Vilnius Yiddish Reading Circle turning to prewar Kaunas

Advertisement for Físhele brand soap alongside an image of the product with its Lithuanian product name Žuvelė, of the same meaning, “little fish”. From the 19 Feb. 1937 edition of the Kaunas Yiddish daily Ídishe shtíme (Žydų balsas— “Jewish Voice”), Cour
Idishe shtime Feb 19 1937 - lite

In addition to Yiddish materials, the group will be looking at some bilingual ads and announcements that illustrate the happy coexistence and interplay of the Lithuanian and Yiddish languages in the interwar republic.

The Reading Circle was founded in 1999 by Professor Dovid Katz, who has been leading it ever since. His latest book, Yiddish and Power, has just been published by Palgrave Macmillan in the UK. This semester he is bringing an original prewar Yiddish newspaper each week from his private collection, along with complimentary photocopies distributed to all participants.

The Reading Circle meets this year at the Jewish Cultural and Information Center (Žydų kultūros ir informacijos centras) in the heart of the old town at Mėsinių g. 3A/5, near Roman Kvintas’s famed statue of Dr. Tsemakh Shabad.

There is a café on site at the Center serving coffee, snacks and delicious toasted bagels with a variety of Jewish style toppings. But participants who would like to order are asked to come at least fifteen minutes earlier (12:45).

Only Yiddish is spoken and read throughout the hour-and-a-half session, and whoever is able and wishes to, reads a paragraph or two from the selected text to the best of his or her ability. But the organizers stress that everyone, from all the city’s communities and every background, is welcome to come and listen, remembering that “Hearing Yiddish is good for your health,” as an old saying goes.

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