One of Yiddish literature’s most famous poems is to have its story told in a series of four free-to-join English language online talks starting next week.
Moyshe Kulbak, who was born in what is modern-day Belarus, was a prolific writer before he was executed aged 41 on espionage charges during a 1937 Stalinist purge.
Raysn is a poem Kulbak published in 1922 while living in Berlin, its title coming from the Yiddish name given to the territory of Belarus.
Professor Marc Caplan of Dartmouth College will take a Zoom audience through it. The course is organised by Eshkolot, a Moscow-based Jewish educational initiative, which praised Kulbak as “one of the most innovative and original Yiddish writers in the interwar era of literary modernism”.
Raysn is described as a ballad sequence that “defies many expectations for Yiddish literature”. It is set in the countryside rather than the shtetl, its Jewish protagonists a family of farmers rather than Torah scholars or artisans.
“There are few references to traditional religious culture,” said organisers. “The pivotal incident of a Jewish man’s love affair with a non-Jewish woman is passed over seemingly without moral opprobrium.”
• The lectures can be viewed at http://eshkolot.ru
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