The Oyneg Shabes Archive and the Ethos of YIVO
Hosted By: YIVO
In the fall of 1940 the Polish Jewish historian and communal organizer Emanuel Ringelblum convened a meeting to found a secret archive in the Warsaw Ghetto. The archive bore the code name Oyneg Shabes, Yiddish for “Joy of the Sabbath”. Of the 60 people that Ringelblum gathered for the project there were only three survivors.
The Oyneg Shabes reflected to a certain degree the ethos of the YIVO, founded in Vilna in 1925 to promote the interdisciplinary study, in Yiddish, of modern Jewish life in Eastern Europe. Long before the outbreak of World War II Ringelblum and other East European Jewish intellectuals had seen the gathering of documents and archives as a major instrument of nation building and national self-defense. From its very inception the Oyneg Shabes became a major center of cultural resistance. The Germans believed that they would decide how the history of the Jews would be written. The Oyneg Shabes did all it could to thwart this and to ensure that even if its members did not live to see the day of final victory over the Nazis, historians would use Jewish and not just German or Polish sources.
Delivered in Yiddish. Taking place on Zoom.
Part of the 2021 Yiddish Civilization Lecture Series.
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