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A huge proportion of the Yiddish-speaking world was lost during the Holocaust and in its immediate aftermath. However, waves of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe introduced Yiddish to the UK, Western Europe and the Americas bringing with it this rich tradition of literature, song and theatre, and Yiddish still remained a thriving language in Jewish diaspora communities, most notably in parts of North America. And of course some Yiddish words -shmuck, schmaltz, schlep – even made their way into contemporary parlance. Yiddish is still spoken in some communities around the world, but has mostly disappeared. It is preserved today through the contribution of wonderful teachers at courses worldwide.
JMI is committed to preserving Yiddish language and song, recording Yidishe Lider, a cd of East End Yiddish poet Majer Bogdanski’s poetry, devising a 60th Anniversary Celebration of The King of Lampedusa at Toynbee Hall and presenting in concert Ghetto Tango: Wartime Yiddish Theater, songs of the Polish ghetto by Adrienne Cooper and Zalmen Mlotek.
Since 2000, JMI has run Ot Azoy an annual Yiddish Summer School and The Golden Peacock (previously known as Tumbala!) (link to Golden Peacock), an annual Yiddish Song School as SOAS. It has also organised concerts and workshops across the UK with some of the world’s top performers and teachers of the Yiddish tradition including Michael Alpert, Khayele Beer, Joanne Borts, Hilda Bronstein, Efrim Chorny, Barry Davis, Pesakh Fiszman, Lily Kahn, Shura Lipovsky, Sonia Pinkusowitz, Polina Shepherd, Lorin Sklamberg and Heather Valencia.