Yiddish by Miriam Weinstein
A Nation of Words

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Synopsis

This first-ever popular history of Yiddish is so full of life that it reads like a biography of the language.

For a thousand years Yiddish was the glue that held a people together. Through the intimacies of daily use, it linked European Jews with their heroic past, their spiritual universe, their increasingly far-flung relations. In it they produced one of the world's most richly human cultures.

Impoverished and disenfranchised in the eyes of the world, Yiddish-speakers created their own alternate reality - wealthy in appreciation of the varieties of human behavior, spendthrift in humor, brilliantly inventive in maintaining and strengthening community. For a people of exile, the language took the place of a nation. The written and spoken word formed the Yiddishland that never came to be. Words were army, university, city-state, territory. They were a people's home.

The tale, which has never before been told, is nothing short of miraculous - the saving of a people through speech. It ranges far beyond Europe, from North America to Israel to the Russian-Chinese border, and from the end of the first millenium to the present day. This book requires no previous knowledge of Yiddish or of Jewish history - just a curious mind and an open heart.
 

About Miriam Weinstein

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Miriam Weinstein grew up in the Bronx following World War II, a time and place where Yiddish was standard fare. Once a documentary filmmaker, she is now a freelance journalist whose features have won several awards from the New England Press Association. Her other books include The Surprising Power of Family Meals, also available from Steerforth Press.
 
Published August 21, 2012 by Steerforth. 300 pages
Genres: History, Religion & Spirituality, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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She frequently makes generalizations that lead to errors, describing Yiddish, for example, as “a conscious part of the identity of European Jews,” which will come as a shock to Ladino speakers from Greece, Turkey, and Italy.

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Publishers Weekly

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After half the world's Yiddish speakers died in the Holocaust, Yiddish has survived mostly thanks to the Hasidim who emigrated to America and elsewhere and built large families.

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