This graphic designed by Andrea Schwartz represents Yiddish as growing and dynamic. It serves as the graphic for all of University of Ottawa’s Yiddish activities.
Yiddish is the language of a thousand years of European Jewish civilization and the shared language of most of the Jewish immigrants who settled in Canada. Over the last century, Yiddish has evolved a rich literature, musical tradition, theatre and cinema. Today, there are many innovative initiatives to explore Yiddish, including the digitization of all of Yiddish literature and new movies and television. As part of this Yiddish renaissance, the University of Ottawa is offering an opportunity to learn and engage with the language and culture in a Yiddish Summer Institute.
Running daily from May 1-June 13, this introductory course in Yiddish language and culture will allow diverse students to learn to speak, read, write, sing and explore Yiddish literature and culture in an intensive format that is unique in Canada. The program consists of daily Yiddish language classes in the mornings plus weekly cultural activities including theatre workshops, film screenings and performances. It concludes with a fieldtrip to Yiddish Montreal, including a visit to Yiddish-speaking Chassidic neighbourhoods and a live theatre performance.
Students who have successfully completed the course will receive six university credits and be able to hold a basic conversation like a native speaker; read a Yiddish newspaper or other text with the help of a dictionary; write about a variety of topics and in multiple formats (letters, poetry, short film scripts, etc.); and know at least 20 Yiddish songs. They will also be familiar with many aspects of Yiddish culture, from Eastern Europe through present-day Canada, including music, literature, theatre and film.
The course is open to all students – university students as well as mature students – and no previous background is required aside from a willingness to work hard in a rigorous university class. It will be of particular interest to students who require Yiddish language reading knowledge for their research; are interested in Yiddish performance of theatre or music; who want to learn more about Eastern European Jewish culture; who wish to be able to translate out of or into Yiddish; who seek to be creative in Yiddish; who enjoy learning new languages or for whom Yiddish is a family or heritage language. For students coming from outside of the Ottawa area, on-campus housing is available, as is funding to offset the cost of travel. As a bonus, the course takes place at the University of Ottawa’s downtown campus during the city’s Tulip Festival, as well as the country’s 150th birthday celebrations.
As a scholar and instructor of Yiddish with more than 20 years’ experience teaching Yiddish to children and adults in university and community settings including New York’s YIVO summer program and the Yiddish Book Centre in Amherst, Prof. Rebecca Margolis, Vered Jewish Canadian Studies Program, University of Ottawa, is excited to be able to offer this intensive course at her home university.
All information regarding the program, registration, financial support and housing is found at yiddishottawa.com. Registration opens at the end of March, first-come, first-served. For more information, contact Margolis, the coordinator and instructor of the course, at [email protected].