Yiddish is Alive and Well

yiddish3Yiddish rules!  The year 2018 saw some great highlights in the modern history of Yiddish.

Debra Caplan published her excellent study:  Yiddish Empire: the Vilna Troupe, Jewish Theater, and the Art of Itinerancy.

Yiddish theater itself made a huge comeback with the staging of Fiddler on the Roof in an almost universally acclaimed totally Yiddish version. With outstanding actors and a very human approach to the iconic figure of Tevye, this Fiddler could become the classic version.  Just as you didn’t need to be Jewish to love Levy’s Rye, theater goers needed no knowledge of Yiddish to appreciate this Fiddler. Supertitles helped, but the acting carried the show with which so many people are already familiar. (See: Tradition or Traditsye, Aug 1, 2018)

Yidstock-LogoThe Yiddish Book center in Amherst, MA has continued to rescue Yiddish books and make them accessible. According to the New York Times,” Yiddish is now “proportionately, the most accessible literature on earth.” Programming is available at the Center or online.

Scores of books in Yiddish and about Yiddish have been published recently or will be published into 2019.

Universities teach Yiddish; book clubs read Yiddish writers either in the original or in translation. First published in 1897, The Yiddish Forward now is a monthly magazine but primarily publishes on line. If nothing else, Jews know how to adapt.

yiddish spoof 1Amazing, isn’t it for a language which lost a huge number of its native speakers almost 80 years ago and which to many Americans was the “secret language” of their parents or grandparents.

But its history, its charm and its quality has kept Yiddish alive and brought many of its words into mainstream English.

The Lampert Library has an eclectic collection of books about Yiddish in no particular order:

Found Treasures: stories by Yiddish women writers.

In the Land of Happy Tears: Yiddish tales for modern times (J)

Penguin Book of Modern Yiddish Verse

Songs from the Garden of Eden: book and CD (J)

Michaelson, Too Young for Yiddish (J)

Skye, My Yiddish Vacation (J)

Pinkwater, Beautiful Yetta, the Yiddish Chicken (J)

Gottlieb, Funny It Doesn’t Sound Jewish: how Yiddish songs and  synagogue melodies influenced Tin Pan Alley, Broadway and Hollywood.

yiddish5Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union. An alternate history set in Alaska.

Postman, The Yiddish Alphabet Book

Sholem Aleichem, Tevye the Dairyman and the Railroad Stories

Lansky, Outwitting History: the amazing adventure of a man who rescued a million Yiddish books.

Leib, Yingl, Tsingl, Khvat

yiddish6Milne, Vini-der-Pu: a Yiddish translation of Winnie-the-Pooh

Bluestein, Anglish. Yinglish: Yiddish in American life and literature

Weinstein, Yiddish: a nation of words

Roston, The New Joys of Yiddish


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Aileen Grossberg

Aileen Grossberg

Aileen Grossberg, a professional librarian, is a long-time congregant and serves as volunteer librarian for Shomrei's Lampert Library. The library, one of the best-kept secrets at Shomrei is used by the Rabbi, congregants, students and teachers of the JLC (Hebrew School) and Preschool. It's a tremendous resource completely supported by your donations and gifts. Aileen also heads the Shomrei Caterers, the in-house food preparation group. Can there be any better combination…good food and good books!
Aileen Grossberg

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