Miriam Hoffman


Miriam Hoffman

Miriam Hoffman is a world-famous scholar of Jewish and Yiddish culture, with a 50-year career that includes 25 years of teaching Yiddish language and Jewish culture at Columbia University. Her many books and weekly newspaper columns in the Forward have been read by thousands, and her 700-page Key to Yiddish textbook is a standard curriculum for Yiddish educators around the world. She’s also a founder of the Joseph Papp Yiddish Theatre and a highly acclaimed playwright, with award-winning works produced internationally. Miriam recently authored A Breed Apart: Reflections of a Young Refugee, an intellectual and emotional journey describing Hoffman’s experience as a young refugee girl growing up in a post-war DP (Displaced Person) refugee camp in Ulm, Germany, after the destruction of World War II.

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Professor Hoffman appears with her son, award winning actor Avi Hoffman.

  • A Breed Apart: Reflections of a Young Refugee, A Multi-Media Event

  • Celebrating Yinglish

  • Amazing Rabbinic Tales - The Shortest Tall Stories

  • Our Yiddish Shakespeares


Books by Miriam Hoffman



Professor Miriam Hoffman’s epic examination of the origins of written language. At Columbia University Professor Hoffman spent decades researching the folklore and legends of the ancient Hebrew and Yiddish alphabets, She entertains and educates her readers with the amazing stories that illuminate our modern languages.

Utilizing the original 1919 artistic serigraphs of Master artist Ben Zion Zuckerman, as well as the colorful Alef Bet of contemporary Judaica artist Michoel Muchnik and additional artistic and related imagery, every letter is examined through its etymology, history and the literary and artistic depictions that surround it.

This is a masterfully enlightening and academic work that provides insight into our modern languages and culture.

From Siberia to Columbia University, this epic tale of war and survival is seen through the eyes of a young Miriam Hoffman and her father, Chaim Schmulewitz, a well-respected columnist of the Yiddish press Undzerweg.

Highly personal and historic, A Breed Apart brings to light the oppression of the Soviet regime, the five-year history of the Displaced Persons Refugee Camps (DP camps) in Germany from 1946 to 1951, the struggles of post–World War II anti-Semitism, and Professor Hoffman’s coming of age in America.

KEY TO YIDDISH aims to introduce the student to the fundamentals of Yiddish language and culture.

It contains idiomatic constructions, dialogue, selected readings, exercises and worksheets, all geared to welcome the student to the world of Yiddish, its history, tradition, customs, rituals, songs and holiday celebrations.