Stories of Exile: Continuing the Conversation on Displacement, Migration and Diaspora

The C.H. Booth Library is proud to be participating in The Yiddish Book Center’s “Stories of Exile” Reading Groups for Public Libraries.

“Stories of Exile” is a reading and discussion program to engage teens and adults in thinking about experiences of displacement, migration, and diaspora. Using the work of Yiddish authors Yenta Mash, Chava Rosenfarb, and Jacob Glatstein as a portal, this  expanded series of programs will explore narratives and stories from across the globe which grapple with questions of homelands, journeys, identity, and belonging. Throughout the months of September, October and November, the expanded series takes the themes of exile, “displacement, migration and diaspora,” and explores what they mean to people of all cultures: to the people of Ukraine, African Americans, the indigenous population of the United States, and beyond. Each program is meant to provide a tangible, knowable example of what is lost when people are displaced, and what is gained when we, as a community, reach out and embrace, value, and care for that story, that life.


Schedule of events:

The remaining Stories of Exile events for November have been rescheduled until January 2024. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please email for more information or to get updates on upcoming events!

Tuesday, September 5 – 1pm in the Gathering Room

Nonfiction Book Club: Outwitting History by Aaron Lasky, 1pm in the Gathering Room

In Out­wit­ting His­to­ry, Aaron Lan­sky, founder of the renowned Nation­al Yid­dish Book Cen­ter, tells his per­son­al sto­ry as a one-man res­cuer of Yid­dish books — and along the way pro­vides an acces­si­ble, infor­ma­tive and deeply engag­ing account of the fate of Yid­dish in America. This event will include a live virtual tour of the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst. MA

The Nonfiction Book Club meets the first Tuesday of each month. All are welcome.

Click here for more information. 

Monday, September 18, 2023 – 5:30pm in the Meeting Room

Descendant – A documentary by Margaret Brown

Descendants of the survivors from the Clotilda celebrate their heritage and take command of their legacy, as the discovery of the remains of the last-known slave ship to arrive in the United States offers them a tangible link to their ancestors.

Thursday, September 28, 2023 – 6pm in the Gathering Room

Stories of Exile Book Club: Yenta Mash’s On the Landing, translated by Ellen Cassedy

In these sixteen stories, available in English for the first time, prize-winning author Yenta Mash traces an arc across continents, across upheavals and regime changes, and across the phases of a woman’s life. Mash’s protagonists are often in transit, poised “on the landing” on their way to or from somewhere else. In imaginative, poignant, and relentlessly honest prose, translated from the Yiddish by Ellen Cassedy, Mash documents the lost world of Jewish Bessarabia, the texture of daily life behind the Iron Curtain in Soviet Moldova, and the challenges of assimilation in Israel. On the Landing opens by inviting us to join a woman making her way through her ruined hometown, recalling the colorful customs of yesteryear—and the night when everything changed. We then travel into the Soviet gulag, accompanying women prisoners into the fearsome forests of Siberia. In postwar Soviet Moldova, we see how the Jewish community rebuilds itself. On the move once more, we join refugees struggling to find their place in Israel. Finally, a late-life romance brings a blossoming of joy.

Reading Resources

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Saturday, October 7, 2023 – 3pm in the Meeting Room

Words from the Front: a play written by Nancy A. Herman & Lynda Sorensen

A story based on a collection of actual text messages, Facebook messages and emails that have been exchanged in real time from the US, Ukraine and Russia.

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Trampled Manuscripts: The Lost Klezmer Music of the An-sky Expeditions
Trampled Manuscripts: The Lost Klezmer Music of the An-sky Expeditions concert connects audiences to a treasure trove of newly-available Ukrainian jewish music from 100 years ago. Led by Klezmer Institute’s Executive Director Christina Crowder, this special concert will premier selections from newly-available tunes being digitized through the Institute’s international community-driven digital humanities project the Kiselgof-Makonovetsky Digital Manuscript Project. The program will introduce you to some of the wonderful characters we encounter in these tattered pages. We will tell their stories through the music they wrote down for themselves, and then passed on to the high-falutin’ strangers from St. Petersburg who came to their shtetl one day in the summer of 1913. This concert has been made possible with support  from The Friends of the C.H. Booth Library.

