Yiddish Book Center

The Yiddish Book Center is the world's major repository of Yiddish books with a remarkable history:

"In 1980, when he was a 23-year-old graduate student, Aaron Lansky stumbled upon an alarming fact: thousands of priceless Yiddish books – books that had survived Hitler and Stalin – were being discarded and destroyed. As an older generation passed on, their Jewish volumes were often thrown in the trash by children and grandchildren unable to read the language. An entire literature was on the verge of extinction. Lansky issued a public appeal for unwanted and discarded Yiddish books, and Jews from all over America rallied to the call. Soon Lansky and a handful of co-workers were on the road, hauling Jewish books from cellars and attics, synagogues and abandoned buildings. The work of rescue and collection continues to this day.

Originally, scholars estimated there were 70,000 Yiddish books extant and recoverable. The Center saved that number in six months and has gone on to recover one million volumes; the achievement has been hailed as the "the greatest cultural rescue effort in Jewish history." In recent years, the Book Center has developed innovative educational programs that open up these books to new generations of readers, students, and scholars. As the world’s only comprehensive supplier of Yiddish books, the Book Center helped establish Yiddish collections at more than 600 great libraries, including Harvard, Yale, Library of Congress, the British Library, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and national libraries in countries as distant as Australia, China and Japan. In 1998, the Center's Steven Spielberg Digital Yiddish Library made high-quality reprints available on demand. The Center then placed the full texts of 11,000 Yiddish titles online through our Digital Yiddish Library, where they are easily downloaded, free of charge. Yiddish, once the most endangered of literatures, is now the safest and most accessible."

The center also sells duplicates of Yiddish books and offers the crucially important Digital Yiddish Library online.