The Yiddish language offers a window into the cultures and history of the Jews of Eastern Europe and their descendants in the United States, Israel, and all over the world. Yiddish has been spoken for centuries by Jews in Eastern Europe, the United States and Canada, Latin America, and elsewhere. Its grammar is close to that of German (and English); its vocabulary comes from early German, Hebrew, and Slavic sources. From the sixteenth century, Jews developed a rich and multifaceted literature in this language. Today Yiddish is the primary language of some ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic communities. Among other Jews and non-Jews around the world it is enjoying a revival as a language for reading, speaking, and singing.
At Stanford, Yiddish is taught through the Taube Center for Jewish Studies. Jon Levitow is lecturer in Yiddish, and Yiddish literature classes are taught by Gabriella Safran, the Eva Chernov Lokey Professor in Jewish Studies, director of the Slavic Department, and chair of the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages.
Stanford offers introductory Yiddish language classes and literature courses where students read the works of Sholem Aleichem and Y. L. Peretz, Yiddish modernist poets, and the intellectuals who worked to understand the place of a minority language in modern society.
Professors in other departments--including Amir Eshel (German), Steven Zipperstein (History), and John Felstiner (English)--also use Yiddish literature in their teaching. Zachary Baker is Judaica/Hebraica Curator in the Stanford University Libraries, which boasts an extensive collection of Yiddish literature and periodicals.
For more information on studying Yiddish@Stanford.