Discovering the Mame-Loshn

Robarts Library at the University of Toronto, 1 August – 1 September 2017

Housed in the five glass cases on the ground floor of Robarts Library, from 1 August – 1 September 2017, Discovering the Mame-loshn: The Hidden World of Yiddish at Robarts revealed the impressive and varied collection of Yiddish materials in the University of Toronto library holdings. On display were a selection of excerpts from the Yiddish press, works for and by women, sacred texts in Yiddish translation, historic volumes of Yiddish dictionaries, and some beloved works from Yiddishland’s rich body of literature. 

Over 40 books from the library’s collection were on view, as well as original artifacts, including crumbling, yellowed editions of Der Yidisher Zhurnal, the Toronto Yiddish daily newspaper, a collection of Yiddish wooden typesetter’s blocks, anda rare 1920s Yiddish typewriter belonging to Toronto Yiddish poet (and College Street streetcar conductor) Shimon Nepom, on loan from the Ontario Jewish Archives Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre.

Though installed at a university library at the peak of the summer break, the exhibit drew record numbers of visitors to Robarts. Library staff were astonished. “We’ve never had this much excitement about a student exhibition here before,” said Neelum Haq, Robarts Access Services Associate. “People calling in, lining up at the Information Desk, asking about hours and admission and whether they could bring family members. It got to the point that they’d approach the desk and say, ‘Can you tell me where the – ‘ and we’d point and say, ‘Yiddish exhibit? It’s that way.’”

It was only a small glimpse of the vast Yiddish resources available at the University of Toronto, but it drew enormous attention from both the university community and the public. Due to the overwhelming response the exhibit received, as well as requests for an extension, we have created an online presence for the exhibition here at discoveringyiddish.com. We invite you to explore the exhibit and encourage your questions and comments.