MCCC professor discusses origin of Yiddish phrases in American culture

Michelle Toll, Assistant Professor of English at MCCC, presented “Yiddish Words and Phrases in American Culture."

A professor at Monroe County Community College hosted a presentation discussing some of the common Yiddish words and phrases that have worked their way into everyday American English.

Michelle Toll, Assistant Professor of English at MCCC, recently presented “Yiddish Words and Phrases in American Culture” via Zoom. Numerous MCCC staff and faculty, as well as community members, attended the session.

Toll began the session by noting that May is Jewish-American Heritage month. She also noted that there are very few – about a quarter million – Yiddish speakers in the United States today, most of them Hasidic Jews living on the East Coast.

She added that Yiddish should not be confused with religious Hebrew language, though the two languages ​​share similarities.

“Yiddish is a secular language, even though it was mostly Jewish people who spoke it,” Toll said. “It wasn’t the language of prayer and religious texts. It was for everyday use. ”

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