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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 lifestyle for hundreds of thousands of Jews to what the writer phrases a postvernacular language of various and increasing symbolic worth. With an intensive command of contemporary Yiddish tradition in addition to its centuries-old heritage, Jeffrey Shandler investigates the extraordinary variety of latest encounters with the language. His examine traverses the extensive 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 understand very little Yiddish--in groups around the Americas, in Europe, Israel, and different outposts of ''Yiddishland.''

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

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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. Often this transformation entails the professionalization of speaking Yiddish as a performance skill; at other times, it involves complementing or even replacing spoken Yiddish with other forms of communication, including nonverbal ones, such as instrumental music or dance. The study of these recent events reveals how, in the postvernacular mode, the uttering of Yiddish is an increasingly self-conscious practice, since saying something in Yiddish has become a noteworthy activity above and beyond what is being said.

THE KINGDOM OF THE YIDDISH WORD” Imaginary engagement with Yiddishland is part of an extensive discourse linking language and homeland. This subject has proved especially productive in the modern era, involving Jews concerned with issues other than Yiddish (for example, literary scholar George Steiner’s discussion of “the ‘textuality’ of the Jewish condi- 34 IMAGINING YIDDISHLAND Flier announcing the grand opening of the Yiddishland Cafe, organized by the Workmen’s Circle in Toronto, Canada, 1996.

Thus, one of the more surprisingly provocative phenomena of Yiddish culture since World War II is a small paperback entitled Say It in Yiddish, a phrase book for travelers. This volume, part of a Dover Publications series (which includes over two dozen languages, among them modern Hebrew, Indonesian, and Swahili), first appeared in 1958 and is still in print. The book was edited by linguist Uriel Weinreich, then Atran Chair of Yiddish Studies at Columbia University, and his wife, folklorist Beatrice Weinreich.

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