Tam: Tastes of Yiddish Culture
for Kids & Teens
A Program of KlezCalifornia

© KlezCalifornia, Inc., or used by permission. All rights reserved. 

Table of Contents

A. Acknowledgements

B. Basic Content and Strategies for all Lesson Plans

C. How to Approach Schools about Tam and Build Partnerships

1. Intro to Yiddish Language & History (grades K-12). What is Yiddish and where did it come from? Students listen to and learn a simple Yiddish song, a few Yiddish words and phrases and see how Jewish values are conveyed through songs. They learn a bit about 1,000 years of Jewish history that was lived in Yiddish.

2. Learn A Bisl Yiddish (grades K-12). Yiddish words in English, simple Yiddish phrases, holiday names, how words in other languages made their way into Yiddish.

3. Why Yiddish Shares So Many Words With Other Languages (Every Language Does) (grades 7-12). How and why all languages change.

4. Where in the World are Bobeh and Zeydeh? Jewish Geography and the Languages of Our Ancestors (grades K-12). Students look at their roots, including where their ancestors came from, languages their ancestors spoke, and origins of their own family names and personal names.

5. Yiddish Customs in North American Jewish Life (grades K-12). Religious practices and home practices, such as Torah chanting trope, kol nidre melody, dreydls, food, klezmer music at simkhes, use of Yiddish phrases.

6. What Do You Know about Ashkenazi Jewish Food? (grades 5-12). Discussion of what makes food Jewish (or Yiddish), followed by cooking lesson.
7. Yiddish Culture in North American Life (grades K-12). Yiddish words in English, food, humor, American institutions created by Yiddish-speaking Jews, klezmer influences on jazz.

8. Overview of Yid Lit: Yiddish Literature Lesson Plans (grades K-12). What can a Yiddish short story help us learn about Jewish life? We read (in English) a story by Isaac Bashevis Singer, Sholem Aleichem, or I.L. Peretz. We read a full story or a much-shortened version of some Sholem Aleichem stories prepared by Citizen Film. Ten separate lessons, with different stories and discussion questions:
8.1 “A Tale of Three Wishes” by Isaac Bashevis Singer (4 pp.) (grades 3-6)
8.2 “Miracle of Hoshano Robo” by Sholem Aleichem (10 pp.) (grades 10-12)
8.3 “If Not, Then Higher” by I.L. Peretz (4 pp. (grades 5-12)
8.4 “No More Kapores, Or, The Chickens Went On Strike” by Sholem Aleichem (number of pages depends on which book is used) (grades 4-8)
8.5 “The Parakeet Named Dreidel” by Isaac Bashevis Singer (# pages depends on which book is used) (grades K-3)
8.6 “If I Were Rothschild” by Sholem Aleichem (1 p. summary) (Grades 7-12)
8.7 “My Brother Elye’s Drink” from “Motl the Cantor’s Son” by Sholem Aleichem (1-1/2 p. summary) (grades 7-12)
8.8 “The Pot” by Sholem Aleichem (1 p. summary) (grades 7-12)
8.9 “On Account of a Hat” by Sholem Aleichem (1 p. summary) (grades 7-12)
8.10 A conversation between Tevye, Chava, and Golde in “Chava” by Sholem Aleichem (3 p. summary) (grades 7-12)

9. Intro to Klezmer Music (grades K-12). Klezmer was originally Jewish wedding music. It tells us about the lives and celebrations of many of our ancestors. Prepare to listen, learn, and maybe dance!

10. The Language Debates: What Languages “Should” Jews Speak? (grades 7-12). What languages are you studying and why? We'll explore these issues through historical Jewish debates about language.

11. Jewish Lives in Yiddish Song (grades K-12). Listen to, sing, and discuss Yiddish songs on any of five themes to find out about the lives and history of Yiddish-speaking Jews.
11.1 Children’s Songs
11.2 Songs about Shabes
11.3 Growing Up
11.4 Exploring a Repaired World
11.5 Yiddish and the Sounds of Protest

12. Yiddish Life in Painting & Photography (grades 7-12). Explore paintings and photographs from or about Eastern Europe for clues to Jewish history, and today’s customs and practices.
13. Reaping in Song: The Weekend and Yiddish Protest Culture (grades 7-12). The American fight for workers’ rights began in union halls and picket lines — in Yiddish! We'll discuss, and sing about, how speakers of Yiddish, strikers, poets, and industrialists collaborated to give us the two-day weekend.