Vilnius Yiddish Projects in Need of Support & Partnership (March 2020)


Elementary Yiddish: Weekly Class, Tuesdays 6 PM at JCIC

Founded by Julius Norvila (Norwilla) in autumn 2019, the weekly class for beginners has been the first in decades in Vilnius (outside summer programs) to attract also local Jewish as well as non-Jewish students. To date, the instructor has contributed his time and photocopy expenses gratis.


Weekly Yiddish Reading Circle and Advanced Course at JCIC

Founded by Dovid Katz in autumn 1999, this  project, in its twenty-first year, urgently needs support, inter alia to enable a new rotating leadership and instructors. For the last five years, the project’s happy home has been the Jewish Cultutral and Information Center on Mesiniu Street in Vilnius’s old town, Wednesdays term-time at 6  PM.


Yiddish Cultural Dictionary: A New English-Yiddish Dictionary

See YCD’s progress to date, including 12,000 entries and 275,000 words of Yiddish text. References from leading professors of Yiddish supplied on request.


Translation of the Bible into Lithuanian Yiddish

See Books Completed to Date for an update on progress. Only two hard-copy editions produced so far: the Book of Ruth (in 2017), and the Book of Esther (2020).


Digitization and Posting Online of In-situ Interviews with Last Native Yiddish Speakers in Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania and parts of northeastern Poland & Ukraine

The project entails slow and meticulous location, identification, digitization and posting online of in-situ interviews in Yiddish with the last (prewar born) native speakers of Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, northeastern Poland and eastern Ukraine, 1990 to 2020. For online samples, please see here and other sections of Dovid Katz’s channel.


Online Yiddish Mini-Museum of Old Jewish Vilna

Descriptions in Yiddish (hopefully to be be made multilingual when support materializes). Index page is in English. There are 74 exhibits to date.


Online Yiddish Mini-Museum of Interwar Lithuania

Descriptions in Yiddish (hopefully to be made multilingual when support materializes). Index page is in English. There are 17 exhibits to date.


Intensive International One-Week and Weekend Programs

A number of specific proposals, all entailing the goal of high-level Yiddish and East European Jewish cultural experiences guided by Yiddish specialist faculty, have been produced in recent months and years and provided to partnering organizations, and potential supporters. These are made available on request.


Revival of the Four-Week International Intensive Summer Program

The four-week summer course was founded at Oxford in 1982 by Dovid Katz, and moved to Vilnius in 1998, where it continued, under diverse auspices through 2018. The one-month model, entailing language instruction at four levels (elementary, intermediate, higher intermediate and advanced) proved highly successful and following an initial investment had for years proven itself self-sustaining both at Oxford and in Vilnius. It was discontinued  by the Vilnius Yiddish Institute director, a member of the state’s “red-brown commission” on Nazi and Soviet crimes, after the 2018 program, and the entire Yiddish library made unavailable to local and foreign students and scholars. In early 2020, the state-funded “Good Will Foundation” announced a 25,000 euro grant  (see bottom of p. 3) for the course’s revival, which will hopefully transpire free from interference from state “red-brown” commissions, genocide centers, Jew-free “Jewish” institutions with Holocaust revisionist aims, and their local satellites. Yiddish can and will flourish in a politics-free environment, where Jewish and non-Jewish participants feel equally at home, and with emphasis on academic, linguistic and educational quality, far from the politics of the time and place…

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