I had a whirlwind of a summer with Yiddishkayt on their Helix Project. "Whirlwind" refers to the twisting, turning layers of time and space that we explored in Ojai and Eastern Europe. It hints at the chutzpah, ambition, and strength with which Yiddishkayt's leaders took us on an intellectual, physical, and even spiritual journey. They gifted us a whirlwind of culture that we wolfed down like we did the delicious breakfast buffets in Poland, from sensuous poetry to rich literature, to boisterous song, to a history of defiance. And it was a whirlwind of emotions: delirious laughter with my peers on the program; delight in the joys of Yiddish culture; bewilderment at an eastern world so different from ours; devastation at the loss of the life we were celebrating; deep gratitude for the hospitality and work of non-Jews preserving a culture that was not theirs; and unending awe at our ability on this program to collapse the expanse of time and connect to people whose lives are too rarely remembered. I am a better human being because of Yiddishkayt.
Yiddishkayt is a unique organization that puts on community and educational programming centered on Yiddish and groups that historically spoke the language. Its flagship educational program, the Helix Project, brings activists, scholars, and artists together to study cultural production and exchange in the borderlands of Poland, Lithuania, and Belarus. As a participant of the Helix Project, I had the opportunity to establish networks among scholars and artists in a global context, and received key guidance and skills for my own academic pursuits in the area.
Yiddishkayt offers amazing programing on Yiddish history, culture and politics that is accessible to a wide audience. I attended their Helix Project program this past summer which was the most informative and well-organized cultural trip I have ever been on. Clare and Robby's unique pedagogical approach opened a new lens for me, that has helped me view the nuances and complexities of history which deeply impact contemporary social and political climates. Their approach both honors the past while asking relevant questions in the contemporary.
I was a participant in Yiddishkayt's 2016/17 Helix Project- a year long residency program- and my experience with Yiddishkayt throughout this time went over and above my expectations. Not only were the staff at Yiddishkayt helpful, knowledgable, organised, and incredibly thoughtful in their interactions- the programming that Yiddishkayt offered through my year long collaboration with them nurtured my growth both professionally and personally. Because of Yiddishkayt and Helix, I gained new and captivating perspectives on Yiddish culture and the Jewish communities of Central-Eastern Europe. These perspectives not only added to the better understanding of my current field of studies, but also fostered an interdisciplinary bridge that leaves me appreciating both Yiddish culture and my current field of studies to a much greater degree. This appreciation and intersection of the two has led to true innovation and exploration of possibilities in both areas. Overall, Yiddishkayt's ability to create an environment of learning, understanding and innovation is unparalleled. Not only do they provide opportunities for the development of a true appreciation for Yiddish culture in its quirky nuances, intellectual offerings, and (sometimes conflicting) range of ideas- they do so in such a way that an individual can find truly applicable and valuable.
I traveled with Helix Project of Yiddishkayt this past summer in Poland. I was tremendously impressed with the thoughtfully prepared, culturally informed, historically grounded, imaginatively open nature of the trip and the group -- both leaders and participants. I was invited in part to present a research lecture and was delighted with the level of insight and energy generated among those who attended, especially given their very full tour schedule and the demands of my involved multi-lingual multi-media program. The organization's place-based approach to the shifting borders and multifarious cultures of Central and Eastern Europe brings a nuanced, textured understanding to the legacies of Jews and their neighbors -- all of which deeply enriched my years of archival experience. The sense of curiosity, introspection, joy and personally considerate interaction that I found among all involved (including local guides and cultural figures whom we visited) reflects careful cultivation as well as bold vision. As we came from many different backgrounds, there were varying levels of fluency on any given topic, yet our discussions revolved around a sense of trust and mutual respect, allowing us to benefit from each others' expertise. As I came along for the latter part of this past summer's expedition, I am also grateful that the already-bonded Helixers could be open to welcoming me in after they had been together through the intensity of over a week in Belarus before I joined in. Fortunately the freshness of my research topic on vintage queer imagery and subtext in Yiddish cinema was a dimension in demand here, among several well-educated enclaves I experienced in Europe this summer, with a special intensity "on location" during Yiddishkayt's Helix sojourn through the regions where several of the films had been made before WWII. Since returning several months ago, we have been able to stay in touch both through social media and occasionally in person as well, a very positive ongoing connection. Meanwhile the perspectives of political events and movements in this turbulent region, in both current and former times, add vivid awareness to all our intense global and local situations now. Although the tour moves through so many locales in a matter of weeks, still we were given tools for both comprehension and even poetic interpretation to encounter and question the nature of memory, identity and activism in these fraught, ever-changing meeting grounds. With singing and swimming on the itinerary in most meaningful ways, as well as access to prime intellectual sources at every stop we made, this remains for me both an influential and an invigorating source of inspiration.
