First Summer Institute in Yiddish Attracts 50 Students to Bar-ilan

Some 50 students from Israel, the United States and other countries are participating in a three-week Yiddish summer studies program at Bar-Ilan University — the first such program to be offered by an Israeli university — that begins August 3.

Prof. Gershon Winer, who holds the Rena Costa Chair in Yiddish Language at Bar-Ilan, said the program was patterned after the Oxford University Summer Institute. It is being given under the auspices of the Dina Halperin Institute for the Performing Yiddish Arts-named for the internationally-acclaimed star of Yiddish theater and films — and features Yiddish language and literature, folk songs and art songs, and drama workshops. Credits earned at the summer institute are transferable to many American universities, Winer noted.

“The summer institute emphasizes Yiddish as a living language and culture,” said Winer, director of Yiddish studies at Bar-Ilan. Since its formation in 1982, Bar-Ilan’s Yiddish department has been the country’s leader in training certified teachers of Yiddish in Israel’s secondary schools, where Yiddish is now officially recognized as an elective language.

Bar-Ilan is Israel’s only university to combine general studies with an extensive program for Judaic courses as a requirement of graduation. Some 12,000 students–about 1,000 of whom come from the United States and other countries outside of Israel — are pursuing undergraduate and graduate studies at Bar-Ilan in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and mathematics, law, education, social work and business administration.