Paper abstracts (in order of appearance)

Judith Cohen (York University), “Yiddish and Judeo-Spanish Songs: A Performance-Talk”

This is a performance-talk combining observations and singing. Most comparative discussions of Judeo-Spanish (“Ladino”) songs focus on their relationship to traditional songs from Spain on the one hand, and, on the other hand, from the cultures and countries where speakers have lived, for example, Morocco, Greece, Turkey, the Balkans. Although some singers do include both Yiddish and Judeo-Spanish songs, few if any studies have focused on parallels in these two vernacular Jewish traditions. While my own specialty is Judeo-Spanish songs, as an ethnomusicologist, I believe that exploring the parallels and differences in song repertoire, as well as in performance practice, can open up new possibilities for mutual research. As an ethnomusicologist who is also a performer, I always seek to entertain while offering some knowledge and insights which I hope will inspire listeners/participants to follow up with more of both.

Brukhe Lang (John Hopkins University), “New Developments in Yiddish Pedagogy” (in Yiddish)

אין די לעצטע פֿופֿצן יאָר האָט זיך דאָס געביט ייִדיש־פּעדאַגאָיע היפּשלעך אַנטוויקלט מיט נײַע לערנביכלעך, קורסן פֿאַר סטודענטן און סעמינאַרן פֿאַר לערערס. אין אָט דער אַרבעט וועל איך באַטראַכטן אָט די אַנטוויקלונגען צוזאַמען מיט דער ראָלע פֿונעם ייִדיש־לערער אינעם ברייטערן קאָנטעקסט פֿון דער הײַנטיקער ייִדיש־קולטור

The last fifteen years have seen several new developments in Yiddish pedagogy, including new text books, courses for students and seminars for teachers. In this paper I will summarize and reflect on these developments, and on the role of the Yiddish teacher in the broader context of contemporary Yiddish culture. This talk will take place in Yiddish, with an accompanying English-language powerpoint to cover the major points.

Satoko Kamoshida (University of Tokyo), “Yiddish as a Foreign Language in Japan”

There are many non-Jews who learn Yiddish as a foreign language in Tokyo. This presentation introduces a Yiddish language class at a university in Tokyo and examines why the students are interested in this language based on questionnaire surveys. The presenter concludes by discussing new possibilities of this language in the Far East.

Chaya R. Nove (The Graduate Center, City University of New York), “Social and Linguistic Predictors of Case Syncretism in Contemporary Hasidic Yiddish"

This study investigates the variable use of the historically dative forms of 1st and 2nd person singular pronouns dir and mir among speakers of Hasidic Yiddish. Analyses of demographic and linguistic variables indicate a change in progress, in which the dative forms are merging with the historically accusative forms.

Steffen Krogh (Aarhus University, Denmark), “Ayn hous, tsvay … ? On the Plural Formation of Nouns in Haredi Satmar Yiddish”

Haredi Satmar Yiddish is the most visible variety of Yiddish in the 21st century, spoken and written by Satmar Hasidim in and around New York City and numerous other cities and towns around the world. In my talk, I will outline the main declensional classes of the noun in Haredi Satmar Yiddish, including inherited Central Yiddish peculiarities and the inflection of recent borrowings from co-territorial English, and aim to explain why nominal plural formation in Haredi Satmar Yiddish has remained largely unaffected by attrition and language contact.q

Sarah Ponichtera (YIVO Institute for Jewish Research), “Mass Digitization: Changing the Landscape of Yiddish Archival Research”

The digitization of full collections, rather than isolated archival “treasures,” will allow scholars to understand how the custodial history of the collections they rely on shapes the current state of the collections.  This will allow for more nuanced and accurate usage of archival materials across the field of Yiddish scholarship. 

Christa Whitney (Yiddish Book Center), “What Will You Do With The Inheritance?: On Interpretations of Yiddish Literary Legacy”

What does it mean to be the daughter, son, or grandchild of a Yiddish writer? How does that parent’s fame and identity impact and integrate into a descendant’s own identity? I examine these questions and other patterns that emerged through interviews conducted with 50 children and grandchildren of Yiddish writers interviewed as part of the Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project “Beyond the Books: Yiddish Writers and their Descendants” series.

Gennady Estraikh (New York University), “The Legacy of Sovetish Heymland

The Moscow journal Sovetish Heymland (1961-91) played an important role as an institution for preservation of Yiddish. It published language lessons and dictionaries, and cultivated young authors, devoting some of its issues to their writings. The paper will discuss the place of the “young growth” of Sovetish Heymland in the 21st century world of Yiddish.

