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Baila Miller Programs

1226 Schooner Lane

Venice, FL 34285

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Yiddish Lectures

These Multi-media lectures taught in Yiddish and English explore European Jewish Life as it adapts to the world philosophies of The Enlightenment to Romanticism and, finally, to the Modern Era. For centuries, Yiddish culture has inspired humor, music, language, politics, and art.

The Programs are 60-120 minutes long. All Information is conveyed in English translation; knowledge of Yiddish is not required.)

Course Choices

    1. History of the Yiddish Language

Yiddish is a Middle High German language of Ashkenazi Jewish origin that is spoken throughout the world. It developed as a fusion of German dialects with Hebrew, Aramaic, Slavic languages and traces of Romance languages. It is written in the Hebrew alphabet. The language originated in the 10th century in the Rhineland and then spread to Central and Eastern Europe and eventually to other continents.

    2. Life in the Shtetl

The shtetls-the small, impoverished towns in Eastern Europe—shaped the lives of millions of Jewish People for centuries. Here they created a unique language called Yiddish, produced world-class literature, developed a system of compassionate welfare, and promoted educational institutions.

    3. Yiddish Literature

Yiddish Literature began in the Dark Ages with stories of knights and damsels in distress. This course follows the roots of this literary experience from its inception to the winning of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Nobel Prize for Literature in the twentieth century.

    4. Politics in the Pale of Settlement

The tribulations of life in the Pale of Settlement created dire political and social consequences for Jewish people. During the late 19th century, Yiddish played a key role in developing modern Jewish political movements, promoting a wide array of political ideas— Zionism, Socialism, Communism, and Anarchism — to masses of Jews living in Eastern Europe.

    5. Yiddish in Hollywood

Yiddish-speaking Jews pioneered the creation of a modern American culture that celebrates the history and creativity of Jews separate from religious life. Secular Yiddish culture created “The American Dream” in Movies, on Broadway, in Music, and in Dance.

    6. Klezmer and Jewish Music History

Jewish music is quite diverse and dates back thousands of years. Sometimes it is religious in nature, other times it is not. Around the 15th century, a tradition of secular Jewish music was developed by itinerant musicians called klezmorim. Klezmorim traveled throughout Eastern Europe and played with musicians from The Ukraine, Hungary, Poland, and Rumania. They incorporated these influences and created a unique KLEZMER sound.

    7. Yiddish Theatre and Movies

Yiddish theater includes Purim plays, which have been performed for centuries, as well as a wide repertoire of modern dramas, comedies, and musicals. In early twentieth-century Europe, Yiddish theater artists were among the most innovative performers on the continent. In America, Yiddish theater played a vital role in Jewish immigrant life. For a brief period, filmmakers captured the performances of some of the greatest stars of the Yiddish stage on film.

    8. The Jewish Radio Project

All that survives from the "golden age" of Yiddish radio in the 1930s to '50s are a few hundred fragile discs, rescued from storerooms, attics, and even dumpsters. The Yiddish Radio Project is a celebration of these recordings and of the forgotten geniuses and dreamers who created them. We will listen to rare Yiddish radio clips, see archival photographs, and remember the stories of a forgotten radio universe.