Amsterdam
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A decade after Yiddish classes disappeared from the Netherlands, Amsterdam is bringing them back.

Starting this week, students can enrol in a Yiddish course at the University of Amsterdam. Yiddish, which was once widely spoken by most Jews in European cities, has not been taught in the Netherlands since Professor Shlomo Berger’s death in 2015, AT5 reported.

The classes have proved to be extremely popular with Jews and non-Jews, according to instructor Daniella Zaidman-Mauer.

She told the broadcaster: “I would have been happy with ten students, but that turned out to be 53. We are thrilled to be able to teach it here again today because Yiddish is strongly connected to the city.”

She explained that “Amsterdam was always an open city for many religions.”

“That is why many Jews came here and brought their Yiddish with them. If you go to the City Archives, there is an awful lot of Yiddish material there. And to study it, you first have to get to know the language,” Zidman-Mauer said.

Due to the long and influential presence of Jews in the capital city, many Yiddish words have entered the Dutch lexicon in Amsterdam and have become commonplace for Jews and non-Jews. Everyday Dutch words, such as stiekem, bolleboos, tof, and lef, are based on Yiddish words.

Berger, the last Yiddish teacher in academia in the Netherlands, was born in Tel Aviv as the only child of Holocaust survivors who spoke Yiddish.

Becoming a professor of Yiddish at the University of Amsterdam, he wrote about Jewish history. He taught courses in Yiddish Studies, Hebrew Language and Literature, and Jewish History and Culture. He also co-founded the Jewish studies journal, Zutot: Perspectives on Jewish Culture, in 2001.