from the Print Edition

Acknowledgments by Gershon Hundert, Editor in Chief

Acknowledgments by Jeffrey Edelstein, Project Director

Acknowledgments by Gershon Hundert, Editor in Chief

Credit for the original idea of the YIVO Encyclopedia belongs to Ralph Carlson, then special projects editor at Indiana University Press. In 1998, he approached Lisa Epstein, then director of research at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, with the idea of a one-volume encyclopedia of the history and culture of Jews in Eastern Europe. A contract between YIVO and Indiana University Press was signed in October of that year, and Dr. Epstein set about looking for an editor in chief. Several people were approached, and after some starts and stops, Dr. Epstein offered me the position in May 1999. I agreed in principle to accept the assignment provided funding could be assured. To this end the YIVO staff and I prepared an ultimately successful grant application to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany (awarded in March 2001). This freed me to begin recruiting editors and key contributors. I approached the leading figures in all of the various fields of East European Jewish Studies and met with enthusiasm and a heartening willingness to participate on the part of virtually everyone I sought to recruit. At that point, in early 2001, YIVO’s Board of Directors commissioned Professor Gershon Bacon of Bar-Ilan University to report on and evaluate the revised vision of the encyclopedia I was developing, and his positive views and useful suggestions marked a crucial stage in the development of the project.

As I continued to reflect on what this encyclopedia might look like, a number of thorny issues arose and, after signing a formal contract with YIVO in October 2001, I convened a meeting of wise people to help me to think them through in December of that year. I am very grateful to Abraham Ascher, Elisheva Carlebach, Deborah Dash Moore, Jay Harris, Marshall Shulman, Robert Seltzer, Paula Hyman, and Theodore Rabb, who agreed to spend a day discussing these matters and offered many crucially important suggestions. Yosef Haim Yerushalmi could not attend the meeting but spent an hour on the telephone with me, and he too proffered wise advice. It was Robert Seltzer who suggested that I be in touch with Claude Conyers. Mr. Conyers, the outstanding figure in the field of reference publishing in the United States, patiently taught me how to make an encyclopedia. He deserves the credit for whatever is useful and effective in the basic design of the work, which is organized around principal articles that lead the reader to increasingly specialized entries.

After a preliminary meeting in March, a grand two-day meeting of editors, with the participation of Mr. Conyers, was convened at New York University in August 2002. The organizer of that meeting and the first manager of the project was Peggy Hermann. Her intelligence, initiative, and ability to relate to the most, shall we say, unusual professorial personalities, helped significantly to ensure the success of that meeting. Even more important, it was Ms. Hermann who, working at YIVO’s offices, installed the database program for the project, hired the first editorial assistant, and contributed substantially to the development of template forms for contracts, the guide for contributors, and generally the basic framework for the building of the encyclopedia. Moreover, she made important contributions, with help from Roberta Newman, to the preparation of the most important, complicated (and successful) application for support for the project. Our application to the National Endowment for the Humanities was not only funded, but the NEH put it on its Web site as a model for other applicants. Ms. Hermann deserves much credit for this.

The first meeting of editors saw a great many debates on matters of principle and questions of scholarly territory: was X a Yiddish or a Hebrew writer; did principal editorial responsibility for Y belong to the editor for Czech lands or the editor for rabbinics; in what section does Khazaria belong? The debates were extended but amicable and a certain esprit de corps arose among the group—everyone seemed to sense that we were embarking on a project of great significance.

Soon after the editorial meeting, Yale University Press took over the project (and, coincidentally, its editor Jonathan Brent [since July 2009, even more coincidentally, executive director of YIVO] also became a contributor to the encyclopedia). At about the same time, Ms. Hermann decided to return to Denver, and a new project manager had to be found. A national search was conducted and several candidates were interviewed. This was when Fortune smiled on me and on the encyclopedia and we were able to engage the services of none other than Jeffrey Edelstein, who had worked closely with Claude Conyers and had considerable experience in reference publishing. Metaphors like linchpin or keystone come to mind, but it can be said plainly that this project has been brought to completion (on time and on budget) only because of Mr. Edelstein’s skill. He not only saw more than 1,800 articles through a half dozen stages of preparation, kept contact with 450 contributors in 16 countries, and diplomatically elicited cooperation from editors and contributors and persuaded them to submit what was required, but he did it while maintaining an affable personality and with enormous determination and dedication to the success of the encyclopedia. Contributors submitted articles in 10 languages other than English and Jeff oversaw finding and reviewing the work of all the translators. Jeff also met with potential contributors and helped to prepare grant applications. This is his project as much as mine.

