The Yosl Mlotek Prize for Yiddish and Yiddish Culture
Yosl Mlotek Prize Recipients
2010: Aaron Lansky &
Aaron Lansky is
the founder of the National Yiddish Book Center, an organization he created to help salvage Yiddish language publications. When he began
saving books in the early 1980s, most experts believe that there were fewer than 70,000 Yiddish volumes extant. In fact,
he has saved over one million books. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 1989 for his work. He is also the author of Outwitting History (2004), an autobiographical
account of how Lansky saved the Yiddish books of the world, from the 1970s to the present day. It won the 2005 Massachusetts Book Award.
Bryna Wasserman studied at the
Tisch School of Fine Arts (NYU) before working at theatres around the world including the Vivian Beaumont at Lincoln Centre, Mercer Street, Vancouver Opera House, American Place and four seasons at the
Folkesbiene Yiddish Theatre. Among the productions she has directed in Yiddish are Mirele Efros,
The Sages of Chelm, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, The Threepenny Opera, The Dybbuk, and Old Wicked Songs. Ms.
Wasserman instituted a series of exciting initiatives for her 1999-2000 season as head of the SBC, including bringing in Soulpepper,
housing Bill Glassco's new Montreal Young Company at the house, and co-producing with Winnipeg Jewish Theatre. For this,
she received the Montreal English Critics Circle Award for distinction, as well as the award for best production, amateur
or semi-professional for her production of Houdini.
2009: The Klezmatics &
Dr. Barney Zumoff
The Klezmatics are a Grammy Award winning American
neo-klezmer music group based in New York City, who have achieved fame singing in several languages, most notably mixing old
Yiddish tunes with other types of more contemporary music of differing origins. Current members include composers Matt
Darriau, wind instruments, and Frank London, on trumpet, Paul Morrissett playing bass and tsimbl cimbalom, vocalist Lorin
Sklamberg on accordion and Lisa Gutkin on violin. The group formed in NY's East Village in 1986. They have appeared
numerous times on television, including PBS Great Performances series,
with Itzhak Perlman.
Dr. Barney Zumoff is the current vice-president of the
Frorward Association, and a noted leader of The Workmen's Circle and numerous other Yiddish oriented national organizations,
as well as the former Chief Emeritus, division of endocrinology and metabolism at Beth Israel Medical Center. He has
been at the forefront of efforts to sustaing Yiddish as part of the Jewish community's general identity for decades. He is
a published translator of Yiddish poetry and prose, and was a longtime friend and colleague of the late Yosl Mlotek.
2008: Dr. Barbara Kirshenblatt
Gimblett & Theodore Bikel
Dr. Barbara Kirshenblatt Gimblett is University Professor in the Department of Performance
Arts at the Tisch School of the Arts in New York University. She is the award winning author of numerous books that illuminate
the experience of Jews in Eastern Europe between the two World Wars, including the most recent They Called Me Mayer
July: Painted Memories of a Jewish Childhood in Poland before the Holocaust, with Mayer Kirshenblatt (University of California
Press, 2007), and the widely praised bestseller Image Before My Eyes: A Photographic History of Jewish Life in Poland Before
the Holocaust, with Lucjan Dobroszycki (New York: Schocken, reissue 1995). Her books and essays have covered a wide range
of topics, touching on history, and the arts.
Theodore Bikel is a beloved icon of American
and international folk-music, an actor, speaker, and a passionate advocate for multiple causes dear to his heart. Born
in Vienna in 1923, Bikel was raised in a progressive, Yiddish speaking environment. When he was 13 his family moved to Palestine,
where he began an artistic journey that would lead him to the pinnacle of success in theater, film, television, recordings,
concerts, and radio. Theodore Bikel's genre-defining recordings of Yiddish folksongs since the 1950's have contributed
tremendously to their preservation and dissemination.
2007: Dr. Hankus Netsky & Mikhel Baron
Dr. Hankus Netsky is an American klezmer musician,
teacher, composer, and researcher. He is a founding member and director of the Klezmer Conservatory Band as well
as research directory for the Klezmer Conservatory Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to researching and perpetuating
Jewish music. He has collaborated with numerous artists, including Itzhak Perlman, Robin Williams, Joel Grey,
and Theodore Bikel. Netsky is currently an instructor in jazz and contemporary improvisation at
the New England Conservatory in Boston. He holds a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan
University and Bachelors and Masters degrees in composition from New England Conservatory. He has also
taught Yiddish Music at Hebrew College, the New England Conservatory, and Wesleyan University, and
has lectured extensively on the subject in the US and abroad.
Michael (Mikhel) Baron and his lifelong companion, Millie have dedicated
their lives to yiddishkayt and education.
Mikhl was born in Oshmiany (near Vilna, Lithuania). He
studied at the prestigious Vilna Real Gynmasium. After
fleeing Nazi occupation in 1941, Mikhl fought in the Soviet Army and after the war, reunited with his shtetl sweetheart, Millie
Persky, they emigrated to the U.S. in 1949. Since then, Mikhl has served the North American Jewish community as an educator, summer camp director, Yiddish school
teacher, Professor of Jewish Studies at Queens College, and Scholar-in-Residence
at Circle Lodge. Mikhl and Millie’s daughters carry on the family tradition of education and the arts: Ruth teaches
public school, directs WC/AR shuln and inspires generations of children as Music Counselor at Camp KinderRing; Janice teaches
English as a Second Language to sixth graders in the New York City public
school system. Mikhl Baran helped shape the Jewish identities of thousands of young people as Director of The Workmen’s
Circle’s CampYungvelt in Ontario, Canada, the Bund’s Camp Hemshekh and as
longtime Jewish Culture Director of Camp Kinder Ring. For over twenty years he has been the sustaining force behind
the Workmen’s Circle’s Yiddish and Russian-speaking Branches and is known the world over as the voice of Yiddish
radio on The Forward Hour.
2006: Dr. David Roskies & Dr. Eugene Orenstein
Dr. David Roskies is the Sol and Evelyn Henkind Chair
in Yiddish Literature and Culture and a professor of Jewish Literature at The Jewish Theological Seminary. After learning Yiddish in secular schools in Montreal, Roskies was educated at Brandeis University,
where he received his doctorate in 1975. In the 1970s, he lived in the Havurat Shalom, a small egalitarian chavurah
in Somerville, MA, best known as the first such lay-led community in the US. His major focuses of study have been the
Holocaust, the folklore of Ashkenazic Jewry, and Yiddish culture-- writing nine books and receiving numerous awards on such
Dr. Eugene Orenstein is a distinguished professor of Yiddish
and Modern Jewish History at McGill University and a published scholar in the culture of Eastern European Jewry. He has taught
Yiddish language and literature at YIVO, Oxford University, University College, London and at the Centre for the Study of
Jewish Civilization, and Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.