As our wonderful week in Yiddishland comes to an end, I leave with a profound and renewed sense of appreciation for Poland and the beautifully crafted week that Professor Agi Legutko put together for our cohort. Despite the virtual nature of the week-long program, Professor Legutko was able to create an engaging, creative, and exciting week of programming that not only kept my attention but intellectually challenged From wonderful tours of cities to engaging lectures with Yiddish experts in their respective fields, it has been a week of exploration that reminds me of my love for Yiddish and Yiddish Studies.
Growing up, I was the kind of Galitsyaner who would never dream of stepping foot in (virtual) Poland and… enjoying it. I boycotted Polish products and refused to visit anywhere in Poland beyond the lagers and wouldn’t spend any money in the country while doing so. My nuanced interactions with Poland began this week—and it has been an entirely transformative process. My approach towards Yiddishland was one that was blindly rooted in the remnants of the horbynand not based on an on the ground reality. It felt liberating to let go of the frustration and pain that had been transmitted onto me from my parents, my grandparents, and my great-grandparents, and to feel it transform into a hope for the flourishing of the Jewish people and of Yiddish in Yiddishland. From our lecture on the History of Bundist Women with Magdalena Kozłowska, our discussion with Adam Schorin over the current young Yiddish left in Poland, and our tour of Lublin with Piotr Nazaruk, I leave Yiddishland with a rekindled fire for Yiddish and a deep determination to one day explore Yiddishland in a non-virtual format, that is, in person.
I feel so thankful to have been given the opportunity to participate in the Naomi Prawer Kadar fellowship, to connect and learn from so many intellectual and cultural figures contributing to the ongoing flourishing of Yiddishland, and to leave with a renewed sense of cultural enrichment.