Yiddish Language & Culture Celebrated at the Yiddish Book Center

Family Passover Celebration Connects Community to Jewish Culture & Heritage through Yiddish!

Learning about Jewish culture and history often leads parents and children to conversations about their own family’s history, culture, and traditions. In celebration of Passover, families can connect to Jewish culture or personal Jewish heritage by speaking Yiddish!

How do you think? Do your thoughts take the form of words, images, a combination of the two, or something else? In all likelihood, much of your thought processing takes the form of words. Even when you are not thinking in sentences, the syntax of your native language may influence the way you perceive the world around you. The idea that native language structure affects thought is known as the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis.

In English, for example, our sentence structure and patterns of speaking often ascribes an agent for a given action or event. If an object accidentally breaks, we may say something like, “She broke the plate.” In Spanish or Japanese, however, a native speaker may say something more akin to, “The plate broke itself.” (This Wall Street Journal article provides many more examples of linguistic differences and their affects.)

There is a chicken-and-egg problem with the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis. Does language really affect the way we think, or does the way we think influence our language?  Either way, there is an undeniable tie between culture and words. The metaphors and idioms we use, which vary greatly across languages and are not precisely translatable, speak to the values of our culture. If you want to better understand a culture, learn their language. If you want to gain a greater understanding of your own ancestry, learn the language of your ancestors.

In celebration of Passover, you can connect to Jewish culture or personal Jewish heritage by speaking Yiddish! At this free Passover celebration, on Sunday, April 17, from 10am-4pm, you can learn Yiddish holiday songs. Asya Vaisman Schulman, director of the Yiddish Book Center’s Language Institute, will lead this sing-along with accompanying musician Brian Bender. At 2pm, attendees are invited to create a keepsake seder plate in a crafting workshop. The celebration will also include a storytime and guided public tours of the center.

The Yiddish Book Center works to preserve and honor Jewish culture through digital and physical Yiddish libraries which include Yiddish Children’s books, Yiddish audiobooks and oral histories, and translations of Yiddish books into English.
“Passover” is the English word for this highly celebrated Jewish holiday. The Hebrew term is “Pesah,” and the Yiddish word is the similar “Peysekh.” The etymology is unknown. The Book Center’s Passover celebration is all ages and open to the public. For more information, please call 413-256-4900. 1021 West Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

♦ Learning about Jewish culture and history often leads parents and children to conversations about their own family’s history, culture, and traditions. Read more in our post, Yiddish Book Center: Something for Everyone (and You Don’t Need to Speak Yiddish).

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: