2 Vilnius lectures about Chagall & Yiddish

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On April 15 and April 16, 2019 the academic director of the International Yiddish Center at the World Jewish Congress, Dr. Mordechay Yushkovsky, provided two lectures in Vilnius on the same subject: „Mark Chagall – painter who paints in Yiddish".

The first event, which took place in the Vilnius Tolerance Center, was designed for the employees of Vilnius museums and general public, whereas the second one was conducted at the European Humanitarian University (EHU) for its teachers and students.

About 180 listeners all in all attended these lectures, whose key message was that it is absolutely impossible to understand Chagall's pictures without knowledge of oral Yiddish folklore, cultural/religious traditions and without contemporary Yiddish literature. Judging by numerous questions submitted after the lecture and by extended time of it, the lecture was very successful one. The listeners expressed their high appreciation both, of the lecturer and his lecture.

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.

Here is a listener's feedback:

"Each time lectures of Mordechay Yushkovsky someone perceives as a gift, as a creative literary language festival, as a pleasant mental firework of positive impressions, of joy and sorrow and always as а new discovery. So, this time the lecture about Mark Chagall disclosed his works from absolutely different angle. Now I look to his pictures through "Jewish eyes". Now I understand reality of the flying cow, sympathize with the green Jew, drink golden broth at the Jewish wedding with pleasure ...I felt overwhelmed with desire to stay on a threshold of a house in a shtetl, where I am dressed in blue, waiting for a Wondering Jew in order to bring him magic drink of Power, which would help him to keep going down his Gray Path to the Blue Light… Thank you, Mordechay, for the unique lecture!"

Elena Ribas