Members of the Board of Directors

  • Prof. Elie Assis

    Dean of the Faculty of Jewish Studies
    Chairman - Board of Directors

  • Prof. Benjamin Bar-Tikva

    Department of the Literature of the Jewish People

  • Prof. Yehuda Friedlander

    Department of the Literature of the Jewish People

  • Prof. Dov Ber Kotlerman

    The Rena Costa Center for Yiddish Studies

  • Prof. Zvi Mark

    Department of the Literature of the Jewish People

  • Dr. Tsvi Sadan

    Department of Hebrew and Semitic Languages

Dr. Rena Costa z"l - Founder of the center
7.2.1918 - 5.12.2002

Dr. Rena Costa will always remain in our memory for her remarkable contribution to the revival of the Yiddish language and culture in the academic world, as a memorial for the 6 million Jews annihilated in the Second World War whose native tongue, their "mame-loshn" was Yiddish.

A beloved founding member of the Friends of Bar-Ilan Association and American and World Board of Governors, Dr. Rena Costa has contributed to the development of Yiddish language and higher education and the strengthening of academic education as well as to expanding the Yiddish cultural heritage.

Dr. Rena Costa, who left Europe just before World War II, became a successful member of the diamond industry, where she was known for her integrity and acumen, this at a time when women were shut out from the world of commerce. Even though she always spoke her mind, she had countless friends who appreciated her warm personality.

Prof. Gershon Winer z”l (1922 – 2003) - The first director

The Rena Costa Center of Yiddish Studies was established as a Cathedra in 1983 and was upgraded to the status of a center in 1994.

The Center owes its longtime existence to its first chair, Prof. Gershon Winer, who succeeded in raising funds for its activities throughout the U.S. and Canada. Prof. Winer was born in Widze, Poland. He was eight years old when his family came to Canada and settled in Toronto. He attended there Harbord Collegiate and received a Jewish education at several local Hebrew schools and yeshivot.

He went on to study at Yeshiva College and Columbia University in New York City. He was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1948 and later earned a PhD from Michigan State University.

He served as a congregational rabbi in the United States for 14 years, and was dean and professor of Yiddish literature at the Jewish Teachers Seminary in New York for 10 years prior to making aliyah in 1970.

In Israel, he served as city manager for the town of Dimona and as secretary to the Academy of Hebrew Language. After his retirement as the Yiddish chair at Bar Ilan University, he organized the Yiddish department at the TURO college branch in Moscow, Russia.

Prof. Joseph Bar-El z"l (1930 - 2003) - Past director of the center

Prof. Joseph Bar-El was born in Sulitza, Romania in 1930. He engaged for many years in Jewish education in Winnipeg, Canada, where he directed the Y.L. Peretz elementary school. His academic career included many years as lecturer at Bar-Ilan University, as well as guest lecturer at Oxford University and in New York. In 1989, Prof. Bar-El conducted a seminar in Moscow for Yiddish teachers from the 17 republics of the USSR. A considerable number of his many students have attained advanced degrees (MA and Ph.D.) in Yiddish studies. His principal areas of research dealt with old Yiddish literature and Yiddish folklore. Although his published articles and books in these fields are far too numerous to be listed here, the most prominent of these are mentioned below: A very important dictionary dealing with old Yiddish terminology in Responsa literature of the late Middle Ages. The Rashi Solutions Book, a noteworthy work dealing with foreign words in the renowned commentary. The Book of Raisinkes and Worldly Saying, containing a veritable treasure of folklore articles and sayings. Prof. Bar-El's last book which deals with the poetry of Ya'akov Friedman, in a way completes a circle - Friedman was also a native of Romania, and Bar-El found his poetry very moving.


The Abraham Isaac Lerner Foundation for Yiddish Culture

Abraham Isaac Lerner was born in 1907 in Warsaw and died in London on July 23, 1993. With great love of the Yiddish language and culture, he devoted his entire life to supporting the teaching of Yiddish in schools and universities and in particular to the Rena Costa Center for Yiddish Studies at Bar-Ilan University. The Foundation, headed by Mrs. Ofra Alyagon, has made a substantial donation to the Center. Its income is dedicated to annual Yiddish research grants for M.A. and Ph.D. candidates. In 2003, six Ph.D. students and six MA students benefitted from the Foundation's largesse. In 2004, ten Ph.D. students and six MA students were assisted by the Foundation.

The Morris L. and Emma Schaver Chair for the Study and Enrichment of the Yiddish Language

The late Morris L. Schaver and Emma Schaver were well known throughout the Jewish world. The late Morris L. Schaver was a prominent figure in the Michigan Jewish community. Emma Schaver was known as a successful concert singer whose voice brought consolation to liberated Holocaust survivors when she toured the camps after the war together with the Yiddish poet Leivick. The Chair was endowed to promote the study of Yiddish language and its enrichment. The courses are varied, for beginners and advanced students of Yiddish.

Anna and Dr. Murray z"l Rockowitz Development Program for Teaching Yiddish in Schools

This program, endowed by Anna and the late Dr. Murray Rockowitz for a period of three years to aid teachers of Yiddish in the schools, was inaugurated on May 19, 1999 at the Seminar Library of the Center, where a plaque of appreciation in their name was affixed. Furthermore, a computer currently located in the Yiddish Library on the Bar-Ilan campus was purchased and Internet connections established for the benefit of all scholars, lecturers and students.