Khayke Beruriah Wiegand (University of Oxford),“Blaybn vet a traf”: Yiddish Poetry in the New Millennium" (in Yiddish)

די ייִדישע פּאָעזיע אינעם נײַעם יאָרטויזנט נעמט אַרײַן דרײַ דורות פֿון פּאָעטן פֿון אַ סך פֿאַרשײדענע געאָגראַפֿישע ערטער און הינטערגרונטן. די נײַסטע פּובליקאַציעס װײַזן בולט, אַז די ייִדישע פּאָעזיע, כאָטש זי איז שוין מער ניט אַזוי פֿאַרשפּרײט װי פֿאַר דער מלחמה, לעבט נאָך אַלץ װײַטער הײַנט צו טאָג און איז נאָך אַלץ אַ כּוח, װאָס מע דאַרף נעמען אין באַטראַכט.

Yiddish poetry in the new millennium encompasses three generations of poets from many different geographical locations and backgrounds. Recent Yiddish publications show that Yiddish poetry, although not as vast in scope as it was before the war, is still alive today and is still a force to be reckoned with. This talk will take place in Yiddish, with an accompanying English-language powerpoint to cover the major points.

Natalia Vesselova (University of Ottawa), “A Language Without Frontiers: Yiddish in 21st Century World Cinema”

The new millennium witnesses the revival of Yiddish as an artistic tool used by international filmmakers in such countries as France, Israel, Poland, Canada, the USA, Hungary, Belarus, Russia, Germany, and Argentina to various purposes: to achieve authenticity of setting and action; to express nostalgia; to create a bond between the characters and the audience; and many more. The paper seeks to explore the aesthetic function of Yiddish in A Serious Man (2009, USA. Dir. Joel & Etan Coen), In Darkness (W ciemności, 2011, Poland. Dir. Agnieszka Holland), Life And Adventures of Mishka the Jap, (2011, Russia. Dir. Sergei Ginsburg), Félix et Meira (2014, Canada. Dir. Maxime Giroux), Son of Saul (Saul fia, 2015, Hungary. Dir. Làszló Nemes), The Pin (2014, Canada. Dir. Naomi Jaye), and others.

Justin Cammy (Smith College), “Contemporary American Jewish Authors Imagining Yiddish”

From Yiddish-speaking pirates on the high seas to Yiddish-speaking policemen in the North, from a heist of a Chagall masterpiece to the Yiddish trace in contemporary popular culture, Justin Cammy will explore the creative appropriation, performance, and transgression of Yiddish in what one theorist has called our post-vernacular moment. 

Leah Zazulyer (Independent Researcher), “Translating Israel Emiot: Poetry and Culture”

Recently discovered, newly translated poetry of Israel Emiot: the poems; retrieval and copyright issues; relevant translation theory; publication and publicity challenges; audience generation; prefaces as a genre; notes and biographic information; geo-political aspects; his relationship to other leadings figures and movements; his thematic profile.

Rhea Tregebov (University of British Columbia), “Arguing with the Storm: The Genesis of an Anthology

Author, professor and translator Rhea Tregebov describes how collaboration with an exceptional grass-roots seniors’ group, the Winnipeg Yiddish Women’s Reading Circle, enabled the research, solicitation, editing and, in most cases, translation that produced the unique anthology, Arguing with the Storm: Stories by Yiddish Women Writers.

Diego Rotman (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), “My Homeland, Der Dybbuk: About Possession and Nationalism in the Old New Film Der Dybbuk" (1937-2016)

In this paper I will examine the new version of Michał Waszyński’s 1937 film, Der Dybbuk re-edited  by two Israeli artists Adi Kaplan and Shacher Carmel Smetana’s Die Moldau (or The Moldau). I will deal with the relationship between romanticism and destruction and between eroticism, love, and nationalism, using theories of performance studies alongside anthropological and folklore research. 

Anna Shternshis (University of Toronto), “Last Yiddish Heroes: Jewish Folk Music in the Soviet Union During World War II”

During World War II, Soviet ethnomusicologists recorded hundreds of new Yiddish songs that detailed Soviet Jewish wartime experience: service in the Red Army, survival in the Nazi-occupied Europe and working in the Soviet home front in Central Asia and Siberia. Hidden from academics and the public, the songs surfaced in the 21st century for the first time since 1948.  The joint project between academics and artists resulted in a number of concerts where these songs were performed in Canada, USA and Germany. The paper discusses the dilemmas associated with studying the songs as historical documents and viewing them as contemporary cultural artifacts.