Yiddish Literature
and Film
Introduction
A DISAPPEARED CIVILIZATION
“Since childhood
I have known
three dead
languages,
Ancient Hebrew,
Aramaic, and
Yiddish.”
Isaac Bashevis
Singer, Shosha
Yiddish Language
The language of Ashkenazic
(Central and East European) Jews.
Developed in the 13th century.
Became a written language in the
16th century.
“Yiddish” = Jewish
Yiddish – mame loshn, “mother
tongue”
Hebrew - loshn koydesh, “holy
tongue”
TERRITORIES WHERE YIDDISH DIALECTS
WERE SPOKEN
Yiddishkeit
YIDDISHKEIT,
“the essence ofJewishness”:
•
Food
•
Humour
•
Cultural practices
•
Religious traditions
•
Yiddish language (or its
traces)
•
Music
•
Folklore (tales, legends,
songs)
YIDDISH MUSIC, LITERATURE, ART, AND CINEMA

Music: the most traditional Jewish
art form. The best-survived aspect
of Yiddishkeit.

Literature: based on folklore,
rabbinical teachings, and a special
value of learning. Takes roots in
the tradition of sacredness of the
written word/adoration of the holy
writings. Preserves the
“disappeared civilization.”

Art: a recent secular
development, mostly expressing
nostalgia for the past.

Cinema: 1) old: a shadow of the
“disappeared civilization”; 2) new:
reestablishing connections with
the roots and cultural identity.
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Yiddish Literature and Film