Yiddish in UK




 Lord David Neuberger, UK.

Judge David Neuberger .

Lord David Neuberger, United Kingdom, has been confirmed as the next head of the Supreme Court in the UK. Baron was educated at Oxford. The 64 year old Judge is the nephew of famous Rabbi Herman . Rabbi Herman was a key person in rescuing nearly 60,000 Persian Jews from persecution in Iran.

David Neubergers sister-in-law, Baroness Julia .

In 1976, married , the TV producer and writer.

They have three children, Jessica, Nicholas and Max, who are all solicitors. Lord  has advocated that women and ethnic minorities are given priority for top jobs. In July 2010 ruled that peace protesters in Parleament Square who had camped out in Democracy Village should be evicted after the protesters lost an appeal. In May 2011, he argued that social media sites like Twitter were “totally out of control” and society should consider ways to bring such websites under control.


Sunday 30th October 2011

7.30 pm for 8 pm: Performance (all tickets £7)
Hilda Bronstein sings old songs of the shtetl, new works by today’s Yiddish songwriters, and throbbing Yiddish swing from the smoky era of New York jazz and vaudeville.
Upstairs at The Emperor, 21 Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 1NW


הילדאַ בראָנסטעין זינגען ייִדיש לידער מיט כוצפּאַ



London’s Jewish Museum is in the process of digitizing its entire museum collection, taking exhibits from display case to digital realm. Amongst the exhibits are 115 tapes of extensive interviews with elderly British Jews, recorded in the 1970s and 80s.

The museum will also be photographing and indexing their collection of artefacts, which include hundreds of posters, handwritten postcards, a 17th century Venetian synagogue ark, Hanukkah lamps and Purim scrolls, among rather a lot else.

The digitization of the museum’s collection is part of much wider and much more ambitious project, called Judaica Europeana. There are millions of artefacts relating to Jewish history housed across Europe; the project, which has been funded by the European Commission to the tune of €3 million, is an attempt to bring them together in one central database. This will be indexed and — crucially — fully searchable.


לאנדאן ס ייִדיש מוזיי איז אין דעם פּראָצעס פוןדידזשאַטייזינג זייַן גאַנצן מוזיי זאַמלונג, גענומען יגזיבאַץ פוןווייַז פאַל צו דיגיטאַל מעלוכע. צווישן די יגזיבאַץ זענען 115טייפּס פון ברייט ינטערוויוז מיט עלטער בריטיש יידן,רעקאָרדירט אין די 1970ס און 80ס.
דער מוזיי וועט אויך זייַן פאָוטאַגראַפינג און ינדעקסינג זייערזאַמלונג פון אַרטעפאַקץ, וואָס אַרייַננעמען הונדערטער פוןפּאָסטערס, כאַנדריטאַן פּאָוסטקאַרדז, אַ 17 יאָרהונדערטווענעטיאַן שול אַרק, האַננוקאַה לאמפן און פּורים סקראָולז,צווישן אלא אַ פּלאַץ אַנדערש.
די דיגיטיזאַטיאָן פון דער מוזיי ס זאַמלונג איז טייל פון פילווידער און פיל מער אַמביציעס פּרויעקט, גערופן דזשודאַיקאַעוראָפּעאַנאַ. עס זענען מיליאַנז פון אַרטעפאַקץ רילייטינג צוייִדיש געשיכטע כאַוזד אַריבער אייראָפּע, די פּרויעקט, וואָסאיז געווארן פאַנדאַד דורך די אייראפעישע קאַמישאַן צו דיניגן פון 3,000,000 €, איז אַן פּרווון צו ברענגען זיי צוזאַמעןאין איין הויפט דאַטאַבאַסע. דאס וועט זייַן ינדעקסט און -קרושאַללי – גאָר סעאַרטשאַבלע.


