Every winter, the Yiddish students of the world look forward to the summer when, let loose from the dreary halls of academe, they can roam the globe studying máme-loshn.
Around this time of year, adverts for the best of the bunch (including ours) start making the rounds. We thought we’d complete the picture with our survey of the worst of the worst. Here’s our pick of the bottom seven.
1. For those who crave grim-but-historically-accurate, full bodied experiences, Ukraine’s Yiddish Summer in Darkness program offers an immersion in Yiddish in the sewers of Lemberg (today, L’viv).
Program is appropriate for all levels. Some discomfort is mandatory. Rickets is optional. Program lasts from two months to two years (whenever the Red Army arrives and ends the program).
2. YiddishPharma is your traditional, Yiddish pharmaceutical summer program. Traditional in that you must dress modestly in the clean room. Students work to produce high-grade pharmaceuticals and are required to pay for the privilege.
Basic knowledge of organic chemistry is preferred. Housing: Corrugated tin hovel. Tuition: $7,999 (exclusive of transportation).
3. Under the slogan “We bring the Magic Mountain to Moyshe,” this summer program in the High Tatras combines a number of successful models of Yiddish summer programming: European travel, bucolic landscapes, incomprehensible teachers, and severe bodily distress. Join the inmates of Medem Sanatorium 2016 for a not-so-restful stay in a classic consumption sanatorium. Sing traditional anarchist songs, have daily sputum checks, mourn your non-existent childhood.
Disclaimer: Risk of contracting tuberculosis from other students is more likely than recovery.
4. For those discouraged by all the unchecked leftism and diasporism promoted by old school Yiddishists (or, God forbid, in Tel Aviv), there’s Geburtsrekht. Join other right-wing nationalist students on a quaint, er, ranch in an ex-urb in Judea or Samaria for a summer of connecting to the land and language of your ancestors.
Students must be able to prove having at least one Jewish grandparent. NB: Yiddish will not be taught, only held up as a model of everything wrong with a deformed existence in exile.
5. So many books, so little space. Spend this summer helping create green solutions in Yiddish book waste management. Ever wonder what happens to the volumes of Yiddish books that are too worn out or mouldy for reading? Join a cadre of Yiddish students to find out on the Shredder Yiddish Summer.
Appropriate for all levels. Non-disclosure agreements must be signed and notarized before start date.
6. Given the success of Yiddish programs housing participants in yurts in barren wildernesses, it’s no surprise to this newcomer for students who want to go off the grid with a wandering band of spiritual seekers. This year’s trip looks at the collective history of Jews who fled to Central Asia and lived alongside various nomadic groups in rural Kazakhstan.
Must read and write using 1930s Soviet Yiddish orthography. Some experience in sheep pasturing is a plus, as is the mastery of fretless lute-like instruments.
7. “A fiddler on the roof, sound crazy, no?” No, not at all actually. A team of architects, ethnomusicologists, and acrobats take students throughout Poland to play music on rooftops throughout the land.
Perfect for all Yiddish students who wish to combine their love of traditional Jewish ornamentation in architecture and music.