Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Guest-blogger Ellen Cassedy on 5 Links to Learn Yiddish
Ellen Cassedy is the author of We Are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust (University of Nebraska Press, March 2012)
Ellen Cassedy set off into the Jewish heartland of Lithuania to study Yiddish, the language of European Jews, and connect with her forebears. Once there, however, old certainties began to dissolve, what had begun as a personal quest expanded into an exploration of how Jews and non-Jews in a land scarred by conflict are confronting their Nazi and Soviet past in order to move forward into the future.
Probing the terrain of memory, massacre, and moral dilemmas, Ellen asks: Can we honor our diverse heritages without perpetuating the fears and hatreds of the past? Her account shines a spotlight on fragile efforts toward tolerance, and finds reason for hope.
Learn Yiddish: 5 Links
When my mother was alive, I could count on her to keep hold of the old Jewish world. But when she died, all those who’d come before seemed to be slipping away. My mother had sprinkled Yiddish words into conversation only occasionally, like a spice, but once she was gone, I found myself missing them. I developed a craving to connect myself to my origins by learning the old mother tongue. Learning to speak Yiddish – and to understand, read, write, sing, and translate – has been a mekhaye, a great pleasure.
You can even choose to learn the language while working on a farm.
An easy place to begin (without farm work) is the 20 simple online lessons offered by the Dora Teitelboim Center for Yiddish Culture. Start with the alphabet; sound is included to help you pronounce.
Yiddish Online Dictionary