The British Jewish Museum opened an exhibition of ancient Jewish manuscripts from the Vatican collections and private collections. Among the exhibits – such unique manuscripts as Midrash to the book of Vayikra, created in the IX century.

The new Jewish Museum London is to exhibit three rare Hebrew manuscripts from the collections of the Vatican Library that have never before been shown to the public in Britain. Illumination will tell the story of these carefully selected manuscripts which is also a story of cultural exchange, practical cooperation and religious tolerance between Jews and non-Jews in the Muslim and Christian worlds during the Middle Ages. The manuscripts, which are among the most important Jewish works of scholarship and learning, will be displayed together with exquisitely beautiful manuscripts from the Bodleian Library, the British Library, and the Lambeth Palace Library for the museum’s opening exhibition.

Among the works on display from the Vatican Library are a richly illuminated 15th century manuscript of the Mishneh Torah, compiled in the 12th century by Maimonides,

The Vatican Library acquired an extensive collection of Hebrew manuscripts for its own internal study and scholarship, but the documents were not displayed publicly. The use by Christians of Jewish tradition made accessible in Hebrew manuscripts reveal cultural and religious exchange.

The manuscripts and printed books in this exhibition date from the 9th to the 17th century and many are beautifully illuminated and decorated. The Jews who commissioned manuscripts frequently turned to highly skilled Christian artists for the illustration of the text and the decorative styles of the works exhibited reflect local cultures and design, whether in the Moorish style of medieval Spain, the Italianate style, or the Gothic style of Northern Europe. The works attest to a shared culture and display coexistence and social interaction between Jews and their non-Jewish neighbours as well well as enhancing our understanding of the intellectual exchange and transmission of knowledge between Jews, Muslims and Christians.



London –

Police Investigate Attack on Rabbi

in Golders Green

London – A Rabbi was reportedly left needing stitches after being assaulted in a possible racist attack in Golders Green.

The 40-year-old Jewish man was alleged assaulted at around 1.15 am after he and a female companion had been pelted by objects thrown from a passing car.

A confrontation followed in which the Rabbi was left with a cut to the ear although exactly how he sustained the injury is not clear.

Reports that he was hit with a bottle and then punched have not been confirmed by the police or the Jewish organisation Community Security Trust (CST).

All the suspects are described as white and in their early twenties. They ran from the area on foot.

Police are investigating and are appealing for any witnesses to the crime to come forward. All information would be treated in confidence.

If anyone witnessed the assault or has any information which would be useful they can contact the CID at Colindale police on Tel 020 8733 4595 and speak to D S Brooks the officer in the case.






Be one of the 150 instrumentalists, singers and dancers and Yiddish
language students that converge in London each summer to learn the
traditional culture, music, song and dance of Eastern European Jewish
communities from  ages past.


Students have commented:

‘I came away uplifted and inspired!’;

‘Not only did I experience a wealth of new music and

techniques, but also a renewed outlook

on life and music in general’;

‘A hugely valuable insight into

Jewish music, tradition and culture’.

Now in its 10th year, the popular JMI KlezFest – which is part of the
World Music Summer School at SOAS, brings to London some of the most
inspirational teachers from America, Europe and the UK for week-long
practical courses in repertoire, interpretation and style of klezmer music
with dedicated strands for Yiddish song and dance as well as the Yiddish
language. Bands welcome with performance opportunities.

Students of all ages and backgrounds are welcome. In the popular Yiddish
crash-course Ot Azoy! (1 – 6 August), classes are held at four levels,
from complete beginners to advanced.  For KlezFest (8 – 13 August), music
and song students are taught according to competence on their instruments
(from about grade 5 and above – to professional). The dedicated dance
strand requires no set standard or experience – just a love of dancing.

