The Story of Yiddish: How a Mish-Mosh of Languages Saved the by Neal Karlen

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By Neal Karlen

A delightfully unconventional story of a humans, their position on the earth, and the interesting language that held them jointly.

Yiddish is an not likely survivor of the a long time, very similar to the Jews themselves. Incorporating vintage German dialects and components from greater than a dozen different tongues, the Yiddish language bears the imprint of the numerous areas the place ecu Jews have been in short given take care of. Neal Karlen's designated, brashly exciting, but completely researched telling of the language's tale finds that Yiddish is a reflect of Jewish background, suggestion, and practice—for larger and for worse.

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Extra info for The Story of Yiddish: How a Mish-Mosh of Languages Saved the Jews

Sample text

Nane, Leybl, du vaist ich bin nisht a shikker,” my father would reply. ” i t i s c r i t i c a l that both Rabbi Manis Friedman and Lenny Bruce, my two rabbis of Yiddishkeit, actually spoke Yiddish, unlike most of today’s academic scholars, who only read the language. Bruce learned to speak Yiddish sixty years ago at Hanson’s drugstore in midtown Manhattan. ) At Hanson’s, Lenny Bruce picked up the bulk of the Yiddish he’d use in his stage act. Hanson’s was his comedy yeshiva, and his peers were the young, undiscovered Jewish comics who hung out near the offices of their Broadway Danny Rose–like agents, waiting for a call for a last-second fill-in engagement at a third-rate Borscht Belt hotel or a skanky, mob-owned strip club like the one in Passaic, New Jersey, called The Lido Venice.

Jam[med] together in fugues of impatience. ” Like Yiddish itself, forever shnorring from other languages, the comics at Hanson’s unabashedly stole material from one another. Take impressionist Will Jordan, whose Ed Sullivan imitation caused the real Ed Sullivan to start adopting Jordan’s over-the-top impersonation of his own tics. At Hanson’s, Jordan, afraid his colleagues would steal an imitation, would go outside and try out new voices on the sidewalk. It didn’t matter that Lenny Bruce lifted most of his Yiddish at Hanson’s from his buddy Joe Ancis, the funniest shpritzer of all.

Singer authored the universally acclaimed Yoshe Kalb and The Brothers Ashkenazi. “I never understood how Bashevis performed,” Dr. Levitz said. ” “Az der kleyner vil nisht shtey mus men zik mit a finer bageyn,” he said, wonderingly. ” a n d t h e n t h e r e was the green monster of mamme-loshn letters. Cynthia Ozick nailed it when she titled her roman à clef, “Yiddish: Or, Envy in America,” without question the best short story about the mother tongue written in English. “Somehow word had leaked, and everyone knew a Yiddish writer was going to get the Nobel Prize in Literature that year [1978],” Dr.

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