A book of Yiddish poems published by a Polish Jewish group won first prize at one of the world’s leading professional fairs for children’s literature.
The book, “Majn Alef Bejs,” is the 2014 first prize recipient in the non-fiction category of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, which will open March 24 in Italy.
“A stunningly produced alphabet of Yiddish poems, this book instantly united the jury as the outright winner for the non-fiction category,” the jury wrote on the fair’s website.
The book combines approximately 30 Yiddish poems by Jehoszua Kaminski, who was born in 1884, with illustrations by Urszula Palusinska, an artist born a century later. Each poem teaches readers a single letter of the Yiddish alphabet, which is identical to the Hebrew alphabet. The poems were translated to Polish by Wojciech Wilczyk.
Produced by the Krakow-based CZULENT Jewish association, the book was funded by three organizations and 50 private donors, according to CZULENT’s Anna Makowka-Kwapisiewicz.
“Yiddish is the language of our grandparents,” Makowka-Kwapisiewicz said. “It is totally forgotten in Poland. The book is a tribute to our heritage.”