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A Yidisher Pop

A pop culture introduction to the mameloshen

Adina Cimet & Alyssa Quint
July 16, 2010

How can a new generation learn Yiddish? Through pop culture, of course: What better way to introduce the language than to let it do one of the things it does best, kibitz about the beautiful and the famous? Handing down a great literary tradition is a serious enterprise, but there’s no reason not to have fun with it. And there’s no better language than Yiddish to get across ideas both profane and profound.

Join us, then, at this new educational feature on The Scroll, a recurring lesson we’re calling—in a pun on the Yiddish term literally meaning “a Jewish head”—“A Yidisher Pop.”

“A Yidisher Pop” will caption gossipy photos of politicians, athletes, and celebrities, giving readers a vibrant taste of Yiddish. Though the lessons embedded in these captions are progressive in the way of any beginner course, this feature is intended, of course, as an introduction, not a comprehensive class. The Yivo Institute; Tel Aviv University’s Goldreich Family Institute; the Vilnius Yiddish Institute; and the Medem Institute all provide more resources.

And, in the meantime, if you need to brush up on your Yiddish alphabet, Yivo can help you with that, too. Finally, for excellent online Yiddish dictionaries, click here or here.