Miryem-Khaye Seigel will present her CD, Toyznt Tamen (A Thousand Flavors), a collection of original Yiddish songs. KlezKanada lecturer Rokhl Kafrissen says, “Miriam-Khaye is a brilliant interpreter of Yiddish song, acclaimed gamine of the Yiddish stage, Jewish librarian par excellence and now, composer of new Yiddish song.”
In a recent interview with Nancy Johnson, Miryem-Khaye talks about how she came to Yiddish:
How did you get interested in Yiddish language and culture?
“I had a chance to take a Yiddish class at the Yiddish Book Center while attending Hampshire. I enjoyed the language and the chance to explore Jewish history and culture. I decided to continue my studies and ultimately it turned into my life’s work.”
Is there a family connection?
“I heard some Yiddish words at home, but learned to speak fluently as an adult.”
What is it like to be a young person involved in a culture and language that is almost at risk of being lost? Are other young people interested in Yiddish, too?
“It is challenging to maintain a balance between connecting with older, native Yiddish speakers and having a peer group of younger Yiddish speakers, not necessarily native speakers. There’s a generation gap. It’s essential to spend time with native speakers if you really want to learn to speak Yiddish and to speak it well. There are many more opportunities for young people to learn Yiddish today than there were ten or fifteen years ago, but I don’t see as much intergenerational interaction. I am fortunate to work with Yiddish on a daily basis and to have an international community of Yiddish speakers committed to preserving and promoting the language and culture.”