Golden Lucy's Spiral Journal

Going on 87...Savoring and Surviving the Senior Years

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Never Too Old!

When I checked in on Millie today I was excited to see she's giving a Yiddish class. She's a great teacher and I'm looking forward to learning with her. Millie and I both hail from a generation where, if you are Ashkenaz*, Yiddish was likely to be spoken by at least some of your parents and/or grandparents. But it didn't work that way for me.

My parents came from families that settled in the Deep South around the Civil War. (How else can I explain an ancestor named Jefferson Davis
Nathan?) By the time I arrived on the scene Yiddish was used only for exclamations and imprecations---probably delivered with a southern drawl.

My husband Ben immigrated from Lithuania/Russia with his mother Sarah when he was 14. Sarah never really mastered English and when Ben and I moved in with his parents after WWII I was exposed to Yiddish as a spoken language for the first time in their home. Looking back I sorely regret I didn't attempt to learn it at that time. However, there was tremendous pressure on immigrants to speak only English and I was influenced by the scorn heaped on the "greenhorns" that spoke, especially, Yiddish.

How things have changed! Today Yiddish language, theater, literature, klezmer music and Jewish cultural festivals are even popular in countries such as Poland--- though Jews still aren't. Ironic! In any case, I am impressed that Millie has taken it upon herself to help us brush up our Yiddish. I believe I speak for lots of altecachers when I say, "Thanks, Millie!"

* A good link for information about Ashkenazi Jews: