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:


  • At 7:22 PM, Blogger bunnygirl said…

    I think it's fantastic that you're wanting to brush up on a language.

    I love languages, but so many people I meet are intimidated by them. If pressed for an explanation, they like to hide behind the explanation that languages are easier if you're a kid.

    Well, so are a lot of things. That doesn't mean we don't do it, right?

    A friend from one of my college history classes was a man in his 70s working on a BA in German. It had been his lifelong dream, and he sure wasn't letting anyone's notion of what you can learn at thus-and-so age stop him. Smart man!

    So have fun with your Yiddish!

  • At 7:36 PM, Blogger Miss Cellania said…

    Oh, Lucy, that link you gave has a joke section thats going to keep me busy for days!

  • At 9:58 PM, Blogger kenju said…

    Thanks for the link, Lucy. I'll check it out when I am not so tired. Blogging at 1 am, I am!

    I tried earlier to get into Millie's lesson, but it would not open for me, I am sad to say.

  • At 1:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It won't let me comment Lucy...
    It's Naomi here...
    Love the idea of these Yiddish classes...Millie is the Happiest person I have ever seen! What a GREAT Smile she has!

  • At 7:34 AM, Anonymous Terri said…

    I think it's great what Millie is doing and even better that you're going to partake of it.
    I think it's sad that the multi-lingual families are a thing of the past. My parents moved in with my Polish grandmother in 1946 when they married and my mom (who was French) loved learning to speak Polish on a daily basis from her new mother-in-law. Unfortunately, I never took the time to learn it from my grandmother.
    So you enjoy it, Lucy and keep us posted.

  • At 7:44 AM, Blogger Jamie Dawn said…

    I'm glad Yiddish is alive and well and flourishing!
    Cultures and traditions should be celebrated and taught to children so they are never forgotten.
    I understand the need to assimilate into whatever society one lives in, but I hate the idea of wonderful traditions, languages, and cultural diversities being lost in the process.

    I thoroughly enjoyed your words of wisdom & inspiration as well as the terrific photo in the previous post.

    Happy 2007!
    I wish you health, happiness, and continued humor in this year.

  • At 9:20 AM, Blogger Chancy said…

    Lucy I am happy to see you up and running.....

  • At 1:54 PM, Blogger Mildred Garfield said…

    Thanks for your post about my yiddish class.

    My mother and father spoke yiddish at home plus my grandmother lived wiith us so I spoke yiddish before I spoke english.
    I couldn't wait to attend public school so I could start speaking english. I remember being the first one in line, I can just see myself, waiting to get in the door!

    Thanks again for spreading the word about my yiddish class. A shanen dink! ( a beautiful thank

  • At 7:32 PM, Blogger Malnurtured Snay said…

    Yiddish exclamations are the best -- my family is Roman Catholic but somewhere picked up some yiddish my mom uses on occasion.

  • At 12:33 AM, Anonymous Maria said…

    I enjoyed reading the explanation of the Ashkenaz given in your link. When I lived in Woodland Hills our conversations were frequently sprinkled with yiddish words. I even have (had) a Yiddish dictionary. I put had in paranthesis because I just went to the bookshelf where it has always been and it is now gone. Don't you just hate when that happens!

  • At 11:25 AM, Blogger Mike ( ex scientia, veritas ) said…

    Happy New Years, Lucy!!! Your classes sound fabulous - great idea.

  • At 5:32 PM, Anonymous Lorraine said…

    How exciting, Lucy, your classes I mean. I think learning *something* worthwhile is always a wonderful, uplifting experience.

    That's one of the reasons I audited several classes in Poli-Sci some years ago. This is an excellent way to learn more about a subject in which one is very "into" as a life-enriching experience....right?

    I would say learning Yiddish will be a very wonderful addition to your life experiences. What a great plan!!

  • At 5:08 AM, Anonymous naomi dagen bloom said…

    gee, lucy, this yiddish influence is really heating up. my own spouse grew up in a new york yiddish speaking family. parents read the "forwards" newspaper every day. especially followed were the "bintel briefs," immigrant stories of the trip to america and consequences. ron describes a typical one as a woman who writes, "i came here from poland--husband sent for me after 2 years. found he didn't love me anymore. i fell in love with the boarder."

    ron went to yiddish schoolfor a number of years--in addition to public school: reads, writes it. went to a class a few years ago at the arbeiter ring. since i know only a few words, i say my fear is that he will, as a very old man, revert to speaking only yiddish. then i'll always wonder whether he's saying something i need to know--or just talking!

    am going to tell him about your links, thank you once again for sharing so beautifully. yours, naomi

  • At 8:27 AM, Anonymous Coll said…

    How wonderful for both Millie and yourself. I personally believe that it is never too late to tackle a new learning curve. Way to go.

  • At 4:02 PM, Anonymous claude said…

    Ha, my mom could speak Yiddish, as she was from then Poland and today Belarus, but my father was from Bulgaria and he spoke Ladino. So they didn't have a common language except for French. Which explains my ignorance in Yiddish. I tend to understand Ladino much better, because I took Spanish in school and Ladino is very much like Spanish.
    A happy new year to you Lucy and lots of love

  • At 2:09 PM, Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said…

    Hi Lucy...I was here a few days ago and tried to comment...but good ols blogger wouldn't let me---What A Surporise! I hope it will, now....
    I went over to Millies and gee, she is about the happiest person I have ever seen...It is a joy to visit her! And I think that her Yiddish Class is fabulous!
    Hope you are doing alright my dear Lucy...
    Now...pray that Blogger allows this comment! (lol)

  • At 11:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm going to veer off topic a bit so that I can make a point about something that seems to reoccur in the United States without justification.

    "...Jewish cultural festivals are *even* popular in countries such as Poland..."
    (emphasis added to even)

    Sounds a bit loaded to me. I think it's sad that the misconception has carried on that Poland is somehow antisemitic. As I'm sure you know, Poland has for centuries been home to the majority of the world's Jewry. The religious tolerance was unmatched. In fact, I've spoken to a number of Polish immigrants in the US who's first encounters with antisemitism were in the US. It is indeed hurtful when "historians", which for a reason that still escapes me, try to smear the image of Poland with anti-Polish propaganda. If anything, this is one of those self-fulfilling prophecies. If say Norwegian authors were to continuously accuse Americans of being anti-Norwegian bigots, then I'm sure it would begin to create some resentment here in the United States. And that resentment could be then used by said Norwegian authors as "evidence" of the great, deep-seated anti-Norwegianness of the Americans. And then, when you have an isolated incident where an American happens to kill a Norwegian, it's used as further evidence of the pan-anti-Norwegian nature of Americans. Of course, Poles have been honored with by far the most trees at Yad Vashem, which no one seems to remember. No one remembers that Poles, Jews and Gentiles alike, were massacred by German and Russian troops. And no one ever cites Samuel Morel, who is living comfortably in Israel, safe from extradition, for his crimes against Gentiles in Poland after the war, who's crimes far exceed the totality of any isolated and alleged incidents claimed by tabloid pseudo-historians. If one wants to hunt European neo-Nazis and racists, Germany is still your fertile ground, your poster child. Even France.

    That being said, I am glad you're learning Yiddish. I think having people learn different languages makes the world a richer place.

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