Friday, November 20, 2015

My new book: Gimpel Beynish the Matchmaker: Yiddish Comic Strips 1912-1914 (in time for Hanukkah!)

This book of 252 Yiddish comic strips from 1912-1914, just published last night, was a detour from my current project...

... which is researching the songs in the American Yiddish Penny Songs collection (202 gorgeous song sheets sold by peddlers on the streets of New York's lower East Side around the turn of the twentieth century) ...

I'm finding their tunes, recording them, and putting them on youtube with English subtitles (I've done more than thirty of them so far): Yiddish vaudeville songs on Youtube.

One of the songs was called "Gimpl Beynish der Shadkhn," and was full of complaints about people using personals ads to find spouses, thereby ruining the matchmaker business.

I found that Gimpl Beynish was a long running and extremely popular comic strip series that ran in a Yiddish paper, the Warheit, in New York in the early part of the twentieth century, and that the "Toybn Post," the personals ad Beynish complained about in the song, ran right next to the Gimpel Beinisch column in the Warheit every day.

I loved the look of the comics. The captions were tiny and hard to read. So somehow I ended up downloading 252 of the comic strips, cleaning them up, translating them, and then (because the Yiddish is so enchanting) RETYPING ALL THE YIDDISH CAPTIONS so they're readable (that's an 85 page PDF file!!)

Gimpel is a driven man. His matchmaking efforts end in disaster, day after day, but he bounces right back up and tries again. There is so much important cultural and linguistic info packed into these unassuming little cartoons, and the drawings are wonderful. Read more about the book and see some examples here:
More about my book of Gimpel Beinish der Shadchen comic strips by Samuel Zagat.

And here's the Gimpel Beynish cartoon complaining that the Toybn Post ("Pigeon Post" - referencing carrier pigeons - but in Yiddish the same word also means dove as in lovey-dovey) is ruining his business. Unmarried people finding each other through newspaper ads! Click on the comic for a larger, clearer view.

The 130 page paperback book is 8-1/2x11 and costs $9.90, order it here:
 Gimpel Beynish the Matchmaker at Createspace.

The digital download version (pdf file) costs $5, order directly from me here:


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