On April 12, 2019 the academic director of the International Yiddish Center at the World Jewish Congress, Dr. Mordechay Yushkovsky, provided a lecture "Mark Chagall – the painter who paints in Yiddish" at the Georgian National Academy of Arts in Tbilisi.
This lecture was a part of the seminar intended for theatre directors and employees of art galleries. It was a joint event of WJC YC, Georgian National Academy of Arts and the Jewish Community of Tbilisi.
It was about history of Jewish theater and art of Mark Chagall through prism of Yiddish language and culture. About 60 listeners (JCC members, actors, theater directors, students of the Academy, staff members of museums) were present.
Dr. Yushkovsky's lecture presented a completely new approach to the works of one of the leading artists of the 20th century. The scholar's main postulate is that it is impossible to understand Chagall's painting isolated from Jewish oral culture, folklore, cultural and religious traditions and modern Yiddish literature.
Few people in the audience seem to have been aware of the fact that Mark Chagall wrote poems in Yiddish and illustrated Yiddish books. A lot of his paintings are filled with motives of Yiddish literature. Moreover, Chagall included illustrations of Yiddish proverbs and sayings into his own paintings. He made friends with outstanding poets and writers, who created in Yiddish.
The seminar aroused huge inspiration of the audience and the wish to organize more events of such kind.
A vocal group of the local JCC appeared with songs in Yiddish before the lecture.
Here is a feedback of the Director of JCC Tbilisi Ms. Helen Berkovich sent to WJC CEO and Executive Vice-President Robert Singer:
"On April 12 we have had unforgettable lecture of Dr. Mordechay Yushkovsky, which was received not only by our community members, but also by theater directors, actors, art managers with great interest. Our vocal group SHIR was accompanying the lecture with Yiddish songs. We are expressing our gratitude for the support of the WJC once again."