Yiddish Courses

Culture of Yiddish: An Introduction

(cross-listed as 01:470:280:01)

Did you know
•    There were once 11 million Yiddish speakers worldwide?
•    There are neighborhoods in Brooklyn where the ATMs offer a Yiddish option?
•    There are 300-year-old alternate prayers especially for women written in Yiddish?
•    There was a Jewish Autonomous Region, with Yiddish as its official language, established in the Soviet Union
      in the 1930s?
•    There are more than a dozen different words for “Christmas” in Yiddish?
•    You can visit an organic farm in upstate New York where only Yiddish is spoken? 
•    You can watch online videos in Yiddish produced in New York, Montreal, and Stockholm?

Explore the thousand-year history of Yiddish, key to centuries of Jewish folklore and politics, great works of modern literature and traditional spirituality.  Learn how a language thrives in diaspora and endures a genocide, and how it has enriched the lives of fundamentalists, revolutionaries, avant-garde performers, and others—including many people who aren’t Jewish—around the world. 

This course fulfills Core requirement AHq.
No prerequisites.  All readings are in English. 
No prior knowledge of Yiddish or other languages required.

Elementary Modern Yiddish

Yiddish01:563:103 and 01:563:104

Big Ten Academic Alliance
Distance Learning Course

Course Goals
By the end of the course, students should have Yiddish skills to do the following:

  • Understand and participate in a simple conversation on everyday topics.
  • Read edited texts on familiar topics, understand the main ideas, and pick out important information from more complex texts with the aid of a dictionary.
  • Write short compositions on a variety of everyday topics; answer interpretive questions related to class readings.
  • Use basic grammatical forms, including the present, past and conditional tenses, periphrastic verbs, articles, and adjectives, pronouns, the negative, and word order.

The course will also introduce students to the history of the Yiddish language and the breadth of Yiddish.

For more information on options to study Yiddish, please contact Prof. Jeffrey Shandler (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Modern Yiddish Literature and Culture

Yiddish Language01:563:386

Read classic works of Yiddish literature, including Sholem Aleichem's "Tevye" stories, S. Ansky's play "The Dybbuk," works of fiction by I.L. Peretz, Sholem Asch, and Isaac Bashevis Singer, as well as avant-garde poetry and drama from writers in Eastern Europe and America. Learn how "Yiddish modernism" influenced 20th-century Jewish artists (including Marc Chagall), music, theater, cinema, and politics. (All readings in English translation; knowledge of Yiddish not required.)

Remembering the Shtetl

Yiddish Language01:563:260
(cross-listed with 01:510:260)

Discover how the shtetl-the kind of small town in Eastern Europe that was once home to most of the world's Jews-has become a key site of Jewish memory over the past century, through works of Yiddish literature, memoir, film, art, photography, and travel. (All readings in English translation; knowledge of Yiddish not required.)