I collect (American) Judaic lapel buttons.
I have approximately 3000 unique items. Each one represents a different moment in the American Jewish experience.
Periodically I share them here.
My uncle was named after Mendele Mocher Sforim (the “Grandfather of Yiddish literature”). His older brother, my father was always called Nathan or Nate, though he was named Nechemia. I’ve not found anyone on the family tree for whom he was named, and coming from the anti-religious family he did, I’m almost certain that he was not named for the prophet. So while the anniversary of my father’s birth is not for a few weeks, his yahrtzeit coincides with someone who was something of a culture hero of his, whose birth we commemorate this day on the Hebrew calendar: the 29th of Iyyar.
Like my father, Isaac Leib Peretz (May 18, 1852 — 3 April, 1915) was a writer, on the side of “Labor” as opposed to “Capital”, a man who felt close the “the folk”.
Dad died in 1986.
His three children have commented to each other how much he would have appreciated the personal computer and, especially, the World Wide Web. Were it not for the frustrations of a command line interface and limited hard drive storage, he might have seen his own book published in his lifetime. He would often say that “Knowledge is like a web or a net: the more you add to it the more you can catch.”
He would be very concerned about the direction our world is taking… though rather pleased with the election of Barak Obama. In general I believe he would be quite happy (though, perhaps, somewhat surprised) with the developments of his progeny.
In honor of this, the 23rd anniversary of the yahrtzeit of Nathan Hurvitz, coinciding with the 157th anniversary of the birth of I. L. Peretz, this site is renewed and released.
Peretz is probably best known for his enigmatic story “Bontsche the Silent” and the perennially told Yom Kippur story “If Not Higher”. You can hear these two and a few others of his stories read in Yiddish (and download pdf files of the text in Yiddish) here. He wrote a great deal that has now been left to anthologies.
All the photographs I’ve seen of Peretz suggest that he was a warm burly fellow.
Not many of his writings are available in English on the Web. For Rosh haShannah of 5755 (1994), I imagined a meeting of Peretz with Bruria at a coffee shop in Ramona, California in which I shared one of his more politically oriented poems.
Though he seems to be known today only in Yiddishist circles, you can read a couple of interesting articles about him on the Web: I.L. Peretz, Father of the Yiddish Renaissance by Paul Kreingold and Faith & Doubt in the Shtetl; The contributions of I.L. Peretz to Yiddish literature By Payson R. Stevens. I. L. Peretz’s 100 birthday was marked in 1952 with a variety of commemorative activities. It seems that the designation of Peretz Square on the Lower East Side of Manhattan (though it occurred in November) was part of these celebrations.
Where is Peretz Square?
When you get off the 6 subway at Lafayette and Bleeker St. you can see a map (on the far right edge where E 1 ST meets FIRST, at the southeast corner of that intersection)…
…a couple of blocks east of a popular major food market,
…and one block further past Yonah Shimmel’s
…if you blink, you’ll miss it:
The Street Sign at Intersection of 1st St. and Peretz Square near Houston & Orchard Streets.
Only two identifying signs appear on the “square”, one on each side of the narrow strip:
Yes… that’s the park (seen from the east, a tiny wedge about a half block long and at most three meters wide):
There is no bench, but, I paused for an appropriate moment of reading.
A number of lapel buttons were issued at that time in celebration. This is one of them (I’m wearing it in the photo above).
|Text||י. ל. פרץ