Concise course in Yiddish literature in Kiev

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From February 17-20, 2020 in Kiev, a prominent Yiddish literature scholar, academic director of the International Yiddish Center at the World Jewish Congress, Dr. Mordechay Yushkovsky conducted a concise course "Yiddish: literature, history, and memory." The event was organized jointly by WJC YC and the Ukrainian Association of Jewish Studies.

The participants got acquainted with a number of prose writers and poets who worked in Yiddish in different countries and periods, and watched how their work reflected and captured the historical conditions.

The lecturer paid considerable attention to the folklore component of literary works which perpetuated various aspects of Jewish folk life, traditions, and customs.

Here is the course program:

1. Folklore elements in Yiddish literature.

2. Yearning for Zion in Yiddish literature.

3. Between hammer and sickle - the fate of Yiddish culture in the USSR.

4. Artistic development of a Yiddish historical novel.

A partial list of literary works studied or mentioned during the course follows:

- Der Nister "The Mashber Family";

- Sholem Asch "Kiddush ha-Shem";

- Mendele Moycher Sforim "The Travels of Benjamin III";

- Sholem Aleichem "The Bloody Hoax";

- Simon Frug - selected verses;

- Kadia Molodowski - selected verses.

The main goal of the course was to show Yiddish literature as an inexhaustible treasury of collective historical memory – national and universal, for this literature is an integral part of both the cultural baggage of the Jewish people and the spiritual legacy of the entire Eastern Europe.