Why Yiddish?

I am currently working on a documentary film about the transmission of Yiddish since the Holocaust.

Many people ask: Yiddish? Why? Of what use is it?

Yiddish was the day-to-day language of 11 million Jews living in Northern Europe, France to Russia, for over a thousand years. The Holocaust caused the deaths of millions of European-born Jews who spoke Yiddish. The Jewish people’s primary language has now become Hebrew and Yiddish in our time can disappear.

Hebrew, the language of our holy texts – the Torah – has been revived as a spoken language during the last century and is the official language of Israel, spoken by Israelis. Most of the Jewish world now lives and breaths in Hebrew.

So of what use is Yiddish? Israel Bercovici wrote:

Jewish culture entered in dialogue with the outside world, both by putting itself on display and by importing theatrical pieces from other cultures. So “Is Yiddish important”? Is culture important? Is being Jewish important? Only you can answer that question.

In my documentary, I focus on the lives of three people who have devoted their lives to ensuring Yiddish’s survival: Shmuel Atzmon, a Holocaust survivor; Bryna Wasserman, a second-generation Yiddish artist; and Milena Kartovsky, a third-generation Yiddish performer from Paris.

I invite you to watch this important documentary about Yiddish, which talks about the transmission of Yiddish from generation to generation in North America, Israel, and Europe.