Putting The Yiddish Pedal To The Metal

It’s not news that a secular Yiddish revival has been underway for some time. But considering that when I and my classmates were taught Yiddish at Bialik Hebrew Day School in Toronto in the 1970’s and 1980’s – and were therefore practically freaks of history, if not nature – it is hard to wrap my head around the Yiddish cultural explosion that I am witnessing today. Post-Holocaust and post-establishment of the State of Israel, what young people (other than us freaks and certain Jews wearing black in places like Meah Shearim and Borough Park) were speaking Yiddish?

Well, now post-Holocaust and post-establishment of the State of Israel – only several decades later – you’ve got bands like Yiddish Princess here in the U.S. And in Israel, you have young artists who appear to be somewhat creepily fetishizing the Yiddish past, and others who are taking Yiddish irony to an extreme. I don’t think there is any higher compliment than this that I could pay the latter, a Yiddish heavy metal band (Gevolt) that growls, screeches and head bangs to a classic ballad called “Sha Shtil” (Be Quiet).

© 2011 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.


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