Skip To Content
Forverts in English

VIDEO: This moving film about seven young Yiddish scholars may surprise you

In ‘The Secrets of Yiddish Poetry,’ director Nurith Aviv explores the role that Yiddish plays in their work and lives

A remarkable documentary about the passion of seven young people for the Yiddish language, and in particular for Yiddish poetry, was posted on YouTube this week. 

In the film, The Secrets of Yiddish Poetry, French director Nurith Aviv, who was born in Tel Aviv, gives viewers a chance to hear these students and scholars — both Jews and non-Jews — describe how Yiddish inspires them in their work and in their lives. 

Each of them shares their connection to a particular poet they love from the years between the two world wars, and some recite a favorite excerpt of their work. Among the poets discussed are Celia Dropkin, Moyshe-Leyb Halperin, Anna Margolin and Abraham Sutzkever. The interwar period was an exceptional era for the Jews of Eastern Europe, one which saw a deep flowering of Yiddish culture and creativity, including modernist, avant-garde poetry. 

Aviv makes the point that the poets of that period were polyglots, often moving from one country to another. “The protagonists of my film also move between countries and languages,” she writes in her description of the film.

Filmed in France, Germany, Israel, Lithuania and Poland and released in 2020, The Secrets of Yiddish Poetry is itself multi-lingual, including conversations in French, Hebrew, Yiddish and English. The entire film is accompanied by English subtitles.


A message from Forverts editor Rukhl Schaechter

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you move on, I wanted to ask you to support the Forverts' 127-year legacy — and its bright future.

In the past, the goal of the Forverts was to Americanize its readers, to encourage them to learn English well and to acculturate to American society. Today, our goal is the reverse: to acquaint readers — especially those with Eastern European roots — with their Jewish cultural heritage, through the Yiddish language, literature, recipes and songs.

Our daily Yiddish content brings you new and creative ways to engage with this vibrant, living language, including Yiddish Wordle, Word of the Day videos, Yiddish cooking demos, new music, poetry and so much more.

—  Rukhl Schaechter, Yiddish Editor

Support the Yiddish Forverts with a generous gift to the Forverts today!

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.