“A Foreign and Grating Language”? Yiddish In Israel – A History

Israeli Jolly Ball

“A Foreign and Grating Language”? Yiddish In Israel – A History

Tuesday, 8 June 2021 - 2:15pm to 3:15pm
ZOOM Online Webinar
Rachel Rojanski (Brown University)
Peter Bergamin (Mansfield) and Yaacov Yadgar (St. Anne’s)
Israel Studies Seminar


Challenging the commonly held view that Yiddish was suppressed and even banned by the Israeli authorities, Rachel Rojanski offers a radical new interpretation of the interaction between Yiddish and Israeli Hebrew culture. Based on detailed archival research, this talk will follow the development of Yiddish in Israel and present Yiddish culture’s vibrant growth in Israel’s first decades.  It will argue that although the Israeli leadership made promoting Hebrew a high priority, it did not have an explicit policy on Yiddish. The language’s varying fortunes in Israel over the years were shaped less by governmental policy than by social and political developments as well as by the state’s changing cultural climate.


Rachel Rojanski is Associate Professor of Judaic Studies at Brown University. She is a cultural and political historian of the east European Yiddish-speaking Jewish diaspora from late 19th century to the end of the 20th century, with a special interest in American Jewish history, Zionism and Israel Studies. Her research also encompasses Jewish Socialism, Gender studies, and the history of Yiddish.  Her publications include:  Conflicting Identities: Labor Zionism in North America 1905-1931 (Hebrew, Ben-Gurion University Press, 2004); Yiddish in Israel: A History (Indiana University Press, 2020) as well as numerous articles on Jewish Socialism, the Yiddish press, and Jewish gender. Her current book project focuses on Holocaust survivor, historian, Yiddish writer and public activist, Rachel Auerbach.  

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Meeting ID: 928 9816 3373

Passcode: 538897