cover image Yiddishkeit: Jewish Vernacular and the New Land

Yiddishkeit: Jewish Vernacular and the New Land

Harvey Pekar, Paul Buhle, and various. Abrams ComicArts, $29.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8109-9749-3

The term “Yiddishkeit” is open to several interpretations, including “Yiddish culture” and “Yiddish sensibility,” but the concept is too expansive to be fully conveyed with a mere word. The same can be said of this book itself, which is a fascinating and dense examination—mostly in comics format—of Yiddish as a language and culture and how it became inextricably woven into the tapestry of America when it arrived with Jewish immigrants. While it’s impossible to fully explore the breadth and depth of Yiddish literature, performing arts, humor, and its key creators within the confines of a 240-page book, the contributors succeed in providing the very detailed basics in a visually engaging manner, with much of its written content being the final work of the late indie comics scribe Pekar, himself the scion of a Yiddish-speaking household. The art is provided by a number of notables, including Spain Rodriguez, Peter Kuper, and Sharon Rudahl, every bit of it brimming with the charm and flavor of its subject and seamlessly meshing with the text to create a genuinely compelling, scholarly comics experience. (Sept.)