The lilt of a Yiddish-Irish brogue is not heard often in northeastern Ohio. But thanks to the efforts of Eudice Landy Gilman, we can now connect Jewish Cleveland to the Emerald Isle.
Gilman, 91 — who remembers sitting on the porch of her family’s cottage in Chippewa Lake, Ohio, and listening to her grandmother’s stories about life in Ireland — recently resurrected an artifact from her family’s past, bringing those stories to a much wider audience. Gilman’s grandfather, Hyam (Hyman) Singer, a cantor who left Riga in 1888 and immigrated to Dublin, and then to Chicago in 1901, left behind a journal of writings in Yiddish and Hebrew. The poetry records his memories from Eastern Europe and his transition to life in Ireland. Gilman, a published writer herself, received the journal in the 1960s from her sister after their mother’s death, and she promised to find a translator.
The search was a long one. Local rabbis and scholars declined the challenge of translating the densely written Yiddish text. In a remarkable feat of genealogical tenacity, Gilman turned to family members for assistance and was referred to Pollack-Mniewski Research & Translation, co-run by Forward Association archivist Chana Pollack. Now self-published as “I Will Sing You a Verse,” the journal bears witness to Singer’s experiences as an immigrant Jew and serves as an educational tool for future generations encountering the challenges of immigration.
Gilman's grandfather wrote about tradition and modernity, sufferings of the Jews, and relatives’ weddings.
The Singer family was a part of the immigration that developed the Jewish community in Ireland from the 1880s to the early 1900s. Family lore describes life for the Singer family in Dublin as “one grand spree.” In Dublin, the family located itself in the heart of the Irish-Jewish community, across the street from the Walworth Road Synagogue, today the Irish Jewish Museum. Singer may have served as cantor for the Walworth Road Synagogue. A family photo of Singer in top hat and tails suggests the high style to which the family aspired.
A replica of the journal - the original is too fragile to exhibit - will be on display at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood, Ohio.
Read the complete article and see photographs here.