Diana Scott, the chair of the Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring of Northern California, has partnered with SFSU’s Jewish Studies Department to bring a new course offering to students and the community, entitled “Yiddish History, Literature, and Society” beginning in spring 2011.
Why did you want to bring a Yiddish class to SFSU? There’s a great appreciation of Yiddish culture in terms of music, but the literary, artistic and social justice background isn’t as well-known. This course is an opportunity to really introduce students to the literary and social background of Yiddish culture, and the relationship of that culture to Jewish and American history.
What will students learn in the class? It’s important to note that this is not a language class. It’s a course in Yiddish history, literature and society, taught in English. It will have a strong cultural component through authors and poets, and will also discuss the social and artistic relevance of Yiddish history to the growth of American culture.
What is the goal of this course? I hope it gives people a deeper appreciation of the values Yiddish-speaking immigrants brought with them to the United States. Extending back into the 19th century, they were very active in movements to help create a better and more beautiful world. I hope this course will bring a lesser-known part of our history to a broader public.