מיט ליבע פון די יידישע מוזיי
There was a sprinkling of Yiddish in my house growing up. While I’m sixth generation Australian on my Mum’s side, my Dad was the first of his family to be born in Australia, with his parents and sister migrating from Poland after the war. I remember my Nana telling me they were careful not to speak Yiddish in public, yet in their home and spaces shared with friends, it was a reminder of where they’d come from, of a world left behind.
That world and the bringing of it here is a hallmark of the Jewish Museum of Australia collection – the vibrancy of Yiddish culture can be felt in our photography and textiles; letters, diaries, documents and books; and everyday objects.
So this week, we pay tribute to the places Jews have journeyed from and the mameloshn they passed on. But before I hand you over to Reyzl Zylberman, Director of Jewish Studies & LOTE at Sholem Aleichem College, for a celebration of all things Yiddish, might I invite you to follow us on Facebook and Instagram? On Thursday we’ll launch a project where an untranslated Yiddish work from our collection will be posted for you to decipher each week – for your stories are our stories, and we’re thankful that this time allows us to together illuminate Jewish life.
Stay safe and warm!
Director & CEO
American singer, songwriter and actor Daniel Kahn has recorded a truly poignant Yiddish translation of Bob Dylan’s I Shall Be Released while in isolation. You might have heard his rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah – his translations leave you thinking each song was originally written in Yiddish.
Always wanted to learn Yiddish? This series is for you. Forward Editor Rukhl Schaechter’s videos introduce Yiddish words and phrases; in the first episode, you learn how to ask ‘what’s happening?’ Make the most of this time at home and brush up on some Yiddish to bust out when you catch-up with family and friends IRL.
The longest continuously producing Yiddish theatre company in the world, New York’s National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene is now broadcasting live. Zalmen Mlotek’s Living Room Concerts, where you can sing along with Yiddish classics and contemporary tunes, are a true delight.
In 2008, I helped establish the Mir Kumen On Yiddish Choir, which is run under the auspices of the J Waks Cultural Trust. The choir has been meeting online each Tuesday evening; while our talented leader Tomi Kalinski plays and sings, we join in with our microphones on mute. It’s a wonderful break from isolation, and all lovers of Yiddish music are welcome.
The annual Yiddish weekend retreat is going ahead online this weekend – take part in activities, games and workshops from the comfort of home. The final session will be a shmues or chat with Zalmen Mlotek and local Yiddish performer and educator Freydi Mrocki. There’s never been a better time to speak Yiddish!