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2006 | 2(218) | 212-221

Article title

Yiddish for Academic Purposes: The Polish Perspective


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The article seeks to identify the causes of the crisis in the teaching of Yiddish, especially in the United States, where the biggest concentrations of Ashkenazi Jews and centres of studies of their culture can be found. The system of teaching the so-called standard Yiddish, developed at the New York YIVO institute and used for nearly sixty years does not make the students ready for a competent linguistic, historic and cultural study of the civilization legacy of Eastern Europe's Jews. The authoress criticized the didactic methods, the textbooks, and even the subject itself, that is, the standard Yiddish language, whose knowledge turns out to be of limited use from the point of view of the goals set itself by present-day Yiddish studies in countries such as Poland, where there are practically no communities in which this language is spoken. The younger generation, brought up far away from the so-called Yiddishland territory, has not managed to preserve the vitality of Yiddish. At the same time, it was deprived of the cultural competence indispensable for the proper interpretation of culture texts recorded in Yiddish. Medium and younger-generation researchers studying the problems of Yiddish in Poland, who for the most part have no ethnic ties to Ashkenazi Jews, command the knowledge of the realities in which the Yiddish civilization was formed but they lack the ethnic-religious background that comes from the process of growing in such environment. This is why in order to preserve the truth about the Yiddish world it is necessary to change the methods and scope of academic tuition so that they would provide an adequate key to the description of the Yiddish civilization.





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  • E. Geller, Uniwersytet Warszawski, ul. Krakowskie Przedmiescie 26/28, 00-927 Warszawa, Poland


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