Student Spotlight: Sandra Chiritescu, PhD Candidate in Germanic Languages - focus in Yiddish

October 08, 2019
Sandra Chiritescu

Where did you grow up? 

What drew you to your field? 
I was intrigued by the opportunities Yiddish Studies offers to engage with works by major authors and other intellectual figures who remain relatively understudied. Sholem Aleichem, for example, author of Tevye the Dairyman — on which the musical Fiddler on the Roof is based — received a comprehensive, full-length, English-language biography in only 2013. I was also impressed that the Yiddish community extends beyond the academy to include activists and artists working in the Yiddish language.  

How would you explain your current research to someone outside your field? 

I am looking at the relationship between Yiddish and second-wave feminism. First, I am reading short stories and memoirs written in Yiddish by women beginning in the 1970s at the height of second-wave feminism, and asking to what degree they wrote from an implicitly feminist standpoint. Second, I am reading memoirs and essays written in English by Jewish second-wave feminists and considering how they portray their Yiddish-speaking immigrant mothers and negotiate their identity as Jewish feminists.

What Columbia resources or opportunities have been most valuable to you?
I enjoyed my Fellowship in Academic Administration at Columbia University Press, where I worked with Christine Dunbar, the editor of Russian and Asian literature in translation.

Is there a common misconception about a topic in your field that you wish you could correct?
Yiddish is not a dialect of German.

Who in your field do you consider to be a role model?
Irena Klepfisz for her commitment to feminist activism, Yiddish language, poetry, and Holocaust memory.

What music have you been listening to lately?
Kosher Style by Michael Winograd. (I'm on-brand with klezmer music.)

What is your favorite blog or website?

Where is your favorite place to eat on/around campus?
Dig Inn.