaust memoirs, and short stories by Yiddish women writers, most notably in The Exile Book of Yiddish Women Writers (ed. Frieda Johles Forman, 2013). They have earned her a variety of awards, including the Canadian Jewish Book Award and two J. I. Segal Awards.
In 2018 she was named a Finalist for a Governor General’s Literary Award for her translation from French into English of Jacob Isaac Segal: A Montreal Yiddish Poet and His Milieu (University of Ottawa Press, 2017) by Pierre Anctil.