By Jeffrey Shandler
Adventures in Yiddishland examines the transformation of Yiddish within the six a long time because the Holocaust, tracing its shift from the language of lifestyle for thousands of Jews to what the writer phrases a postvernacular language of various and increasing symbolic worth. With a radical command of contemporary Yiddish tradition in addition to its centuries-old heritage, Jeffrey Shandler investigates the impressive variety of latest encounters with the language. His examine traverses the extensive spectrum of people that interact with Yiddish--from Hasidim to avant-garde performers, Jews in addition to non-Jews, fluent audio system in addition to those that be aware of very little Yiddish--in groups around the Americas, in Europe, Israel, and different outposts of "Yiddishland."
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Extra resources for Adventures in Yiddishland: Postvernacular Language and Culture (S. Mark Taper Foundation Imprint in Jewish Studies)
50 YIDDISH AS A POSTVERNACULAR In the postwar era, those who have maintained a commitment to Yiddish as a kulturshprakh, such as Glatshteyn and Sutzkever, have done so not only in the face of political or ideological opposition, as was the case in prewar years. They have been obliged as well to assert their devotion in the face of the increasingly pervasive notion that Yiddish is moribund—a language whose speech community is dwindling, whose function as the basis of a Jewish national ideology or simply as a Jewish vernacular is passé.
While the revival of a vernacular Hebrew came to be linked especially with Zionist plans to create a new Jewish state, Yiddishism was generally tied to a validation of Jewish life in diaspora, centered in Eastern Europe. The Jewish Workers’ Bund—a socialist, secular, Yiddishist, pro-diaspora political party established in Russia in 1897 that would achieve its greatest inﬂuence in interwar Poland—articulated this notion most forthrightly in the ﬁrst decades of the twentieth century. Through the diaspora nationalist principle of doikeyt (literally, “hereness” in Yiddish), Bundists asserted the right and the value of Jews to live “here”—that is, wherever they found themselves and, while engaging in modern international socialist activism, to maintain a distinctive secular culture, marked as Jewish by its own vernacular.
18 Zhitlowski roots his vision of Yiddishland in a personal remembrance of a speciﬁc historical and geographical locus, which serves as a model for how Yiddish might function, in later times and other places, as the basis of an autonomous Jewish cultural community with the attributes, if not the actuality, of nationhood. This 36 IMAGINING YIDDISHLAND exercise in conjuring Yiddishland exempliﬁes Benedict Anderson’s notion of “imagined communities” as fundamental to the nature of nationalism. Anderson is quick to point out that the role played by the imagination here ought not to be disparaged as falsehood but, rather, is inherent in the process: “All communities larger than primordial villages of face-to-face contact (and perhaps even these) are imagined.