la vie soferet: yiddish

Tuesday night, I was teaching at my scribe school, as is my wont on Tuesday nights.

Three-quarters of the room was speaking Yiddish.

Now, I posted recently about the surreal experience of being at a party of young, egal-type Jews where three-quarters of the room was speaking Yiddish. That was strange, yes. But having three-quarters of my scribe school chatting on in Yiddish, well, my brain felt as though it was being turned inside out. I think this is what cognitive dissonance feels like.

That is – if I tell you that here’s a sofer class mostly speaking Yiddish, what do you expect? I expect a lot of black clothing, a lot of peyes, a complete lack of women, a lot of right-wing Orthodoxy and a lot of nineteenth-century Europe ambience. (Yes, my YU friends, this doesn’t describe you. I know. But you know the stereotype I’m carrying in my head, don’t you.)

So here’s a sofer class mostly speaking Yiddish, but it’s taking place in a women’s yeshiva,* there’s no right-wing Orthodoxy in sight,** it’s midtown Manhattan, it’s all women,*** there are no peyes, no Yentl, but it’s certainly a sofer class, and they’re certainly speaking a lot of Yiddish, and dear goodness cognitive dissonance on a grand scale makes it hard to teach a class, you can’t say anything for gaping wordlessly as your cognitive abilities try to catch up.

Possibly a good thing. As they say, aider me zogt arois s’vort, iz men a har; dernoch iz men a nar.****

* Not on principle, more because Drisha are nice and give us a classroom.
** Also not on principle. Orthodoxim are welcome, we just don’t have any Orthodoxim this semester.
*** Also not on principle, we just don’t have any men this semester.
**** Google, and only because I don’t know enough Yiddish to come up with a proper witty punchline.


  1. Anonymous
    Posted February 3, 2011 at 19:45 | Permalink

    I googled your Yiddish quote, and the top of the first page was your blog quoting it.

  2. jen
    Posted February 3, 2011 at 19:58 | Permalink

    Oh DEAR. Good thing you’re clever enough to read past the first hit.

  3. אלקס
    Posted February 9, 2011 at 18:35 | Permalink

    .טאקע אן אינטערעסאנטע פאסט

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