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S. L. and Eileen Shneiderman Collection of Yiddish Books

 A Project of the
University of Maryland Libraries and
The Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Studies

In 1996, the celebrated Yiddishist - journalist, poet, essayist - S. L. Shneiderman, passed away, leaving behind a Collection of 395 Yiddish books, nearly half of which bearing the autographs of prominent Yiddish writers from Russia and France, Israel, Canada and the United States. His wife, collaborator, and inspiration, Eileen Shneiderman, graciously donated this collection to the University of Maryland's McKeldin Library in November of 1996. It is this site's goal to make these books known and available to those interested in Yiddish literature and culture on any level: scholarly research, education purposes, or pleasureable reading. However, the very richness of the books could easily overshadow the work and accomplishments of their donors. This site is devoted to the memory of Samuel L. Shneiderman (1906-1996) and Eileen Shneiderman (1908-2005). A symposium in honor of their work took place on April 15, 2007, "Personal Stories: S. L. Shneiderman and the Commemoration of the Holocaust". Video presentations of the conference are available

The Donors

Mr. and Mrs. Shneiderman In my recollection, my parents always worked as a team. I often heard my father dictating in Yiddish, while my mother wrote her mystical shorthand notations. She would re-read sentences while suggesting improvements and he would revise repeatedly, searching for the appropriate phrasing and asking her for names, dates, etc. Then she would repeatedly re-type the text for several passes of cutting and pasting with strips of white and yellow paper covered with handwritten revisions. The final retyping would be with multiple carbon copies to be mailed to papers in New York, Israel, France, Mexico, Argentina, South Africa, or Australia. It was accepted that articles appeared with his byline, but my father did acknowledge the vital partnership with my mother, who, in turn, admired his ability to create a story and find a powerful way to tell it.

The Collection

Here at McKeldin Library, these Yiddish books proudly take their place alongside other Jewish literatures in Hebrew and all the major languages of western civilization. The books in this collection, range from fiction to journalism, from poetry to memoirs, from evocations of the shtetl (small town) to analyses of contemporary Israeli foreign policy. There are autographed volumes from famous poets like A. Sutzkever and J. Glatstein, and Yiddish historians and religious thinkers like Isaac Lewin. To highlight the collection, 10 books have been featured for their particular interest or uniqueness. 

-Ben Shneiderman