Veronica Belling Lectures

From July ’09 Spotlight: South African scholar Veronica Belling will give three presentations here in Chicago this month. On July 7 and July 8, she will speak at the 44th Annual Convention of the Association of Jewish Libraries (meeting this year at the Sheraton Chicago on North Water Street); on July 9, her sponsor is the Chicago YIVO Society.

Tuesday’s AJL session is on Jewish Book Stores, with Belling joined by co-panelist Henry Hollander. Her title is “The End of an Era: Beinkinstadt, Cape Town’s Oldest Jewish Bookstore, Closes Down.” Established by Moshe Beinkinstadt in 1903, his bookstore remained in the hands of descendants for 105 years. Belling told me by e-mail that she will provide a mini-social history of Cape Town’s Jewish community through the prism of Beinkinstadt.

Wednesday’s AJL session is on Yiddish Theatre, with Belling joining co-panelists Zachary Baker and David Chack. Her title is “Yiddish Theater in South Africa.” Belling told me the contents of this presentation will be culled from her recently published monograph Yiddish Theatre in South Africa: a History from the late Nineteenth Century to 1960.

The Thursday program will be at Northbrook Public Library (beginning at 12:15 p.m.). This final appearance will be an extended “solo version” of the Yiddish Theatre presentation above. “Johannesburg and Cape Town were regular stops on the international Yiddish theatre circuit,” she told me, “and amateur groups proliferated throughout the 1920s and 1930s. A revival occurred in the 1950s with the establishment of the South African Yiddish Cultural Federation, and the arrival of Holocaust survivors (actors in search of a stage), and Yiddish theatre continued sporadically in South Africa until as late as 1983.”

To register for the AJL Convention, visit Per diem rates include all sessions for one day plus lunch. All Chicago YIVO’s “Summer Festival of Yiddish Culture” programs are free and open to the public. For more information, visit their new blog:

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