Yiddish is not the first language Yankl-Peretz spoke, but he considers that a mere fluke of history that he has dedicated himself to correcting. His grandfather was a typesetter in the Forverts, and his aunt (צו לאַנגע יאָרן) is a Yiddishist who was involved with Yugntruf and raised her kids with Yiddish. Yankl-Peretz missed out on much Yiddish in his childhood years, but now he’s making up for lost time. After college he moved to New York City, and now speaks Yiddish with most of his friends there, many of whom he met through Yugntruf. He works full-time helping to develop the YiddishPOP website, and freelances as a Yiddish teacher and webmaster on the side. (Most recently he’s taught at the Yiddish Farm intensive summer program.). He lives in a “Yiddish Hoyz” in Brooklyn, a five-minute walk away from a community comprising tens of thousands of Yiddish speakers. His activities at Yugntruf include running the website, organizing svives, and helping provide Yiddish-learning opportunities. And last summer he attended his 10th Yiddish Vokh!
Jordan Kutzik (Chair)
started learning Yiddish when he was about 16 in order to research the Holocaust from the perspective of Jewish survivor’s accounts and memorial books. After beginning to learn the language, however, he found that he was far more interested in the role of Yiddish in Jewish life and in the wealth of cultural and religious information, both through people and the written word, made available through it. Since discovering that the language, despite what he had grown up believing, is far from dead, he has dedicated much of his spare time to aiding networking among young Yiddish speakers. He is particularly interested in spreading resources to aid Yiddish speakers in raising Yiddish speaking children and is in the beginning stages of creating a multilingual website to that end. He joined Yugntruf in 2007 after being contacted by Arele Viswanath and became a board member in early 2008. He is a graduate of Rutgers University who majored in Spanish translation and Jewish studies and completed his undergraduate thesis on contemporary Yiddish language children’s pedagogical materials in the Hasidic World. He worked for two years as a fellow at the Yiddish Book Center working on its audio collections. He is currently a staff writer at the Yiddish Forward.
Meena-Lifshe Viswanath (Treasurer)
has been speaking Yiddish her whole life – her first word (besides calling for a parent) was “ti-a,” a childish pronunciation of “tir,” or door, indicating that she wanted someone to open the door! She grew up with Yugntruf – her parents met at Yidish-vokh, she attended the Yiddish Sunday-school Pripetshik until age 15, and she has attended Yidish-vokh every year since she was born (23 and counting!). She is now a graduate student in Georgia Tech studying geotechnical engineering. Her responsibilites on the board include budget, publicity, the website, and Yidish-vokh.
The only Yiddish words Rivke heard as a child were from Mel Brooks and Woody Allen jokes, when she sensed that some impalpable barrier prevented her from catching every punch line. It took a decade of exploring Yiddishkeit as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley and a graduate student at Brandeis before she realized that she had overlooked the language at its foundation. Thus in 2015 while wrapping up a doctorate in anthropology, she enrolled in Yiddish Farm’s summer program. Although intensive language programs were nothing new to Rivke, who had studied Uzbek in Tajikistan and Russian in Vermont, learning Yiddish changed the course of her life. Slowly over the last year or so, Yiddish has become her bread and schmaltz. Now she writes for the Yiddish Forverts, transcribes ethnographic data from Yiddish-speakers, and will coordinate this year’s Yiddish Vokh. She welcomes your feedback to help continually improve your experience in Copake! (For the uncensored version of Rivke’s Yiddish-speaking roots, read her bio in mame-loshn.)
is a native speaker of klal (Standard) Yiddish. Raised in a Conservative Yiddish-speaking household in New York City, her life-long friendship with other Yiddish-speaking children helped sustain this strong cultural theme within her Jewish identity. From age 2-12, she was part of Yugntruf’s playgroup, Pripetshik, for children from Yiddish-speaking homes. Her family has been attending Yidish-Vokh since 1977 and she has gone every year of her life. As a member of the Executive Board since she was 15, she plans events and designs Yugntruf’s promotional materials. She was most privileged to be the Director of Yidish-Vokh 2008-2011 and personally invites you to attend Yidish-Vokh 2015!
Judith Bro Pinhasik
has been Yugntruf’s Coordinator/ Development Director for seven years, with twenty-one years’ experience in managing and fundraising for non-profit health, education, environmental, and arts and culture organizations. She earned a Certificate in Fundraising Management from New York University, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Maryland with a BA in Political Science (Minor in Journalism) and an MA in Film History and Criticism. A professional actor for fifteen years, Judith has also sung for eighteen years with the Jewish People’s Philharmonic Chorus, which performs works entirely in Yiddish. For the past nine years, she has taught Yiddish and Jewish culture and ethics to children at Workmen’s Circle’s Midtown Shule (NYC), and now also teaches Yiddish at their I.L. Peretz Shule (East Meadow, NY). Judith (Yudis) has been a Yugntruf member for more than fifteen years, and has run their Yidish-vokh Kinder Program for the past five. She thinks of Yugntruf and its members as her second family..