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Yiddish

Shulamis Yelin, 1913 - 2002

Shulamis Yelin came into my life at my grandmother's shiva. With auburn hair, bright pink lipstick and a multi-colored patchwork jacket, she didn't look like any other "old" person who had come to pay her respects and clearly that's the way she liked it. She didn't talk in hushed tones and she didn't say false things like "it's going to get better." After the minyan was over she asked me to walk her home. She did this like a girl of sixteen offering to take her girlfriend out for milkshakes to save her from too much family and too much death.

Judy Frankel, 1942 - 2008

Like so many other people in the Jewish music world and beyond, I was astonished, before disbelief gave way to sadness, to read a brief note in a Ladino discussion group about the death of Judy Frankel on March 20, 2008 at age 65. She left no immediate family, but many friends who had become her family over the years. A gentle, gracious and discreet person, she had, I learned a little later, not told many people besides her close friends about her illness, cancer.

National Humanities Medal awarded to Ruth Wisse

November 15, 2007

Pioneering Yiddish scholar Ruth Wisse was awarded the prestigious National Humanities Medal.

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.

A vagina by any other name…

Over lunch today, our conversation turned to an article a couple of us had recently read in Tablet about Yiddish words for vagina. (Yes, this is fairly typical lunchtime conversation at the Jewish Women's Archive.) None of us had really thought much about this topic before, but we were all quite intrigued. Why yes, it IS strange, we agreed with the author, Elissa Strauss, that Yiddish slang for penis has been assimilated into general English usage, while Yiddish slang for vagina is virtually unknown.

The Klezmatics' performance of Aliza Greenblatt's work, set to music by Woody Guthrie

December 20, 2003

"Holy Ground: The Jewish Songs of Woody Guthrie," a Klezmatics performance at the 92nd Street Y, featured songs inspired or written by Guthrie's mother-in-law, Aliza Greenblatt.

Clara Lemlich sparks "Uprising of the 20,000"

November 22, 1909

Clara Lemlich's passionate words sparked the "Uprising of the 20,000," a general strike of New York garment workers that marked a turning point in U.S. labor activism.

Roberta Peters debuts at the Met

November 17, 1950

Soprano Roberta Peters debuted at the Metropolitan Opera when she replaced a colleague on six hours notice; she achieved the longest tenure of any Met soprano.

Ze'enah U-Re'enah

Ze’enah u-Re’enah, Yiddish pronunciation: tsenerene. A rendering in Yiddish of the Pentateuch, the Megillot (Five Scrolls of the Bible) and the Haftarot(portions from Prophets read in synagogue after the Sabbath reading from the Torah).

Yiddish: Women's Poetry

Women’s poetry in Yiddish first made its presence felt within the wider context of modern Yiddish culture at the end of the second decade of the twentieth century.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Yiddish." (Viewed on December 13, 2017) <https://jwa.org/topics/yiddish>.

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