Starting on Wednesday February 7th and going until Sunday, February 11th, The Rady Jewish Community Centre will be holding a very fun, and engaging festival that puts Yiddish language and culture front and centre. The festival which is called “Put a Yid On it!” Will spotlight Yiddish film, and music, and will also mark the release of a brand new book that pays homage to Yiddish Cinema. And the best part is that you do not need to be able to speak Yiddish to enjoy the festival.
For those who think they may not be familiar with Yiddish, you might be using Yiddish words without even knowing it. Putz, Klutz, Glitch, Schmooze, Bagel, and Schmuck are all words that are used in English but have their origins in Yiddish and Hebrew. It is a language that has definitely made its mark on our own vocabulary.
Shira Newman is the Coordinator of Arts Programming at the Rady JCC and The Festival Producer. Describing the Yiddish language she says, “It’s an amalgam of German and Hebrew. It’s in Hebrew lettering normally. It’s a language that has been spoken by Eastern European Jews…and I found out even spreading north throughout Scandinavia. It was spoken and written for 1000 years and up to 11 million people were able to speak the language.”
The number of people who speak Yiddish has drastically decreased due to the effects of the Holocaust, and cultural assimilation but thankfully the language is now enjoying a bit of resurgence. “There is a growing number of people like myself, although I am only just starting…who are taking an active interest in learning Yiddish,” states Newman.
The “Put a Yid On It!” Festival will feature four Yiddish films, three of which are from the 1930’s; “Yiddle With His Fiddle,” “The Light Ahead,” and “The Dybbuk” and one film that was made in the 1970’s called “Hester Street.”.
All of the films are in Yiddish but have English subtitles. As Newman explains, “The three films that we are showing from the 1930s that are from the golden era of Yiddish cinema, all come from the Centre of Jewish Film in Massachusetts. They are all being remastered…so yes they have clear English subtitles. You don’t need to speak Yiddish to enjoy them.”
The Festival will also showcase two great musical acts. There is the amazing Klezmer band “Beyond the Pale” on Thursday, February the 8th. Taking a mixture of bluegrass, jazz, Balkan and classical influences, and mixing them together to create a wonderfully energetic and engaging Klezmer sound, this is a band not to be missed!
On Saturday, February 10th at 8:00pm at the West End Cultural Centre the “Put a Yid On it!” festival will be keeping things very current with The Yiddish Hip-Hop Artist (no that is not a misprint!) simply known as “Socalled”. An unstoppable creative force, Socalled will use Funk, Hip Hop and Klezmer to get you up dancing and smiling.
On Wednesday, February the 7th, at 7:30 at The Handsome Daughter at 61 Sherbrook St., the Festival will be hosting a book launch. “Yiddish Cinema: The Drama of Troubled Communications” is a book written by Jonah Corne and Monika Vrecar. Then book touches on many subjects such as family, religion, tradition, immigration, anti-semetism and displacement; using Yiddish Cinema to theorize abut communication and the struggle to communicate.
“Put a Yid On It!” has something for everybody, so why escape the mishegas of the day-to-day grind…relax on you tukus, and maybe do some schmoozing and noshing…while at the same time enjoying some great Yiddish culture!
The “Put a Yid On It!” Festival of Yiddish Culture runs from Wednesday February 7th until Sunday, February 11th
For more details go to the Rady JCC’s Website