In Our Backyard: The S.L. and Eileen Shneiderman Collection of Yiddish Books

Most of the S.L. and Eileen Shneiderman Collection of Yiddish Books is available for public consumption on the 6th floor of McKeldin Library / photo taken by Rachel Mauro

As I journey into my second semester of Library Science school books are naturally on my mind. And studying at a university with a large Jewish Studies program, some of these books are invariably about Judaism.

Many of these texts are secondary sources—scholars who have written about Jewish history, culture, religion and etc. But libraries offer more than just scholarly articles sitting on shelves. Special collections handlers often care for and display primary sources…rare books, historical authors, and important pieces of our collective culture. In this day and age, these collections are often available to the public like never before as they get digitized and put online.

So you don’t even have to set foot on the University of Maryland College Park campus to be able to see part of the S.L. and Eileen Shneiderman Collection of Yiddish Books. Donated in 1996 by Mrs. Shneiderman when her husband passed, the collection consists of 395 international (and often autographed) books in Yiddish that the couple acquired during Mr. Shneiderman’s career as a journalist, poet and essayist. The books, ranging in subject matter from fiction, poetry and memoirs to journalism, shtetl history and Israeli policy, are largely available for public consumption at McKeldin Library. But you can find the full list of translated book titles on the university Web site, as well as a few scanned covers and inscriptions.

Living in a bustling city like Washington, DC with a large Jewish population often means that we’re involved in many forms of public activism. But let’s not forget, too, that we Jews are “the people of the book” with a long and detailed heritage written down for us. These cultural volumes are worth our attention. For more information on where to locate these books, check out the UMD card catalog.

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