The New Yiddish Sitcom

Lecture 5 in the Yiddish On Screen / Yiddish Oyfn Ekran Series

In contrast to pre-Holocaust Yiddish cinema, comedy is the least represented genre of new Yiddish cinema. The project of two graduates of Montreal’s Yiddish day schools, YidLife Crisis (Eli Batalion and Jamie Elman, Canada, three seasons, 2014-2020) presents two younger secular Yiddish speakers dialoguing in Yiddish about religion, politics and identity in restaurants, cars and hospitals. This session looks at comedy in pre-War Yiddish film and then examines YidLife Crisis as a contemporary Yiddish sitcom.

Enjoy the fifth lecture in the Yiddish Oyfn Ekran / Yiddish On Screen lecture series by Professor Rebecca Margolis, “The New Yiddish Sitcom” by clicking the button below:

The New Yiddish Sitcom

Yiddish On Screen / Yiddish Oyfn Ekran

Hearing contemporary Yiddish dialogue spoken in Unorthodox, one of the most popular Netflix series which screened during a time of pandemic-induced online binge-viewing, is at once compelling, astonishing and a machaye for Yiddish enthusiasts everywhere. Who would have ever imagined a house-bound global audience tuning in, entranced, to a niche miniseries filmed in Yiddish?! But in fact our Mameloshn has a long and glorious history on the big and small screens, from Michał Waszyński’s recently remastered 1937 classic fantasy drama Der Dybbuk to the hit Canadian comedy webseries YidLife Crisis, created by Eli Batalion and Jamie Elman.

In collaboration with Monash University’s Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation, as part of our Matone series the Kadimah proudly presents Yiddish On Screen, a free, five-part series of live online lectures on Yiddish in film and television. Written and presented by Professor Rebecca Margolis, the new Director of the ACJC and Pratt Foundation Chair of Jewish Civilisation, the series is in English with a touch of Yiddish.

From portrayals of Hasidim and journeys into the supernatural to modern sitcoms and Israeli perspectives, this intriguing exploration of Yiddish immortalised on celluloid and the internet was watched live by hundreds of viewers during May and June 2020. Now available for viewing online, enjoy the lectures individually or as a whole series. Just click on the links below.

May 17: From Dybbuks to Unorthodox: What is New Yiddish Cinema?
May 24:  Portrayals of Hasidim in Yiddish Television and Cinema
May 31: The Supernatural in Yiddish Cinema Yesterday and Today
June 21: Representations of the Holocaust in Yiddish Cinema
June 28: The New Yiddish Sitcom

Professor Rebecca Margolis

Professor Rebecca Margolis took up the position of Pratt Foundation Chair of Jewish Civilisation and Director of the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University in February this year. She joined the Centre from a distinguished career at the University of Ottawa, where she held numerous leadership roles, including Director of the General B.A. in the Faculty of Arts, Coordinator of the Vered Jewish Canadian Studies Program and Director of the Masters in World Literatures and Cultures. She has a PhD in Yiddish Studies from Columbia University, and has written a prize-winning history of Yiddish cultural life in Montreal.