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By Jeffrey Shandler

Adventures in Yiddishland examines the transformation of Yiddish within the six many years because the Holocaust, tracing its shift from the language of lifestyle for hundreds of thousands of Jews to what the writer phrases a postvernacular language of numerous and increasing symbolic worth. With a radical command of recent Yiddish tradition in addition to its centuries-old heritage, Jeffrey Shandler investigates the outstanding range of up to date encounters with the language. His learn traverses the large spectrum of people that interact with Yiddish--from Hasidim to avant-garde performers, Jews in addition to non-Jews, fluent audio system in addition to those that be aware of very little Yiddish--in groups around the Americas, in Europe, Israel, and different outposts of "Yiddishland."

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Extra info for Adventures in Yiddishland: Postvernacular Language and Culture (S. Mark Taper Foundation Imprint in Jewish Studies)

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These came from Jews who championed Hebrew as their modern vernacular or who advocated linguistic assimilation into German, Russian, Polish, or another major national language. Other Jews assailed Yiddish as the instrument of a pernicious ideology, be it hasidism, communism, or Jewish nationalism. Although this may be a difficult notion to grasp from our current perspective, since Yiddish seems to be, if anything, endangered rather than dangerous, defending the language from attack by both Jews and non-Jews was a constant of modern Yiddish culture in its heyday.

54 Though perceived largely in terms of loss, the current state of Yiddish—increasingly self-conscious, contingent, and tenacious—has also opened up new cultural possibilities for the language. Indeed, the symbolic values invested in Yiddish have expanded greatly and have done so precisely because of the prevailing sense that it is no longer what it once was, with this disparity inspiring innovation. , in Joan Micklin Silver’s 1975 film Hester Street); invoked archly as the native tongue of an exoticized American Jewish middle class (by Ken Jacobs in his 1975 film Urban Peasants: An Essay in Yiddish Structuralism); deployed with 20 POSTVERNACULARITY heavy irony as the lingua franca of the Holocaust (in Andres Veiel’s 1994 film Balagan [Chaos]); or celebrated as the language of improbable Jewish romance (most provocatively in Jean-Jacques Zilbermann’s 1998 film L’homme est une femme comme les autres [released in English as Man Is a Woman], in which the sheltered daughter of hasidim and a secular gay Jewish man bond, albeit briefly, through their common love of Yiddish culture).

36 Although World War I brought an end to these restrictions, East European Yiddish speakers encountered both new obstacles and unprecedented opportunities in the interwar years. Provisions in the Versailles Treaty stipulated that minorities in Eastern Europe’s new republics, including Jews, would be afforded considerable cultural autonomy. These provisions included the right to establish trade unions, political parties, schools, presses, and cultural institutions run in their own languages. 37 During the 1930s, state-endorsed and -supported Yiddish cultural institutions that had been established in Soviet Russia in the previous decade came under increasingly oppressive governmental control, sometimes at the hands of fellow Jews in leadership positions in the Russian Communist Party.

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