Yiddish Seminar in Mendoza, Argentina

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On November 24-25, 2017 a seminar "1000 years of Yiddish: Language, Gastronomy and Folklore" was held in Mendoza (Argentina), a city located 1000 km west from Buenos Aires.

Nearly 60 people participated in the event. The seminar - a result of cooperation between WJC International Yiddish Center and YIVO Argentina institute - met its goals in promoting awareness of Yiddish language and culture among diverse audience.

That was the first activity of such kind in the local Jewish community, which elicited major interest. The participants gathered in the community center for the opening session. The first speech was given by the rabbi of the congregation, who welcomed YIVO team and thanked YC for supporting this program. In his greeting speech Professor Abraham Lichtenbaum, YIVO Argentina director, emphasized the Institute's role in preserving and communicating Jewish and Yiddish culture, presented an overview of the YIVO history since its creation in Vilna in 1925.

The key talk, "1000 years of Yiddish – Language, Gastronomy and Folklore" was also given by Prof. Lichtenbaum. It focused on the importance of Ashkenazi culture and its contribution to Jewish culture. The lecturer presented key concepts in Jewish linguistics, gastronomy, music and identity.

Prof. Lichtenbaum began his talk explaining the history and sometimes unexpected etymology of a few Yiddish words that are related to daily life practices, religion, music and thought. He explained the shaping of Ashkenazi identity as interweaving of ethical thoughts, daily life practices and art forms.

The second session began with the lecture "Sholem Aleichem: humour in literature", in which Prof. Lichtenbaum described the life and work of Sholem Aleichem in the context of Jewish history, recited fragments of his works, analysed the tools by means of which the author created humour, and explained the relevance of his messages in the present days.

At the closing concert, the singer Mijal Orlian performed Yiddish, Hebrew and Ladino songs. Abraham Lichtenbaum provided explanatory commentaries.

The community members and the congregation rabbi expressed their gratitude and interest in hosting another edition of such regional seminar next year.