Yiddish at Columbia

Academic Yiddish > Columbia beginnings

Between 1951 and 1952, the Atran Foundation, under the leadership of Frank Atran and the encouragement of Max Weinreich, decided to fund the first endowed professorship of Yiddish at Columbia University. (1)  The announcement was met with tremendous excitement in all of the Yiddish papers, both in the United States and around the world. (2) Uriel Weinreich, who had recently completed his dissertation in Yiddish Linguistics at Columbia, was appointed to the position.

Once at Columbia, Weinreich wasted no time establishing its place as an important university center for the study of Yiddish.  By 1958 he was organizing an international conference on Yiddish in partnership with YIVO, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and City College of New York.  (3) He also set to work on the multi-volume Field of Yiddish (4), which was continued after his untimely death in 1967 by his successor, Marvin Herzog, and others.  By the 1970s, the Yiddish Department was active enough to merit an article in the Columbia College Today. (5). Weinreich’s most monumental legacy at Columbia was the Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry (see LCAAJ section for more details)

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