A Yiddish Kindergarten in a NYC Public School?

(Photo courtesy of Yugntruf via The Forward)

A Yiddish-English dual-language program could be implemented in a NYC public school in the fall of next year, making it the first secular Yiddish education program in the country and the second in the world, writes The Forward’s Josh Nathan-Kazis. The only secular Yiddish school in existence is located in southern Australia.

Council member Mark Levine is pushing for the program in the city, which would start out in a single kindergarten class.

The plan is at its earliest stages. But it’s already making waves in secular Yiddish circles, where activists see it as potentially transformative.

“For those of us who hope to raise kids in Yiddish, or for those who already are, this could be a tremendous, tremendous help,” said Sandy Fox, host of the Yiddish feminist podcast Vaybertaytsh, who is supporting the effort.

Though New York City is a world center of Yiddish, with nearly a hundred thousand people who speak the language at home, most of the speakers are ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jews. While scores of Hasidic schools teach classes largely in Yiddish, for non-Hasidic Yiddish speakers who want their kids educated in the language, there are no options. The non-Hasidic Yiddish community is small, relative to the Hasidic Yiddish world, clustered around a handful of academic and cultural groups. Infused with new energy in recent years by graduates of academic Yiddish programs, the community is seeking new ways to maintain and grow its culture.

Levine speaks about growing up hearing Yiddish and how the idea for the proposal came about. Read more at The Forward.

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