Thursday, October 26 – 6pm in the Gathering Room

Stories of Exile Book Club: Chava Rosenfarb’s In the Land of the Postscript, translated by Goldie Morgentaler

In these seven stories, survivors of the holocaust play out that tragedy’s last acts. Barukh, in “The Greenhorn”, is a newly arrived immigrant in Montreal and is an oddity for reasons beyond the winter coat he continues to wear long into spring. As a dying request, Amalia, in “Last Love”, asks her husband to find her a young Parisian lover. In “Edgia’s Revenge”, Rella, a former kapo, loses her identity over the course of two decades in Montreal to the woman whose life she spared in the camps. “François” is the account of a crumbling marriage; in it, Leah takes on an imaginary lover. The wife in “Little Red Bird” imagines kidnapping a baby from the nursery in the hospital so that she will be able to love, nurture, and raise a child of her own. These are stories of exile, of life, loss, and love. In Survivors, Chava Rosenfarb takes the Yiddish short story, in the tradition of Isaac Bashevis Singer, and extends it with touches of Philip Roth and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Reading Resources

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The remaining Stories of Exile events for November have been rescheduled until January 2024. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please email for more information or to get updates on upcoming events!

Thursday, November 2 – 7pm at Edmond Town Hall

Ver Vet Blaybn? (Who Will Remain?) – A New Feature-Length Documentary Film from the Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project

The Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project is excited to present Ver Vet Blaybn? (Who Will Remain?) a feature-length documentary film that follows one woman’s journey to understand her grandfather, the Yiddish writer Avrom Sutzkever.

This exclusive Connecticut screening at Edmond Town Hall will feature a live, in-person Q and A with the filmmaker, Christa Whitney.

This event is made possible through the support of The Friends of the C.H. Booth Library

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Thursday, November 16 – 3 pm in the Gathering Room

Why She Writes – A Virtual Afternoon Chat with Joy Harjo, Internationally Renowned Performer, Writer and Poet of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, preceeded by an in-person community discussion of her work.

After an in-person community discussion of her work, United States Poet Laureate and winner of the 2022 Academy of American Poets Leadership Award, Joy Harjo, joins us virtually for a chat about her most recent memoir, Catching the Light and to discuss her rewarding lifetime as a writer and poet.

Click here for morning information and to register

Saturday, January 27  – 2pm in the Meeting Room

A cooking demonstration by Rachel Beth Sayet. 

Rachel Beth Sayet or Akitusut (She Who Reads) is a member of the Mohegan nation. Raised with the spirits of her ancestors, she grew up learning traditional stories and teachings and participating in tribal events.

Through her trainings and passions in history, food and culture, she now gives guest lectures, presentations and cooking demos throughout New England to students of all ages.

More information coming

Monday, November 20, 2023 – 5:30 om in the Meeting Room

Flee a documentary by Jonas Poher Rasmussen 

In FLEE, the Grand Jury Prize winner at this year’s Sundance Festival, filmmaker Jonas Poher Rasmussen tells a poignant story of belonging and the search for identity. Amin’s life has been defined by his past and a secret he’s kept for over 20 years. Forced to leave his home country of Afghanistan as a young child with his mother and siblings, Amin now grapples with how his past will affect his future in Denmark and the life he is building with his soon-to-be husband. Told brilliantly through the use of animation to protect his identity, Amin looks back over his life, opening up for the first time about his past, his trauma, the truth about his family, and his acceptance of his own sexuality.

Thursday, November 3o – 6pm in the Gathering Room 

Stories of Exile Book Club: Jacob Glatstein’s The Glatstein Chronicles, edited by Ruth Wisse, translated by Maier Deshell and Norbert Guterman

In 1934, with World War II on the horizon, writer Jacob Glatstein (1896-1971) traveled from his home in America to his native Poland to visit his dying mother. One of the foremost Yiddish poets of the day, he used his journey as the basis for two highly autobiographical novellas (translated as The Glatstein Chronicles) in which he intertwines childhood memories with observations of growing antisemitism in Europe. Glatstein’s accounts ‘stretch like a tightrope across a chasm’, writes preeminent Yiddish scholar Ruth Wisse in the Introduction. In Book One, “Homeward Bound”, the narrator, Yash, recounts his voyage to his birthplace in Poland and the array of international travelers he meets along the way. Book Two, Homecoming at Twilight, resumes after his mother’s funeral and ends with Yash’s impending return to the United States, a Jew with an American passport who recognizes the ominous history he is traversing.

Reading Resources

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