UNESCO’s international symposium regarding the Permanence of Yiddish was held in Paris on November 12 and 13 and brought together an eclectic group of internationals. Over the course of five round-table sessions, academics, journalists, teachers, artists, and UNESCO representatives presented their unique contributions to the preservation and promotion of usage and awareness of Yiddish.
Some of the attendees and speakers were Yiddishists that learned the language later in life, some lucky enough to call Yiddish their mamme-loshn (mother tongue), and others lacked the words to speak in Yiddish, but nonetheless feel an attachment to the rich Yiddish culture that once was. Irene Ores, a member of the B’nai B’rith Representation to UNESCO, opened the symposium with a question, rhetorical perhaps, “Why are we here? Why a conference on Yiddish at UNESCO?” The answer, “I want to start to reconstruct something, with all my heart, but maybe not logic.”
The symposium presented an important opportunity to delve into the vitality of the Yiddish language and understand that Yiddish is still a relevant language. Dan Mariaschin, Executive VP of B’nai B’rith International, told the audience, “A connection with Yiddish honors the past, and speaking it connects it to the future.”