How to leave for Hungary from ukraine
On May 10, 1989, a tourist from Brussels brought Mordechai Yushkovsky, who was still living in Moscow, the telephone of the chair of Bar-Ilan University. Mordechai called Israel to Professor Gershon Weiner and said: “If you find the opportunity to come here, we will organize a seminar in Yiddish after a fifty-year break!”
And now people in bales descend from the plane’s ramp to Sheremetyevo. They came to Moscow for the “Congress of the Central Committee of the Komsomol” (as was indicated in their visas).
The first seminar is “Yiddish un idishkeit”. The professors enter the classroom, where 56 teachers from all over the USSR gathered from the Baltic to Siberia. They said a prayer “Shehehyanu”. Everyone had tears in their eyes, because for fifty years of silence in the Moscow audience these sacred words were first heard. For the first time after fifty years of silence in the heart of Russia, they listened to lectures at the academic level on language, culture, and traditions.
Time flies imperceptibly. In the summer of 2004, the 15th seminar “Yiddish un idishkeit” was held. During these years, more than 1,200 people attended these seminars. Many of them are already engaged in Yiddish professionally.
This year the seminar “Yiddish un Yishisht” was held from 3 to 19 August in Pushcha-Voditsa near Kiev. About 50 people from Ukraine, Moldavia, Russia, Poland, Romania and Germany became its participants. The seminar was organized by the Israeli National Department of Yiddish Culture.
At the opening, the seminar leader, Dr. Mordechai Yushkovsky, introduced the teachers, described how the seminar will be held. And the teachers prepared a musical surprise for us. Israeli actor Yasha Einstein performed a song from the repertoire of Max Perelman’s “Van Do Lahst” (When you laugh – everyone laughs with you, when you cry – you cry alone). And the singer Marina Yakubovich sang the song of Mark Varshavsky “Wu from dos gesele”. This song is widely known in Russia and Poland under the title “A spinning, spinning blue ball”, but very few people know that its original was written in Yiddish.
And then began the study weekdays. Although no, of course, I expressed myself wrong. After all, daily meetings with your favorite language, culture, songs, with wonderful teachers – this is a huge holiday.
All students were divided into three groups in terms of language proficiency. In the first group, those who knew only the alphabet were engaged; in the second – those who already had the initial knowledge of Yiddish. The students of the third group were called “forgeshtale” (“advanced”). Basically it was those who already have their students.
Our morning started with classes on Jewish folklore under the guidance of Dr. Mark Derbaremdiker (Kiev). In his lessons we got acquainted with Jewish proverbs, idioms, fables, Hasidic legends, heard the familiar stories about Herschel Ostricholer, but now in Yiddish.
The second lesson was literature. Her, as in past years, was led by Dr. Mordechai Yushkovsky. In the Ministry of Education of Israel, Dr. Yushkovsky is the inspector of the teaching of the Yiddish language. In his lectures we studied the works of Isaac Bashevis-Singer, Sholom Asha, Shike (Hovsei) Driz, Nathan Zabara, Shimon Frug, Yosef Geiblum, Itzik Manger, Fradl Stock. The lessons of literature were, as always, extraordinarily cognitive: we not only listened to the works of writers and poets, but also learned the most important facts of their biography, many of which were the cause of the creation of certain works; analyzed the meaning of various expressions and idioms relating to the Jewish tradition.
Lectures on Israeli culture for all three groups were conducted by Dr. Dan Ronen. For many years he was the head of the Department of Culture in the Israeli Ministry of Culture, now he is the chairman of the World Council for Yiddish Culture. Dan Ronen told us about the current situation of Yiddish in Israel; we together searched for answers to questions, who are Jews and what is Zionism. And they also studied different elements of Israeli dances, because Jews live all over the world and, when they come to Israel, they bring with them some culture pieces of the locality where they come from. So in one dance, the movements of Ethiopian Jews, Slavic, West European, Arab movements, etc. can be combined. And in the last lesson, Dan Ronen taught us to dance. Unfortunately, in the middle of the seminar he had to go to the conference “International Folklore” in Hungary, where he represented Israel.
And, finally, drama. At these lessons we had to sweat no less than the actors in the theater. Rehearsals led by Yasha Einstein and his wife and the invariable accompanist Bella were held twice a day. We were preparing for the final concert, which was to show what we learned at the seminar.
