UC Berkeley Library

Yiddish Culture

A Yiddish World Remembered

Looks back at the all but vanished Jewish way of life that existed in eastern Europe before World War II. Through archival films, vintage photographs, traditional cantorial and Klezmer music, and personal recollections, once-vibrant cities and small towns come alive again. The few remaining eyewitnesses share their compelling stories about life in the close knit communities where rabbis settled disputes, yentas gossiped, and boys dedicated themselves to learning. Directed by Andrew Goldberg.

Fading Traces: Postscripts from a Landscape of Memory

The western Ukraine was once home to the largest Jewish community that ever existed. Five million Jews living there had a rich culture, with extensive music and a thriving Yiddish theater. All this disappeared with the German invasion of Russia in 1941 and the tragic events of the Holocaust. This documentary artfully weaves the words of writers such as Rose Auslander, Isaak Babel, Martin Buber and David Kahane with the memories of those still living to recreate the culture of Ukrainian Jews. Directed by Walo Deuber. (1998?) 79 min.

Journey to Yiddish Land

When the state of Israel was established the Yiddish language was abandoned in favor of modern hebrew, except by the Hasisim. But now renewed efforts are being made in Israel and even Germany to keep the language alive. Including commentary by the director of the Yiddish Theatre in Tel Aviv, this lively film presents Yiddish theater, song and dance, demonstrating how language and cultural identity are intertwinded. A film by Gernot Steinweg, Rea Karen ; directed by Gernot Steinweg. c1999. 29 min.

Song of a Jewish Cowboy

Scott Gerber, an unlikely mix of Yiddish and cowboy cultures, learned Yiddish and progressive songs from his mother and grandmother. A descendant of the Petaluma, California chicken ranchers, he carries on the Yiddish and ranching traditions. A documentary by Bonnie Burt and Judy Montell. c2002. 18 min.

The Forward: From Immigrants to Americans.

Shows the special role the Jewish daily forward, the most successful Yiddish newspaper, played in the lives of millions of immigrants who became Americans. Director, Marlene Booth Dist.: Direct Cinema.1989. 58 min.

Yiddish, the Mame-Loshn (Yiddish, the Mother Tongue).

Filmed in Los Angeles and New York, documentary examining the importance of the Yiddish language and culture to American Jews today through interviews, films, poetry and Yiddish music. Dist.: National Center for Jewish Film. c1991. 58 min.

Zoll Zeyn

Presents the state of Yiddish culture in contemporary Israel through interviews with Yiddish-speaking people from many different walks of life, from socialist Bundists in Tel Aviv to the Orthodox in Jerusalem, from people in the street to poets, singers, revolutionaries, journalists and actors for whom Yiddish is a living language in the midst of Hebrew. They share stories and vignettes of their experiences, their love of Yiddish language and literature and the attitude in Israel toward Yiddish. Dist.: National Center for Jewish Film.1989.