There will never be a Yiddishland in the traditional nation-state sense of the word. This is the reality that we are faced with in this new century, however it is not a problem. The Jews as a people have survived for many more years without a state than with a state. We have figured out ways to preserve our identity no matter what corner of the globe we find ourselves inhabiting. Within the context of Diaspora Nationalism, Yiddishland takes the form of a open ended concept rather than a physical tract of land. Who needs land when cultural/spiritual connections are strong?

Yiddishland is the collision of space, time, and culture. It is a verb as much as it is a noun. When a group of Jews come together in space speaking Yiddish, they are doing Yiddishland as much as they are existing in Yiddishland.

This collision of time and space is free flowing and natural. When a Yiddishland comes into existence in a place like a deli, it isn't colonizing that deli. It asks for no right to occupation of that table or booth. It simply comes into being. It dissolves in the same way it formed, naturally and free. When those “inhabitants” pick up and disperse, Yiddishland leaves only memories behind. It then waits in the minds, hearts, and souls of its “citizens” for its next incarnation.

Yiddishland is an exceptionally important concept for a number of reasons. Above all, however, is the fact that as Diaspora Jewry, we’re all we got. Most immigrants to the United States have some centralized civilization of their national identity somewhere in the world. With the descendants of the Yiddish nation, this is simply not the case. Our Eastern European homeland has all but liquidated its Yiddish inhabitants. Without a centralized Yiddish settlement left, it is up to us in this new frontier of the Diaspora to pick up the fallen and tattered Yiddish flag.

This free forming confederacy is the only way in which we can continue to exist as a separate national unit, and interact with all of our brothers and sisters outside that unit. The very nature of Yiddishland is contrary to reactionary separatism, which would have us living in fenced off communities, obsessing only about ourselves. Yiddishland has no boundaries and can be dissolved or established as it’s “citizens” see fit.

The concept and practice of Yiddishland is extremely crucial for those among our nation who derive pleasure from self love, identity preservation, and the Yiddish language. Yiddish was and will forever be something more than just a “foreign language” for our nation, it has followed us to all the corners of the earth. Free of the constraints of a landed existence, the only threat to Yiddishland’s existence is laziness.

As an intangible concept the only way in which we can defend Yiddishland is through education. Proper education in the Yiddish language and culture is what will insure that Yiddishland will have the potential it requires for existence. If we are to continue to derive pleasure and pride from our language and culture, education is vital.

The Yiddish nation is so lucky that it is free from the constraints of an existence dictated by land and property. The Yiddishland concept is a return to a humanity free from petty materialism and chauvinistic violence. Under the present social conditions we will never have to die for Yiddishland. Yiddishland is a concept that only asks us to live for it.

אין דער הײם און אין שול



Do any Yiddish speaking readers out there have skype and would be willing to talk with me in Yiddish at least once a week? Even if only for a couple of minutes it would be highly appreciated, I really need to work on my speech more, and .6% of the week with my tutor is just not enough.

!זײַט אַזױ גוט



איך טראַך, און דאָס דאָכט אַז דאָס װעט זײַ ניט אַ שלעכט אידײ. ייִדיש "גאָס קונסט" א.װ.װ. (אױך װײסט װי) גראַפֿיִטיִ. דאָרטן איז אַ סך "גאָס קונסט" אין ישׂראל, פֿאַר װאָס ניט אין דעם גלות? אױב מיר מאַכן גאָס קונסט דאָ אין לאַנד
עס װעט זײַן װײסט אַז ייִדיש איז לעבן און שטאַרק צװישן די ייִדישע יוגנט. נו? פֿאַר װאָס דאַרפֿסטו װאַרטן? גײ און קױף אַ
!קרינק" פֿעדער און אָנהײב צו שרײַבן"


! ייִדיש בײַ ניקסאָנס אַלמאַ מאַטער? יאָ

This afternoon, I held my first underground Yiddish class at Whittier College. Operating out of a classroom on the second floor of my dormitory, I instructed 3 fellow freshmen on the basics of the Yiddish alphabet, and introduced some basic vocabulary. Fortunately all of my students had previous knowledge of the Hebrew alphabet, so my main focus was pointing out the pronunciation differences. In fact, two of them had Hebrew backgrounds and one a German background, making for a pretty sweet dynamic for a Yiddish class. On top of my whiteboard lesson, I distributed alphabet charts with pronunciation guides (similar to the alphabet page on the YIVO website). For homework I am assigning a couple of lessons from the Dora Teitelboim Center's website (http://www.yiddishculture.org/basiclesson/html3.htm). Next week I plan on having my students bring their computers so I could help them set up Anki flashcards. I might be teaching another class tomorrow with kids that couldnt make it today. My hope is to get everyone interested enough where I could get them to seek out more formal instruction. My hope is that I will be able to work something out whereas my Yiddish tutor could pick up where I leave off. I'll just have to see how it goes.

אין שחיטה־שטאָט

Procrastination pays off. Found this on the online Yiddish print section of the Frankfurt University Library. http://www.literatur-des-judentums.de



This guy has a interesting story (see short biography at end of passage). This is a excerpt from his work Jüdischer Selbsthaß. If anyone has a English or Yiddish version, please let me know. My reason for posting this is the talk of love; something I will probably write about soon. I started drafting a Program for Leftist Diaspora Nationalism in a New Land and Time (Insomnia Party) today. This is in part due to the hasslings of my Troskyist friend Sandy English and a guest lecture by a defeatist douchebag in my Sustainable Development course. Both which combined to rattle me out of a recent slump in thought. The next installment of the Jewish Mirror will hopefully be done by June, but I'll post drafts of the articles up here as I finish 'em (as I've been doing).



