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Lecture on Isaac Bashevis Singer Slated October 21

Updated on: Feb 3, 2006 @ 10:54:00 am

In celebration of the Isaac Bashevis Singer centenary, the University of Central Florida Libraries and the UCF Judaic Studies program are presenting a program on Singer's life and writing on Thursday, October 21, at 7:30 p.m. in the main library on the Orlando campus, Room 223. Dr. Henry Abramson, associate professor of history and Judaic studies at Florida Atlantic University, will speak on "Singer in the Shtetl, The Shtetl in Singer: The Influence of the East European Jewish Village in the Writings of a Nobel Laureate." The lecture is free and open to the public; however, due to limited seating, advanced registration is requested by Tuesday, October 19, by calling the Libraries at (407) 823-5880.
One of the most famous Yiddish writers of the twentieth century, Isaac Bashevis Singer was the seventh American to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature which he received in 1978. Singer was born in 1904 in Leoncin, Poland. His family struggled through the German occupation of Warsaw during World War I. In 1935, Singer became a writer and proofreader in New York City for the Foverts (The Jewish Daily Forward), a Yiddish newspaper. His experiences of life in a Jewish community as a child, as well as his experiences of life in a nation of Holocaust survivors and postwar Jewish immigrants in America, provided the subject matter for many of his stories. In the 1970s he reached international celebrity and was recognized as the most famous Yiddish writer of the twentieth century. Singer continued to write into the late 1980s, and in March 1986 received an honorary degree from UCF. In 1991, after failing health, he died in Surfside, Florida at the age of 87.
The speaker, Dr. Henry Abramson, received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Toronto. He has held post-doctoral positions at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Cornell University, and was the first westerner to receive a Diploma in Ukrainian Studies from Kiev State University. His publications include A Prayer for the Government: Ukrainians and Jews in Revolutionary Times, 1917-1920 (Harvard, 1999) and The Art of Hatred: Images of Intolerance in Florida Culture (Jewish Museum of Florida, 2001). He was part of the team that produced the award-winning documentary, The Lost Wooden Synagogues of Eastern Europe (FAU, 2000). He has been awarded many prestigious prizes for his teaching and research, including the National Education Association's Excellence in the Academy Award, the FAU Researcher of the Year Award.
The Singer Centennial includes the release of a new three-volume hardcover edition of Singer's collected stories. The UCF Libraries are one of 60 libraries from 32 states to receive the collection through a nationwide competition. Some of the stories in the collection include:
"The Slave," a story about Jews and their struggle in Europe as one ex-slave returns to marry a Christian woman he has fallen in love with;
"Enemies: A Love Story," the story of a Holocaust survivor who finds himself in New York with three wives; and,
"In My Father's Court," a poignant memoir of Singer's childhood and of the world, now gone, that formed him.
The Singer centenary is sponsored by The Library of America and features a multifaceted program of public readings, panels, exhibitions and workshops at cultural institutions nationwide exploring Singer and the immigrant literary experience. This program is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in cooperation with the American Library Association. Further information about the centenary can be found at http://www.ibsinger100.org/.

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