A new, two-week song programme called Tumbala! – integrated with both Ot
Azoy! and KlezFest – runs from 1 to 13 August. For the first time, serious
singers will have the opportunity of absorbing repertoire and
interpretation of Yiddish song together with learning to speak, read and
write the language. Members of the public may enjoy four concerts by
international Yiddish andklezmer stars who will be gathering in London as
teachers at KlezFest. (Booking is already open for these concerts at

Details and Registration, online at www.jmi.org.uk


The new Jewish Museum

in London is now open

The new Jewish Museum in London is now open. Following a £10m investment, we have created not just an enlarged home for our internationally acclaimed collections but also an inspirational place for you to explore Jewish culture, heritage and identity.      …

There were quite a few times when my father smacked his head like that. Mostly, it came attached to the word meshugge, a way of telling the world in Yiddish that someone nearby (often me) was crazy. That’s my bit of the story that this museum is trying to tell. I’m the result of a few families out of the 150,000 people who came to Britain from Russia, Romania and “Russian Poland” around 130 years ago. Beginning with the Norman invasion and ending recently, other kinds of Jews are on display, too – Spanish, Portuguese, Indian – as well as converts: in the entrance foyer, a Chinese woman talks alongside a Hasidic rabbi and Jonathan Freedland. Jewish multiculturalism, even.

My parents grew into something else: Jewish internationalism. I see it on a trade-union banner. Across the top it reads: “The London Jewish Bakers Union”. Across the bottom: “Workers of the World Unite”. In the middle: “Buy bread with the union label”. On the reverse, not visible when I visited, it says the same in Yiddish. So, these bakers seemed to think that they could speak their own language, bake Jewish bread, have a Jewish trade union and yet also say: “Labour is international.”

Not everyone agreed. Yes, of course not everyone agreed about workers losing their chains and all that. I mean not everyone agreed about Yiddish. From the explanation here, we see that the older Jewish community was none too happy that the children at the Jews’ Free School talked to each other in Yiddish. But then the Jewish Board of Guardians had opposed the setting up of a night shelter to “house new arrivals from eastern Europe, believing it encouraged ‘helpless foreigners’ to come to England. They had the shelter closed on sanitary grounds.” And the Rothschilds opposed the setting up of a hospital that would keep kosher and observe the festivals, and where Yiddish would be spoken. I sense that today’s debate about multiculturalism has its roots right here.        …

Sadnesses? A film of three International Brigaders, including a friend of my parents, Sam Lesser, talking about losing the fight against Franco; small ads in the Jewish Chronicle sent by German and Austrian Jews pleading for someone to take them on: “Viennese married couple, educated, understanding English, seek posts as chauffeur-valet and maid or similar work. Apply to Stierer, Vienna 9, Glasergasse 22.”

Nearby, there’s Andrew Sachs, Klaus Moser, Judith Kerr and others talking about growing up German or Austrian but then escaping. At the end they talk of nationality. Each puts it differently, but none of them says unequivocally that he or she is British. Judith Kerr is not quite as British as someone who was born British; Klaus Moser is, he says, a Middle European Jew; and another says proudly that she is a Londoner. Definitely a Londoner. Of north-west London.

Complicated, this identity stuff. And so it should be.

The Jewish Museum is at 129-131 Albert Street, London NW1. Details: jewishmuseum.org.uk


 Schneider at Yiddish Theatre, Jewish MuseumComedian Schneider at the Jewish Museum in Camden, London, where he taught Tanya Gold about the traditions of Yiddish theatre. Photograph: Linda Nylind

A tiny, interactive Yiddish theatre in the form of a karaoke machine? Could be the first line of a Yiddish joke. Or perhaps it’s a bit of mordant Yiddish commentary on the fate of a language that was in daily use among 11-13 million Jews in Europe on the eve of the Holocaust.

A survivor of the Holocaust, the last great Yiddish poet, Abraham Sutzkever, died last month aged 96.  …  Sutzkever, who left Russia in 1946 and arrived in Tel Aviv via Paris in 1947, “rescued Yiddish texts during the second world war” and battled against “official Zionism’s … [dismissal of] Yiddish as a defeatist diaspora argot”.