רב באַסנער

Yesterday, I traveled to Seal Beach for my first meeting with my Yiddish tutor Yacob Basner. I had gone to the intermediate Yiddish class at the Workman's Circle last Monday, but due to time and traffic considerations I decided it would be better for me to arrange for individual meetings on Sundays. Despite being pretty much in Long Beach, it only took 20 minutes to get there compared with the hour+ sitting in LA traffic on Monday nights. Arriving at his home, I was excited to the receive formal instruction.

Upon entering his study, I couldnt help but notice that his shelves were filled with Yiddish books as well as portraits of Sholom Aleichem and Mendele the Bookseller, among others. It was a pretty cool place.

He made it clear in the beginning that he would speak mostly Yiddish throughout the lesson, as it is a great way to learn the language; I wholeheartedly agreed.

Conversing mostly in Yiddish he corrected my written work (The Questions, Exercise A, and Exercise B) from Lesson 20 of College Yiddish. He helped me a lot with my grammar questions, which tend to plague me. The lesson ended with me learning a couple of new words, and several integral grammar rules.

He let me know at the end that in the future I could structure the lessons how ever would best fit me. Next week, I plan on going over Exercise C and practice speech comprehension with a dictation exercise.

Before leaving, I spoke with him in Yiddish about college, family, and, of course, Yiddish. It was a productive session, and I am looking forward to next weekend.


ייִדישלאַנד איז אַ טיש

Not sure why I waited so long to post this...


On the 23rd of December 2007 I attended my first “Call to the Youth” meeting.
The entire proceedings of the meeting, which included 10 people, was held in Yiddish. It was the first time in my life where I was immersed in a completely Yiddish environment. Yankl had warned me before hand that the meeting would be in Yiddish and I might not understand it all, but I decided to go anyway because I need to see for myself a room full of young Jews discussing the workings of a Yiddish organization in Yiddish.
I was overwhelmed with joy listening to my peers talk back and forth in rapid Yiddish. While I did not comprehend them completely, I did understand a lot more than I thought I was, and I followed their conversation from topic to topic. It was great to here Yiddish being sprinkled with the occasional English word, rather than the other way around.
Among other things, they were trying to come up with a mission statement for “Call to the Youth”. Leah distributed small squares of pink index cards to everyone at the table and instructed us to all write a one sentence statement. My was short and sweet, translating to “The future is with the youth”. After writing we all placed our cards into a hat, and then picked from the hat one to read. Many of them were lengthy, and when it came time for Yankl to read mine, they group gave a laugh of approval at its short nature and straightforwardness.
We had to leave the building around what I think was 4:00pm, and so our meeting ended at 4:00pm. Standing in the rain outside of the Workman’s Circle building, I was surprised (although I soon realized I shouldn't be) that the group was still speaking Yiddish. Listening-in the best I could, I figured we were going someplace to eat.
The entire group (minus one who had left) migrated 2 blocks North to Mendls(sp?) kosher deli. The nine of us took a table in the main room and went up for our orders. Slowly returning to our seats with out hot dogs, French fries, sandwiches, and soups the conversation picked up, once again in Yiddish. I tried the best listening as intently to the conversations which ranged from Wedding dates, to organizational planning, Godfather impressions to blogs and facebook. I even got the opportunity to speak about my blog and about my shirt design as well as bring up Rafoel Finkl when a discussion about computer programming and Yiddish came up. It was great just being a part of this table.
Our unique table, made up of all kinds of Jews speaking our common mother tongue, drew some attention from the deli’s patrons. First, a semi-Hassidic looking man from Melbourne by way of Brooklyn came over to our table with a smile on his face looking to find out more about us. He was very impressed. Later, three high school girls from the local Stern Jewish Day school came in. Two sat at a table across from us, looking on as we bantered along. One had a promising smile on her face, as surely what she was witnessing something she had never seen before (at least among “normal” looking, non-Hassidic Jews). She eventually stood up, exclaiming to our table, “You guys are really cool.” And you know what, we were. Yankl began to tell her and her friends about the “Call to the Youth” organization, and my Hungarian counterpart Ariel called out, “Come join the Revolution!” It was great to see that our presence in this deli was helping to inspire a love for Yiddish.
After writing their names and emails down so as they could receive the “Call to the Youth” newsletter, Yankl noticed the semi-Polish spelling of one of the girls names. The whole table bursted into debate about the meaning of her last name. Some had thought it translated to ‘wheatman’ but others were not sure. Eventually the girl said her father and grandparents speak Yiddish, and proceeded to call her dad. Ariel got on the phone and speaking in an excited and fast Yiddish began a conversation about the meaning of this last name. Eventually it was discovered that it was not ‘wheatman’, but ‘jokeman’. Eventually the girls left, and the table’s conversation continued.
The entire 4 hours I spent with my new comrades from “call to the youth” was one of the greatest experiences of my life. It revitalized my faith in the rebirth of the Yiddish language and provided me with the opportunity to meet and speak with some very interesting people.


אַרבײטער פֿרײנד

האַװאַנער לעבן