Kathryn Hellerstein

Kathryn Hellerstein

Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures (Yiddish)Ruth Meltzer Director of the Jewish Studies Program

(215) 898-7103

748 Williams Hall



Kathryn Hellerstein is Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures, specializing in Yiddish, and the Ruth Meltzer Director of the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania.

Her 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. Hellerstein’s translations, poems, and many scholarly articles on Yiddish and Jewish American literature have appeared in journals and anthologies, including American Yiddish Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology (University of California Press, 1986), to which she was a major contributor. Hellerstein has received grants from the NEA, the NEH, and the Guggenheim Foundation, as well as from the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, the Marcus Center at the American Jewish Archives, and the Center for Jewish Studies at Harvard. Her Women Yiddish Poets: An Anthology, is forthcoming from Stanford University Press. Hellerstein is currently writing a book, China through Yiddish Eyes: Cultural Translation in the Twentieth Century. 

In October 2015 Kathryn participated in poetry talks at Penn's Kelly Writer's House. Links to these talks can be found below:




Office Hours
Tuesdays 4:30 - 5:30 pm, and by appointment

Ph.D., Stanford University


Dr. Kathryn Hellerstein is Associate Professor of Germanic Languages at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as the Ruth Meltzer Director of the Jewish Studies Program. A poet, translator, and scholar of Yiddish poetry, Hellerstein received her doctorate from Stanford University.

Research Interests


Yiddish language, Yiddish literature in translation, gender and Jewish literature, Jewish American literature, Jewish film, literary translation, Jews of the American Midwest, China and Jewish Culture

Courses Taught
  • YDSH 101: Beginning Yiddish I
  • YDSH 102: Beginning Yiddish I
  • YDSH 103: Intermediate Yiddish I
  • YDSH 104: Intermediate Yiddish II
  • YDSH 108: Readings in Modern Yiddish Literature
  • GRMN 010: Translating Cultures
  • GRMN 262: Women and Jewish Literature
  • GRMN 265: Yiddish in Eastern Europe


Member of the Jewish Studies Program. Member of the Graduate Groups in Comparative Literature and English. Affiliated with Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies.