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Yiddish now an affirmation of resilience in age of anti-Semitism

TJI Pick
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Published: 5 March 2019

Last updated: 5 March 2024

JOEL GREY As a son of Mickey Katz, the US comedian and klezmer clarinetist, I grew up with a somewhat complicated relationship to Yiddish. It was, for our family, both a joy and a problem.

LAST YEAR, I WAS invited to direct the first US production of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish — with English subtitles — for the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene. Some primal part of me responded eagerly to the challenge of tackling this icon in the “mother tongue” that I had never actually learned.

On October 27, hours after a gunman entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and murdered 11 Jews in cold blood, our company of actors assembled at the theatre inside the Museum of Jewish Heritage in lower Manhattan for our evening show, which we dedicated to the victims of that shooting. I stood in the back of the house and watched as the crowd filed in, somewhat jittery and thankful for the museum’s metal detectors.

Shortly after the opening number, it became clear by the reaction of the audience — wildly diverse in age, race and, one would imagine, religion — that every moment of the show had taken on a heightened reality in the shadow of the day’s news.

FULL STORY In an age of surging anti-Semitism, we need to bring back Yiddish (New York Post)

In Finland, a Yiddish resurgence (Forward)
RUKHL SCHAECHTER Part of my work as Forverts editor is to speak at Jewish conferences, community centres and synagogues about the Forverts and Yiddish culture, which is what brought me to the Finnish capital of Helsinki in early February

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