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Yiddish

Yiddish poetry: It's not just for men!

Most people believe that Yiddish literature and poetry was written solely by men. In reality, there were hundreds of female Yiddish writers and poets, all of whom had their own distinct biographies and writing styles.

Edith Kaplan Bregman was one of these women. She was born in a Russian shtetl in 1899 to a Hasidic family, immigrating to New York when she was 13. In America, she was exposed to literature that hadn’t been available in Europe, so she became a voracious reader. Bregman went on to write poetry in her native tongue, Yiddish. Her love of language led her to meet many Yiddish literary giants, like Avrom Reyzen, a poet who became her mentor. While she wrote poems throughout her early life, her works weren’t published until 1939, when a Yiddish newspaper had a poetry contest that she entered and won. Her victory gave her the confidence to publish more of her written work. Some of the themes that recur throughout her poems are a love of Judaism and God, life in Europe, and Holocaust remembrance. In addition to writing poetry, Bregman sang and played the mandolin and piano. Bregman’s last poem was published in 1997, a few years before her death at age 99.

Sweeping Away Nostalgia with Songs for the New Year

Recently, I saw Eleanor Reissa, a talented and well-known Yiddish actress and performer, sing "My Yiddishe Momme" to a standing ovation. Mind you, the crowd was entirely over seventy and the children of Polish Jewish immigrants to North and South America. To help pass the time, I thought about that nice tough character, Sophie Tucker, who made the song into a bi-lingual top five hit in 1928.

Klezmer, Ladino, and New Music Fusion

I always have an ear out for new music, especially music that brings together sounds and styles from different parts of the world. Two of my favorites include the music of the Afro-Celt Sound System and Rebbe Soul, both of which are quite innovative and energizing.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Yiddish." (Viewed on December 19, 2014) <http://jwa.org/blog/yiddish>.

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@SpicyVegetarian Awesome, can you send us a copy!?