Yiddish Poetry Wins First Prize at International Children’s Book Fair

The book 'Majn Alef Bejs,' combining 30 Yiddish poems by Jehoszua Kaminski, gets top spot in nonfiction category.


A book on Yiddish published by a Polish Jewish group has won first prize at one of the world’s leading professional fairs for children’s literature.

The book, “Majn Alef Bejs,” was announced this month as the 2014 winner of the first prize in the nonfiction category of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, which will open March 24 in the northern Italian city.

“A stunningly produced alphabet of Yiddish poems, this book instantly united the Jury as the outright winner for the Non-Fiction category,” the jury wrote on the website on the annual book fair.

The book combines approximately 30 Yiddish poems of Jehoszua Kaminski, who was born in 1884, with illustrations by Urszula Palusinska, who was born a century later. Each poem is used in the book to teach readers a single letter of the Yiddish alphabet, which is identical to the Hebrew alphabet.

Each Yiddish poem contains a translation to Polish by translator Wojciech Wilczyk.

The book was produced by the Krakow-based CZULENT Jewish association with funding from three organizations and 50 private donors, according to CZULENT’s Anna Makowka-Kwapisiewicz.

“Yiddish is the language of our grandparents,” she told JTA. “It is totally forgotten in Poland. The book is a tribute to our heritage.”

'Majn Alef Bejs' Yiddish poetry book winnerCredit: CZULENT/JTA images

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