Lecture Series
The Weimar Republic of Yiddishland

Jul 28 – Aug 2, 4:00 – 5:45 p.m. @OMA
Das Thema des YSW 2019, The Weimar Republic of Yiddishland, öffnet die ersten Seiten eines unglaublich vielseitigen und umfangreichen Kapitels jüdischer und jiddischer Kulturgeschichte. Unsere Vortragsreihe wird hier neue Einblicke vermitteln und neue Fragen aufwerfen. Wir freuens uns auf sechs international bekannte Vortragende und ihre Themen!
Die Vorträge sind auf eine Dauer von 45 Minuten ausgelegt. Nach einer kurzen Pause laden wir dann, moderiert von Dr. Alan Bern, zu einer gemeinsamen Diskussionsrunde der Vortragenden und Besucher*innen ein.

This lecture series, presented by six internationally known speakers, sheds new light on and raises new questions about the rich and diverse chapter of Jewish and Yiddish cultural history that is the central theme of YSW 2019: The Weimar Republic of Yiddishland. The lectures, each 45 minutes long, will be followed, after a short break, by an open discussion between the speaker and the audience, moderated by Dr. Alan Bern.

Admission free

Jul 28 Sun
Der eyntsiker vofn iz di pen... (The only weapon is the pen...)
Yiddishland: A republic between words and values
with Dr. Diana Matut

Yiddish was (and is) a stateless language. Before 1933, it was spoken by over 11 million people worldwide. Against the backdrop of the bellicose sovereignty movements and rising nationalism of the interwar period, the architects of the "Yiddish nation" created an alternative identity space defined by art, literature and language. Wherever people struggled, with pen, word and sound, to uphold the values of this Yiddish-speaking nation without borders, a virtual, pan-European, even worldwide space emerged: Yiddishland. This lecture introduces Yiddishland as a comprehensive concept, as a basis for further discussion over the course of Yiddish Summer.

Jul 29 Mon
The Purimshpil  – The Big Bang of Yiddish Popular Culture
with Mendy Cahan

Di Megile fun Vaymar, a modern purimshpil with music by Alan Bern, is of the highlights of YSW 2019. Mendy Cahan will discuss the historic and social background of the purimshpil genre, the emergence of which at the end of the 17th century marked a pivotal point in the cultural development of European Jewry. Based on Biblical and Aggadic styles and stories, the purimshpil was innovative in several respects. Combining elements of the modern techniques of commedia dell’arte and exploiting the traditionally sanctioned subversiveness and carnavalesque atmosphere of Purim, it brought – for the first time in European history – the undercurrents of popular Jewish culture to the stage, giving voice to its Rabelaisian perspective on life and unleashing a “Big Bang” of Jewish popular culture. The purimshpil continued to develop as an independent art form, with its own modes and moods, until contemporary times. In addition to directly influencing the birth and development of Yiddish theater, its seismic vibrations could also be felt in the realms of literature, poetry and visual arts.

Jul 30 Tue
Do vert geboyrn a naye velt! (A new world is born!)
The politics of Yiddish culture in the interwar period
with Dr. Karolina Szymaniak

This lecture traces the tendencies, programs and debates that characterized interwar Yiddish culture as seen through the lens of modernist literature and its main institutions. From the avant-garde movements of the early 1920s to the radical groups of the 1930s, Dr. Szymaniak will examine the diversity of the interwar Yiddish scene in Eastern Europe, outline its tendencies and development, and shed light on its affiliations with various political parties and programs such as the General Jewish Labour Bund or leftist Zionism.

Jul 31 Wed
Not German - Yiddish!
with Michael Wex

Yiddish is not German. Not at all. New York Times bestselling author and world-renowned Yiddishist Michael Wex explains why. How does Yiddish give Middle High German words and phrases an original spin? How does this reflect its worldview? What nuances lie hidden in Yiddish German cognates, in the subtle distinctions between Yiddish and apparently synonymous Hebrew or Slavic words? Michael Wex presents to us the subversive language politics of Yiddish – a politics of de-integration from, and resistance to assimilation into German. For the history of how German and Yiddish diverged in early modern times has something to add to our current discussions of “Leitkultur” and “integration.”

Aug 1 Thu
Life in the "Republic of Lear": Weimar-era Berlin in the works of Jewish
Migrants from Eastern Europe
with Anne-Christin Saß

This lecture focuses on the largely unknown but extremely astute social analyses recorded by Yiddish-speaking migrants in 1920s Berlin. These reports and articles, written mostly in Yiddish for American and Eastern European Jewish audiences, trace a remarkable panorama of German society between social awakening and crisis.

Aug 2 Fri

The Spark of Yiddishland: the Paris Yiddish Center-Medem Library
with Tal Hever-Chybowsky

Tal Hever-Chybowski, director of the Paris Yiddish Center-Medem Library, tells the story of how a Bundist library in Paris became Europe’s largest Yiddish center – a flourishing institution that trains new generations of Yiddishists, publishes Yiddish dictionaries and organizes programs, seminars and conferences all over Europe.