The resurrection of Yiddish

The event Yiddish and Hebrew: Worlds that Don’t Meet,” attracted some 300 people and featured speakers including Israel Prize laureates Gila Almagor and Lia Koenig.

Grapevine (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
THE EVENT in Habimah Theater’s foyer last Friday morning, billed as “Yiddish and Hebrew: Worlds that Don’t Meet,” attracted some 300 people and featured speakers including Israel Prize laureates Gila Almagor and Lia Koenig. Both women have played the lead role in the Hebrew translation of Jacob Gordin’s classic play Mirele Efros – one of many Yiddish plays translated into Hebrew in the early years of Habimah, which will celebrate its centenary in four years.
Yiddish, which many have been eulogized in Israel for years, still has a vast following, and the fact that Habimah was willing to show a film with Dzigan and Shumacher skits and other bits of Yiddish punctuated by Hebrew demonstrates this. Most of the pioneers of Habimah, though Hebrew-speakers with strong Russian accents, grew up in Yiddish-speaking environments – much like founding prime minister David Ben-Gurion, who banned Yiddish in Israel but spoke it when he went fund-raising in America. There was a spoof on him, too, at Friday’s event.
Koenig has a foot in both worlds; she is just as comfortable on the Yiddish stage as on the Hebrew stage, which is not surprising, as she is of European birth.
Almagor, in contrast, is a sabra who had little if any connection with Yiddish growing up, but she confessed on Friday that it was a language that she loved to hear.
MOST EMBASSIES in Israel are located on rented premises. But last week, Korean Ambassador Kim Il Soo hosted a cornerstone-laying ceremony for a new embassy on land in the Herzliya Pituah industrial zone that his predecessor Young Sam Ma purchased four years ago on behalf of the South Korean government. The land is next to the existing embassy, only a few minutes’ drive from the ambassador’s residence in Rishpon, and construction of the three-story structure is expected to take approximately two years.
The laying of the cornerstone coincided with a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories from Korean First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Kyou-hyun, who attended the ceremony. Also in attendance were Herzliya Mayor Moshe Fadlon, Hatnua MK Meir Sheetrit, other dignitaries and members of the Korean community in Israel.
IN THE summer of 1996, Binyamin Netanyahu woke in a suite of the Tel Aviv Hilton to learn that he was the new prime minister of Israel. The photographs taken in the suite on that day have been preserved in a book chronicling the hotel’s long saga. Fast forward 17 years, and Netanyahu, once again prime minister and having reason to stay overnight in Tel Aviv, again opted for the Hilton, where he was placed in the same suite. According to his aides, he remembered it well.Motti Verses, the longtime public relations director of Hiltons Israel, showed Netanyahu the photographs from immediately after the announcement of his initial victory and gave him the book that held the photos as a souvenir.
AGE IS no object for Rabbi Edward Jackson, who has come out of retirement at age 77 to take on the leadership of the Young Israel Congregation of North Netanya. The move follows the retirement of long-serving rabbi and founder Natan Morowitz. Jackson had agreed to fill in for six months while the congregation sought a replacement, but he proved so popular with the mainly Anglo community that he was asked to stay on longer, and he agreed. The temporary arrangement is likely to become a long-term one, lasting as long as Jackson feels he can do the job. Jackson, generally known to friends and acquaintances as “Eddie,” was born in Cork, Ireland, and claims to be the only rabbi that city produced. He served congregations in London and Hong Kong before coming to live in Israel several years ago. In addition to his spiritual side and his Irish blarney, he is a keen sports fan who often slips sports references into his sermons.
BIRD LOVERS seeking to satisfy their interest and unaware of the Winter Birds Festival organized by Keren Kayemet Le’Israel – Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) might care to take advantage of some of the nature-oriented cultural activities in the Hula Valley or at the Tel Hai Museum. For those who prefer to see photographs of birds rather than spend time out in the field, there are three photography exhibitions on view at the Tel Hai Museum.
“Another Land” features the work of esteemed nature photographer Eyal Bartuv. It includes some of the best works of photographers whose names have become legend in the history of Israeli photography, such as Ze’ev Vilna’i and Ya’acov Ben-Dov. These photographs were saved and collected by the KKL-JNF Photo Archive. The third exhibition, “With the Autumn Come the Birds,” is an array of some marvelously varied photographs by the late Ruby Silberstein, a photographer and educator.