“One can find in the Yiddish tongue and in the Yiddish spirit expressions of pious joy, lust for life, longing for the Messiah, patience and deep appreciation of human individuality. There is a quiet humor in Yiddish and a gratitude for every day of life, every crumb of success, each encounter of love. The Yiddish mentality is not haughty. It does not take victory for granted. It does not demand and command but it muddles through, sneaks by, smuggles itself amidst the powers of destruction, knowing somewhere that God’s plan for Creation is still at the very beginning.”
—Isaac Bashevis Singer, Nobel Lecture, December 8, 1978
Isaac in America (1987): In this scene from the Academy Award nominated documentary, Yiddish writer Isaac Bashevis Singer [born 1902 in Poland–died 1991 in America] re-visits Coney Island and Brighton Beach and re-lives memories of his early years in New York. This is part of PBS-TV’s American Masters Film series; this was directed by Amram Nowak and broadcast in July 1987. This is a decade after Singer was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature (1978), the first Yiddish writer to receive this honour. This said that not only was there such a thing as Yiddish literature, but also that it is artistic and approaches high art, but in a far different way than, say, British, American or French literature. By way of comparison, Yiddish literature uses more humble language, and combines it with a great use of humour. Life is often absurd, or seems this way. It is also full of surprises. You can cry one minute; and laugh the next. As for Singer, this video clip shows how charming a man he was.