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Itzik’s Midrash

In the Suburbs

Itzik’s Midrash

Bridging Past and Present through Modern Yiddish Literature

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

In three Wednesday evening sessions, explore one of the greats of Yiddish literature.

May 30, June 6, and June 13, 2018 from 7:00 to 8:30 pm

$30 for all three sessions. 
Register Below

Hilton Garden Inn Chicago North Shore/Evanston
1818 Maple Avenue
Evanston, IL 60201

Chicago YIVO Society

Presented in cooperation with the
Chicago YIVO Society

This mini-course focuses on one of the most beloved and widely read collections of Yiddish poetry in interwar Poland, the Khumesh-lider or Bible poems of Itzik Manger, later re-published as Itzik’s Midrash. Drawing on the traditions of the purim-shpil and the romantic folk ballad, these poems represent secular retellings of the stories of the Matriarchs and Patriarchs of Genesis that transfer these stories to the then-familiar landscape of small-town Eastern Europe.

Taught by Dr. Karen Underhill, this course will explore how pre-WWII Yiddish poets used modern, secular literature to make Jewish texts and traditions relevant to the concerns of secular, 20th-century readers. We will investigate how these texts become a bridge connecting generations.

The first two sessions will feature six poems from Manger’s collection, in English translation. The music of Manger’s original Yiddish verse will also be brought to life by special guest reader and native Yiddish speaker Beverly Chubat.

The third session will feature a panel discussion with members of Chicago’s growing young Yiddishist community. They will share their reflections about the role of Yiddish in the development of a Jewish identity today.

Knowledge of Yiddish is not required.

Karen UnderhillDr. Karen Underhill is Assistant Professor of Polish and Yiddish Literature and Polish Jewish Studies at University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York, and its most active affiliate, the Chicago YIVO Society. She is the founder of Massolit Books & Café in Krakow, Poland, and a Jewish Educational Tour Consultant to the Taube Foundation for the Revival of Jewish Life in Poland.

Beverly Chubat a native of Chicago's Lawndale/Garfield Park neighborhood. She was steeped in Yiddish at the Y. L. Peretz and Workmen's Circle schools and through summers at the well-remembered Workmen's Circle Camp Kinderland in South Haven, Michigan.

Pop-Up Program Series

Yiddish Yesterday and Today

Presented by the Chicago Adult Jewish Learning Initiative, a partnership of local Jewish organizations spearheaded by Spertus Institute and JCC Chicago with funding from the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.

For centuries in Jewish communities in Europe and beyond, Yiddish was a key part of life. Today new generations are fostering a Yiddish renaissance, exploring how Yiddish impacts Jewish culture and their own Jewish lives.

Whether you grew up reading the Forverts or are nu to all things Yiddish, this series offers something for you.

A Bintel Brief: The Dear Abby Column of the Forverts
Thursday, May 10 - 11:00 am
At Oakton Community College in Skokie
Free. Reserve your spot > 

“And now I have to read in Jewish something”: Jeffrey Shandler on Yiddish performances by Holocaust survivors
Tuesday, May 22 - 7:00
At the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie
$10. Reserve your spot > 

Itzik’s Midrash: Bridging Past and Present through Modern Yiddish Literature
Wednesdays, May 30-June 13 - 7:00 pm
At the Hilton Garden Inn in Evanston
$30 for all 3 sessions. Reserve your spot > 

Episodes 1 & 2 from the Israeli TV Series Shtisel: Screening and Discussion
Tuesday, May 29 - 7:00 pm
At the Mayer Kaplan JCC in Skokie
$10. Reserve your spot > 

Sing-along Fiddler on the Roof
Thursday, June 7 - 7:00 pm
At the Skokie Theatre
$10. Reserve your spot >

The Quarrel: Screening and Discussion
Tuesday, June 12 - 7:00 pm
At the Mayer Kaplan JCC in Skokie
$10. Reserve your spot >

Television and Film Screenings (in blue above) presented with JCC Chicago.

Purchase all 3 screenings


  • Chicago Board of Rabbis 
  • Chicago YIVO Society 
  • CJE: Senior Life 
  • Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center 
  • JCC Chicago 
  • Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago 
  • Mordecai M. Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood 
  • Oakton Community College, Jewish Studies Concentration
  • OROT 
  • Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob Synagogue 
  • Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership 
  • Temple Beth Israel