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The 18th International Seminar of Yiddish Language and Culture – experiencing the immersing in the language and culture – Yiddish online seminar

29 June 2020 - 17 July 2020

Over ninety people from more than a dozen countries have signed up for this year’s International Seminar of Yiddish Language and Culture.  Initiated by Gołda Tencer and the Shalom Foundation, the course has been organized for the 18th time, but for the first time, it is conducted entirely online.

The remote form of work enables those who otherwise would not be able to come to Warsaw to participate in the classes.  Students learn Yiddish for various reasons.  They want to read old newspapers and books written in this language, they want to learn about the culture and history of Ashkenazi Jews, they also want to meet people with similar interests.

Some learn Yiddish because they have heard the language being spoken when they were children.  Their parents spoke Yiddish whenever they did not want their children to understand what they were talking about. Sometimes grandmothers sang lullabies in Yiddish, explains the teacher, Anna Szyba. Some need it for their research: linguists, literature specialists, historians.  Or they want to sing Yiddish or play in a Jewish theater. Hence so many different objectives, but one medium – attending the summer seminar.

The director of the Jewish Theater and the founder of the Shalom Foundation, Gołda Tencer, learned Yiddish at home. For many years, she has been running multiple projects that aim not just at saving the Jewish culture but bringing it closer to a wider audience with the help of performances, books, campaigns, and activities in public space, as well as historical contests addressed at young people.  The annual seminar held in Warsaw is an important project, not only promoting Yiddish culture but also significantly influencing its development.

Warsaw is a historical center of Yiddish culture and we consciously build our program on this tradition, says Karolina Szymaniak, a teacher associated with the seminar since its very beginning of existence.  People from various countries with different backgrounds, people of different ages meet this year and it is all possible because of the digital framework, many people who weren’t able to come to Warsaw before can participate in our classes.


This year’s seminar is not just about learning the language, it also offers a number of additional workshops to choose from, from creative writing and theater, through manuscript reading (this year they will be the letters written by the teachers from Jewish school), to a class of Slavic and Hebrew borrowings in Yiddish.

Everyone will find something interesting, says Karolina Szymaniak. We also offer lectures, meetings. And the higher-level classes are often unique thematic seminars conducted by specialists in a given field. We try to create an experience of immersing in language and culture as much as possible to be achieved remotely.

Our participants live in over a dozen countries, including Australia, Poland, Albania, Israel, Switzerland, Italy, France, the USA, and Argentina.

It is worth learning Yiddish because it is the language of pre-war Poland, the language that reverberated around the towns and villages where the majority of the residents were Jewish, believes Anna Szyba. This language is the source of a rich culture that corresponds with the contemporary Polish culture, complementing each other. Only by knowing this language can we fully learn the history of Jews living in Central and Eastern Europe.

Although many students have already signed up for the language classes and they are booked, there is still the possibility of signing up for certain lectures or workshops, such as creative writing in Yiddish, theater classes, or the basics of a historian’s work with Yiddish documents.


For more details, please visit: http://jidyszland.pl/pl/seminarium-jidysz/


This project has been organized by the Shalom Foundation in cooperation with the Yiddish Cultural Center

This project has been co-financed by the Minister of the Interior and Administration, the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, and the Society of the Jewish Historical Institute

The patronage: The Museum of the History of the Polish Jews Polin and the Jewish Historical Institute


29 June 2020@08:00
17 July 2020@17:00
00-099 Warszawa
ul. Senatorska 35
+48 22 620 30 36
+48 22 620 30 37
+48 22 620 30 38
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