This week's Yiddish Voice presents an interview, in Yiddish, with the creator of the recently published Yiddish translation of the first of theHarry Potter book series, Arun ("Arele") Viswanath (אַרעלע ווישוואַנאַט).
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the wildly popular first novel in the Harry Potter series, written by British author J. K. Rowling. The book was first published in 1997. The Yiddish edition, with the title הערי פּאָטער און דער פֿילאָסאָפֿישער שטיין (Harry Potter un der filosofisher shteyn), was published by Olniansky Tekst in 2020 and immediately sold out its first print run. A second printing has since sold out as well. A third printing is planned but delayed due to COVID-19. The publisher web site for information and future purchases is here: https://harrypotter.olniansky.com
Arun “Arele” Schaechter Viswanath is the grandson of the prominent Yiddish linguist and professor Dr. Mordkhe Schaechter. He grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey, in a Yiddish- and Tamil-speaking home. He has stated that his desire to translate Harry Potter grew from a strong feeling that a translation of such a popular children’s novel into Yiddish would be a boon and a resource for Yiddish students and teachers, Yiddish-speaking children and parents, and the Yiddish world more broadly. Arun lived for a time in the Boston area as a Harvard undergrad majoring in linguistics, and he now resides in New York and works in high tech as an operations strategist and data analyst.
Viswanath was interviewed by regular Yiddish Voice contributor Lillian ("Leah") Shporer-Leavitt, who prepared by reading the entire Yiddish translation, having already read every Harry Potter book in the series with her children. Leavitt, a daughter of Shoah survivors, grew up speaking Yiddish and graduated from the Boston Workmen's Circle Yiddish Shule. A former computer business analyst and software trainer, she is an experienced Yiddish teacher and translator, having taught at the Workmen's Circle, Gann Academy of Greater Boston, Boston University Hillel, and Brandeis University. In addition, she has subtitled Yiddish films for the National Center for Jewish Film and translated Yizkor (memorial) books for the Jewish Genealogical Society.
Excerpts of Harry Potter in Yiddish! (and English)
In addition to short readings by Arele Viswanath during the interview, the show presented excerpts of his longer reading of the entire first chapter of this book. The full recording has been produced and made available by the League for Yiddish (ייִד׳יש-ליגע), who received the blessing and permission of author JK Rowling's organization as well as the publisher Olniansky Tekst. The recording is the first in the new League for Yiddish series of audio recordings called געהערט אַ מעשׂה / Have you heard. Our thanks to Arele and the League for Yiddish for letting us use these excerpts on our show. We also played a brief excerpt of Daniel Radcliffe's recent reading the original English version of the same text, available on web here: https://www.wizardingworld.com/chapters/reading-the-boy-who-lived
- Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone movie soundtrack (short excerpts), composed and conducted by John Williams
- Intro instrumental music: DEM HELFANDS TANTS, an instrumental track from the CD Jeff Warschauer: The Singing Waltz
Air Date: April May 6, 2020