The Guide to Using the YIVO Encyclopedia (called Notes on Editorial Style in the online edition) includes thanks to the editorial staff and to the YIVO staff and Board of Directors, to which I would join my own name. I would, though, like to express my gratitude to Carl Rheins, the executive director of YIVO from 1999 to 2009, whose unfailing support of me and my vision of the encyclopedia throughout the years has helped in important ways to protect its integrity. Those who have contributed materially to make the encyclopedia possible are listed in a place of honor on the page facing the title page (the Sponsors page of the website) and we are all very grateful for their support and the trust they expressed in our ability to carry out our plans. I would particularly like to thank Alvin and Leanor Segal and the Alvin Segal Family Foundation because they are my patrons in the Department of Jewish Studies at McGill University and were willing, based on our relationship, to support this project as well.

At the stage when we had assembled a comprehensive list of entries, we again consulted scholars, many of whom have been mentioned here already. At that point, though, we also sought the advice of Professors Samuel Heilman, Derek Penslar, Marsha Rozenblit, and Jerzy Tomaszewski. They all made important suggestions and helpful comments, in addition to enthusiastically endorsing the project as a whole. Thank you! Throughout the project, Professors Sid (Shne’ur) Leiman and Eugene Orenstein have played the role of consultant on a large number of issues and topics. I am very grateful for their help. In these few remaining lines I should like publicly to thank some people who helped the project and me specifically in a variety of ways. These include, in addition to people whom I have already mentioned, Peggy Brill, Professor Myron Echenberg, Professor Lawrence Kaplan, Professor Carlos Fraenkel, Anna Gonshor, Dana Herman, Maayan Lustigman, Jessica Cooperman, Adina Shoulson, Avi Patt, Michal Waldfogel, Nora Tennessen, and special thanks to Leah Schwebel. I also acknowledge the contribution of the late Khayim Beider. He made it possible for Mikhail Krutikov, the editor of the unit devoted to Yiddish literature, as well as several contributors, to utilize his unpublished biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers [see the biographical entry on Beider]. I thank my wife, Ruth, for her sage advice during this entire process and bless her for tolerating my frequent absences abroad during the recruiting stage and in New York during the past several years, and for enduring me talking, worrying, and obsessing almost exclusively about the encyclopedia for these many years. I also thank my children, Daniel Leib (and Dena), Rachel, and Rena, for providing much solace and much-needed distraction. And now, 10 years after it was conceived and in a much grander form, the YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe has become a reality. All of us who have been involved with it are proud of our achievement.

Acknowledgments by Jeffrey Edelstein, Project Director

Not more than two weeks ago, when I had already begun to toss phrases around in my head to express my thanks to my staff here on these pages, a colleague, in passing, gave voice to the precise thought that I kept coming back to. "This may not be the sort of word you would use," she said, "but you are truly blessed when it comes to your staff." She is correct on both counts. Although I have on past projects always prided myself on identifying and hiring talented assistants and other staff, on this project it has often seemed as if the quintessentially perfect, uniquely qualified person for each position has practically fallen out of the sky at the exact moment I needed someone to take on that aspect of the work. I thank them collectively for being a superb team, better than I could have hoped for, and for their spirit and sense of mission in creating and completing this project. The expression of appreciation that follows, however voluminous, cannot possibly do justice to my feelings of gratitude to each of them.

But before there was a project staff, there was the idea of the project. Great credit is therefore due to those at YIVO who, early on, recognized both the potential of such a reference work and its importance for YIVO. Chief among those who had such foresight is YIVO Board Chair Bruce Slovin, without whose support and advocacy the project would not have been the scholarly achievement it is. Mr. Slovin recognized that the original plan for the project, which would have been a far more limited work directed toward a more popular audience, was not adequate, and who urged that the project be as expansive and comprehensive as possible. He then backed up his words with his own generous and ongoing financial support, eventually becoming the encyclopedia's largest donor, whether institutional or individual. I also give my thanks and appreciation to Executive Director Carl Rheins, who has been a consistent defender of the project and who always made it clear that YIVO's resources would be available to us to whatever extent we might be able to make use of them. Both Bruce and Carl understood the significance of such a project, the valuable contribution it could be, and—perhaps most important—that this was something that YIVO should do.

