On Wednesday, February 18th, the Honors Program had the distinct pleasure of hosting alumnus Shaul Seidler-Feller as he presented his Honors thesis work on Yiddishist paleographer and author, Prof. Solomon A. Birnbaum.

Shaul speakingShaul Seidler-Feller (BRGS ’14), an alumnus of the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program, is currently a semikhah student at RIETS and a doctoral student at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Judaism. His research interests include history of Halakhah, history of Orthodoxy, and the interplay between religion, society, and language. An unabashed Yiddish enthusiast and translator, he first studied the language seriously at YU and subsequently made extensive use of it both inside and outside the classroom.

Dr. Sam Gellens introduced Shaul Seidler-Feller and the work he did on his thesis during his time in the Honors Program. Dr. Gellens spoke briefly about Solomon Birnbaum’s family, noting that one of his grandchildren was in the audience.

In his presentation based on his Honors thesis, Seidler-Feller started off by providing some historical background information on the Jews leading to the time of Solomon A Birnbaum, including the evolution of languages between German and Yiddish, and the attempt to create a sense of Jewish nationalism. He mentioned the question of whether Yiddish was a national language or the national language and the conclusion that it was only a national language because of the many Jews that did not speak Yiddish.

He then explained how this background shaped the Birnbaum family, and particularly Solomon, discussing Solomon’s lecturing positions.

At the end, Seidler-Feller opened the floor to the audience for questions.

If you missed the talk, you can download a recording of it here.


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