Itsik Goldenberg Yiddish Club Activities
Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada


 

I will tell you a few things about my activities in Yiddish. I have been involved in three different Yiddish krayzn for quite a while. Here is a bit about each one.

ŇThe Mameloshn MeyvonimÓ

 

For many years this first club met at the Jewish Community Center in Buffalo, New York. It is for the time being in remission. I joined it about ten

or so years ago, when it was coordinated by Sam Kasimoff. The group met every Monday at 1.00 PM after the communal lunch at the Jewish Community Center.

 

Charlotte Wolpin was very active in the group, and picked the name, and arranged for the group to join the International Association of Yiddish Clubs. But sadly, as members passed on or moved away, the numbers dwindled until it was impossible to sustain as a regular group.

 

Over the years, I inherited the honour and responsibility of leading the group when Sam felt

it was too much for him to continue. Our programs consisted of reading Yiddish stories and other writings from the Forverts, viewing Yiddish films and other Yiddish-content videotapes, listening to recordings, learning and singing Yiddish songs, and a variety of other things of interest.
 

Buffalo Yiddish Tish Study Group

 

A couple of years ago, a leyen-krayz for people with a more in-depth interest in Yiddish was organized in Buffalo, and meets at the Jewish Community Center. It is coordinated by Dr. Jack Freer, who manages a fine website for the group. This is a rather small group, with only 4-5 regular members. Up to half a dozen others join us from time to time.

 

The ŇregularsÓ are those of us who can read Yiddish at a reasonable speed. We submit stories, poetry, etc that we wish to read at the twice-monthly meetings, and Dr. Freer puts them on the website, where they are available for downloading and printing. When we meet, each attendee has a copy of the text and the reader proceeds to read the selection aloud, explaining difficult words, giving biographical details where appropriate, etc.

 

Dr. Freer gives links to related materials on the website, so we have a lot to work from. We usually

 

have lively discussions about the stories themselves, points of grammar, related folklore or sociological aspects of the stories, etc. The focus is quite serious and academic.
 

BŐnai Israel Synagogue Yiddish Club

 

I have organized and lead a Yiddish Club in St.

Catharines, Ontario, Canada at the BŐnai Israel Synagogue, of which I am a member. We meet the last Sunday of every month, at 7.00 PM. This Club has been running for over 5 years, and the average attendance is 25-30.

 

At every meeting, we have a humour component,

a music component, a Yiddish content film, and always—an opportunity to learn some Yiddish language. We play games in Yiddish, we have had mini dramatic presentations, and mir farbrengen zikh gants gut.
 
None of these three groups collects dues from their membership. There are no officers or committees with committee meetings. I do everything myself. Fortunately, I have a wealth of resources to draw upon, things I have collected over the years (at no small expense): books, tapes, CDs, newspapers, etc. I have literally hundreds of recordings that I have made at various festivals, concerts, lectures, etc. over the years.

 

The reason that I work alone rather than with a committee is that I live many miles away from the communities where I hold these clubs. I suppose that from my 33-year career as a classroom teacher, I am used to planning classes and activities for groups of various sizes. I have the resources, but

I donŐt have the time or patience to travel for meetings.

 

Aside from that, in the 2 large groups described above, in the first and the third I was/am the only person who can read Yiddish, and sad to say, the only one with Yiddish dictionary skills. Well, what can I say? My system works for me. It is a lot of work (obviously a labour of love), and the people who attend are very appreciative and enthusiastic. I am doing all I can to see that YIDISH LEBT UN VAKST.

 

EditorŐs note: Itsik Goldenberg has been a long time reader of Der Bay. He and Dovid Kunigis are among several Canadian Yiddishists who have been great resources over the years.