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Yiddish in Sydney
24 minutes | Oct 22, 2020
Part 2: 2020 and beyond
In our second and final part, we meet Sydney’s last remaining formalised Yiddish group – the Sunday group – who meet once a month for a schmooze and bagel. Numbering around 30, these babyboomer women (and a small number of men) are passionate about the language’s survival. For them, Yiddish evokes childhood memories; speaking it is a tribute parent’s generation and a commitment to keep their memory alive.But when they too pass on, who will be left to foster Yiddish? Do streaming services, language apps, streaming services and Zoom meetings hold the key to Yiddish’s future in the 21st century? Yiddish language researcher and teacher, Professor Rebecca Margolis of the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation, shares her vision for Yiddish-speaking communities in Sydney and beyond.
30 minutes | Oct 12, 2020
Part 1: the post-war period to today
In Part 1, we meet three women (Carla, Rosa and Rosita) who grew up in vibrant post-war Jewish Sydney, among a community of Yiddish speakers, Bundists and performers. The women recall a time when the Folk Centre, a small club house for Yiddish speakers located in Bondi Junction, bustled with newly arrived refugees and migrants. Central to this period was Salo Sperling – the Singing Barber of Bondi. Sperling, born in the Yiddish-speaking heartland of Chernowitz (then Romania, today Ukraine), survived the Holocaust and arrived in Sydney in 1948. A talented tenor and actor with an emerging performance career in pre-war Europe, he began organising Yiddish concerts with a number of famous actors and singers. Over many decades Sperling and his group performed to capacity audiences at venues across the Sydney. Despite his best efforts, the language never grew beyond the fringes of the Jewish community. And when Sperling passed away at the age of 102, the Yiddish music died with him.
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