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Professor Rakmiel Peltz

Dr. Rakmiel Peltz
2004-2005 Miles Lerman Center for the Study of Jewish Resistance Research Fellow

"Language and Identity in Holocaust Survivor Families: A Study of Cultural Survival"

Professional Background

Professor Rakmiel Peltz received a Ph.D., an M.Phil, and an M.A. in linguistics from Columbia University, a Ph.D in biological sciences from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.S. in biology from the City College in New York. During his fellowship at the Museum, Professor Peltz was Director of Judaic Studies and Professor of Sociolinguistics in the Department of Culture and Communication at Drexel University. For his Research Fellowship of the Miles Lerman Center for the Study of Jewish Resistance, Professor Peltz conducted research for his project “Language and Identity in Holocaust Survivor Families: A Study of Cultural Survival.”

Professor Peltz is the author of From Immigrant to Ethnic Culture: American Yiddish in South Philadelphia (Stanford University Press, 1998). He has published dozens of scholarly articles and book chapters on Yiddish and Jewish culture including “Yiddish: A Language Without an Army Regulates Itself” in Germanic Standardizations: Past and Present, Ana Deumert and Wim Vandenbussche, eds. (Benjamins, 2003); “The Politics of Research on Spoken Yiddish” in Politics of Yiddish: Studies in Language, Literature, and Society, Dov-Ber Kerler, ed. (Alta Mira Press, 1998); and “The Undoing of Language Planning from the Vantage of Cultural History: Two Twentieth Century Yiddish Examples” in Undoing and Redoing Corpus Planning, Michael G. Clyne, ed. (Mouton de Gruyter, 1997). He is also a contributing author to The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, George Rhyne and Joeseph L. Wieczynski, eds. (Academic International Press, 1993) and The Penguin International Dictionary of Contemporary Biography, Edward Vernoff and Rima Shore, eds. (Viking, 2001). Professor Peltz is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including fellowships at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Judaic Studies; Columbia University’s Council on the Humanities and Social Sciences; Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture; YIVO’s Max Weinreich Center; American Jewish Archives; and the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, among several others. At the time of his tenure he was a member of the editorial board for the publication YIVO-Bleter.

Fellowship Research

During his residency at the Center, Professor Peltz conducted research for a major book project on pre- and post-Holocaust Yiddish culture. In particular, he examined the usage of Yiddish within the context of Jewish family life on the eve of war, exploring the world of Jewish family relationships and values that were largely destroyed during the Holocaust. His research consisted of a number of ethnographic interviews with Holocaust survivors and an analysis of archival and published ethnographies of youth from the pre-war period.

Professor Peltz was in residence at the Mandel Center from June 1 to December 31, 2005.