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December 25, 1981 - Image 16

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1981-12-25

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16 Friday, December 25, 1981

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Yiddish Enjoying Small Resurgence in Campus Curricula

dish has settled into an un-
likely home, the college
campus. While not a
groundswell movement,
Yiddish is an accredited
course in 40 universities

By DAVID MAKOVSKY
(Copyright 1981, JTA, Inc.)

NEW YORK — The lan-
guage of the shtetl has
found a new haven. Far
from Eastern Europe, Yid-

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across North America, and
taught in an added 20 Hillel
campus organizations.
This total is double the
academic attention that the
"mamaloshen" (mother
tongue) received 10 years
ago, according to the figures
of YIVO Institute for
Jewish Research.
The spectrum of those in-
volved in Yiddish is a wide
one. Most are curious stu-
dents just beginning intro-
ductory courses, while
others are persuing ad-
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during the year and lead-
ing a summer Yiddish
program at Columbia
University, Schaechter
confers doctoral degrees
upon learned Yiddishist
students, and has pupils
teaching in such places
as Haifa University, Uni-
versity of London and
UCLA. .
Schaechter is also one of
the founders of Yugntruf
("A- Call to Youth"), a stu-
dent Yiddish movement
started in 1964. He is
pleased by what he terms
"the strong and revived stu-
dent interest in Yiddish."
He traces the language's
newly discovered popular-
ity on campus to a few
causes among which is "a
childish rebellion against
one's own parents, hoping to
figure out what they've said
behind his back all these
years. Interestingly, 80 per-
cent of all my students are
third generation Ameri-
cans."
Yugntruf includes among
its activities a Yid-
dish quarterly newsletter
with a readership of 2,000,
regular literary reading
sessions, and a variety of
parties with Yiddish as the
main social course.
Schaechter's daughter,
Eydil, one of the planners
of Yugntruf s recent
conference, discussed
the main item on their
agenda, "Creating a Yid-
dish speaking commu-
nity." She explained: "I
grew up in the Bronx
with- a secular Yiddish
community. My parents
provided this positive
attitude, where Yiddish
was spoken to us. Some
friends would like to see
the same, a place, prob-'
ably in New York, where

kids can have a love for
the language."
David Fishman, a
graduate student at Har-
vard and an instructor of
Yiddish at Brandeis Unver-
sity, spoke eagerly about
Yiddish in the Boston area.
"At Brandeis, we are plan-
ning. a Yiddish arts festival
with speakers, films, con-
certs, and Yiddish readings.
Now, we have a weekly
Yiddish table at lunch, just
so students can talk to each
other."
Fishman acknowledged
that for students, Yiddish
no longer has the socialist
attachment that it had dur-
ing the Bundist peak. "In-
terestingly, while the two
socialist Yiddish summer
camps closed recently, there
has been a switch," he
noted. "Yiddish may be
weaker organizationally,
but it is stronger on cam-
pus."
For now, the proponents
of Yiddish do not set high
goals. As Dr. Schaechter
said, "We just want to keep
it alive." Presently, student
Yiddishists in North
America, according to op-
timistic estimates, number
only 3,500.
The more advanced of
the enthusiasts enjoy
reading the works of
Sholom Aleichem and
Isaac Bashevis Singer in
its original language. The
movement of the few does
grow, along with a re-
vived student interest in
Holocaust and amid the
whole phenomenon of
rediscovering ethnic
roots.
Eydil Schaechter said it
simplest: "Students want to
get back to grandfather, and
that means returning to
Yiddish."

Peruvian Newspaper Demands
Expulsion of PLO Representative

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esia

ject. It is hard to believe,
however, that there is more
than one Laibel Botwinik of
Montreal, who, at the age of
22, has already written his
first Yiddish science fiction
thriller.
Numbering over 100
pages and published last
October, "The Secret
Mission" is about a young
engineer in Vilna, Po-
land, who was saved
from the Holocaust by a
time machine and taken
to 1983, only to hear
about the horrors that
have befallen his people.
Botwinik, who is a son of a
Holocaust survivor from
Vilna and grew up speaking
Yiddish at home, said he
had no trouble writing the
manuscript. A book is no
particular feat for this
talented undergrad from
Concordia College in
Montreal.
He also has begun an an-
nual Yiddish magazine,
produced 15 quarter-hour
Yiddish television seg-
ments for a Canadian cable
channel, and is collaborat-
ing with adults in organiz-
ing a world Yiddish confer-
ence in Montreal in two
years.
His favorite project seems
to be the magazine, as the
writer - editor - producer
elaborated, "The magazine
contains literature, poetry,
humor, a children's section,
a beginner's page, and a
Yiddish comic strip. I don't
know of any other paper in
the world that has a Yiddish
cartoon page."
One teacher leading
the Yiddish rejuvenation
is Dr. Mordkhe Schaech-
ter, who has devoted his
career to propagating the
Yiddish language. Be-
sides teaching the course

s

NEW YORK — A Peru- with "terrorism, violence
vian newspaper has rejected and death" and commented
economic blackmail efforts on PLO representative
by the Palestine Liberation ISsam Beseisso's offer of
Organization and has called Arab loans and petrodollar
for the expulsion of the PLO grants to Peru if the country
representative in Lima. •
would "assume a favorable
According to the Latin position vis-a-vis the.Pales-
American Affairs depart- tinian cause . . . as in the
ment of the Anti- case of Brazil."
Defamation League of Bnai
The PLO official said in
Brith, the Lima daily, Ex- reply to the editorial that
preso, reacted sharply to a .according • to an Arab
statement by the PLO League summit in Novem-
representative making ber 1979 "all economic
• Arab economic aid to Peru cooperation. with any coun-
conditional on diplomatic try is conditional upon that
support for the PLO.
country's recognition and
Rabbi Morton M. Rosent- diplomatic support of the
hal, head of the Latin Palestinian people."
Expreso, in calling for the
American Affairs depart-
ment who has just returned expulsion of Beseisso, said it
from a visit to the Peru and was "incredible" that Peru's
other Latin American .na- previous military govern-
tions, said the newspaper's . ment had granted the -PLO
stand reflected "not only official the status of a "dip-
nationalistic sentiments, lomatic agent."
but profound concern with
Peruvian
Foreign
the more than 1,000 ter-
Minister Arias Stella has
rorist acts counted in Peru said publicly, however,
this year."
that the PLO representa-
Among the targets of tive does not have dip-
terrorist bombers have
lomatic status and there
been the American Em- are no plans to give it to
bassy and a Jewish day
him. He noted that the
school in Lima.
PLO office had not been
In an editorial (dated Dec. authorized by the present
5) Expreso linked the PLO government, but by the

former military regime.
The present democratic
government came to power
in July 1980.
Rabbi Rosenthal, who
discussed the status of the
PLO in Peru with govern-
ment officials there, said its
presence is "causing grow-
ing concern among all seg-
ments of the Peruvian popu-
lation as violence esca-
lates." He added that the
government had imposed
harsh penalties for those
suspected of terrorism.

Sadat Assessed
American Policy

TEL AVIV (ZINS) — Dis-
cussing American strategic
thinking, as far as the Mid-
dle East is - concerned ;
former Israeli Ambassador
to Egypt Eliahu Ben-
Elissar said in a radio inter-
view that Sadat had once
confessed to him:
"I simply do not under-
stand the Americans. Why
do they have to crawl to the
Saudis? Is the mighty
United States of America
dependent on the Saudis or
are the Saudis dependent on
the U.S,? Why does America
dwarf itself before Saudi
Arabia?"

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