Two years ago, New York tech data analyst and linguist Arun Schaechter Viswanath figured muggles could no longer be deprived of mameloshn and set about translating the first book in the Harry Potter series into Yiddish. But not even the scion of the prominent Schaechter Yiddish dynasty of writers, editors and translators could have anticipated the demand. In February 2020, the first print run of the Yiddish version of JK Rowling’s literary record-breaking tale of a young orphaned wizard sold out within 48 hours.

In conversation with Sholem Aleichem College Yiddish teacher, lifelong Yiddishist and avid Harry Potter fan Dvora Zylberman, Arun helps unravel some of these mysteries. Join us for bisl kishef, a little magic, as we explore how Gryffindor became Goldngrif and Ravenclaw became Robnkrel, why Professors Snape and McGonagall were cast as Litvaks while Dumbledore speaks like a rabbi using Hebrew and Aramaic words, and why Quidditch captain Oliver Wood became Oliver Holtz, but Harry’s friend Neville Longbottom didn’t translate into “langtuchus”.

Proudly co-presented by Kadimah and Shalom: Sydney Jewish Writers’ Festival, this very special free English language event took place on Sunday July 5, 2020 at midday.

Watch the interview here