Saving a Jewish world, one book at a time

A profile of the National Yiddish Book Center from today’s Washington Post:

[NYBC Director Aaron] Lansky created the world’s greatest repository of books in a language spoken and written by 11 million of the world’s Jews until the 1940s, when the Holocaust nearly consumed that culture. The center … houses 120,000 Yiddish titles. Another million or so volumes sit in an old silk mill in Holyoke, where the weight of so much literature causes the support beams to bend. And still the books arrive, 100 on Monday, another 500 on Thursday.

“Early on, I found myself interested less in the details of the Holocaust than by this question: So who were these Jews they wanted to murder? What was this culture they wanted to destroy?” Lansky said. “I discovered in Yiddish the language by which Jews made sense of the modern world.”

Complete article (registration required). Lansky is also the author of the wonderful Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books, which I can’t recommend enough.