Mama-Loshn? Yiddish in Israel
Dr. Chaver will trace the trajectory of Yiddish in pre-statehood Palestine and in the State of Israel. Zionist ideology set up Yiddish as the most noticeable symbol of life in Diaspora – goles – and called for its rejection in the new Zionist community. But Yiddish continued to survive and thrive, as it was the mother-tongue for most of Israel’s founders. After Israel was established in 1948, great numbers of Yiddish-speaking Holocaust survivors came to the country, and Yiddish newspapers, magazines, and theater filled their needs. Over the years, though, social pressures and demographic changes led to its being less used.
Recently, there has been a resurgence of interest in Yiddish in Israel, both as ancestral mame-loshn and as the vehicle of an incredibly rich culture. There are classes at all levels, and summer immersion programs for students from all over the world. Pop-culture phenomena such as the Shtisel television series are attracting many new enthusiasts. It is the home language of most ultra-orthodox Israeli Jews. Yiddish in Israel is in no danger of dying out.
Yael Chaver is a native of Israel and a long-time resident of Berkeley. She holds a Ph.D. in Yiddish from U.C. Berkeley, and recently retired from that institution after seventeen years as a lecturer in Yiddish language, literature, and culture for the Center for Jewish Studies and the Department of German. She teaches Yiddish and Yiddish culture in the community, with special emphasis on the intersection of Yiddish and Hebrew. Yael is the author of What Must Be Forgotten: The Survival of Yiddish in Zionist Palestine (2004), has written many scholarly and popular articles, given presentations on these and related topics, and translates Holocaust memorial books from Hebrew and Yiddish into English.