Leo Rosten, the author of The Joys of Yiddish and numerous other popular, witty and erudite books, died on this date in 1997 in New York City at age 88. Rosten earned a doctorate in political science at the University of Chicago and also pursued advanced studies at the London School of Economics.

In the 1930s he wrote the bestselling The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N and its sequel (both pseudonymously, by “Leonard Q. Ross,” and published first in The New Yorker).

In the 1940s, he was a very successful screenwriter. The Joys of Yiddish came out in 1968 and injected the DNA of Yiddish language and Jewish humor into the mainstream American culture (full disclosure: the editor of Jewdayo edited the 2000 edition of The Joys of Yiddish). Rosten wrote at least two dozen other books and served as a Look magazine columnist and staff writer for over two decades.

“Humor is the affectionate communication of insight.” —Leo Rosten