What is Mendele?
Mendele is a moderated mailing list dedicated to the lively exchange of views, information, news and just about anything else related to the Yiddish language and Yiddish literature. It is open to all and subscriptions are free. It is not intended for the discussion of Judaism or Jewish culture in general. Mendele, which began circulating among a handful of academics on May 15, 1991, now has about 2000 subscribers, on every continent but Antarctica.
Why the name?
Many visitors, even some subscribers, are unaware that “Mendele” is not something cutesy. Nor is it, as many think, the nom de plume of Sholem-Yankev Abramovitsh (1836-1917), known to all readers of Yiddish as the beloved “Zeyde”, but rather the name of his best known fictional character, Mendele the bookseller. Abramovitch is generally regarded as the founding father of both modern Yiddish and modern Hebrew literature.
A very few ground rules
The prototype of a moderated list is the Letters to the Editor page in any quality newspaper. And, as with newspapers, not everything that is submitted to Mendele gets run. Submitted material must deal with subjects of general interest (no personal mail please) and is subject to minor editorial revision. Messages may be written in transcribed Yiddish or in English. They must be signed and they must have a meaningful “Subject” line.
What we do
Mendele appears when the Editor has sufficient material and time to assemble an issue. In addition we put out a Personal Notices and Announcements issue for notices of Yiddish-related events, commercial offerings, and the like. In April, 1997, we launched The Mendele Review, a literary supplement that was edited by Leonard Prager of Haifa University until his death in 2008. In August, 2002 we added Yiddish Theatre Forum, edited by Joel Berkowitz of the State University of New York at Albany. Subscribers automatically receive all four.
In addition to our regular mailings to subscribers Mendele supports an ever-growing list of stories, poems and essays that are available in Yiddish. These texts have been edited with respect to orthography and reset in large, legible fonts. Some of these can be read and listened to on RealAudio at the same time.
Who we are
Josh Price is the current shames (moderator). Victor Bers and Iosif Vaisman were shamosim beginning in May, 1997. Bers continues as the untershames who attends to subscription requests. The first shames was Noyekh Miller, succeeded by Kalman Weiser (York University) from 2006-2014.