Tag Archives: Vilnius Program in Yiddish

Vilnius-based Yiddish Projects in Need of Support & Partnership (2020 – 2021)



Contributions to these and other projects are now tax-deductible in the United States thanks to the Preserving Yiddish and Defending History non-profit organization established in 2020

(for future in-person programs, please see below)


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 77 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 18 exhibits to date.


Creative New Online Webinars, Courses and Learning Groups

It is important that any new online Yiddish language courses be calibrated specifically for Lithuanian or Russian (etc.) speakers, so as not to duplicate the international program available at the Workmen’s Circle (which offers full scholarships to serious participants from the countries of the former Soviet area). Of course there is, separately, wide scope for creative new projects using Yiddish per se, and for others using English and other Western languages that synthesize study of Yiddish culture and the Vilna and Lithuanian Jewish heritage, including virtual tours of Yiddish cultural history in Lithuania and beyond.



Note: These projects too can be reconceptualized digitally!



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.


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.  The program’s eventual revival 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, least of all Holocaust revisionism in the spirit of the suave new antisemitic far right in Eastern Europe that works tirelessly to glorify local perpetrators, not seldom under cover of “Yiddish and Jewish projects.” The independence of the fragile field of Yiddish studies from politics is vital.

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