News & Events - Press Releases

10. Yiddish Book Center

Press Contact: Nina Foster
(202) 414-0791;

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Left to right: Peter Manseau, Aaron Lansky, Mrs. Obama.

Left to right: Peter Manseau, Aaron Lansky, Mrs. Obama. Click image for a larger view.

The Yiddish Book Center was founded in 1980 by its current president, Aaron Lansky, then a 24 year-old graduate student of Yiddish literature. In the course of his studies Lansky realized that untold number of irreplaceable Yiddish books – the primary tangible legacy of 1,000 years of Jewish life in Eastern Europe – were being discarded by American-born Jews unable to read the language of their own Yiddish-speaking grandparents. Some thirty years later the organization has collected more than a million volumes. It has established and strengthened Yiddish holdings at 600 university and research libraries around the world, and has posted the full texts of 12,000 titles online, making Yiddish one of the most accessible literatures in the world.

Author Peter Manseau benefitted from the work of the institution for nearly twenty years, first as a student and intern, then as a writer and historian. He said, “My work as a novelist would not be possible without the Yiddish Book Center, and in this I am not alone.”

“We are thrilled to accept this award, not only as a recognition of the Yiddish Book Center, but far more important as a tribute to the enduring nature of Yiddish itself,” said Aaron Lansky, founder and president of the Yiddish Book Center. Peter Manseau will travel to Washington and share the impact the Yiddish Book Center has had on his life during the May 8 celebration.

Praise for the Yiddish Book Center:

“Congratulations to the Yiddish Book Center on receiving the 2014 National Medal for Museum and Library Science. The Center's work chronicling the Jewish story and educating families about Yiddish and Jewish culture is outstanding. This award is a well-deserved recognition of the Center's efforts to preserve Yiddish books and literature for future generations.” – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA)

“I am proud to congratulate The Yiddish Book Center on this honor. The Book Center is one of our Commonwealth and our nation’s greatest treasures. The work they do day-in and day-out to preserve this important part of our collective culture is invaluable, and I’m proud to have them in my district.” U.S. Representative Jim McGovern (MA)

"My warmest congratulations to the Yiddish Book Center for this most prestigious of honors recognizing its outstanding service to Massachusetts and the entire nation. The National Media for Museum and Library Science recognizes America’s greatest museums and libraries, and the Center is taking a well-deserved position in this pantheon. The Center’s work in capturing and preserving Jewish culture and history for the education and enjoyment of those in Massachusetts and beyond is inspirational and enlightening. I thank the Center for its service to the community and look forward to it continuing for many years to come.” – U. S. Senator Edward J. Markey (MA)