Jake Schneider

Queer Yiddish

QUEERYIDDISH Theater. Film. Lit. Art. Music. Drag. Since 1877. Presentation in English & Yiddish by Jake Schneider of Yiddish.Berlin

Yiddish is a queer language. For at least 150 years, Yiddish-speakers have been blending their queerness with their Yiddishness, drawing on this international language’s built-in intersectionality to create theater, music, art, film, and literature that defies old taboos by including our own queer selves. As Sara Felder wrote, “Queer Yiddishkeit gives me permission to go back to the world of my grandparents without leaving myself behind.”

You can expect: a son with two moms, transitioning in the shtetl, a gay Jewish bullfighter, a Yiddish remix of Marlene Dietrich, AIDS activism, a circus lady, drag kings and queens, cruising in 1930s Vilna, sexy sapphic bagels, a ritual spanking, and much more.



  • Format. A multimedia slideshow including numerous video clips and musical examples interspersed with narration and readings from Yiddish literature and the press
  • Structure. Chronological from 1877 to the present
  • Language. Available in two versions:
    • English with translated Yiddish examples
    • Entirely in Yiddish
  • Duration. The full presentation is roughly 2 hours with an intermission. However, I can shorten it by choosing fewer examples and have given a 45-minute version.



No dates currently scheduled.


  • 8 & 13 August 2023 – at Yiddish Summer Weimar (Yiddish & English)
  • 25 May 2023 – livestreamed as part of the Pink Peacock’s Shavuos bookfair (Yiddish)
  • 22 May 2023 – B-Lage, Berlin (English)
  • 6 May 2023 – UK Yiddish Sof-Vokh, Sheffield, England (Yiddish)
  • 9 December 2022 – Novilla, Berlin as part of the Yiddish.Berlin exhibition MIR ZENEN DO (English)


To book an in-person or virtual presentation for your organization, venue, conference, or event series, send me a message.


The original Queer Yiddish presentation in December 2022. Photo by Arndt Beck

Further Reading


This presentation compiles and builds on the research of numerous scholars and fellow queer Yiddishists who have been gathering these examples themselves and producing their own  contemporary queer Yiddish culture. I recommend that anyone interested in the subject seek out and support their work.

I am particularly indebted to the scholarship and knowledge of the following living people:

  • Eve Sicular, film scholar, bandleader of Isle of Klezbos, and the mastermind behind the kindred presentation The Yiddish Celluloid Closet
  • Amanda (Miryem-Khaye) Seigel, the Yiddish singer, songwriter, actor and researcher in Yiddish culture, and author of the fantastic roundup “Top 10 Queerest Moments in the Yiddish Theatre
  • Warren Hoffmann, hyper-perceptive author of The Passing Game: Queering American Jewish Culture
  • Jeffrey Shandler, scholar and author of the seminal article “Queer Yiddishkeit: Practice and Theory”
  • Chana Pollack, infinitely knowledgeable archivist of the Forward
  • Eddy Portnoy, Academic Advisor of YIVO, whose research into the popular Yiddish press unearthed two very important examples
  • Irád Ben Isaak, luminous scholar of Yiddish literature and fellow member of Yiddish.Berlin
  • David Mazower, Bibliographer and Editorial Director of the Yiddish Book Center, and supernaturally devoted great-grandson of Sholem Asch
  • Adam Stepnowski, whose Polish-language brilliance even shines through Google Translate
The presentation also features contemporary performances and contributions courtesy of:
  • Mikhl Yashinsky, who has both written and performed queer Yiddish theater among many talents
  • Shane Baker, the actor, translator, playwright, executive director of the Congress for Jewish Culture, and drag queen
  • Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell, a singer, musician, and probably the first queer Yiddishist I ever met
  • Zohar Weiman-Kelman, author of Queer Expectations: A Genealogy of Jewish Women’s Poetry
  • Hinde Ena Burstin, feminist, writer,  Yiddish educator, and “shande Down Under”
  • Morgan (Mishe) Holleb of Glasgow’s one-of-a-kind Pink Peacock café (z”l)
  • Jamie Elman & Eli Batalion of the hilarious web series YidLife Crisis
  • Yevgeniy Fiks, multidisciplinary conceptual artist and lateral thinker

In addition to all the living legends mentioned above and others I’m forgetting, I’m incredibly grateful to our queer Yiddish ancestors for their bravery and their fierceness.