As soon as she learned about the plans for the encyclopedia, Joyce Rappaport expressed her eagerness to join the project, first to her fellow Montrealer Gershon Hundert and then to me; she came on board as copy chief, a decision that, inexplicably to me, she never seemed to regret. Joyce's experience in editing works on Jewish subjects, calmness in the face of an enormous and overwhelming volume of material, and sensible approach to resolving matters of editorial style were the perfect balance to my tendency toward fervor and frenzy. Whenever I wanted to throw up my hands in the face of intractable stylistic problems, Joyce was there, maintaining firm standards and assuring me that we could come up with a solution. Whatever consistency we have managed to achieve in spellings, dates, and translations of titles and terms is largely due to her refusal to be beaten down by the hailstorm of diacritical marks that rained down on us daily. Perhaps most wonderfully, Joyce is as obsessed with quotas, goals, and deadlines as I; we could have completed neither the copyediting nor the compilation of the manuscript for typesetting had she not been willing to double and redouble her efforts to keep the project moving forward on schedule. It has been my real regret that except for occasional time spent working at the project's offices in New York, Joyce was based in Montreal, so that our nearly continual daily communication was mostly via email rather than in person.

Reference works such as this encyclopedia require the talents and skills not only of experienced editors like Joyce, but also of those with specialized knowledge directly relevant to the field. When our work on the manuscripts finally began, I searched for a person (or several people) who had the language skills and familiarity with the literature to perform the essential and difficult task of bibliographic research and styling. I made several unsuccessful early attempts to train people who had the requisite linguistic background, but no one had the knack or compulsiveness to perform the exhaustively thorough research that is often required or, especially, to understand the idiosyncratic rules of styling bibliographic data to create clear and consistent presentation of information. I began to cast my net farther afield, only to find that the ideal person to serve as the project's bibliographer was not only a long-time associate of YIVO, but also, to his misfortune and my delight, unexpectedly available. Yankl Salant offered a mastery of Yiddish, familiarity with Hebrew and Russian, knowledge of the sources available in YIVO's holdings, and a wonkish passion for bibliographic minutiae, transforming often incomplete references to obscure sources into a librarian's delight of clarity and order. With piratical tenacity, Yankl dug deep to unearth a smuggler's treasure of information that one would not have expected to be available or accessible. His cheerfulness during visits to our offices on the way to or from YIVO's Reading Room was always a source of pleasure not only to the project staff but also to the many longtime YIVO staffers and volunteers who were so clearly delighted to see him again.

Like Yankl, Illustrations Editor Roberta Newman had a long association with YIVO in a variety of capacities (including participation in some of the earliest internal planning, technical advice, and grantwriting for this work), yet had become available to work for the encyclopedia on a consulting basis just around the time we needed to begin planning and researching the illustrations program. Without doubt, Roby's in-depth familiarity with YIVO's archival holdings, prior experience in photo research, and general knowledge of Yiddish culture made her uniquely capable of serving as the project's illustrations editor. I cannot imagine anyone else having created the detailed, varied, informative, and beautiful illustrations program that she prepared. Especially impressive to me is the often creative way Roby matched images to articles, finding links between text and art that made it possible to illustrate even the unlikeliest of topics. We have indeed benefited from her specialized knowledge and her tireless pursuit of material from more than 100 outside sources along with the items we were able to use from YIVO's own collections.