Would a karaoke machine have figured in his quest to revive the Yiddish literary tradition? I’d like to think so – especially since he lived long enough to witness a Yiddish revival. But also because the karaoke machine is no joke – though it could be used for telling jokes – as we learned from Tanya Goldwhen she test-drove it at the radically expanded Jewish Museum by declaiming Shylock’s most famous line in Yiddish.

See Yiddish mentioned in a news story and the punch line is usually something just about to be inscribed on its gravestone. But “Yiddish keeps eluding death” (sadly, the fate of Bo, the language of the Andaman Islands). If my parents’ generation had had their way, Yiddish might well have sunk into oblivion. My father and mother both spoke the language, but, like many other families, they used it when we were children as a convenient way of talking about things in our presence that they did not want us to understand.

Knowing Yiddish gave them pleasure too, although mixed with guilt and ambivalence. It’s as if they knew it had to disappear, more for the sake of our successful assimilation into British society than theirs, and yet took delight in swapping Yiddish jokes with friends. I often felt that we were somehow expected to understand and even looked upon with a certain degree of pity, nebach, because we didn’t. Yet had we expressed a wish to learn Yiddish, we would have regarded us as meshuggah. We actually knew enough already to enjoy the broken-Yiddish American humour of comedian and musician Mickey Katz. I can still remember the cover of his album The Most Mishige, with the diminutive Katz manically strumming a guitar beside a statuesque, busty brunette in a white leotard.

The Holocaust, the resurgence of Hebrew, assimilation, shrinking Jewish populations, all have contributed to the dramatic decline in the number of Yiddish speakers, but the language, and what it represents, may well be outwitting history.

Although no one knows exactly how many Yiddish speakers there are today, estimates range from a very realistic minimum of 1 million to a more fanciful 3 million. At the core of this population are the Hasidic and strictly orthodox Jews in New York, Israel, London, Paris, Antwerp and elsewhere for whom Yiddish is their first language. In the UK alone, where the strictly orthodox are growing in number, there are probably as many as 30,000 Yiddish speakers. The vast majority of these Jews live in relatively closed communities, but there is always some “leakage” into the wider Jewish world.

Beyond the very religious, Yiddish has been undergoing a marked revival, especially among young people, for more than 20 years. There are reportedly more than 100 colleges and universities around the world teaching Yiddish, although courses and posts are vulnerable in straightened times. The Zionist drive to stigmatise Yiddish has collapsed and the revival has spread to Israel.

The main driver of this revival is the fact that, as Jewish populations become more diverse and Jewish identity less connected to religion and more to ethnicity, Jews are increasingly looking for alternative ways to be Jewish. And more accessible than ever is the richly stocked storehouse of Jewish culture and history, especially, but not exclusively, from eastern Europe. It’s common now to flesh out an alternative Jewish identity with a passion for klezmer (the traditional music of the Jewish shtetl), an interest in Yiddish theatre, novels, poetry and films exploring aspects of the European Jewish past, and participation in cultural festivalsof which Yiddish song and performance are major components.

To keep things in perspective, the speaking and writing of Yiddish is not going to become the day-to-day routine of secular Jewish life. Although, if strictly orthodox numbers continue to grow, the status of Yiddish as a living language will become increasingly secure. With the bitter religious and political divisions among Jews so intense, the revival of Yiddish culture, and Jewish culture more generally, is often seen as a neutral and non-political good news story. This is naive. It is linked to lifestyles that orthodox Jews abhor. It proves that Zionism failed to consign other forms of Jewish life to oblivion. It challenges hegemonic and defensive Jewish leadership. And it’s not immune from political manipulation or of being co-opted in Jewish political battles.

Who knows, perhaps, that innocent Yiddish karaoke machine is powered by chutzpah, and has wickedly subversive potential.



Under construction

Coming soon!

באַלד קומענדיק

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