Yiddish Culture Festival

In Memoriam Seth Brody and Mel Santer 

This informal gathering meets periodically to enjoy film, music, and speakers encompassing Yiddish and Eastern European culture. It is not necessary to speak or understand Yiddish to fully enjoy these events.

Meetings are held Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. (promptly!) in Chase Hall Auditorium except for April 28 which is at 2 p.m. in nearby Stokes Auditorium.

NOTE: These programs will be held during inclement weather UNLESS the campus is closed, which happens only rarely. Please call Campus Security (610-896-1111) to check. Due to Library Construction, parking and walking directions have changed. See Directions for details.


For more information contact Jeff Tecosky-Feldman.


Spring 2019 Schedule

Wednesday, February 6
Chase Hall Auditorium, 7:30 p.m.

Yonia Fain: With Pen and Paintbrush (2018)

A filmed conversation with painter and writer Yonia Fain (1914-2013), directed by Josh Waletsky. Fain was educated in Vilna, worked for the Jewish Labor Bund in Warsaw, found refuge in China during WWII, and his artwork caught the attention of Diego Rivera when he taught Yiddish literature in Mexico after the war. Writing both prose and poetry, Fain earned the Manger Prize for Yiddish Literature in 1991. In this film he explores the interplay between his writing and painting (75 minutes). In Yiddish with English subtitles. Produced by the League for Yiddish. Discussion to follow.

Wednesday, March 6
Chase Hall Auditorium, 7:30 p.m.

Our Renaissance Roots: Yiddish Song, the First 250 Years, a talk by Avery Gosfield

The first known Yiddish songs date back to the 14th century: a short love poem and a handful of rhymed epics. For the next two and a half centuries, different kinds of poetry thrived in the Jewish community, some on specifically Jewish themes, like holidays, some drawn directly from German mainstream culture. None of the poems have come down to us with musical notation -- however, there is evidence that many were sung. Although we can’t be certain of the exact tunes, with some detective work we can find ‘probable’ ones. Even before the fantastic voyage that would take it to Eastern Europe and back again, we can hear, in the Yiddish of our distant ancestors, the same pithy humor, soul and pathos of the Yiddish of today. Avery Gosfield was born in Philadelphia, and she currently lives in Italy, where she directs the early music group Ensemble Lucidarium, specializing in performance of music of “The Others,” in particular the Jews in Renaissance Europe.

Wednesday, April 10
Chase Hall Auditorium, 7:30 p.m.

Yiddish Glory: The Lost Songs of World War II

Composed by Jews (Red Army Soldiers, refugees, survivors of Ukrainian ghettos) these songs tell the story of resistance, life, and death under Nazi occupation in the Soviet Union. We'll watch a video of a concert of some of these songs, and provide discussion and English translations. The songs are newly recorded and available on a 2018 CD from Six Degrees Records.

Sunday, April 28
Stokes Hall Auditorium, 2:00 p.m.

The Ancient Law (Das Alte Gesetz)

This German-Jewish silent film from 1923 is a landmark of cinematic history. The drama contrasts the closed world of an Eastern European shtetl with the liberal mores of 1920s Vienna, as the son of a rabbi leaves his village to become an actor in the big city. The movie paints a complex portrait of the tension between tradition and modernity. Directed by E.A. Dupont, and restored by Deutsch Kinemathek, the DVD is available from flickeralley.com. 135 minutes, with English intertitles and a full score. Discussion will follow the film.


Enter the campus by the College Ave (back) entrance which is near Haverford Rd (NOT the Lancaster Ave/Rt 30 main entrance), and make an immediate left; park in any spot marked FACULTY/STAFF. Follow the path between Stokes Hall and the Dining Center which leads to Chase Hall on your right. The entrance is accessible with no steps. The entrance to Stokes Hall Auditorium (for 2 p.m., April 28 film) is closer to the driveway – look for signs.

  • Chase Hall
    Chase Hall
  • Stokes Hall
    Stokes Hall

Support the Festival

We need your contribution to support this ongoing celebration of Yiddish culture, so please either make a gift online or send a check made out to Haverford College, with Yiddish Culture Festival written on the check or on an accompanying note to: Kerry Lynch, YCF Donations, Haverford College, 370 Lancaster Ave, Haverford PA 19041.

Be sure to include your name and address so that you can be mailed a receipt for tax purposes. We appreciate donations large and small, which we'll use to pay screening fees, enlarge our library of videos and continue to bring interesting speakers and performers for your enjoyment.

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