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The 14th Vilnius Summer Program in Yiddish celebrated graduation on the 17th of August, 2012. Teachers from three continents - Abraham Lichtenbaum (Argentina), Prof. Dov-Ber Kerler (USA), Dr. Karolina Szymaniak (Poland) and Prof. Anna Verschik (Estonia) handed diplomas of four different Yiddish levels to participants from 10 different countries. This year they were from USA, France, Germany, Switzerland, UK, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Japan and Czech Republic.
The program was honoured by the visit of Mendy Cahan (Yung Yiddish, Israel), the founder of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute, who gave a wonderful talk on Ashknaz learning, and brought people together for a Yiddish song.
We would like to share the experience of one of the local participants, Julija Levina, currently studying in University College, London.
"Participating in the 14th summer Yiddish program in Vilnius has been a great adventure, and an enriching social and learning experience. When I learned that I will be a part of it, I was incredibly excited and these four weeks have not let me down.
The intensive language course is not called ‘intensive’ for no reason. As a beginner I went through four weeks of three hours of Yiddish every day. Despite of many hours of learning I am still shocked by how much I managed to learn, from absolute zero to understanding tenses and cases, and being able to have a conversation both in school, in a shop and at a party and even read and write some poems and texts in Yiddish. The expectations are quite high but the workload is not impossible, and even though the learning part was tough, it was also rewarding as results were visible right away. The Yiddish lessons were also interesting and fun because our wonderful teachers always had a joke to tell, a song to sing or a game to play in Yiddish.
However, the three hours of Yiddish were not all the summer program offered. Every afternoon there would be either a lecture, a workshop or an excursion to go to, often led in Yiddish. We visited places relevant to Jewish history both in Vilnius and in other Lithuanian cities, went to museums, libraries, and the Jewish community. The lectures and various excursions were both educational and often very emotional.
The social experience of the Yiddish summer program was absolutely amazing. Both teachers and student were incredibly open, friendly and welcoming. There were people of all ages, from twenty year olds to seniors, and people of very different backgrounds, brought together by a shared interest. The mixture of nationalities and ages proved to be great because everyone found their own social niche. I have definitely met some of the most amazing people I have had the chance to come across, and I plan to stay in touch with them and hopefully cross paths again soon, be it in academic or simply social surroundings.
It would not be a surprise to hear praise about Vilnius from someone like me, who was born and lived here for sixteen years, but participating in the program has showed me a different Vilnius. I saw it through the eyes of the foreign participants who quiet clearly were absolutely adoring everything, from architecture to food, and I enjoyed showing them around and suggesting what kind of foods they should try. I also saw Vilnius through the eyes of Jewish history, never before having realised how much the Jewish Vilnius is still alive and relevant. The classes themselves took place in Vilnius University near the Presidential Palace. About a hundred of tourists passing our windows during classes every day would vouch for how incredible the university itself and the surrounding areas are, right in the middle of Vilnius city centre.
I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has taken part in making the Yiddish Summer School program happen and turning it into such a great event, and another big thank you to everyone who has participated in it and made the four weeks we have spend together even greater. I would suggest this program to people of any age and background, interested in either Yiddish, or Jewish history, or both. I have learnt and had fun, and how does it get better than that?"
|2005 VILNIUS YIDDISH INSTITUTE. Solution: Neosymmetria|