In the first and second groups, the program looked different. First – a conversation with Elias Zeydowski. Elias lives in the city of Nancy (France). The first time he came to a seminar in Kiev seven years ago and was now very afraid of poor living conditions, but, in my opinion, this time was pleased. Then – the grammar taught by Vered Kopel. Vered was one of the first to teach Yiddish lessons in Israeli schools and taught at the university. She flew to Kiev with her three twin kids, who charmed all the participants of the seminar.
After the general lecture on the culture of Israel, the first and the second group met at the singing class at Marina Yakubovich. Many Simferopol Jews remember Marina’s solo concert in our city. Such a voice you hear infrequently, but you can not forget it! Marina herself was recently a student of the seminar, and now the second year she comes as a teacher. She immigrated to Israel from the small Ukrainian town of Ostrog just three years ago, but has already been on tour in many countries around the world.
This ended the main lessons. And after dinner, we were waiting for new meetings with Jewish culture. Vered Kopel dedicated her story to Itzhok-Leybush Peretz, and in the performance of Yashi Einstein we saw a solo program “Zvyshn doyres” (“Through generations”). Mordechai Yushkovsky and Marina Yakubovich introduced us to their programs “Thieves and street Jewish songs” and “Folk and author’s Jewish song”. Each song was accompanied by an interesting story.
Every year on August 12, an event is held in memory of the figures of Jewish culture who died in the Lubyanka prison in 1952. Teachers remembered about the executed Jewish writers and poets, and the youngest participant of the seminar – Misha Vygodner from Bershadi, read a passage from Itzik Fefer’s poem “Their bin and id.”
Two classes with a slide show were conducted by a guest lecturer from Israel, Professor Avidor Lipsker. The subjects of his lectures were “Jewish place and Jewish art created in the town”, “Ethnographic expedition of An-sky”, “Jewish avant-garde artists”.
The concerts “Hello, We’re Looking for Talents”, which have already become permanent, have opened up new artistic abilities of the seminar participants.
And the seminar ended with a presentation to which its participants were preparing for two and a half weeks. Marina Yakubovich’s pupils sang songs loved by all: “Vu from dos gesele”, “Schwarze karsheleh”, “Fire Command” and others.
Our group, led by Yasha and Bella Einstein, prepared a production about a world that consisted of several parts. In the beginning, we all argued together about whether there is peace in Israel or singing songs about peace. The second number was a parody of Sholom Aleichem’s Tevye the Milkman. In this mini-play Tevye (played by the teacher Elias Zeydovski) and Golda (performed by the author of these lines) live no longer in Anatevka, but in Israel, in the city of Ak-Akiva. Golda persuades Tevye to move to Eilat, where it is not so fired, where there are no missiles, where one should not wear gas masks and close the windows tightly. But Tevye persuades her to stay, he is a patriot, and patriots do not do that. Tevye and Golda dream of how Saddam Hussein will be defeated and peace will come in Israel. In this scene there were humor, and songs, and dances.
A group of students from Moldova performed the song “Sabraleh” about the girls who serve in the IDF, and a student from Poland Alicia Grzhibowska is a monologue about the world.
Participants of the seminar left Kiev with new knowledge and a huge charge of enthusiasm. The knowledge we get at the Yiddish and Yiddishkeit seminars is very helpful in the work. If even half of us pass on their knowledge of language and culture to other people in their regions, the number of fans and even Yiddish fans in the world will increase noticeably.
I am very grateful to the organizers of the seminar, the National Yiddish Cultural Authority, the Jewish Fund of Ukraine and all the teachers I met in these five years and thanks to whom my sudden flare-up interest in Yiddish turned into real great love.
Citizens of the CIS and Eastern European countries aged 18-35 who have at least elementary knowledge of Yiddish and Jewish culture, as well as teachers of Jewish schools and educational centers without age limitation, are invited to participate in the seminar.
Participants of the seminar are provided with free training, accommodation and meals in the boarding house, as well as a subsidy for travel up to $ 50.
Candidates must provide information about themselves: surname and name, year of birth, parents’ religion, home address and telephone number, education, occupation, place of work or study, level of knowledge of Yiddish (on a five-point scale: from 1 – minimum to 5 – maximum) .
These data should be sent no later than June 15 by e-mail to the address: [email protected]
The application should be accompanied by a recommendation of the local Jewish community or Jewish cultural and educational organization.
The number of seats is limited. All applicants will receive a written response.