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.