It had been a tough week. The more news I read about the Boston bombing, the less I understood. Who were these young men, full of grievance, using a fresh start in America to maim and kill innocents?
“My father’s Jewish, my mother’s Jewish, I’m Jewish.” Those are the words uttered by American journalist Daniel Pearl in the moment before he was murdered by jihadis in 2002. Those same words were recalled last week by Judea Pearl as he lit a flame in his son’s honor in Jerusalem.
"They’re going to come with the dogs. They’re going to start beating me.” Pola Lipnowski spoke in Yiddish, an expression of sheer terror on her face. She turned to her daughter, Hendel Schwartz, for protection.
Among the many ways the Jewish people have sought to honor the Six Million, perhaps none is so life-affirming as the revival of interest in Yiddish, the mother tongue of the vast majority of the men, women and children murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators.
The dozens of men at the mid-December breakfast gathering — all of them in their 70s, 80s or older — laughed and applauded, reveling in their alter-kackiness.
Yiddish, the language of Jewish grandmothers — and, increasingly, great-grandmothers — suffered through a particularly unkind 20th century. But if Robert Adler Peckerar has his way, it will be making a comeback in the 21st, thanks in part to something called the Helix Project.
Who’s your bubbie? When it comes to food, she might not be the short, Yiddish-speaking grandmother that comes to mind.
When “Rivky,” a Charedi, or ultra-Orthodox, woman with “a very large family” — she declined to say how large, fearful of tempting fate — opened a woman’s clothing shop in the basement of her Jerusalem home 40 years ago, advertising her business was easy.
Every Jewish community wants more Raymonde Fiols among its active retirees. The question is whether those communities are prepared to meet the needs she and hundreds of thousands of "younger seniors" and older ones will have in the near future.
I consider Dovid Efune a friend and believe he should be applauded for his work at the Algemeiner Journal. As editor, he has managed to revive and electrify the newspaper. Dubbed in the 70s as the largest Yiddish weekly in the United States, today, in addition to their Yiddish section, the Algemeiner and its website have become well-read sources of news and information on Israel and Jewish happenings for the readers of both English and Yiddish.
“Mir zaynen do!” The Yiddish song, composed in the Vilna ghetto during World War II, is defiant. “We are here!” it thunders.
How would most American Jews react to the following historical assessment by a noted Yiddish scholar, professor Gennady Estraikh of New York University?
Wearing a silk kerchief and a plain apron - a combination of holiday and weekday attire - Mama stood by the table, practically at her wit’s end. It was no trifle, you know, receiving almost 100 shalakhmones...
What defines “Jewish” theater? David Chack, a playwright and president of the Association for Jewish Theatre, promises that question will be among the subjects examined at the association’s upcoming conference, Feb. 5-8 at the Dortort Center for Creativity in the Arts at Hillel at UCLA.
New York's Second Avenue Deli now has two locations -- neither of which is on Second Avenue. JTA has video of the new branch's opening, featuring a cameo by television and Yiddish stage star Fyvush Finkel.
Since the 1950s, the so-called Night of the Murdered Poets has become a summertime ritual for Yiddish cultural circles in the United States.
In 2002, director/playwright Karen Sommers heard a story on National Public Radio about the Jewish American Board of Peace and Justice, a Jewish mediation court on the Lower East Side of New York that adjudicated disputes among community members between the late 1930s and 1956. The proceedings took place in a back room of the House of Sages, a synagogue led by Rabbi Shmuel Aaron Rubin, who presided over the cases, which were recorded and carried on such Yiddish radio stations as WLTH and WEVD. According to the Yiddish Radio Project Web site, where many of the programs heard on old-time Yiddish radio are archived, the conflicts covered everything from “the complaints of abandoned parents to altercations over ill-fitting sheets.”
One night back in 1985, businessman Bruce Slovin was walking home from a corporate board meeting with a lawyer named Joe Greenberger when Greenberger asked him about his involvement in the Jewish world.
Director Sidney Lumet, who started his career as a child actor in the Yiddish theater and whose films examining social justice in America stand as landmarks of his craft, died April 9 of lymphoma at his New York City home. He was 86.
When a rare volume of a 1914 cookbook written in Yiddish for American Jewish housewives came into the hands of Bracha Weingrod, the once popular but forgotten book began its long journey from dusty oblivion to celebrated translation. The thick, worn copy of “Dos Familien Kokh-Bookh,” now newly translated by Weingrod as “The Yiddish Family Cookbook,” is the only Yiddish cookbook on the market.
After fears that the school would have to cancel its classes in Yiddish after this spring's semester, the University of Maryland has managed to raise enough money to keep the program going at least through 2013.
The National Yiddish Book Center, amid a change in focus, has laid off four employees and closed its bookstore. As part of its strategic change from saving and restoring ancient Yiddish texts to educating people about them, the center in Amherst, Mass., made the layoffs in December, the Amherst Bulletin reported. The cut positions include the director's personal assistant, a major gifts officer, the bookstore manager and a designer of the center's magazine, according to the newspaper. The center's vice president and program director also resigned, leaving the center with 16 employees.
Growing up, I called my grandmother Grandma.
