The author, Aaron Lansky, was a graduate student who took a Yiddish language class. At that time, Yiddish was believed to be a dying language. His professor encouraged him to travel to New York to search for some Yiddish books. Aaron was able to track down an assortment of them that someone was throwing out. He realized that if something wasn’t done, soon there wouldn’t be any Yiddish books left in the world. So began Aaron’s adventures as a collector and distributor of Yiddish books.
Working with a small group of like-minded friends, Aaron created the National Yiddish Book Center. They traveled cross-country and around the world to rescue Yiddish books being discarded because their owners were moving from their homes and didn’t have room for them, or the children who inherited the books weren’t able to read them. For each donation of books, they also were showered with an abundance of home-cooked meals and colorful stories. Eventually the group established a permanent library on a New England college campus, where the collection of over one million and a half books is available, some for reference use and some for circulation. An ongoing digitization project will guarantee the perpetuation of these works.