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March Events:

  • CSP Master Class Series
    Date: Thursday March 4, 2021 – Yiddish Futures
    Time: 12:30-1:30 PM PST/ 3:30 – 4:30 PM EST
    Topic: Mame-loshn: Thinking Through Yiddish
    Speaker: Prof. Justin Cammy, live from Northampton, MA
    Dedicated in honor of: Leslye and Samuel Prum

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    CSP Partners: Congregation Beth Shalom (Seattle, WA), Congregation B’nai Tzedek (Fountain Valley, CA), Congregation B’nai Israel (Tustin, CA), Temple Bat Yahm (Newport Beach, CA), Temple Beth El of South Orange County (Aliso Viejo, CA), Temple Beth Emet (Anaheim, CA), Temple Beth Ohr (La Mirada, CA), Temple Beth Tikvah (Fullerton, CA), Temple Beth Shalom (Needham, MA), Temple Beth Sholom (Santa Ana, CA), Town & Village Synagogue (NYC, NY) & Valley Beth Shalom (Encino, CA)

    In its 1,000-plus-year history, the Yiddish language has been called many things, including the tender name mameloshen (mother tongue), the adversarial moniker zhargon (jargon) and the more matter-of-fact Judeo-German. Literally speaking, Yiddish means “Jewish.” Linguistically, it refers to the language spoken by Ashkenazi Jews — Jews from Central and Eastern Europe, and their descendants. Though its basic vocabulary and grammar are derived from medieval West German, Yiddish integrates many languages including German, Hebrew, Aramaic and various Slavic and Romance languages. It is impossible to pin down exactly where or when Yiddish emerged, but the most widely-accepted theory is that the language came into formation in the 10th century, when Jews from France and Italy began to migrate to the German Rhine Valley. There, they combined the languages they brought with them, together with their new neighbors’ Germanic, producing the earliest form of Yiddish. As Jews continued to migrate eastward –a result of the Crusades and the Black Plague–Yiddish spread across Central and Eastern Europe and began to include more elements from Slavic languages. Join us for a 5-part series with Prof. Justin Cammy, one of the world’s leading scholars of Yiddish literature and culture, as we explore the origins, evolution, revolution and future of Yiddish.

    Lecture 1:
    Thursday February 4, 2021
    The Origins of Yiddish and Making of Ashkenaz – Explores the origins of Yiddish and Ashkenazi Jewish culture.

    Lecture 2:
    Thursday February 11, 2021
    The Sexual Politics of Yiddish – Mame-loshn (mother tongue) is one of the intimate names for Yiddish. How have gendered assumptions about Yiddish speakers and readers played into the broader attitudes about Jews?

    Lecture 3:
    Thursday February 18, 2021
    Revolutionary Yiddish – Yiddish is often associated with Jewish radicals and revolutionaries. How did the language variously contribute to modern Jewish politics in Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, and the Americas?

    Lecture 4:
    Thursday February 25, 2021
    Yiddish and Memory – How is Yiddish a core component in Jewish memory culture, especially in the wake of the Holocaust?

    Lecture 5:
    Thursday March 4, 2021
    Yiddish Futures – We will explore the contemporary landscapes of Yiddish, from Hasidic speakers to Yiddish on stage, screen, and online.

    About Prof. Cammy:
    A literary and cultural historian with research and teaching interests in Yiddish literature, Eastern European Jewish history, and Zionism and contemporary Israel, Justin Cammy is director of the Program in Jewish Studies at Smith College in Massachusetts and summer director of the Naomi Prawer Kadar International Yiddish summer Program at Tel Aviv University. He holds a doctorate in Near Eastern languages and civilizations from Harvard University and a bachelor’s in Middle Eastern studies from McGill University. In addition to appointments in Jewish studies and comparative literature, he also is a member of the programs in Middle Eastern studies, and Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian studies. His publications range from essays on canonical Yiddish writers to scholarly translations of Yiddish literature to critical introductions to new editions of works by Yiddish writers and memoirists. His book on Young Vilna, the last Yiddish literary group in interwar Poland, is forthcoming. He is currently working on an English edition of Abraham Sutzkever’s Vilna Ghetto, one of the earliest Yiddish Holocaust memoirs to describe the destruction of a Jewish city. In addition to his courses on Jewish literature, history and politics, Cammy has guided Smith students and alumnae abroad to study the religious and political history of Jerusalem, environmental challenges in Israel, the history and memory of Yiddishland, and Prague through the Ages. In recent years Cammy has served as research fellow at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem (2014); Webb Family Visiting Scholar at the Goldreich Institute for Yiddish Language, Literature and Culture at Tel Aviv University (2013–14); and Mellon Senior Scholar on the Holocaust and visiting professor of English at UCLA (2009). He is a regular guest faculty member at Yiddish summer programs at Tel Aviv University and the Yiddish Book Center. In 2006, Cammy was awarded Smith College’s Sherrerd Prize for Distinguished Teaching.

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  • Date: Monday March 1, 2021
    Time: 12:30-1:30 PM
    Topic: Chasing Family Ghosts Through Modern-Day Myanmar
    Speaker: Carol Isaacs
    Dedicated in honor of:

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    In December 2019 Carol travelled to Burma (Myanmar) with her piano accordion. A branch of her father’s family, originally from Iraq, had lived there from the 1880’s until 1942 when the Japanese invaded. One cousin, a musician, along with hundreds of thousands of refugees, fled across the border to India after the invasion carrying his beloved piano accordion through the jungle. Accompanied by her partner, photographer Mika Schick, Carol documented her cousin’s journey and the results are part graphic memoir, part travel photography. In this presentation Carol will share some of these images and provide a background into the little-known Jewish community of Burma.

    Carol Isaacs is a keyboard player & accordionist in the pop and world music fields, recording and touring worldwide with many international artists including Sinéad O’Connor (Ireland), The Indigo Girls (US), Ahmed Mukhtar (Iraq), Phongsit Khampee (Thailand). She is a founder member of the London Klezmer Quartet. Also known as cartoonist The Surreal McCoy (published in the New Yorker, Spectator, Private Eye) Carol drew The Wolf of Baghdad graphic memoir based on her own family’s recollections and then turned it into a motion comic (semi-animated video with music). She also plays Arabic accordion on the soundtrack. The book itself was published by Myriad Editions (UK) in January 2020 and the motion comic is available as a DVD-ROM, and also to rent or buy as video-on-demand, at her website here.

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