From landsmanshaften to vinkln: Mediating community among Yiddish speakers in America

Simon J. Bronner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Vinkln ("corners") in America have spread since the 1970s as an organizational strategy by Yiddish-speaking, non-pietistic, East European Jewish immigrants, many of whom have a Holocaust experience. The vinkln provide a privatized, immersive experience for Yiddish language and culture as a way to offer community identity to Yiddish speakers within the wider Jewish community. They arose out of landsmanschaften, or "hometown associations," in the early twentieth century, but the vinkln function to ritually reproduce culture rather than offer mutual aid based on old-country affiliation. Although secularized, the organized social structure and performed communication of the vinkln invoke rituals and roles of Jewish religious services from traditional community experience. They displace old-country affiliations with pronounced loyalties to Israel and America, although the location of Yiddish in performance is often centered in Poland. The vinkln mediate community by suggesting cultural reproduction even as the bonds of language and society among Yiddish speakers are weakening. Its symbols and associations are restricted to an elderly age cohort, and therefore not likely to perpetuate the very culture that its organizers purport to preserve. It is differentiated from other structures of Yiddish conservation and appreciation such as Internet networks and community center conversation groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-148
Number of pages18
JournalJewish History
Volume15
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History

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