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When Jesus Spoke Yiddish: Translating the Gospels for Jews with Naomi Seidman

  • Jewish Community Library 1835 Ellis Street San Francisco, CA, 94115 United States (map)

Free admission with free garage parking on Pierce Street between Ellis and Eddy streets.

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Among the many translations of the New Testament, those directed at Jews present a particular set of challenges and opportunities. This lecture traces the four-hundred-year history of the Yiddish translation of the New Testament. While early translators, typically Jewish converts to Christianity, kept close to Luther’s German, in the twentieth century Yiddish translations moved toward a more idiomatic, Jewish, and “juicy” Yiddish. Dr. Seidman will explore how and why translators changed their approach, and what this move says about broader trends in modern Jewish culture, Yiddish literary style, and Jewish–Christian relations.


Naomi Seidman is Koret Professor of Jewish Culture at the Graduate Theological Union
in Berkeley. Her books include A Marriage Made in Heaven: The Sexual Politics of Hebrew
and Yiddish; Faithful Renderings: Jewish–Christian Difference and the Politics of Translation; 
and The Marriage Plot, Or, How Jews Fell in Love with Love, and with Literature.


Co-presented by Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring of Northern California, the Center for the Art of Translation, KlezCalifornia, and Lehrhaus Judaica.