Rachel Ertel

Shaped by Yiddish culture from an early age, Rachel Ertel sparked a love of Jewish studies in others through her work as the most respected scholar of Yiddish in France. Ertel’s parents, the poet Moishe Waldman and the novelist Riwa Mirski, moved to France in 1948 and helped nurture the Yiddish cultural scene in Paris. Ertel earned a doctorate in English literature from the Sorbonne in 1978 and became a professor of American literature at the Université Paris-VII Jussieu, where she taught until 2001. There she founded the Center for Jewish-American Studies and began both training Yiddish translators and publishing Yiddish authors in French. In 1982 she published Le Shtetl, a history of the Jewish shtetls in Poland, and she has earned praise for Dans la langue de personne: poésie yiddish de l’anéantissement (In nobody’s language: Yiddish poetry of annihilation, 1993) and Brasier des mots (Furnace of words, 2003). Since 2003 she has served as honorary president of the Yiddish Cultural Center in Paris.


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From an early age, Rachel Ertel took great interest and pride in Yiddish language and literature. Since then, she has strived towards its preservation and revival, becoming France's most distinguished scholar of Yiddish culture.

Institution: Rachel Ertel.

Date of Birth


Professor, Translator

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Rachel Ertel." (Viewed on April 19, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/ertel-rachel>.


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