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The Vilnius Yiddish Institute Newsletter, No. 1
Summer Program in Yiddish Language and Culture 2002
It is a pleasure for the Vilnius Yiddish Institute to bring to your attention the Fifth Annual Vilnius Program in Yiddish Language and Culture, which will be held at Vilnius University in Vilnius, Lithuania from 1 to 29 August 2002. We are delighted to be able to tell you that the program is shaping up as the best yet. There is excellent enrollment from a wide range of students hailing from many countries and from many age groups and backgrounds. Over fifty already registered for August, 2002 Program. Thus far, we have people from Canada, England, Germany, Israel, Japan, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Scotland and the USA ranging in age from 15 to 70. If you know of friends who might wish to join, we suggest they contact us soon, because as you see, places are filling up...
The uniqueness of the program derives from its location in Vilnius, for four hundred years a key European center of Ashkenazic Jewish creativity. The city now is a thriving capital in a modern democracy with every western convenience, and amenities to suit every taste and budget. Conceived in 1997 by Professor Dovid Katz, the present Academic Director of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute, and a team of Yiddish professors from America, Britain and Israel, who have many decades of experience in teaching intensive Yiddish courses, the Vilnius summer course, like its sister courses elsewhere, features university level courses at all levels ranging from total beginners to advanced. These comprise the Academic program.
The morning classes for all four levels are each divided between two professors who specialize in the relevant level. Each professor teaches for one and a half hours giving a total of three hours of morning classroom instruction (9:30 to 11 and 11:30 to 1 with a half hour break from 11 to 11:30). The morning classes are fully accredited by Vilnius University and result in a Certificate of Completion in Yiddish and English as well as transferring credits for students requiring them. The teachers of the levels, constitute a top-level team, are as follows: Yiddish I (complete beginners): Mr. Hanan BORDIN, Yiddish Language Instructor, Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel) and Assoc. Professor Anna VERSCHIK, Tartu University, Narva College (Estonia); Yiddish II (intermediate): Prof. Avrohom LICHTENBOYM, Director of Yivo, Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Assoc. Professor Anna VERSCHIK, Tartu University, Narva College (Estonia); Yiddish III (higher intermediate): Assoc. Professor Yitskhok NIBORSKI, Lecturer of Yiddish Literature, Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales, Paris (France) and Prof. Avrohom LICHTENBOYM, Director of Yivo, Buenos Aires (Argentina); Yiddish IV (advanced): Assoc. Professor Yitskhok NIBORSKI, Lecturer of Yiddish Literature, Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales, Paris (France) and Mr. Hanan BORDIN, Yiddish Language Instructor, Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel). Moreover, during the whole program a special assistant teacher, Mr. Michael Dunayevsky, Yiddish teacher, currently working in Prague at the Jewish Museum, will be available to help all participants with their special needs in the afternoons.
The Cultural program (going on throughout the month but intensified during the Vilna Yiddish Culture Days (the week in the middle August that can also be taken on its own - see the article "Vilna Yiddish Culture Days")) features an array of activities from which participants may pick and choose at will, based on interest and enjoyment. The August, 2002 program includes walking tours of the old city and its many Jewish sites, excursions by bus to different parts of Lithuania, lectures, seminars, films, concerts, workshops (writing, singing, acting) and a series of talks on the history of Yiddish language, literature and culture, spanning the entire thousand year Ashkenazic period. A special feature of the 2002 Cultural program is a series of talks on major prewar centers of Yiddish culture, given by people who grew up "then and there" and in most cases - still live there today. Visits to a shtetl are invaluable for comprehending the realia of modern Yiddish literature. The same is true for grasping the special texture of prewar Jewish life in the great metropolitan centers of the region, first and foremost - Vilna itself. The program is produced by the Vilnius Yiddish Institute at Vilnius University under the direction of M. Mendy Cahan. For anyone interested in authentic Yiddish language and culture, it's a unique privilege to be guided by native Yiddish speakers who still live in the prewar homeland of the language and culture.
Vilna Yiddish Culture Days
The Vilnius Yiddish Institute also organizes the Vilna Yiddish Culture Days, which take place in August from the 13th to the 25th. It has been specially designed by the Vilnius Yiddish Institute at Vilnius University to enable participants to learn about, experience, and reconnect to living Yiddish culture and to the history of its development and its unique civilization. The Vilna Yiddish Culture Days take place in what was once one of its most vibrant centers: Vilna, better known for generations as the Jerusalem of Lithuania, "Yerusholayim d'Lite" and which even today has a small, but vibrant Jewish community. This intensive program will give you a glimpse into the glorious past of Jewish Vilna, as well as acquaint you with the fascinating personalities who are still to be found among its five thousand strong Jewish community. This is a program designed to reconnect you to the language and civilization of Yiddish in its historic homeland.
