Please Join and Contribute
to Yiddish of Greater Washington
Our 2001-2 program year marks 25 years since the founding of Yiddish
of Greater Washington. In this special year,, I want to urge you
to join Yiddish of Greater Washington and to make a special, generous donation
to help ensure the health of Yiddish in our area for the next 25
When Yiddish of Greater Washington was founded 25 years ago, many said,
as they had long been saying, “Why bother? Yiddish is dying and soon
will be dead.” They were ready to cast aside a core part of their
heritage. But, the astonishing fact is that this major component
of our Jewish legacy is livelier in the Washington area than it was a quarter
of a century ago, largely thanks to the revival our organization has spearheaded.
Even to a “true believer” like me, it’s astonishing that Yiddish is
stronger than it was a generation ago, but here are some of the recent
events that prove it:
Your financial support is especially needed now because, after showing
Yiddish can grow, instead of shrinking as most had expected, we are now
concentrating our efforts on building the next generation of Yiddish lovers.
want to ensure that there will be a rich and active Yiddish cultural life
in Greater Washington 25 and more years from now. To build this future
requires more financial resources than we’ve had. Here’s
some of the expanded activity we’re undertaking to build that future:
Our bilingual Yiddish/English newsletter has grown into a full-scale magazine,
Punkt, that displays the traditional literary and cultural strengths
of Yiddish periodicals. (As a member, you’ll receive each issue.)
Recently, both the Library of Congress and the Jewish National Library
in Jerusalem have requested subscriptions; you can’t get stronger endorsement
Just to list all the Yiddish and Yiddish-related activities in the Greater
Washington area requires three pages of fine print in Tsum Punkt.
These activities include no less than 11 (count ‘em!) conversation vinkls
(groups), and regular classes at two JCCs (Rockville and DC) where there
used to be only one.
The Yiddish class for high-school seniors that we sponsor at the Charles
E. Smith Jewish Day School is something that didn’t exist anywhere in the
United States 25 years ago. Ours was the first regular high school
class in the country, and now is filled to capacity as it goes into its
fourth enormously successful year.
In addition to these increased efforts to create a new generation of lovers
of Yiddish, we continue our wide range of activities for those already
interested. Rather than repeating what requires three pages to describe
in Tsum Punkt, I’ll just mention that, for the other end of the
age span, we sponsor a series of Yiddish cultural and entertainment programs
at senior nutrition centers.
The class at the Jewish Day School has, as noted, been enormously successful
and has been a national breakthrough. We are making available curricular
materials so other schools across the country can duplicate it, and we
are considering how to expand it, at other grade levels, to other schools
in our area. But, the subsidy we provide to keep this class going
is the most expensive project we have ever undertaken.
Enrollment in the college-level Yiddish classes at the University of Maryland
and George Washington University has been increasing (yes, increasing!).
However, there has been no means for students who took those courses to
continue their studies after the first year. As you must realize,
students can’t learn a language in depth in a year. Therefore, we are now
providing scholarships to students who have taken college-level Yiddish
here in Washington to continue with intensive Yiddish studies over the
To show these high-school and college youngsters how lively the world of
Yiddish is, and to help them forge links with others interested in Yiddish,
we are offering them scholarships to shorter Yiddish programs, such as
the Mame-loshn week-end or Klezkamp, a week-long program in December.
It is vital that these students who are just starting to explore Yiddish
have the support -- moral and financial -- of our community behind them.
We are providing a major tuition subsidy to the Yiddish classes at Washington-area
JCCs as another means to increase the number of students learning Yiddish.
All these activities are costly, and as we undertake new activities
and build intensively to ensure the future, the total cost increases.
That’s why I’m asking you to be sure to join Yiddish of Greater Washington
(our dues are very modest: $18 for individuals, $30 for families).
Please make as large an additional contribution as you can. Only through
major additional contributions can we continue to build for a strong future.
We have no paid staff, so every dollar of your dues and contributions go
It is difficult to think about the future at this time without also
thinking of the recent terrible terrorist attacks. The terrorists
seek nothing less than the destruction of our civilization. In our
own modest way, we can combat them by rededicating ourselves to the preservation
and strengthening of our culture—in particular, to that part which is most
dependent upon us personally. I’m sure you will agree that our community
would be vastly poorer without continued access to the riches of a thousand
years of Jewish heritage that are accessible through Yiddish language and
culture. Please make as generous a contribution as you can.
A sheynem dank in foroys (many thanks, in advance),
Jonathan Sunshine, President
Please click here
to print out the membership form and mail it with your contribution