Roby received advice and assistance from a number of people who I am pleased to acknowledge and thank on her behalf. Research assistance was provided by Noa Milikowski (Israel), Christina Manetti (Slovakia and Poland), David Graber (Czech Republic), Anca Ciuciu (Romania), and Shoshana Olidort, Edward Portnoy, and Yakov Sklyar (United States). William Gross and Alfred Moldovan generously granted permission to reprint images of numerous artifacts from their renowned Judaica collections. Many of the illustrations used in the encyclopedia were scanned by the Gruss Lipper Digital Laboratory of the Center for Jewish History; we especially thank digitization staff members Tony Gill, Jeff Luckey, and Stanislav Pejsa. Irv Cohen of Not Just Another Pretty Face supplied additional digital scans. Louis Pinzon and Norman Vasquez of the Center's IT Department provided considerable technical assistance. At YIVO, we thank Aviva Astrinsky, Gunner Berg, Jesse Aaron Cohen, Elise Fischer, Krysia Fisher, Leo Greenbaum, Brad Sabin Hill, Herbert Lazarus, Yeshaya Metal, Fruma Mohrer, Lyudmila Sholokhova, and Marek Web. (I add my own further thanks to Yeshaya and Lyudmila for their special help regarding questions related to religion and Hebrew in Yeshaya's case and Ukrainian in Mila's.) Among YIVO's partners at the Center for Jewish History, we thank Frank Mecklenberg and Miriam Intrator of the Leo Baeck Institute and Bonni Dara-Michaels of the Yeshiva University Museum.

To return to my own staff, joining the project as the result of more traditional hiring searches were assistants Julie Draskoczy, Phil Wolgin, and Nadia Kahn. Julie was the project's first assistant, from October 2002 through February 2004. It fell largely to her to turn the editors' planning notes and contributor nominations into a working project database, and then in turn to use the database to generate the hundreds of sets of contributor invitations and contracts that were issued beginning in May 2003. Julie showed particularly laudable initiative in the early months of 2003, during which time she kept the project moving forward despite working on her own, without a supervisor. I will always be grateful that when I arrived, Julie was here to explain where matters stood and how to find my way around the database and project files. Phil Wolgin served for a year, from July 2005 until the following summer; aside from his general administrative duties, most of which were centered around processing incoming manuscripts and urging overdue contributors to submit their work, Phil took on the challenge of researching and preparing sketches and spelling lists for most of the project's program of maps. Phil's commitment to historical research and his appreciation and enjoyment of YIVO's working culture made him a wonderful colleague for me as well as the rest of the staff. Having had a postundergraduate taste of working life, both Julie and Phil returned to school to pursue graduate studies, Julie in Slavic literature and Phil in U.S. immigration history; both are bright and talented, and all of YIVO wishes them well and looks forward to hearing of their success in academia.

Senior Editorial Assistant Nadia Kahn first arrived in the spring of 2004, succeeding Julie. After spending the 2005–2006 academic year in Israel, she returned, it having been yet another great stroke of fortune for me that at the precise moment I would have needed to find a successor to Phil, Nadia was once again available. In fact, I had never completely let go of her in the interim, having employed her as the project's occasional onsite collection agency to dun our Israeli contributors. Nadia's intelligence and devotion to scholarship, her thorough knowledge of Jewish law and religious literature, and her excellent command of written and spoken Hebrew have made her an essential member of the project team, and I have come to rely on her utterly. Efficient, diligent, professional, reliable, patient, uncomplaining, winsome—adjectives and my thesaurus fail me; simply, she's a pleasure to work with. I take undeserved pride in Nadia's achievements, and I am grateful for the contribution she has made and knowledge she has brought to the work along with her sense of devotion to the project and willingness to put up with me.

Part-time assistant Shoshana Olidort also came to us out of the blue, and much to our benefit. Her inquiry about the possibility of some sort of position or internship on the project arrived just as the volume and pace of work began to reach critical levels, and we were quickly able to set her to any number of tasks, large and small, including illustrations research and preparation of the Synoptic Outline of Contents that appears in the encyclopedia's end matter. Shoshana's knowledge of Yiddish and Hebrew and of yidishkayt meant that she was far more than the extra pair of hands we might have found had she not approached us when she did.

At a particularly difficult moment in the course of our work, graphic designer extraordinaire Joan Greenfield rescued me, creating an intelligent and elegant interior text page design and a stunning title page. As so often in the past, Joan's powers of good design helped me to regain perspective, equilibrium, and a sense of proportion. She later endured endless rounds of minor revisions and additions of unanticipated graphic elements, and created the beautiful layouts for the color inserts. Joan has earned, in my estimation, a minimum of two points extra space between head and halo.

