Kathryn Hellerstein

Kathryn Hellerstein

Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures (Yiddish)

(215) 898-7103

748 Williams Hall


Kathryn Hellerstein is Professor of Germanic Studies in the Department of Francophone, Italian, and Germanic Studies, specializing in Yiddish.  She has been the Ruth Meltzer Director of the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania since 2016.

She earned her B.A at Brandeis University and her Ph.D. at Stanford University.

Hellerstein’s books include a translation and study of Moyshe-Leyb Halpern's poems, In New York: A Selection, (Jewish Publication Society, 1982), Paper Bridges: Selected Poems of Kadya Molodowsky (Wayne State University Press, 1999), and Jewish American Literature:  A Norton Anthology, of which she is co-editor (W. W. Norton, 2001).  Her monograph, A Question of Tradition:  Women Poets in Yiddish, 1586-1987, won the Barbara Dobkin Prize in Women’s Studies from the Jewish Book Council for the 2014 National Jewish Book Award, and the Modern Language Association 2015 Fenia and Yakov Leviant Prize in Yiddish Studies. She edited the selected essays of Irene Eber, Jews in China: Cultural Conversations, Changing Perceptions (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2020) and co-edited China and Ashkenazic Jewry: Transcultural Encounters (De Gruyter, 2022).

Hellerstein’s translations, poems, essays, and scholarly articles have appeared in a wide variety of journals and anthologies, including, as a major contributor, American Yiddish Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology (University of California Press, 1986). Recent works can be found in Nashim; Studies in American Jewish Literature; American Jewish History; Teaching Jewish American Literature; Times of Mobility: Transnational Literature and Gender in Translation; The American Sonnet: An Anthology of Poems and Essays; Ways of Walking: Essays; and Beyond the Textual: Practices of Translation and Adaptation.

Hellerstein has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Guggenheim Foundation, as well as from the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, the Marcus Center at the American Jewish Archives, the Center for Jewish Studies at Harvard, and the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Works in progress include Women Yiddish Poets: An Anthology; China through Yiddish Eyes: Cultural Translation in the Twentieth Century; The Rosewaters and the Colmans:  Jewish Identity in Two Cleveland Jewish Families (1840-1915); and Jewish Women Poets as Translators: Changing Liturgy and Canon.


Dr. Kathryn Hellerstein is Professor of Germanic Studies (Yiddish) in the Department of Francophone, Italian, and Germanic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Ruth Meltzer Director of the Jewish Studies Program. A poet, translator, and scholar of Yiddish poetry, Hellerstein received her doctorate from Stanford University.


Office Hours
by appointment

Ph.D., Stanford University

Research Interests

Yiddish literature and language; modern Jewish literature; Jewish American literature; gender studies; translation studies and literary translation; film studies, Jews of the American Midwest, China and Jewish Culture.

Courses Taught
  • YDSH 0100/ 5010: Beginning Yiddish I
  • YDSH 0200/5020: Beginning Yiddish II
  • YDSH 0300/5030: Intermediate Yiddish I
  • YDSH 0400/5040: Intermediate Yiddish II
  • YDSH 0550: Readings in Modern Yiddish Literature
  • GRMN 0012: Jews and China
  • GRMN 1100: Women and Jewish Literature
  • GRMN 1110: Jewish American Literature
  • GRMN 1120: Translating Cultures
  • GRMN 1090 / JWST1090 / COML1090 / ENGL1289: Jewish Film and Literature
  • GRMN 265: Yiddish in Eastern Europe
  • YDSH 5090 / GSWS5090 / GRMN5090 / JWST5090 / COML5090 : Topics in Yiddish Literature (Modernist Jewish Poetry; Jewish Women Writers) (graduate seminar)
  • GRMN 5370 / JWST5370 / COML5370 : Translating Literature (graduate seminar) 
Selected Publications



China and Ashkenazic JewryA Question of TraditionPaper BridgesJewish American LiteratureAmerican Yiddish PoetryIn NY


Jewish Studies Program, director and core faculty.

Graduate Groups: Department of Francophone, Italian, and Germanic Studies; Comparative Literature and Theory; Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations; Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies; Cinema and Media Studies; English.