We Spoke Jew­ish: A Lega­cy in Stories

  • From the Publisher
March 29, 2018

The 20th cen­tu­ry saw the arrival in the US of three waves of Jew­ish immi­grants: the Jews of the ear­ly 1900’s immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties, Holo­caust sur­vivors who came post-war, and late-cen­tu­ry immi­grants from the for­mer Sovi­et Union.

Speak­ing Jew­ish” is often used to describe the Yid­dish lan­guage and in the ear­ly immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties of East­ern Euro­pean Jews, vir­tu­al­ly every­one spoke Jew­ish. Sub­se­quent immi­grants also spoke Jew­ish, but often in dif­fer­ent ways. Sur­vivors spoke the Jew­ish of remem­brance, car­ry­ing with them the mem­o­ry of once thriv­ing Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ties and the peo­ple who pop­u­lat­ed them. Immi­grants from the for­mer Sovi­et Union could not open­ly prac­tice Judaism, but spoke the Jew­ish of cul­ture, car­ry­ing their her­itage for­ward through song, food, and of course, sto­ry. Togeth­er they spoke Jew­ish through lan­guage, mem­o­ry and cul­ture, form­ing an impor­tant part of Jew­ish identity.

Susan Wein­berg, artist and writer, inter­viewed Jew­ish elders, explor­ing the emo­tion­al respons­es and visu­al ele­ments that accom­pa­ny their sto­ries. Out of this process, she cre­ates art­work, explor­ing their words through image and cre­at­ing a mul­ti-lay­ered sto­ry­telling experience.

Discussion Questions