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By Jeffrey Shandler

Adventures in Yiddishland examines the transformation of Yiddish within the six many years because the Holocaust, tracing its shift from the language of way of life for thousands of Jews to what the writer phrases a postvernacular language of various and increasing symbolic worth. With a radical command of recent Yiddish tradition in addition to its centuries-old background, Jeffrey Shandler investigates the extraordinary variety of latest encounters with the language. His examine traverses the wide spectrum of people that have interaction with Yiddish--from Hasidim to avant-garde performers, Jews in addition to non-Jews, fluent audio system in addition to those that comprehend very little Yiddish--in groups around the Americas, in Europe, Israel, and different outposts of "Yiddishland."

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Extra info for Adventures in Yiddishland: Postvernacular Language and Culture (S. Mark Taper Foundation Imprint in Jewish Studies)

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These issues assume added importance in the post–World War II era, given postvernacular Yiddish culture’s inherent reliance on other languages as means of communication at the primary level. 28 POSTVERNACULARITY In the fourth chapter the role that a wide variety of public performances—including festivals, concerts, workshops, and retreats—play in contemporary Yiddish culture is scrutinized. These events transform the vernacular use of Yiddish through practices in which the language, rather than serving as a means of performance, has become the performance’s end.

In its earliest manifestations, the notion of Yiddishland is a product of the new ideas about Yiddish and its role in Jewish life that emerged in Eastern Europe at the turn of the previous century, ideas that gave rise to Yiddishism. Its adherents championed their native language as a distinctive cultural repository to be cultivated rather than condemned. Their commitment to a modern, often radically secularized, Jewish culture that placed Yiddish at its center was rooted in the language’s long-standing East European indigenousness.

7 Say It in Yiddish is neither the oldest nor the most recent example of imagining Yiddishland, which I define as a virtual locus construed in terms of the use of the Yiddish language, especially, though not exclusively, in its spoken form. 10 Following this model, the phrase yidish fun yidishland would mean “genuine Yiddish” or perhaps “the epitome of Yiddish, Yiddish at its best,” implying that yidishland is the language’s ideal locus, a Yiddish utopia. (The meaning of this idiom can also be ironic, as is apparently the case in the earliest oblique reference to Yiddishland I have found.

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