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 way of life for hundreds of thousands of Jews to what the writer phrases a postvernacular language of numerous and increasing symbolic price. With an intensive command of recent Yiddish tradition in addition to its centuries-old heritage, Jeffrey Shandler investigates the amazing range of latest encounters with the language. His research traverses the huge 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)
With the onset of the Cold War, the antireligious stance and left-wing associations of many secular Yiddishists came to be seen as especially problematic. The establishment of the State of Israel also fostered a surge in American Jews’ interest in studying modern Hebrew. 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.
39 From our postwar perspective it is apparent that, just as the atrocities that awaited Europe’s Jews during World War II were beyond their imagination, Yiddish speakers could not fathom the devastating effect that the Holocaust would have on the language and its culture. Writing in the Jewish Daily Forward at the end of 1941, weeks after the United States’ entry into the war, Max Weinreich considered its consequences for Yiddish. ” Noting that predictions, positive as well as negative, of the impact World War I would have on Yiddish had all proved to be inaccurate, Weinreich refused to speculate about the particular consequences of the current war.
Moreover, as is the case with other “post-X” phenomena, I argue not only that postvernacular Yiddish is de- 22 POSTVERNACULARITY pendent on vernacular Yiddish, past and present, but also that contemporary vernacular Yiddish culture is itself shaped in response to postvernacular phenomena. The notion of postvernacular Yiddish may well seem unsettling, especially to those committed to maintaining Yiddish as a language of daily life. I do not propose postvernacularity as a critique of this commitment but rather as a model for thinking about modes of engaging with Yiddish that have ﬁgured throughout the history of its modern culture, before as well as after World War II, across the Jewish ideological spectrum—and have even played a formative role in Yiddishism.
Adventures in Yiddishland: Postvernacular Language and Culture (S. Mark Taper Foundation Imprint in Jewish Studies) by Jeffrey Shandler