Sunday, May 21, 2006

Against the odds, devotees fight to save Yiddish

CHICAGO (AP) -- Itche Goldberg and Jason Rubin are separated in age by 82 years, but they're linked by a common passion for an ancient Jewish language that threatens to slip into obscurity.

The life of 102-year-old Goldberg spans the recent decline of Yiddish to its heyday early last century when about 13 million Jews - or some 70 percent of Jews worldwide - spoke the lilting language that gave English words like "chutzpah" and "schmo."

Yiddish is German/Hebrew, and for quite obvious reasons, shunned by the orthodoxy ever since the Holocaust. I grew up listening to it, and never met a NY'er who wasn't charmed by this balsy, spray-it-don't-say-it patois. And the German neighborghoods don't count.

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research:

The Vilnius Yiddish Institute:

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