The Vilna Yiddish Culture Days include walkabouts of old Jewish Vilna with expert guides (in some cases survivors who were there "at that time and place"), day trips to major Jewish sites and to shtetls in Lithuania, concerts by first-rate local and international artists, a conference with speakers from Israel, Europe, the Americas and Vilna, Yiddish films, conversation classes, art exhibits, and meetings with prominent personalities and creators. Taken together, these unforgettable days, that cannot remotely be experienced anywhere else, will let you experience the riches of the Ashkenazic heritage while deepening your knowledge of East European Jewish language, literature, and culture. If you do not wish to participate in the intensive one-month academic language courses, but would not want to miss this opportunity of the Program's presence and its vast array of cultural activities to visit the "contemporary" Old City and surroundings, don't hesitate: it is possible to participate in the Vilna Yiddish Culture Days only. It is a perfect way to get acquainted with the Jewish heritage and its presence in Vilna.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about these Days.
Year long university courses at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute
From September 2001 the Vilnius Yiddish Institute is successfully providing year long university students with knowledge of the rich East European Jewish civilization. During the 2001/2002 Academic years the institute has provided six credit courses.
In the autumn semester:
In the spring semester:
These credit courses have been followed by students coming from Faculties of History, Philosophy, Philology, Communication, Political Sciences and from the Vilnius Art Academy.
Vilnius Yiddish Institute has received much attention in the mass media
During the last months the Vilnius Yiddish Institute has received much attention in the mass media. Numerous programs such as BBC (U. K.), Radio Cologne (Germany), Israeli Television, Yiddish Voice, Lithuanian TV3 etc. featured Vilnius Yiddish Institute's activities. Our Director, Mendy Cahan, has also given numerous interviews for the mass media. Our Director of Research Prof. Dovid Katz published stories in the Forward newspaper.
If you want to have external point of view on our activities we can recommend you to read Adam B. Ellick's extensive article "Yiddish yet lives - in Vilna!" in the Jerusalem Post Magazine of January 7, 2002, and Seth Brown's one "All Yiddish, All the Time. Connecting to the Past in a Total Immersion Yiddish Program", published in Forward of February 15, 2002. Seth is a former participant of our Summer Program in Yiddish Language and Culture and very nicely described his experience of Yiddish in this article.
Gratitude to Dr. Neil Rosenstein
The institute would like to express gratitude to Dr. Neil Rosenstein for his generous gift of two of his works, "The Gaon of Vilna and his Cousinhood", and "The Unbroken Chain. Biographical Sketches and Genealogy of Illustrious Jewish Families from the 15th- 20th Century". These books are highly valued by the institute and are now available in our library.
Participation in international conferences
Our Executive Director, Dr. Sarunas Liekis, took part in the conference, "Reichskommissariat Ostland - Collaboration and Resistance during the Holocaust", in Stockholm, Sweden, 19-21 April. He read a paper entitled, "Jewish Partisans and Soviet Resistance in Lithuania".
Coming and going
Professor Dovid Katz, our Director of Research who is on a Guggenheim Writer's Fellowship, has to refrain from teaching until September 1, 2002 according to the rules stipulated by the Felowship. Professor Katz is completely immersed now in writing and is hoping to finish several books, whose writing -because of his continuous teaching, research and fieldwork in the last years - has been put aside.
This is the first time ever that a Guggenheim Fellowship is extended to Yiddish writing. The Vilnius Yiddish Institute obviously shares in the pride, extends its thanks to the Guggenheim Foundation for their excellent choice. Our best wishes also to Professor Katz; we eagerly await him and his new books.
The Institute's director, M. Mendy Cahan is currently in Israel, where he is also directing the activities of the Yung YiDish Cultural Center in Jerusalem. The Yung YiDish Center offers an array of cultural activities in the field of Yiddish, including lectures, concerts and other events. Yung YiDish also houses a collection of more than 30.000 Yiddish books (info: 02-5001395). We look forward to welcome M. Cahan back to Vilna in the latter part of June.
ADVERTISEMENT: Fifth Symposium for Yiddish Studies in Germany 23-25 September 2002
We would like to publicize here an event that is not organized by our institute but can be of interest for whom is interested in Yiddish Studies. The Fifth Symposium for Yiddish Studies in Germany will be held September 23-25 at the Heinrich Heine University in Duesseldorf. This annual Yiddish Symposium is organized alternately by the Yiddish programs at the universities of Trier and Duesseldorf and is intended to offer students and scholars the possibility to present their research, exchange ideas and put forward questions for discussion. Contact for more information:
Simon Neuberg (University of Trier) and Marion Aptroot (University of Duesseldorf)
The Newsletter is produced by the Vilnius Yiddish Institute at Vilnius University.
Editor: Professor Sidney Rosenfeld
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