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Recovering Yiddish Culture in Los Angeles

Caroline Luce, Author

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Joseph Shpigelman: What Interests Me in Our Club

"What Interests Me in Our Club (a short letter on this to the editor)" by Yosef Shpigelman [Joseph Spiegelman] 
As appears in Khesbn (The Reckoning), vol. 1 (1946): 31-32.
Translated by Mark L. Smith.
[Translator's note: words underlined were written in English, but with Yiddish letters.]

Distinguished friends of the Editorial Board:

Indeed, because it’s a holiday for us, and indeed, because I am not yet an old member (I nearly said that “I’m still a young member,” but I reminded myself that I am no prima donna . . . ), I ask your permission to express in our celebration book, in a few lines, what interests me in our L.A. Yiddish Culture Club:
I am a person — and I am no exception — who has, praise God, other communal places where I must come to “general meetings,” “committee meetings,” and “ordinary meetings.” . . . But when I come into the club, just walking across the threshold, my soul becomes warm; here, there are no “party-wrangles”; no “passport” is demanded from you, because the club is a nonpartisan institution.
Now, about my enjoyment of our Saturday evenings together: it’s truly a delight for me when our Feygele Panits [Feigele Panitz] sings with such touching sweetness her folksongs, which are also my songs because I am one of the folk; before my eyes is a true oyneg shabes [celebration of Sabbath joy] when our talented Mr. Eliyohu Tenenholts [Elia Tenenholtz] recited a “bit of Sholem Aleichem,” he embodied it so thoroughly that, closing my eyes, I see Sholem Aleichem’s heroes on stage — vividly! And when our “ambassador of good will” comrade Kapilov, regales the group with his “wise sayings,” everyone chokes with hearty laughter; I am always interested to hear our “architect,” comrade Fridland, when he makes an explanation about this person or that, or about himself, and forgets entirely; our modest Perets Hirshbeyn [Peretz Hirschbein] makes a deep impression on me; he speaks to us like a quiet father to his children — with a bit of moralizing and much consolation and hope; I am always overcome with joy when our quiet poet H. Royzenblat reads for us or speaks to us and blinks at us with his soft, blue eyes!
And still others and others who give us pleasure when they take part in our cultural evenings, such as: our Pintshe Berman, Yisroyl Osman [Israel Osman], Bronzviler Stolyer [“Brownsville Joiner,” Ber Grinfeld], Y. Sh. Naumov, H. Gold — and now all of the guests from everywhere who have something to say and come to our club and can say it!
All of this is what interests me in our club. Indeed, and besides this, once I pay my “dues” for the whole year, I have no further payments to make, and I come without charge to all the “evenings” and holidays and, as we never play cards, it costs me nothing . . .
And now that our club, after twenty years in the vicinity, has gathered itself together — wishing it luck — in its own home, a building that should bring honor to all Israel, it truly gives me great pleasure to be one of our family that we call: Los Angeles Yiddish Culture Club.

* * *

From the Editorial Board:
This warm expression from our friend Yoysef Shpigelman regarding our club is also the feeling, we believe, of all of our members, and so is our present celebration of our dedication of the new building.
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