Mlotek, Chana

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MLOTEK, CHANA (1922– ), U.S. musicologist, folklorist, researcher, archivist, and scholar of Yiddish song and culture. Born Eleanor Gordon in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Leo and Bessie Gordon, Mlotek grew up as a native Yiddish speaker in the Bronx. She attended the Yiddish elementary school associated with the Workman's Circle, the Sholem Aleichem Yiddish High School, and Hunter College, receiving a B.A. in French and music in 1946.

Chana became a secretary to Lucy *Davidowicz at yivo in New York in 1944 and then worked for Max *Weinreich. She went to California as Weinreich's secretary and later served as his assistant. In 1948, she studied folklore and linguistics at ucla on a yivo scholarship. Her interest in collecting Yiddishsongs began around that time, and between 1948 and 1961 she worked intensively in this area. Chana married Joseph Mlotek, a teacher and writer of Yiddish musical plays in 1949, and the couple had two sons. Between 1963 and 1966, Chana served as music director of Camp Boiberik, where she created and taught Yiddish musical material for children. In 1968, she and Malke Gottlieb, through the Workman's Circle, published Finf un Tsvantsik Geto Lider ("Twenty-Five Ghetto Songs"), in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Later, she published Mir Zaynen Do: Lider fun di getos un lagern ("We are Here: Songs of the Holocaust," 1983).

In 1970, she and her husband started a column in the Yiddish Forward newspaper, "Perl fun der Yidisher poezye" (Pearls of Yiddish Poetry), about Yiddish songs and poetry. People sent them material and between 1970 and 2000 they published over 2,000 Yiddish songs in their column. In 1972, Chana published an anthology of these songs, Mir Trogn A Gesang ("The New Book of Yiddish Songs"), in which she constructed an organizational scheme based on the songs' function and genre. In 1974, she published Perl fun der Yidisher poezye ("Pearls of Yiddish Poetry") in Tel Aviv. After Joseph's death in 2000, she continued to edit the column. Other published anthologies include Yontefdike teg ("Song Book for the Jewish Holidays," 1972), Perl fun Yidishn lid ("Pearls of Yiddish Song," 1988), and Lider fun dor tsu dor: naye perl fun Yidishn Lid ("Songs of Generations: New Pearls of Yiddish Songs," 1990).

Chana Mlotek wrote over 20 articles on folk songs, folk poetry, and Yiddish literature in various journals. She contributed to the first two volumes of Uriel Weinreich's compendium,The Field of Yiddish: Studies in Language, Folklore and Literature, and served as co-editor of the magazine Yidisher Folklor. Beginning in 1978, she worked at yivo as an archivist.

[Judith S. Pinnolis (2nd ed.)]