Kathryn Hellerstein

Kathryn Hellerstein

Kathryn Hellerstein


The Jewish Book Council has named University of Pennsylvania professor Kathryn Hellerstein recipient of the 2014 Barbara Dobkin Award for Women’s Studies for her A Question of Tradition: Women Poets in Yiddish, 1586-1987 (Stanford University Press, 2014).

The National Jewish Book Awards highlight the best new English-language Jewish books and their authors in a range of categories.




Kathryn Hellerstein is Associate Professor of Yiddish at in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures and the Ruth Meltzer Director of the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania. Educated at Wellesley and Brandeis (BA), and Stanford (M.A., PhD), Hellerstein is a poet, a literary translator, and a scholar of Yiddish poetry and Jewish American literature.

Hellerstein's new critical study, A Question of Tradition: Women Poets in Yiddish (1586-1987), is published by Stanford University Press (2014).

Her other books include her translation and study of Moyshe-Leyb Halpern's poems, In New York: A Selection, (Jewish Publication Society, 1982), Paper Bridges: Selected Poems of Kadya Molodowsky (Wayne State University Press, 1999), and Jewish American Literature: A Norton Anthology, of which she is co-editor (W. W. Norton, 2001).

She is also a major contributor to American Yiddish Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology (University of California Press, 1986; Stanford, 2007). Her own poems have appeared in journals—Prairie Schooner, Poetry, Tikkun, Bridges, Kerem, Gastronomica, The Drunken Boat—and anthologies—Without a Single Answer, Four Centuries of Jewish Women's Spirituality (1992; 2009), Reading Ruth, and Common Wealth: Poets on Pennsylvania. Her many scholarly articles on Yiddish literature, and most recently, on women poets in Yiddish, are found in a wide variety of journals, anthologies, and encyclopedias. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times Book Review and The New York Review of Books.

Hellerstein has received grants from the NEA, the NEH, and the Guggenheim Foundation, as well as from the American Jewish Archives and the Hadassah Brandeis Institute. She is currently working on an anthology of women Yiddish poets and on a literary history, China Through Yiddish Eyes. She is poetry editor of Kerem and Nashim, and a member of the Authors Guild.

Selected Works

Literary Criticism
Stanford University Press (2014) http://www.sup.org/search/search.cgi?search=Hellerstein&x=8&y=3 A Question of Tradition REVIEWS OF A QUESTION OF TRADITION: 3/8/15 Philadelphia Inquirer, reviewed by Elizabeth Martins: Aside from the alluring treasury of poems this book holds, it is also a magnum opus unto itself. Author Kathryn Hellerstein, professor of Yiddish in the department of Germanic languages and literature at the University of Pennsylvania, worked on it for about 25 years. So it is not surprising that she writes with such powerful authority about poems that seem to be gushing with life. View "NONFICTION" article at http://tablet.olivesoftware.com/Olive/Tablet/PhiladelphiaInquirer/SharedArticle.aspx?href=PHQP%2F2015%2F03%2F08&id=Ar09010 1/15/15 Cleaver Magazine, reviewed by Alyssa Quint: A Question of Tradition ( Kathryn Hellerstein ) was reviewed in Cleaver Magazine 1/13/15. "Women’s Yiddish poetry finally gets its scholarly due from Kathryn Hellerstein, long-time champion of the female Yiddish poetic voice, in her comprehensive and accessible account, A Question of Tradition: Women Poets in Yiddish, 1586–1987 . . . Hellerstein’s book is comprehensive, supplying the biographical details of six important poets’ lives in one volume for the first time. Letters she quotes are revealing. . . . [Hellerstein's] book provides an amplitude to the discussion of these women that was previously denied them. The translations, accurate in meaning and still with the effortlessness of poetic language, capture the urgency of their voices. And Hellerstein’s book lays to rest any question of tradition; it is there: inflected by prayer as the book’s framework suggests, but also colored by difficult lives and a confidence born of their survival."—Alyssa Quint, Cleaver Magazine http://www.cleavermagazine.com/a-question-of-tradition-women-poets-in-yiddish-by-kathryn-hellerstein-reviewed-by-alyssa-quint/ _________________________________________
Poetry Translation
A "wonderful poet" "excellently translated" from Yiddish.
The New Republic
Yiddish poems from Halpern’s 1919 book in English verse translation.
Literature Anthology
The most comprehensive anthology of Jewish American Literature ever published.

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