an online haven for yiddish mavens


For the Yiddish Book Center (YBC), we created a custom Drupal installation that powers a digital community where users bring new life to Yiddish culture’s rich literary history.

Though Yiddish culture produced an astonishing array of literary works, in the 21st century that output is only accessible to a dwindling number of Yiddish speakers. Translating the thousands of known Yiddish texts would be a herculean task, far beyond the capacity of the few professional Yiddish translators.

The YBC proposed to address that problem by creating an online community where users could upload their Yiddish texts, and collaborate with others worldwide to create & revise translations that did justice to the original work.


The YBC runs on a Drupal backend that is customized to organize the incredible wealth of information housed on the site. On the front end, users can upload PDFs of Yiddish texts along with their suggested translations.

Once a text is in the system, users can view it alongside the latest translation, and revise or comment on the translation as they read. Edits, comments, words, and phrases are each treated as their own custom content type, which allows users to view detailed histories of comments and revisions on each piece, and collaborate with others to evolve the YBC's translations.


The frontend of site, which was created by legendary designer Alexander Isley and his team, presents users with an easy-to-navigate interface for reading and working on translations. 10 Speed Labs developed the wireframes to allow Yiddish and English versions of each text to be presented alongside one another, with the translation rendered in pure HTML and original text shown as a high resolution, zoomable image.

Users can also read comments from previous editors and translators, and leave new comments to explain their own contributions. In this way the YBC pools the expertise of its entire user base to allow collaboration and continual improvement of its translations.