Jake Schneider

Berlin’s Yiddish History

Grenadierstraße, the center of Yiddish in Berlin, in the 1920s

Yiddish in Berlin is as old the city itself: Jona Ben Dan, who was buried here seven years after Berlin’s founding and has the city’s oldest gravestone, was probably a speaker. Yiddish-speaking Jews have been coming here to live in waves ever since, including a heyday in the 1920s, when Berlin was home to many prominent Yiddish authors, scholars, and publishers, and was the birthplace of the Yiddish encyclopedia.

This presentation, available in English or German, gives an overview of this international language of Ashkenazi Jews through the lens of our own city, considering questions of linguistic diversity, migration, and cultural heritage along the way.


  • Format: A presentation giving an introduction to the  Yiddish language and its local history, including literature and/or music, from a perspective of cultural diversity
  • Duration: 1.5-2 hours with a short break
  • Language: Available in English or German
  • Target audience: May vary widely by age; no background knowledge about Judaism or Yiddish needed
  • Context: Usually offered as a guest lecture for university, high school, or continuing education classes on related topics.
  • Options: Can include a group activity, a musical component, and/or a sample of Berlin Yiddish poetry depending on interest and time
  • Location: Berlin or virtual
See also my Visit Berlin’s Yiddishland Tour, which is also available for groups.


No public presentations currently scheduled. 


Versions of this presentation have been given to undergraduate students at CIEE and continuing education students at Arbeit und Leben, among other institutions. Parts of it build on a keynote lecture I gave at the Westopia festival, which explored the question of linguistic coexistence in literature.



To book this presentation, send me a message.

Traces of Berlin’s Yiddishland

A workshop on Jewish culture in 2022. Photo: Ebba D. Drolshagen