Briefly, but with no less appreciation, I thank Chris Brackley and Byron Moldofsky of the University of Toronto Cartography Laboratory. They prepared attractive, informative maps from our rough and occasionally confused sketches; most laudable is that during the course of their work, they raised extremely intelligent and pertinent questions that yielded more accurate, consistent results. At Yale University Press, Director of Production Christina Coffin's efficient, matter-of-fact style helped to move mountains of material quickly and without delay, enabling us to make up for our initially glacial start-up of the typesetting stage; I thank her for her professionalism and collegiality. I also thank Technologies 'N Typography, especially Ken Krugh, for the high quality of its typesetting and page make-up, all accomplished at top speed.

If I had said a secret word and a duck had fallen on my head, I could not have been luckier than to have as a resource my colleague Paul Glasser, associate dean of YIVO's Max Weinreich Center. Paul uncomplainingly endured countless daily interruptions with questions from me and my entire staff on matters large and minuscule, providing general advice along with the nitty-gritty of correct spellings of personal names and place names, titles of works, and common terms (whether Yiddish romanizations, proper Polish diacritical marks, or Ukrainian vs. Russian forms); linguistic etymologies; and help in locating cities and towns on maps and in gazetteers. Paul often took it upon himself to go to the Reading Room to look up an answer for us instantly, despite whatever inconvenience it might have been to him at that particular moment. Even more valuable to me than Paul's vast, far-ranging scholarly knowledge is his friendship. Whether we are trading unreconstructed political rants, the stalest of old jokes, or lines from movies (his ability to quote at will from the Marxist oeuvre is remarkable) or comedy routines, having Paul a few doors away is a large part of what has made working on this project an always enjoyable experience for me. He is a rare asset among YIVO's many treasures, and I confer upon him the title uber-mentsh.

With an editorial board of more than 30 and a contributor pool that surpasses 450, it would not be possible to give individual thanks to all those who deserve special mention. I hope that I have properly thanked them in the course of our work together. I am grateful to those members of the editorial board who took their duties seriously and were diligent and tireless in their efforts to keep pace with the work and to provide detailed, useful manuscript reviews. Several of them had especially heavy burdens, yet never let us down or held us up. It is an unfortunate rule in encyclopedia work that because I have more cause to communicate with them, I get to know the contributors who are overdue or whose work presents special problems far better than the majority, those who do a good job from the outset. So I take this opportunity to give special thanks to those who delivered their work on time, who were willing to take on additional assignments, and who understood the sort of article we wanted them to write. Among the editors and contributors, I single out for special thanks Alice Nakhimovsky, who wore more hats than anyone else, serving as editor for Russian literature, contributor of many articles, translator of all articles in her unit that were submitted in Russian, and even as an occasional copy editor. She also provided materials and helpful advice to Roberta Newman regarding illustration of Russian subjects. Alice was engaged, interested, and involved to a degree that no other editorial board member was; most important to me is that she was my willing ear and supportive friend, especially during the Height of Insanity phase of our work.

I could not have pushed so forcefully, worked so hard, or made such an effort if I had not always been doing so with the knowledge that at the top of the project, working equally hard, was Gershon Hundert. Though he may not always have relished the role, Gershon was a model editor in chief, among the best I have worked with. Careful, thoughtful, and responsive, Gershon was quick to provide answers, resolve problems, and make decisions. His thorough and detailed yet always timely review of all of the manuscripts, which included reconciliation of comments and corrections from the several reviewers of each article, was especially impressive. Testifying to his attention to the work is that in trafficking back and forth more than 1,800 manuscripts, many in multiple copies from separate reviewers, not one item was misplaced or slipped through the cracks. Knowing that I enjoyed Gershon's full support and respect gave me the freedom to pursue the project's goals unhesitatingly and with the firmest resolve. It has been my great honor to support him in the creation of this work.

Finally, I have never had a formal opportunity to thank him in this way before, so I cannot but mention Claude Conyers, mentor, friend, and (not only in my view) dean of U.S. reference publishers. Either directly or indirectly, I learned everything I know about reference editing and project management from him. From the insistence on the highest quality to general editorial style decisions and administrative procedures and even down to the phrasing of passages in standard form letters, all are based on the systems and guidelines that he developed, and I cannot claim them as my own. More particularly, it was Claude who first informed me of the existence of this project and suggested—knowing full well that I would be unable to resist—that it might interest me. I owe him a tremendous debt of thanks; my role on this or any other such project would not exist in this form if not for him.