By Jeffrey Shandler
Adventures in Yiddishland examines the transformation of Yiddish within the six a long time because the Holocaust, tracing its shift from the language of way of life for thousands of Jews to what the writer phrases a postvernacular language of numerous and increasing symbolic price. With a radical command of contemporary Yiddish tradition in addition to its centuries-old heritage, Jeffrey Shandler investigates the striking range of latest encounters with the language. His learn traverses the vast spectrum of people that have interaction with Yiddish--from Hasidim to avant-garde performers, Jews in addition to non-Jews, fluent audio system in addition to those that recognize very little Yiddish--in groups around the Americas, in Europe, Israel, and different outposts of ''Yiddishland.''
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Extra resources for Adventures in Yiddishland: Postvernacular Language and Culture. S. Mark Taper Foundation Imprint in Jewish Studies
5 In his incredulous response to the book Chabon envisions a postHolocaust milieu saturated with spoken Yiddish not simply as counterfactual but as untenable. His is not the reaction of an ideologist—say, a Hebraist or Zionist who cannot accept another vision of Jewish cultural or political nationalism as valid. Indeed, Chabon’s essay evinces neither any particular Jewish ideological convictions nor any awareness of the range and tenacity of Yiddish in the six decades since World War II. On the latter issue, Chabon was taken to task by several impassioned letters to the editor printed in Civilization and Harper’s.
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, . . ”48 Such devotion to Yiddish as an act of remembrance and of a deﬁant Jewish persistence in the face of genocide elides the fundamental questioning of the language’s future, which was pervasive, if often tacit, in early postwar Yiddish culture.
These changing circumstances and perspectives contributed to postwar American Jews’ extensive abandonment of Yiddish as a vernacular. At the same time, these developments prompted a new self-consciousness about the loss of the language. , 1959. The words taught in this “Yiddish Lesson” exemplify the wide symbolic range of Yiddish in postwar America: as a signifier of piety and sentiment, on the one hand, and of excess and disparagement on the other. The neglect of Yiddish became a topic of interest in itself, notably in works of American Jewish literature and in humor that played with the disparity between different generations’ knowledge of the language.