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UAlbany Professor Martha Rozett to Lead “Synagogue Scholars” Book Discussion About Saving Millions of Yiddish Books

B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation brings back its “Synagogue Scholars” series with a discussion, led by Professor Emerita Martha Rozett, of Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued Millions of Yiddish Books by Aaron Lansky, the founder and president of the National Yiddish Book Center, Friday, Feb. 25.

The program will begin immediately following the congregation’s 7:30 p.m. Shabbat service at 420 Whitehall Road, Albany, New York.  The service and program, open to all who wish to worship and learn, will be in person and via Zoom.  Masks are required at all times while in the synagogue.  For Zoom link, contact the B’nai Sholom office.

Lansky’s 2004 account of his adventures, which began when he was 23, is a wonderful collection of tales about a rag-tag group of young people who saved Yiddish books from extinction, one trip at a time, with borrowed cars and rented trucks, last-minute phone calls and a growing circle of supporters.  They visited with elderly Jews who had no one to pass their books on to, and in the process forged a community and preserved a history and language that was in danger of being forgotten.  The book is often hilarious, always heartwarming and above all a record of the way the Yiddish language and culture, once thought to be dead, outwitted history by surviving and flourishing.  The National Yiddish Book Center is in Amherst, Massachusetts.

A Shakespeare scholar, Rozett is the author of When People Wrote Letters: A Family Chronicle (The Troy Book Makers, 2011), a story told through family letters and autobiographies about the travels and careers of her mother and great aunt and about a romance threatened by the differences between New England Episcopalians and New York Jews.  Rozett holds a doctorate in English from the University of Michigan.

Begun in 2004, the “Synagogue Scholars” series spotlights individuals in the Capital Region Jewish community who are recognized authorities in their fields.

For more information, visit or contact the B’nai Sholom office: or 518-482-5283.


Celebrating its 50th anniversary, B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation in Albany is a home for contemporary Reform Judaism in the Capital Region.  Nearly 130 diverse households from six counties seek religious, educational and social fulfillment at B’nai Sholom.  For information about B’nai Sholom and the benefits of belonging, visit  or contact the office at 518-482-5283 or

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