Jake Schneider

“Shmues un Vayn”: A Yiddish Social Club

A flyer made of a collage in three variations, with the Yiddish words "Shmues un Vayn" on each one

Here in Berlin, Yiddish is alive and kicking. In early 2022, as the pandemic was subsiding, I started the “Shmues un Vayn” group, which has met twice per month ever since to socialize and drink wine while speaking only Yiddish. By now, the group – which is affiliated with Yiddish.Berlin – includes more than 90 Berlin-based Yiddish speakers from a variety of backgrounds, and about a dozen of us show up to an average gathering. 

The 31st gathering of Shmues un Vayn, about a dozen people sitting around a table in front of a bar
The 31st meeting in June 2023

We have also co-hosted special events such as a Third Seder on Passover, picnics and lake swims, a “pub crawl” station during the Shtetl Berlin festival, and a street party during the 2022 Yiddish in Berlin summer program.

I have also taken the format on the road when traveling, and have organized similar meetups in New York, Tel Aviv, Kraków, and Warsaw.

Basics

  • An ongoing series of Yiddish-speaking evenings around Berlin
  • “Shmues un Vayn” means “conversation and wine”: the wine is optional, but the Yiddish is mandatory

Dates

  • Twice per month on irregular evenings, usually weekdays but occasionally on a weekend
  • Usually begins at 7 pm, often goes on until midnight or later
  • You are welcome to arrive and leave at any time

Join Us

If you are a Yiddish speaker who lives in or plans to visit Berlin, contact me and I will let you know the upcoming dates.

We welcome Yiddish speakers of all levels, but from experience, you should have at least basic conversational Yiddish to attend, as we will not switch languages to explain things.

 

Press

Forward/Forverts article

An article in the Forward in February 2024 profiled our group under the headline: ”You can now hear people speaking Yiddish in bars all over Berlin: A Yiddish conversation group meets biweekly at locations around the city.”

Read the full article here

 
Announcement of podcast episode on the @proste_yiddish Instagram channel

Podcast episode

I have also given a podcast interview about our group with Esther Diamond of the fantastic Proste Yiddish podcast. The podcast and the interview are in easy Yiddish, aimed at learners.

Listen here or wherever you get your podcasts (Proste Yiddish, season 3 episode 8).

“How to Build a Yiddish Social Club” Workshop

In Janaury 2024, thanks to a grant from KlezCalifornia‘s Yiddish Culture Fund, I presented an online workshop describing the Shmues un Vayn project and offering advice for Yiddish speakers interested in organizing similar groups. You can watch the recorded workshop (in English) here on YouTube:

Play Video about Slide from Shmues un Vayn workshop

Digital Flyers

To announce each meeting of Shmues un Vayn to the group, I design a unique digital flyer. Occasionally, another member or guest artist will design one, not displayed below. Here are a selection of my favorites, with most of the meeting locations removed:

The announcement for our 41st meeting in November 2023

A Yiddish Street Party

In summer 2022, during the Yiddish in Berlin summer program coordinated by the Paris Yiddish Center, we co-organized a collaborative Shmues un Vayn gathering that attracted many Yiddish students from the program and grew into a Yiddish-speaking street party (see below).

About 40 people posing outside Kapital Bar
Shmues un Vayn street party in summer 2022