Yiddish Culture: Practical Engagement

Starting from the academic year 2023-2024, the Tel Aviv University will be embarking on an exciting endeavor that will immerse its students in a collaborative interdisciplinary research of the world of Yiddish culture and heritage, through a combination of theoretical, archival and practical artistic investigation. It will explore the theatrical, musical and literary facets of the contemporary Yiddish culture.

The project will include performance-based and academic research of various aspects of Yiddish culture, its past and current innovations and dynamics. The students will be encouraged to engage creatively and scholarly with the unique archival materials that that are collected by the Heritage Projects Foundation (USA) and the Yiddish Heritage Preservation Foundation (Israel). The materials are already or will be made publicly available on this website (Yiddish-Culture.com).

Interdisciplinary at its core, the project will engage students from various academic and artistic fields around shared annual themes related to Yiddish culture. The first 2024 theme will be called Global Sholem Aleichem.

This project is supported by the Roza Lubin Scholarship for collaborative interdisciplinary research in Yiddish Culture and Heritage Preservation, established by Dr. Mark Zilberquit, the founder of the two aforementioned foundations and of this website. The scholarship will be dedicated to interdisciplinary, archival, historical and practice-based research on various aspects of Yiddish culture, including theater, music, film and visual arts.

Each year, the scholarship program will fund a research group of graduate students devoted to Yiddish culture. Each year, the group’s work will be dedicated to one major cultural topic or figure. Examples may include the the global impacts of Sholem Aleichem’s works, Shakespeare’s plays translated into Yiddish, etc. The aim of the research group is twofold: to shed new light on the history of Yiddish culture and its global impact, and to examine how its legacy is still relevant and vibrant in contemporary culture.

The group will be comprised of up to 10 graduate students (MA/MFA/PhD) and two faculty members who will explore together Yiddish artistic works and archival materials, combining historical research with creative practices. Each year, the group’s work will culminate in a performance, an exhibition, or a conference at which the findings of the group will be presented.


2024 Theme: Global Sholem Aleichem


Ruthie Abeliovich

Sholem Aleichem (1859-1916) is among the most celebrated modern Yiddish writers. His works have been performed on the stage across the world in a variety of languages. The researchers engaged in the new program will study the ways by which his plays address issues typical to modern Jewish experience, while also resonating with contemporary cultural, social and political issues across continents and languages, aimed at individual aspects of present-day audiences.

Yair Lipshitz

The project will be coordinated by Dr. Ruthie Abeliovich and Dr. Yair Lipshitz. Abeliovich is a senior lecturer of Theatre and Performance Studies at the Tel Aviv University, the author of Possessed Voices: Aural Remains from Modernist Hebrew Theatre. Lipshitz is a senior lecturer at the Department of Theatre Arts, the head of Tel Aviv University’s Cymbalista Jewish Heritage Center. He is the author of several books on theater and Judaism. His main fields of research are Jewish theater and the intersections between stage performance and Jewish religious traditions.