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|2||The three languages of Ashkenaz||45|
|3||Old Yiddish literature||79|
|4||What should a lady read?||89|
|5||Yiddish and Kabbalah||113|
|6||In the east||131|
|7||Westernization and language||173|
|8||New visions of Judaism||225|
|9||The twentieth century||257|
|10||In the twenty-first century||349|
|11||The future of Yiddish||367|
Posted September 12, 2009
A fascinating book that I couldn't put down. It raises issues about Jewish life and practices during the past thousand years, the relationship between Jews and non-Jews in Europe, the dispersion and wanderings of Jews across the old world, the relationship of men and women in Jewish culture, the role of talmudic scholars in controlling the spread of knowledge, as well as telling the story of the development of Yiddish as a language.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 9, 2009
This is an extraordinary and compelling book. I received it as a birthday present and expected a somewhat dry discussion of a subject in which I have some personal interest. Instead I was captivated by a story of the Yiddish language presented as a vivid, very human history of the Ashkinazi Yiddish speaking Jewish communities offered as a guidepost to the evolution of the Yiddish language. The writing sparkles and while I lack the background to comment on the scholarship of the contents, from the depth and breadth of the information offered, I sense it is formidable. Rather than a one or two-hundred year story of relatively recent Jewish speaking communities, the book traces Yiddish back to its roots in Germany about a thousand years ago, following the expansion and migration of the Ashkenazi Jewish communities from Germany into Eastern Europe and the resulting evolution of, as well as tensions in, both language and culture. It offers insight into both the everyday lives of European Jews and into the rabbinic influences, and into the manner in which each influenced or was influenced by the evolving Yiddish language and culture. For anyone interested in Yiddish, in Jewish culture or in a little-explored piece of European and Jewish history, this is a must read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 27, 2005
The book is perhaps the best available popular introduction to the history of the Yiddish Language. Although scientifically rigorous, it is directed to the general public, interpretative rather than simply factual, and presents many highly subjective views of the author (which only makes it more interesting). Language politics (Hebrew/Yiddish dichotomy) within the modern secular Jewish world are frankly discussed. One obvious problem with the book is the hypertrophied 'litvak patriotism' of the author. This results in skewed choices of literary figures individually presented (almost without exception from the Northern Yiddish dialectal area), with flagrant disregard to details when it concerns other Yiddish dialects and areas. Northern Yiddish toponimics is meticulously presented up to the tiniest of the shtetls, whereas Bessarabia is consistently placed in Ukraine, Kishinev (Chisinau) is repeatedly spelled 'kishenev', Chernowitz is also misspelled and the birthplace of Sholem-Aleichem is not spelled out at all (compare to any litvak author in the book). Equally biased is his dealing with the contemporary secular Yiddish writers of the younger generation and with the Soviet Yiddish literature (which produced many of the former). Having said all this, no better review of all things Yiddish seems to exist.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 18, 2005
It is refreshing to read an informative, accurate and well-written book about the real history of Yiddish, particularly by as gifted a writer as Katz. As usual, truth is vastly more interesting than mythology, and Katz handles the truth with an academic's intellectual razor but with a writer's soul. My only complaint is a slighly fawning attitude towards Haredim demonstrated at the end. They may well carry Yiddish forward into the 21st century but the culture they carry along with it is as far as can be from the vibrant, intellectual, open and secular Golden Age of Yiddish.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 19, 2004
A truly great work of a major scholar of Yiddish. It presents a highly readable and thought provoking saga of Yiddish language and culture from its origins at the beginning of the last milenium well into our own days. Its relevance to contemporary Jewish cultural politics and to the possible survival and continuation of Yiddish creativity will attract many intelligent readers who had their fill of popular schmaltz books 'on Yiddish' and who wouldn't mind to take a respite from the heavy artilery academic writings on the subject.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.