A growing collection of in-depth interviews with people of all ages and backgrounds, whose stories about the legacy and changing nature of Yiddish language and culture offer a rich and complex chronicle of Jewish identity.
Billy, Our African-American Housekeeper Knew Yiddish
Annette Epstein Jolles—Washington, DC native and social worker—remembers her non-Yiddish childhood Housekeeper, "Billy," and the other outside workers in Jewish businesses in her community who learned pieces of Yiddish language and culture.
This is an excerpt from an oral history with Annette Epstein Jolles.
This excerpt is in English.
Annette Epstein Jolles was born in Washington, D.C..
Other video highlights from this oral history
Billy, Our African-American Housekeeper Knew Yiddish1 minute 50 seconds
"He Would Go to the Cowboy Movies Instead of to Shul": 'An Orthodox Jewish Grandfather and American Cowboy Films1 minute 45 seconds
The Forward and the Bintel Brief: Memories of Yiddish newspapers from My Childhood2 minutes 19 seconds
Crisco and Jewish Women: An American Company's Recipes for Traditional Yiddish Dishes2 minutes 24 seconds
"You Sort of Felt You Were on Sufferance Being Jewish": Growing up in Segregated Washington, DC1 minute 35 seconds
The Jewish-American Response to WWII and the Efforts to Support the Establishment of the State of Israel1 minute 52 seconds
"The Shakers and Movers Were Mostly Jewish": American Politics and Growing Jewish Communities2 minutes 28 seconds
"I Think Jewish Women Are the Gutsiest Women in the World": Stories of Strong Jewish Women3 minutes 31 seconds
"I Realized When I Looked at it Then a Few Years These People Would All be Gone Forever": The Importance of Capturing Culture through Yiddish Film1 minute 31 seconds
"To See the People that Came, and How Sometimes it Really Changed Them": Inspiring Acceptance and Understanding at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC1 minute 46 seconds
"It's Kind of the Glue": Yiddish for Jewish Identity and Community1 minute 37 seconds
"For Every Person That Helps It to Grow, it Balances Out That Horrendous Loss": The Role of Yiddish2 minutes 8 seconds
The Bankes: The Folkloric Yiddish Medicinal Practice of Hot Glass-Style Acupuncture1 minute 25 seconds
There was an Undercurrent of Anti-Semitism in the City: Washington DC in the First Half of the 20th Century2 minutes 6 seconds
About the Wexler Oral History Project
Since 2010, the Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project has recorded more than 500 in-depth video interviews that provide a deeper understanding of the Jewish experience and the legacy and changing nature of Yiddish language and culture.
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Do you (or someone you know) have stories to share about the importance of Yiddish language and culture in your life?