Yiddish Program Celebrates Memories

Yiddish Program Celebrates Memories


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Yiddish Language and Culture program at the Yiddish Book Center.

Ah, to bask in memories, to snuggle with roots:                                

What a week! I sat in class, listened to lectures, talked to my program mates, hoping the week would stretch indefinitely.

Cursive Yiddish is too different from printed for me to attempt dealing with it but I can read print now. Very slowly and stumbling over words that came from Hebrew – you try to untangle letter-strings with no vowels… After dreaming about it for fifty years, I am reading one of the Sholom Aleichem stories my father had read to me.

The Yiddish words, songs, poetry, family stories transported me into my childhood and youth – my bábushka’s (grandmother’s) mayses (stories); my father’s relief at switching to Yiddish after work; the riches of sayings and jokes whose wisdom and warmth and geschmack (taste) no language could match.

For all of us, regardless of class level, Yiddish began as a secret code that adults used when they didn’t want us to know what they were saying. Needless to say, we deciphered it, some more some less. But had it been merely a language it would not have brought us here decades later. Only a mamaloshen (mother tongue), history, tradition, family could do that.

Yiddish Program at Yiddish Book Center, March 2016. Advanced beginner's class. In front: Instructor Nikolai (Kolya) Borodulin.

Our instructor, Kolya Borodulin, opened up a whole Yiddish world for us waiting to be explored: classes, songs, activities, dictionaries, newspapers. Many resources are available online. I have links if you are interested.

Thank you, Yiddish Book Center (www.yiddishbookcenter.org).


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