Yiddish to be taught at schools in New York?

A New York City Council member has proposed opening a dual-language Yiddish-English program in a city public school.

April 16, 2019 04:43
1 minute read.
student learns yiddish reading

A secondary school student learns Yiddish during a lesson of Jewish history and culture at Solomo Aleichemo Jewish school in Vilnius, Lithuania. (photo credit: REUTERS/INTS KALNINS)


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A New York City Council member has proposed opening a dual-language Yiddish-English program in a city public school.

Councilman Mark Levine, who represents parts of upper Manhattan and is the chair of the City Council’s Jewish Caucus, is working to open the program in a kindergarten classroom in the fall of 2020, The Forward reported.

The secular Yiddish-language program would be the only program of its kind in the United States.

“I’ve been inspired by young activists who are looking to keep this language alive, and keep its literature and theater and culture alive by passing it on to the next generation,” Levine told the Forward.

As a public school program it would be devoid of religious content. Although Yiddish as a spoken language is growing among New York’s haredi Orthodox community, it is unlikely that Yiddish-speaking Hasidic families would send their children to such a school.

Children in the immersion program would spend half a day studying in English and half a day in Yiddish and would take classes with other children in the public school housing the program. The school would add a grade each year and would need a minimum of 20 children per grade, according to the report.

There are dual language programs in New York City public schools in more than 20 languages, including Urdu, Polish, Albanian, Russian, and Spanish.

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