‚Barg aroyf‘ or ‚Up Hill‘? – Max Weinreich and the changing meaning of the First Yiddish Language Conference in Czernowitz, 1908-1958

Vortrag (engl.) von Prof. Dr. Keith (Kalman) Weiser, Toronto / 4. Juni 2019, 19.00 Uhr

Keynote zum Workshop „Die Czernowitzer Sprachkonferenz. Ihre Rezeption in Feuilleton und Literatur, in pädagogischen und didaktischen Schriften, in Lehrbüchern und in (Debatten über) Kinder- und Jugendliteratur“ am Lehrstuhl für Neuere deutsche Literaturwissenschaft am 4.-5. Juni 2019

Max Weinreich (l.) © From the Archives of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, New York

Max Weinreich (1894-1969), the future guiding spirit of the Yiddish Scientific Institute in Vilna, Poland (today, YIVO in NYC), was not present at the First Yiddish Language Conference in Czernowitz in 1908. Mocked and dismissed by most journalists of the time, the conference famously made the controversial declaration that Yiddish was ‘a national language of the Jewish people’ but yielded few practical results. Yet, Weinreich, a precocious high school student writing for the Jewish and German presses in the Russian empire, quickly recognized it as a milestone in the history of the emerging Yiddish language movement. Its anniversaries prior to World War II provided him an occasion to consider Czernowitz as a symbol and to take periodic measure of the progress of secular Yiddish culture since then.

But what practical lessons were to be drawn periodically from Czernowitz, especially on its fiftieth anniversary? For Weinreich, a refugee scholar in post-WWII New York City, Yiddish was moving “barg-aroyf” in 1908, ascending toward an ever brighter future in eastern Europe as the irrepressible language of the Jewish present.
But it was painfully apparent that Yiddish was instead travelling “ophil” (uphill) in 1958, marginalized by its own supporters and swimming against the current of Jewish life everywhere. Yet, this did not mean that Yiddish had lost its relevance. On the contrary, he passionately argued, it was perhaps more important than ever for
assuring the future of Jews as both individuals and as a collective. Weinreich’s relationship to the Czernowitz Conference over five decades and his understanding of the changing meaning of Yiddish for Jewish life will be the subject of this talk.

Der Vortrag findet in englischer Sprache statt, Fragen können auf Deutsch gestellt werden.

eine Veranstaltung der Professur für Neuere Deutsche Literaturwissenschaft an der Universität Augsburg (Prof. Dr. Bettina Bannasch) und der Professur für Variationslinguistik DaZ / DaF an der Universität Augsburg (Prof. Dr. Alfred Wildfeuer) in Kooperation mit dem Jüdischen Museum Augsburg Schwaben

Pressemitteilung

 

Ort: Jüdisches Museum, Standort Innenstadt, Festsaal der Synagoge

Eintritt: frei