For the last ten years, the highlight of my summers has been attending Yidish-vokh, an annual, intergenerational, Yiddish-language immersion retreat held in the New York Berkshires. And this year, the highlight of my Yidish-vokh was co-leading with Jonah Sidman a pair of workshops, Naye Lider fun Boston—New (Yiddish) Songs from Boston—where we got to share the creativity of the Boston-area Yiddish community with our Yidish-vokh community. We taught originals and translations by longtime BWC member Linda Gritz, an original song and a setting of a poem by local singer-songwriter Adah Hetko. And we taught Jonah’s translation of an English drinking song and a pair of my own original songs. It was both a personal milestone for me, as a relatively new songwriter, and a way to honor the vibrant Boston Yiddish scene.
I did not grow up hearing spoken Yiddish; I learned the language as an adult and will likely always be learning it. Despite wanting to write in Yiddish for some time, I was unsure of my skill and knew I would make errors and have questions. So I started Di Nest, a Yiddish arts incubator, as a place where anyone could share works in progress.
Looking back, it makes sense: Language—learning, speaking, and creating—thrives in community. It certainly has for me, whether that means drawing inspiration from Adah and Linda, asking and offering advice at Di Nest, singing with friends, or rushing to join the group at the Rosh Hashanah reception that I know is speaking Yiddish. It was so meaningful to share the creativity of Boston Yiddishists—creativity that so often focuses on justice, nature, and community—this summer.
Every year, I return from Yidish-vokh with so much enthusiasm for our Yiddish community. The beginning of the year is the perfect time for anyone to get involved with Yiddish at BWC. Yiddish classes begin in October, including virtual classes at all levels, as well as our first in-person beginner class since the pandemic. A Besere Velt Yiddish Chorus is holding open rehearsals on October 1 and 15—all are welcome, no knowledge of Yiddish or music required. The Yiddish Committee has a Yiddish picnic coming up, plus our ongoing programs like Yiddish Vinkl (conversation group), Yiddish Sing, and of course Di Nest. I invite everyone interested in Yiddish language and culture to join us and be part of our community.