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שלום עליכם Yiddish Las Vegas: A Music and Culture Festival

Paul Dooley/Flickr

The Yiddish alphabet

Bupkeskibitzkvetchver clemptmensch --- these are all words that you’ve probably heard at one time or another.

And you probably know what they mean even though you may not know they are Yiddish words.

Yiddish is an Old World language that has more than once been on the verge of dying. Devotees always manage to revive it.

This Saturday and Sunday, Las Vegas plays its part.

Temple Sinai is presenting, “Yiddish Las Vegas: A Music & Culture Festival” – a weekend of eastern European music, dancing, and food.

Heather Klein is one of the organizers of the festival and she will also be singing at the festival.

She told KNPR's State of Nevada that Yiddish is more than just a language.

"It is so expressive when people are speaking it, singing it, and I think there is even more to it than just a language," she said, "It’s a culture. It’s what people have gone through."

She started to learn Yiddish after learning to sing a song in the language for her grandfather. 

Andy Muchin is the host of a radio program at Mississippi Public Broadcasting about Jewish music and culture. He said exploring the language gives him a better understand of his culture.  

“I find it a great connection to Jewish heritage,” he said.

Muchin said Yiddish originated around what would be modern Germany as Jews from other parts of Europe arrived and brought bits of their own language to the Germanic language the Jews in the area were already speaking. 

Klein said the festival will feature musical performances, cultural presentations, and of course, food. She also said it is for everyone.

“A lot of chances to learn about this culture,” she said, "Anyone can come to this festival and learn about the Yiddish culture and it’s a living breathing culture and that’s what they’re going to find out." 

Artwork: Stephanie Helms 

Veretski Pass

Heather Klein, one of the festival organizers and cantorial soloist at Temple Sinai, Las Vegas

Photo: Betsy Kershner




Heather Klein, cantorial soloist at Temple Sinai in Las Vegas; Andy Muchin, host of "Sounds Jewish" on Mississippi Public Broadcasting

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Since June 2015, Fred has been a producer at KNPR's State of Nevada.