Yiddish: A Tale of Survival (2012)
58min · Documentary, Biography, History · 1 January 2012
"Yiddish: a tale of survival" is a feature-length documentary about the resilience and survival of Yiddish language and culture since the Holocaust. The grassroots efforts to maintain the viability of Yiddish is captured via the stories of three individuals - Yiddish performers and activists - representing three generations of Yiddish speakers since the Holocaust. Before the second world war, Yiddish was the vernacular of over 11 million Jewish people worldwide. During the Holocaust a majority of the world's Yiddish speakers were annihilated. After the war, the language of Jewish communities all over the world, including Israel, became Hebrew. As a result, the Yiddish culture - language, literature, and theatre - was nearly destroyed leaving many wondering whether Yiddish had any future at all. Today, there are fewer than 2 million Yiddish speakers in the world. This documentary chronicles three Yiddish performers and advocates. Twenty-five years ago, Shmuel Atzmon, a holocaust survivor, started a Yiddish Repertory theatre in Israel. He took young Hebrew speaking actors and taught them the Yiddish language, its music and culture. There is now a first rate Yiddish Repertory Theatre in Tel Aviv called Yiddishspiel. Born in a DP camp, Bryna Wasserman arrived in Canada in 1950 with her mother, Dora Wasserman, who succeeded in creating a Yiddish theatre troupe in Montreal. Dora's work has been carried on by her daughter Bryna, who recently presided over the fiftieth anniversary of the Dora Wasserman Yiddish Troupe by initiating the first ever International Yiddish Theatre Festival in Montreal. Milena Kartowski, a twenty-three year old student of dance, jazz, and opera, from Paris, and a grand daughter of Holocaust survivors, has recently discovered the Yiddish language and its attendant culture. She has fallen in love with Yiddish theatre and song. Milena not only understands the essence of Yiddish culture but also the importance of preserving a culture that is on the verge of extinction.
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