Jerusalem: Yiddish Conference, Dec. 7-10

An international conference will examine Yiddish language and culture over the past century, representing a 700-year linguistic and cultural tradition.

Following the Holocaust, when millions of European Yiddish speakers were murdered and educational/cultural institutions were destroyed, the conference will investigate what happened to Yiddish and how it survived.

“Jerusalem Conference: A Century of Yiddish 1908-2008” will be held December 7-10, 2009, at Hebrew University’s Givat Ram campus, sponsored by the Institute for Advanced Studies at Hebrew University, Israel Science Foundation and Israel National Commission for UNESCO.

The four-day conference is open to the public and will features more than 30 short lectures, followed by Q&As in 12 sessions arranged in categories.

Topics (see the program link for complete details) will include talks mostly in Hebrew and Yiddish, with a few in English. The main categories are:

– Modern Yiddish literature
– International Yiddish press
– Yiddish theater and poetry
– Yiddish cultural history and creativity during the Holocaust
– Postwar revival of Yiddish language and literature
– Yiddish education in the Diaspora and in Israel
– Yiddish in academic institutions
– Significance of Yiddish and its culture for Jewish Studies

Conference topics range from Yiddish culture as self-identity, status of Yiddish following the relocation of millions of Yiddish speakers and their descendants to Israel and the Diaspora, as well as the impact of the Internet.

Literary and theatrical events will include Yiddish monologues and dialogues written by some of the best modern Yiddish authors and three generations of Yiddish poets reading contemporary Yiddish poetry.

A book fair will be held for Yiddish books, translations and Eastern European Jewish literature.

The last two generations have seen a growing interest in Yiddish language and culture despite the sharp decrease in the number of its speakers. This increased interest has developed in a rapidly changing society in which new media – particularly the Internet – are powerful forces.

Entering the word “Yiddish” in the Google search engine to check the extent of interest in Yiddish in the world presents some 10 million hits. This is tangible evidence that Yiddish is embedded in the real world and testifies to the widespread interest in Yiddish today.

Teaching Yiddish in Jewish school systems around the world is an important topic. It is taught at most Israeli universities, as well as in Europe and North America. Summer courses are offered in Vilna (Vilnius), New York, Tel-Aviv, Birobidzhan, Paris, Oxford, Warsaw, Toronto, California, Strasbourg and elsewhere, with non-Jewish students an important percentage of attendees.

For more information, click the link above.

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