Hundreds of historic lectures from famous Jewish thinkers are now available at the 92NY’s website


As Isaac Bashevis Singer takes the microphone, he greets roaring applause in his Polish accent, ready with prepared remarks about his personal relationship with religion, philosophy and mysticism. 

After he speaks, he reads a short story “Shiddah and Kuziba” about two demons who encounter humans for the first time, and answers questions from the audience about his life and research.

While the famed Yiddish writer died in 1991, new glimpses into his personality, thoughts and work revive him in the 21st century through brand new audio recordings released by 92NY.

Delivered at the 92nd Street Y on Nov. 19, 1975, Bashevis Singer’s talk, “On Mysticism and the Modern Man,” is one of more than 400 historical lectures given at 92NY that are now available through this archive of audio recordings. 

Made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, 92NY has digitized conversations from the last 75 years, which the public can access for free through 92NY’s website. 

“Throughout its 150-year history, 92NY has been a home for the intellectually curious, providing a platform for many of the great artists, scholars and thought leaders of the past century-and-a-half,” Seth Pinsky, 92NY’s chief executive officer, said in a press release. “We hope that the Collection will be an invaluable contribution to humanities research and scholarship, foster public appreciation and create greater understanding of the humanities.”

Along with Bashevis Singer, the recordings include lectures from major historical thinkers such as the feminist writer Betty Friedan on “Transcending the War Between Sexes,” and Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, on “Judaism in the World Today” (1951) and “What Religion Can Learn from Psychology” (1952). 

More recents lectures are also available, including talks from the composer and director of the National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene, Zalmen Mlotek, as well as writers Jonathan Safran Foer and Gary Shteyngart. 

The lectures span topics from Jewish life and philosophy to politics, psychology, science, art, dance, film, history, music and women’s perspectives. In a press release, the Jewish cultural institution said they digitized more than 800 lectures in total.

92NY’s lecture series, now called “92NY Talks,” was established in 1930 and is “one of America’s longest-running public lecture series,” according to the press release. 

92NY was founded in 1874 at the Young Men’s Hebrew Association by a group of German Jews hoping to serve the social, intellectual and spiritual needs of the American Jewish community in New York. Long known as the 92nd Street Y, it adopted the “92NY” moniker in 2022 in a rebranding.