Yiddishkayt's alternative approach to cultural, social, and political Yiddish education is both empowering and incredibly enlightening. Their dedication to digital archiving and interactive scholastic and cultural investigation offers and exciting model for learning and mindful Yiddishkayt living
Yiddishkayt opened the door to our desire to connect with our ancestral past. Robby Peckerar is a brilliant scholar of Eastern European history and made or travels both fun and educational. We have only great things to say about Yiddishkayt.
A wonderful group of people with a fantastic and under-appreciated mission. Robby and Clare have such a deep understanding and affection for the subject and teaching that I could not imagine two people better suited to carry the torch of Yiddish into the future.
Through the Helix program, Yiddishkayt provides an invaluable experience to college students that is without equivalent in the US.
Yiddishkayt is an interesting organization in that it is unique within the present-day Los Angeles cultural landscape, while also a continuation of a cultural legacy as old as Yiddish itself. In fact, Yiddishkayt's very identity is characterized by such paradoxes: old world and new world, geographically connected to Eastern and Central European communities formerly teeming with Yiddish culture but existing in today's Los Angeles, rooted in 1000 years old tradition but thoroughly innovative in its expression of culture through linguistics, poetry, homage and robust conversation and educational programming. I'm so grateful to have discovered and become part of Yiddishkayt's growing community.
Yiddishkayt LA opened my eyes to a whole world of Yiddish cultural history that I had no idea even existed. After participating in programming with them, I changed my college major and began to pursue Yiddish, both academically and professionally. I have learned so much from this organization.
They gave me an experience no one else could have (or ever will do) with Jewish history
Yiddishkayt offers amazingly substantive and engaging educational programming on Yiddish life and culture. Their Helix Project shaped my perspective on Jewish Studies and the way I look at the world more broadly.
They are incredibly helpful event-planning partners, giving of their time and their expertise. They offer a truly unique educational approach that helps engage unlikely audiences in the richness of Yiddish culture and what they are able to accomplish with such a small team is remarkable. They fill a vital role in the local and the global Jewish community.
Why do I give to Yiddishkayt? Because I know how hard their team works, doing a heck of a lot with a small amount of resources. From their amazing, beautiful social media posts that come out nearly every day to remarkable travel programs traversing the borders of Eastern Europe, their programs put the work of much larger organizations to shame. An organization like this deserves the spotlight and all the support that goes along with it. Take that check you were going to write a much larger, well-known organization and send it Yiddishkayt's way. You're going to make a much bigger difference than you can even know.
Yiddishkayt is such a wonderful and necessary organisation. The role that they play in building Jewish community and writing and making known European Jewish history is vital. There really are no other organisations that undertake the work they do - it's so important that they exist! It was such a pleasure to discover them, and to be able to read the little nuggets of history and culture that they offer in their website, facebook, and instagram pages.
I've been interested in Yiddishkayt since their first festival 20 years ago and have always appreciated their playful and open approach to culture and history. Last year I went on Yiddishkayt's walking tour of Boyle Heights and it was simply amazing to think that my grandfather grew up in a part of the city that it took me over 50 years to even visit! I love their Facebook page, which brings to life incredible figures and places that I otherwise would never have heard of. Keep up the good work!
I’m discovering the rich history and heritage of Yiddish culture that was nearly missed - great credit is due to Yiddishkayt for nurturing the growth of interest in Yiddish as a secular cultural movement.
I loved the poster/booklet I recently received in the mail, excellent graphics. The new website is clear, accessible and informative. Judging by the images on the Yiddishkayt Facebook page, the Helix Project looked fantastic yet again. The Twitter feed and Instragram these last few months have been fantastic. I'm glad they keep us regularly updated with Yiddish life through their digital exhibitions. Highly recommended.
