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Q & A with Yiddish Language Award Winner

Congratulations to Joseph Rosenbaum, this year's recipient of the Yiddish Language Award! Due to this year's circumstances, in lieu of the usual award ceremony Professor Peter Höyng, Chair of the Department of German Studies, informed Joseph via email.
The Yiddish Language Award began several years ago as an analogue to the German Language Prize in German Studies. It recognizes a student who has made dramatic, observable gains during the introductory year of Yiddish studies. 

"Joseph is a freshman who has been studying Yiddish with me all year in the one-credit course and who is also in my midrash seminar. He’s a really motivated student who has become a reasonably fluent reader of Yiddish over the course of the year," writes Professor Miriam Udel (TIJS Director of Graduate Studies).


What drew you to Prof. Udel's course?
I was drawn to Professor Udel's class because it involved Yiddish language, and I knew Emory used to offer Yiddish language classes.  
Why Yiddish?
I was drawn to Yiddish because as a person with entirely Ashkenazi ancestry, I knew my entire family spoke Yiddish in the Old World and learning it myself would bring me closer to them and help preserve a Jewish language with a much smaller native speaking population than existed before the Holocaust. Studying Yiddish is also nice because it uses the Hebrew alphabet, which I already knew, and some of the grammar is very straightforward and sometimes similar to English.
What is your goal regarding acquiring Yiddish language skills?
I wanted to build my knowledge of vocabulary and grammar past the Yiddishisms and Yinglish that many American Jews have, especially because knowledge of Yiddish in my family dwindled precipitously after the arrival of the last immigrants and nobody is left to speak it.  Ideally I would have some conversational speaking ability.