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By Jeffrey Shandler

Adventures in Yiddishland examines the transformation of Yiddish within the six many years because the Holocaust, tracing its shift from the language of everyday life for thousands of Jews to what the writer phrases a postvernacular language of numerous and increasing symbolic worth. With a radical command of contemporary Yiddish tradition in addition to its centuries-old heritage, Jeffrey Shandler investigates the awesome range of up to date encounters with the language. His examine traverses the extensive spectrum of people that interact with Yiddish--from Hasidim to avant-garde performers, Jews in addition to non-Jews, fluent audio system in addition to those that understand very little Yiddish--in groups around the Americas, in Europe, Israel, and different outposts of "Yiddishland."

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Extra info for Adventures in Yiddishland: Postvernacular Language and Culture (S. Mark Taper Foundation Imprint in Jewish Studies)

Example text

Increasingly, speaking, reading, writing—even hearing— Yiddish has become an elective act. Relatively few Jews now use Yiddish because it is the only language that they have for communication with other Jews, nor is Yiddish thrust on its speakers by any polity. Rather, those who use Yiddish (including a noteworthy number of non-Jews) do so voluntarily, as communities, as families, and as individuals. Understanding postvernacular Yiddish, then, requires investigation into the desires of those who choose to pursue it.

Postvernacular Yiddish relates to vernacular Yiddish much as other “post-X” phenomena do to their respective “X’s”: postmodernism, poststructuralism, postfeminism, post-Zionism, or what historian David Hollinger terms postethnicity. ” In positing postvernacularity as a model for understanding Yiddish in the post-Holocaust era, I claim neither that vernacular Yiddish is a thing of the past nor that we should look forward to such a day when that would be the case. Rather, I argue that postvernacular Yiddish is a phenomenon whose origins can be seen taking shape during the efflorescence of modern Yiddish culture at the turn of the twentieth century.

They could speak no Yiddish at all, but they were stagestruck. When I told them that we were going to produce our plays in Yiddish, they promised to learn Yiddish in a very short time. . ”47 Similarly, in a 1961 collection of Yiddish poetry in English translation the anthologist, Joseph Leftwich, cited as evidence of the postwar renewal of Yiddish belles lettres the words of an unnamed survivor of Nazi persecution: “Yiddish, which I hardly knew before, the language of my parents and grandparents, has become my most sacred 18 POSTVERNACULARITY credo, .

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