דער ניו-יארקער ייד אין כינע
A New York Jew in China
פון א ניו-יארקער ייד
Travels of a New York Jew
Why Yiddish? What is Yiddish?
With hundreds of thousands of active speakers around the world, Yiddish lives. An approximately 1,000-year old language, it is written in the Hebrew alphabet and is related to German, with heavy influences from several Slavic languages, Hebrew, Aramaic, and (these days) English. It is not a dialect or a jargon, but is related to German much in the way that Dutch, Afrikaans and English are.
Up until recently the lingua franca of Ashkenazi Jewry across the globe, the vernacular language of over 10 million people, Yiddish was decimated by the Holocaust, persecution in the Soviet Union, and powerful forces of assimilation. But Yiddish lives, still – and not just among Orthodox and Hasidic Jews.
Why make videos in Yiddish instead of English, or even Hebrew? And why make them about life in Asia?
Yiddish is a living language, and living languages should be used to document, describe and relate any and all experiences of their speakers. Yiddish is a language with dazzling fiction, poetry, scholarship, song and theater, and it is also emailed, texted, Skyped and Tweeted. These videos were originally made for New York's Yiddish Forward, the oldest and most renowned of all Yiddish newspapers, still in publication after more than a century. Freely available on the internet, they are for the enjoyment of fluent Yiddish speakers, those who know just a bisl, and (thanks to English subtitles) those who may be hearing Yiddish for the first time. Zayt bagrist!
If you're interested in learning more about Yiddish, please get in touch!