The Swedish Yiddish Association is excited to announce a series of free online double lectures on topics that will range from Yiddish history, Yiddish literature, Yiddish language to the role of Yiddish culture in shaping Jewish identity, Yiddish speaking communities, music, theatre and much more.
This series of lectures, which started online March 1, 2023, are open to anyone with an interest in learning more about Yiddish and its rich heritage. All lectures are held both in Yiddish and in English. All online lectures are delivered by experts in the field, including professors of Yiddish studies, linguists, and cultural historians.
- Webinar recording on YouTube of Izzy Posen’s webinar on *Hasidic Jews in England/London’, March 1, 2023 Yiddish version English version
- Webinar recording on YouTube of Dr. Simo Muir’s webinar on ’Helsinki Yiddish Cabaret’ from April 3, 2023: Yiddish version English version
The association is excited to offer these free digital lectures to anyone who is interested in learning more about Yiddish, from students and scholars to language enthusiasts and people with a general interest in Yiddish and Jewish culture. The lectures will be held on a regular schedule.
For more information about our upcoming digital lectures in Yiddish and for registration, visit the Swedish Yiddish Association’s lecture page: https://yiddishlectures-online.carrd.co
Who we are
The Swedish Yiddish Association, established in 1976, represents Yiddish speakers and the Yiddish language in Sweden. Its goal is to promote and preserve Yiddish culture, both linguistic and cultural, and to educate both Yiddish and non-Yiddish speakers about it. The Association’s member associations in different parts of Sweden are represented on the board. The association’s vision and mission is to preserve and develop the Yiddish language and culture, and to support activities all over the country through voluntary efforts and international cooperation with other Yiddish organizations and cultural workers.
The Swedish Yiddish Association is an umbrella organisation with six member associations.
THE ASSOCIATION’S MEMBER ASSOCIATIONS
- Yiddish Society in Stockholm
- The Yiddish Culture Association in Gothenburg
- Jewish Cultural Association 1945 (Malmö)
- Jewish Association in Borås
- Stockholm Yiddish Choir
- Stockholms Yiddische Teateramator’n
History of the Yiddish language in Sweden
The Yiddish language has a long history in Sweden, with roots dating back to the 17th century. However, it wasn’t until the end of the 18th century when the first Jewish congregations were founded that Yiddish began to be spoken more continuously. In the early 20th century, many immigrants from Russia arrived in Sweden, many of them settling in areas such as Söder in Stockholm, Haga in Gothenburg, and Nöden in Lund. These families often spoke Yiddish at home and in the community. For many, Yiddish was the only written language they mastered. However, as Jewish immigrants quickly adapted to Swedish society, their children began to speak less and less Yiddish. A second wave of a few thousand Yiddish-speaking survivors arrived after the Holocaust, but their children also tended to not learn the language as well, speaking Swedish instead.
Today, the Yiddish language is experiencing a resurgence. In 2000, it was recognized as a national minority language in Sweden. It is now possible to study Yiddish at universities such as Lund University and the Swedish Yiddish Assoiation’s local associations which are active in promoting and preserving the language. However, most of the members of these organizations are the children of post-WWII immigrants and efforts are underway to introduce Yiddish, this wonderfully musical and lively language, to younger generations as well.
Yiddish today in Sweden
It is hard to determine the exact number of Yiddish speakers in Sweden today. It is estimated that there are between 20,000 and 25,000 Jews in Sweden, and of these, around 4,000 are considered to have a strong command of the language. Some people may understand Yiddish but do not speak it, and others may only use a few words or expressions to connect with their cultural heritage. Yiddish is most commonly used within families and among friends, as well as in connection with social and cultural activities.
There is currently a resurgence of Jewish culture, including singing, klezmer music, and Yiddish in Sweden. In major cities such as Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, Lund, and Borås, there are Yiddish associations that organize cultural events, gatherings, and theater performances. The Swedish Yiddish Association also holds an annual seminar on Yiddish, which is well attended and features lectures from university professors from other countries. Additionally, an annual Yiddish festival is held in Skärholmen Church in Stockholm for those who enjoy music and singing in Yiddish.
Yiddish is recognized by the Swedish government as a minority language in accordance with the Council of Europe Convention. It is considered a part of the Swedish and European cultural heritage.
- Yiddish has been one of Sweden’s official minority languages since 2000
- About 4,000 Jews in Sweden speak Yiddish, fluency varies among them
- Yiddish is mainly used by adults, mainly the children and grandchildren of refugees who came to Sweden after the Second World War and in the 1950s and 60s.
- Yiddish became a link between those who had lived in Sweden for generations and the newcomers.