One young man seeks out a unique collection of Yiddish books to preserve them and their lost world.
Growing up, Aaron Lansky remembered the story of his grandmother’s immigration to America. She had just one worn suitcase, filled with books in Yiddish and Sabbath candlesticks—which her brother tossed into the water upon greeting her. It was of the Old World, and she was in the New World. Lansky loved reading but realized that to pursue his interest in Jewish literature he would have to study Yiddish, his grandmother’s language. His search for books in Yiddish led to one rabbi about to bury a pile, which led to years of rescuing books from dumpsters and then building a depository for them and for the thousands of subsequent donations. Lansky visited many of the donors and heard their emotional stories. Now a well-established resource in Amherst, Massachusetts, his Yiddish Book Center is digitized, with free downloads, and conducts educational programs. Macy’s text beautifully and dramatically tells this story while noting the powerful influence of Yiddish writing in the lives of Jews. Innerst’s acrylic and gouache artwork, with the addition of digitized fabric textures, is stunning in its homage to Marc Chagall and its evocation of an Eastern European world that has physically vanished but is alive in these pages of beautifully realized imagery.
For lovers of books and libraries. (afterword by Lansky, author’s note, illustrator’s note, Yiddish glossary, further resources, source notes, photographs) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)