We were Jewish, but also American. There was never any question but that my grandma would be Grandma. Even if she was born in the Old Country and, like all my friends and all their grandparents, spoke with a Yiddish accent. I used to think, in fact, that in order to be a grandparent you had to have been born in the Old Country and speak with a Yiddish accent.
"My big idea for the CD was, 'Let's give this to our families for Chanukah,'" Hyams said. "I never thought we'd get a record deal, because I figured 'This is stupid and Jewish and no one cares except us.'"
Do your grandparents ever talk in Yiddish when they don't want you to know what's going on?
In Hebrew, female nouns tend to end in "h" or "t," so what about menschah or menschat? We could stay Yiddish and call ourselves menschke or menschilah. There's also the French menschette, the Spanish menschita or the Jewish American menschess.
Music producer Brooks Arthur turns nostalgic with a new CD of classic Jewish music
Some time ago, I was invited to a dinner here in Israel attended by a delegation of film people from Los Angeles. During the meal, one successful documentary director asked me a question: Could I think of any Hebrew words that have no equivalent in English?
An excellent question, and even though I was sure there were many such words, the only two I could think of actually do have English equivalents, except that in Hebrew -- or maybe it would be more accurate to say "in Israeli" -- they carry completely different values.
In a story line that turns a sacred office of psychiatry into a house of fraternizing, a secretary into a jungle cat, a librarian into a sex fiend and a stripper into an academic, writer Mark Troy presents many shocking juxtapositions in the world premiere of his play, "Paging Dr. Chutzpah," at the Sidewalk Studio Theatre in Toluca Lake.
But on Monday, the Internet came one step closer to becoming truly international. And it did so with the help of the unlikeliest of languages: Yiddish.
One day, Dinah Berland was browsing in Sam Johnson's Book Shop on Venice Boulevard in Mar Vista, and in the Judaica section, tucked between the tomes, she noticed a slim, well-worn volume with a mysteriously blank spine. She picked it up out of curiosity -- later she would say it was fate -- and she found that the book spoke to the heart of her suffering at the time.
Everyone knows the legend of American pioneer 'Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier.' Far fewer know the exploits of 'Duvid Crockett, King of Delancey Street.' You shouldn't worry, Duvid's life and times were immortalized in this Yinglish song by the great Mickey Katz.
Veretski Pass (http://veretskipass.com) play Yankee Doodle Dandy at one of their workshops -- first straight, then in a Jewish hosidl style, then in a Ukranian kolomeyke style.
Shysters chase ambulances; critics chase influences. How to characterize this Chandler-Babel stew? Let's try the Hollywood idiom. "The Yiddish Policeman's Union" is Woody Allen meets Cornel Woolrich. No, better, deeper: S.J. Perelman meets Y.L. Peretz meets Harry Turtledove. Martin Amis meets Stanley Elkin who is chatting with Sholom Aleichem about Jorge Luis Borges.
America's richest prize in the humanities, worth $1.5 million, has been awarded to the scholarly son of a Swedish American carpenter for a three-year project on the impact of the Holocaust on American literature.
The New York Post may be the oldest continuously operating daily publication in the United States, but The Forward, which began publication in 1897 during the waves of Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe, was the first paper in this country to have a national readership. In its heyday, the Yiddish- language daily, once known as The Forverts, had a larger circulation than even The New York Times.
Friends and relatives of Dan Katzir were astonished when the Israeli filmmaker came up with a heart-grabbing documentary on New York's fading Yiddish theater.
In Spring a reader's fancy turns to thoughts of ... books.
Each Christmas, Barri Evins and a group of volunteers give away thousands of books at Head Start magnet centers throughout the Los Angeles area. At each center, volunteers greet each child individually, ask them their age and then present them with a brand new book especially selected for them.
Singer and performer Mike Burstyn -- known internationally for his roles on stage, in films and on television -- stars in the 40th-anniversary celebration of the groundbreaking works of Yiddish theater, "The Megillah of Itzak Manger" 's premiere in Israel.
Who doesn't love old Jewish comedians? Those mamzers of mirth and halutzim of humor who paved the road from the Catskills to Vegas as first-generation entertainers.
Dobkin doesn't play bingo, and she doesn't own a television. She occasionally attends a lecture or musical event, but generally, when she isn't working, she is reading, usually The Forward in Yiddish or English or The Jewish Journal. She reads without glasses, except for very small print.
"The California Modernist Portrait"; "Vaudeville Extravaganza!"; "Five Days of Freedom: Photographs From the 1956 Hungarian Revolution"; Lucinda Williams and Miller Williams; and other events to see during September
The new shul is a testament to the Jewish community's growth in the area, which already houses another equally large Chabad campus close to the Las Vegas Strip.
While each show follows its own trajectory, Chaiken points out that many Jewish-themed plays explore the issue of legacy. These performers describe conflicted feelings about their parents and the aspirations held out for them. As clichéd as such scenarios may seem, they speak to the pain and humor of family, a commonality that usually resonates with audiences.
Tonight is a Yiddish service, Zol Zahn Shabbes -- literally, we should have Shabbat -- and it's happening at Beth Chayim Chadashim (BCC), founded in 1972 as the world's first synagogue for lesbian and gay Jews.
Jewish tradition is marked by rendering the oral tradition in print and recording the stories of the patriarchs and matriarchs, the accounts of the prophets, the tales of Kings David and Solomon and the tales of the rabbis.