Hoover Public Library, just south of Birmingham, kicks off four months of activities connected to the Yiddish Book Center’s Stories of Exile program.
The library is one of 29 in the country to receive the grant for a reading and discussion program to engage teens and adults in thinking about experiences of displacement, migration, and diaspora.
Other reading groups in the region include Madison County Public Library System in Canton, Miss., and the Forsyth County Public Library’s Sharon Forks Branch in Cumming, Ga. Facilitators from each library attended a workshop at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts to orient them to Yiddish literature in translation.
Using Yiddish literature as a portal, the program will feature works in translation that explore narratives which grapple with questions of homelands, journeys, identity and belonging. Reading groups compare these works written in Yiddish in the early and mid-20th century to works by contemporary writers from all across the globe.
The Hoover program will discuss three works originally written in Yiddish, and one Alabama-centric young adult novel-in-verse. There will also be a series of programs focusing on themes of displacement and diaspora.
There will be an opening reception on Sept. 5 at 6 p.m., with Rabbi Yossi Friedman from Bais Ariel Chabad in Birmingham discussing the Yiddish language and its history. Olena Vyshyvanyuk will speak about her family’s experience as Ukrainian refugees. She now works as a case manager for Inspirtus. Books for the upcoming Book Club discussions will be available at the opening event. The books are also available through the Hoopla digital app, which is free to Hoover library cardholders.
The book club starts with “On the Landing” by Yenta Mash, Sept. 28 at 6:30 p.m. Ellen Cassedy will present “Women in Exile: What Yenta Mash Can Tell Us.”
On Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m., “In the Land of the Postscript” by Chava Rosenfarb will be featured, with a discussion of her short stories led by Goldie Morgentaler.
“The Glatstein Chronicles” by Jacob Glatstein will be discussed on Nov. 30 at 6:30 p.m. The Yiddish Book Center’s Yankev Glatshteyn will present.
The final book, “African Town: Inspired by the True Story of the Last American Slave Ship,” will be presented on Dec. 19 at 6 p.m., with Alabama author Irene Latham and Atlanta-based actor and author Charles Waters. The book club will discuss the work on Dec. 21 at 6:30 p.m.
The Beyond Words Book Club will also discuss “American Dirt” by Jeanine Cummins, Nov. 2 at 10 a.m.
On Oct. 12 at 6 p.m., there will be an interactive performance about the struggles of refugees moving across the world, “The Empathy Project.” The performance is presented in conjunction with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and their hosting of Little Amal, a 12-foot puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee, currently traveling the country. There will be a live performance of the puppet and local youth dancers at City Walk on Oct. 11.
On Oct. 17 at 6 p.m., there will be a “Writing Memoirs of Exile” workshop led by Miriam Calleja Shaw, formerly of Malta. Registration is required for the workshop.
Professor Janek Wasserman of the University of Alabama will present “European Exile Throughout History” on Nov. 21 at 6 p.m.
The film club will present “Sun Come Up” and “That Which Once Was” on Sept. 17 at 1:30 p.m. “Deli Man,” a documentary about Jewish delis focusing on Ziggy Gruber of Kenny and Ziggy’s in Houston, will be screened on Oct. 15 at 1:30 p.m.
“The Staging Post: The Refugee Education Revolution” will be screened on Nov. 19 at 1:30 p.m., and the film club series will conclude with Netflix’s “Descendent” on Dec. 17 at 1:30 p.m.
The Now Showing group will present “The Visitor” on Sept. 18, “Belfast” on Nov. 20, and “Encanto” on Dec. 18. All screenings are at 2 and 6 p.m.