פֿאַר װאָס ייִדיש? פֿאַר װאָס איצט?
Why Yiddish? Why Now?
Yiddish, as we have discovered, is more than a language. It is our connection to the movements of our people—to the historical lessons which must not be un-learned or forgotten—and to the present-day movements of our Jewish life, connecting everything from our ethic of Tsedaka and social justice to what we teach our children about who they are.
It is the glue of the Ashkenazi Diaspora; the voice of the labor movements across America and Eastern Europe; the history of a civilization nearly destroyed by the Shoah and our survival through it; the prolific melodies of our folk singers; and the muse-inspired glory of stories, poems, novels, essays and social criticism.
CIYCL was founded in 1999 by an early pioneer in the field of Environmental Planning to work against the tide that separates most Jews alive today from this remarkable heritage that is at risk of expiring.
It tells us everything we need to know about who we are. It leads us to what we must uphold, and to who we might become.
One of the hallmarks of Yiddish culture is its timeless ability to transcend religious, class and geographic distinctions. Yiddish’s power—our power—is woven into our diversity, our social justice, our unique history, and our artistry as Jews. This is a “language”—a code, really—that shapes our very lives, directing us towards the responsibilities evoked by our pasts and the fulfilled dreams hidden in our futures.
Ask anyone under 60 to name 3 concentration camps, and they’ll have no trouble; ask them to name 3 Yiddish authors or 3 Yiddish songs, and they’ll have no idea — even though most Jews alive today have Ashkenazic (European) antecedents.