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Yiddish in German: A Cultural History of Translation

Final Report Summary - YIDDISH IN GERMAN (Yiddish in German: A Cultural History of Translation)

With their linguistic affinity and long history of geographical proximity, Yiddish and German, and the interactions between them, present an intriguing and multifaceted case of inter-cultural relations. Throughout the centuries, the encounter between Yiddish and German had far-reaching implications for the development of both cultures, while undergoing important transformations in varying historical contexts. In recent years, the interactions between the Yiddish and other European, especially German, cultures received growing scholarly attention. However, this trend is only just beginning to manifest itself in historical research and important aspects of this topic, such as translations from Yiddish into German and vice versa, still await further research.
The proposed project explores German translations of Yiddish literature, published in the German-speaking world over the period of five centuries: from the mid-sixteenth century, when translations from Yiddish first appeared in print, and up to the present day. Although a historical study in nature, the project also makes extensive use of the insights and methodologies developed in Translation Studies over the past few decades. Going beyond a linguistic analysis to examine the translated works in their historical backgrounds and ideological frameworks, the project uses the cultural phenomenon of German translations from Yiddish as a window into broader mechanisms in German and German-Jewish history throughout the early modern and modern periods. In addition to exploring internal German-Jewish developments, the project also focuses on the interactions between Jews and non-Jews in Germany on the one hand, and between the German Jews and their east-European coreligionists on the other hand.
During the last two years of my project (Sep 2015 – Aug 2017) I was able to make a considerable progress in my research. This resulted in papers I presented at international conferences in Israel and Europe and, even more so, in the publication of four articles in peer-review journals: Zeitschrift für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte 69 (2017), 47-73; Jewish Quarterly Review 107 (2017), 182-208; Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 16 (2017), 1-18; Naharaim – Journal of German-Jewish Literature and Cultural History (forthcoming December 2017). Both my articles and the conference papers I presented are entirely original and innovative. Combining a wide range of primary sources with the tools and insights of various fields of study, they clearly present the wide scope of my project as well as its interdisciplinary nature. In addition, I edited a special section of the journal Naharaim (10 (2016), 169-246), entitled "Yiddish in German and German-Jewish Culture", which includes papers presented at the international workshop I organized in Jerusalem in May 2015, on "Yiddish Culture in Past and Present Scholarship: Histories, Ideologies, Methodologies". I expect the entire project to result in further publications, most notably in a monograph on the topic, on which I am currently working.
I received the CIG when I started my tenure-track position as lecturer (assistant professor) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. I am happy to report that I am currently under evaluation for tenure and promotion (sooner than expected), a process that should be completed by the end of 2017.