Whereas Yiddish flourished in France in the immediate post-war period, partly due to the influx of survivors from Poland and Lithuania, the failure to ensure transmission of Yiddish to the following generation led to a decline. From the 1970s a number of significant academic institutions and programmes were created and the Bibliotheque Medem became a centre of documentation and acquired the bibliographic collections of libraries that had closed. In 2002 the Maison de la Culture Yiddish-Bibliotheque Medem (MCY) was established with the task not only of preservation but also of creating cultural opportunities through projects including publications, adult and children's education, and through encouraging the use of the spoken language.
Remembering the Holocaust in Today’s Yiddish Song
The Holocaust was undoubtedly the single event that most influenced the course of Yiddish song during the twentieth century. Its effects on Yiddish culture were incalculable. Despite the increasing difficulty of Jewish life in central and Eastern Europe during the 1930s, this was also a period of flowering of Yiddish cultural life. Many believed that the strong network of Yiddish publications, education, cultural events and political organisations offered the promise of a secure and thriving Jewish life despite the restrictions being laid upon the Jews.
On 17 March 1996 the Knesset (Israeli parliament) passed a law to set up two national authorities, one for Yiddish culture and the other for Ladino culture. Yiddish is a 1,000– year old language based on German with words and idioms from Hebrew, Aramaic and additional European languages. Ladino is approximately 500 years old and is based on Spanish, with words and idioms from Hebrew, Aramaic, Northern African languages, as well as Balkan languages and from other countries once under the domination of the Ottoman Empire.
Now that this issue focusing on Yiddish is completed it seems obvious, at least in retrospect, that this was a relevant and important topic for a journal devoted to themes affecting Jewish life in Europe. This was not so self-evident when the idea began to emerge. An early impetus was the offering of an article some years ago by Haike Beruriah Wiegand, included here, on the writings of Isaac Bashevis Singer. At the time it seemed too specialised and lacking in a context, so it was held in reserve. Another impetus was hearing a lecture on the unexpected topic of ‘Yiddish Tango in Argentina’ by Lloica Czackis, included in this issue, accompanied by her own excellent performances of the songs. That in turn triggered many memories of performances of Yiddish songs in Germany by excellent singers and musicians as diverse as Daniel Kempin, Shura Lipovsky, Roswitha Dasch and Katharina Muetter, the former two Jewish, the latter not, all of whom have undertaken serious research into Yiddish culture and music, and brought commitment and learning, as well as great artistry, to their work. Suddenly the obviousness of the subject became apparent.
After a time of silence, Jewish identity often appeared to be reclaimed, or redefined, through connecting to Yiddish (folk-) song. Since Yiddish songs have become a kind of musical historic archive, Jews find in this repertoire different expressions of Jewish identity. They are able to embark on a joyful learning process as opposed to the sadness or silence they have been confronted with before. Meanwhile, the interest of non-Jews for this subject teaches them about a multi-faceted Jewish life, as opposed to only learning about the Shoah or the dramatic political struggles of Israel. This kind of cultural exploration becomes a strong tool for intercultural dialogue and peace. Both Jews and non-Jews participate in an inclusive learning-experience about a European Jewish heritage, which appears to be a discovery for both, on different levels. Depending on the choice of repertoire and a specific pedagogical approach, this particular way of learning appears to contribute to consciousness and universal thinking. The usual chauvinism that might result from reclaiming one's ethnic, cultural or religious identity does not seem to occur in this case. This article details Europe's quest for Yiddish culture after the Second World War and its consequences for Jewish and non-Jewish life today, seen through the eyes of a singer and pedagogue of Yiddish songs.
Edited by Jonathan Magonet
-war German Bildung , the other of New York Yiddish culture. Both were ‘outsiders’ struggling for recognition in a patriarchal Jewish culture; both, in their very different ways, were nurturers of their students, their spiritual children. Both managed to
Julia Pascal’s The Yiddish Queen Lear
’s version, the daughters’ rejection of Yiddish culture constitutes the backbone of the plot. Recalling Lear’s stubborn attitude, Esther is persistent in her belief that Yiddish theatrical culture should be preserved by the younger generation, and again like
girl, Naye prese , Third Republic, Yiddish culture Sarah Farmer , The Other House: The Secondary Residence in Postwar France From the early 1960s to the mid-1980s, a revaluation of the French countryside as a site of leisure and as a place to imagine
twentieth century was not Marxism or anarchism but nationalism, J. J. Rousseau and German Wandervogel style. I appreciated its constructive and creative side. For me it had replaced a dying Yiddish culture with a living Hebrew one and I rejoiced in its
Eric Jennings, Hanna Diamond, Constance Pâris de Bollardière and Jessica Lynne Pearson
Jewish identity was as much a French issue as a diasporic one for the proponents of Yiddish culture, bringing in their case would have deepened the question of what identity and nation meant after the Holocaust and how the concept evolved from one group