Very informative. Great layout. Very well researched and networked. One of the best pages concerning yiddish culture!
There are really no other organizations that are looking at Jewish history and culture with the same progressive, multicultural, and non-parochial lens as Yiddishkayt. The Helix Project is an educational trip like no other, and the online content offers lots of fascinating information and art from a Yiddish culture that is not often talked about.
I was a student this past summer on Yiddishkayt's pioneering summer program, The Helix Project. Helix was an incredible experience of exploration that is unparalleled in the world of Yiddish Culture/History. Yiddishkayt brings together an amazing array of personable experts which led perhaps the most interesting and engaging group of students I've ever been a part of. We all left with our own heightened nuances about the history we uncovered and how we perceive ourselves within it.
This is excellent. The chronicles on Soviet history are fantastic.
Very interesting articles . . . great educational organization.
Yiddishkayt is truly the only organization offering students the opportunity to engage deeply with the past and present of eastern Europe. They offer students generous scholarships to make their experiences possible for people regardless of financial resource. I've been a lucky beneficiary, and it changed my life.
Yiddishkayt offers a unique opportunity to university students to explore living Yiddish culture and language, by understanding both the past and exploring contemporary Yiddish culture across a number of countries. I really appreciate the vibrant culture of its Helix program, which enables dozens of young people invested in contemporary Yiddish life to travel to countries like Poland, Belarus, the United States, and Lithuania. It's for these opportunities that I chose to financially support Yiddishkayt, because I wanted to help contribute to the project and enable future students take advantage of these amazing opportunities.
What a fantastic organization! Meeting with students from their summer program, I couldn't help but notice their incredible enthusiasm, their infectious energy, and their ability and eagerness to allow what they had learned to influence their thinking in so many other, apparently unrelated areas. As a translator who works with several Slavic languages and has some background in Yiddish, it is clear to me that Yiddishkayt's work teaching Yiddish history and culture as worthwhile in and of itself but also as having enduring implications for the cultures among which it developed is of absolutely vital importance on all sides. The world needs Yiddishkayt!
Yiddishkayt provides unparalleled opportunities to engage with history, using Yiddish culture as an entry into the history of Los Angeles communities, the former Polish-Lithuanian Grand Duchy, and places throughout the world where Yiddish took root, no matter how far away. With a vibrant web presence, people across the world can access what Yiddishkayt has to offer without being in Los Angeles for local events. The Helix Project, a summer trip to Eastern Europe for students, truly makes the past present by drawing attention to the vibrant culture that flourished in Yiddish in Eastern Europe while asking critical questions of history and memory at the sites we visit. I would not be able to engage with Yiddish as I do now, celebrating the richness and diversity of what Yiddish culture came to be, without Yiddishkayt.
No organisation in the world teaches Yiddish culture the way Yiddishkayt does. As a student on their summer program, the Helix Project, I learnt about a world of Jewish and human culture we don't often hear about. We normally think about central and eastern Europe as a place where a Jewish presence is no more. On the trip I found that Jewish marks are everywhere, if only we choose to look for them. In Brest, Belarus there is now a cinema at the former site of the synagogue. An original shul wall still stands exposed in one part of the building. In Sejny, Poland the Borderlands Foundation has transformed the former yeshiva into a museum dedicated to the history of multiculturalism in the area. The synagogue next door is now a performance space for klezmer concerts. In Vilne there is a modern building that has preserved the Yiddish sign of a candy shop inside. Yiddishkayt should give everyone interested in the history of Jews, eastern Europeans, and human coexistence a tremendous amount of hope.
Yiddishkayt is doing truly amazing work that no other organization is doing! Instead of trying to make kids "more Jewish" or looking at Jewish history for the sake of Jews alone, Yiddishkayt takes Jewish culture and makes it relevant to the world I live in. The Yiddishkayt website and facebook posts teach about figures in Jewish culture who I might never have heard of, but brings them to life and, with them, an entire world that one never would see otherwise.
The descendants of Eastern Europe emigrees now have a vehicle to experience re-emergence of interest in Yiddish as a secular cultural movement. This organization takes over where prior generations had few non-religious-affiliation opportunities to revive Yiddish roots of their ancestry. From concerts, to language teaching, book fairs, and other events, an ambitious effort.