Brooklyn celebrates Esperanto

On Sunday December 10 th , the Brooklyn Public Library hosted Bridge of Words: 130 Years of Esperanto,
an event in honor of 100th anniversary of the death of L.L. Zamenhof, the creator of the 130-year
old international language of Esperanto. Sponsored by the Polish Cultural Institute as well as the
Esperantic Studies Foundation, the event featured Esther Schor, a scholar and poet based at
Princeton University, who spoke in depth about Zamenhof’s life and philosophy, and provided an
overview of Esperanto history and culture. Of particular note was her analysis of Zamenhof’s
importance as a thinker and innovator, and his struggle to reconcile his particular concerns as a
Jewish intellectual with the universalist impulse that the idea of an international language seemed to
contain. After her talk, Schor was joined by Humphrey Tonkin, the former president of the
Universal Esperanto Association (UEA), and Sebastian Schulman, a translator of Esperanto
literature, for a broad ranging discussion on Esperanto culture today. Topics discussed included the
place of Esperanto today vis-à- vis global English, the disparate ways one can belong to and
participate in the Esperanto community, and the shape of contemporary Esperanto culture. The
audience participated enthusiastically. The event was attended by almost three dozen people, mixing
longtime Esperantists with the culturally curious, who had learned in a serious way about the
language for the first time.

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