Via the Jewish Women’s Archive: Emma Goldman’s career, followed closely by many in the Yiddish-speaking world, provided this newspaper — subtitled “A Journal of Humor, Wit, and Satire” — with a great deal of subject material. The caption under this cartoon reads: “Emma Goldman, the grogger [noise-maker] and Free Speech in America.” The cartoonist effectively pokes fun both at Goldman’s outspokenness and at the authorities’ attempts to silence the “noise-maker.”
On our Stoop, Synagogue, Soapbox walking tour, we stroll the local streets while exploring the intersection of politics, ideology and religion on the Lower East Side of 100 years ago. One of the more(in)famous characters we meet along the way is Emma Goldman– feminist, anarchist, rabble rouser and proponent of free love. A fascinating historical figure, Goldman’s life was dedicated to changing the status-quo of the world in which she found herself: “I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody’s right to beautiful, radiant things.”
Looking for Goldman on the internet? Here are a few places to help your search:
Language is one of the aspects of immigration that we explore through exhibits and education programs at the museum. In our Yiddish newspaper interactive activity, visitors become editors of their very own turn-of-the-century paper, mixing articles from socialist presses with editorials from the Orthodox dailies. The display of Yiddish signs from the neighborhood shows the integration of English words into like “clean” and “fix” into the Yiddish language. A recent article in the New York Times discuss issues of language and immigration, highlighting the ways in which immigration can be a death knell for a rare language.
In addition to dozens of Native American languages, vulnerable foreign languages that researchers say are spoken in New York include Aramaic, Chaldic and Mandaic from the Semitic family; Bukhari (a Bukharian Jewish language, which has more speakers in Queens than in Uzbekistan or Tajikistan); Chamorro (from the Mariana Islands); Irish Gaelic; Kashubian (from Poland); indigenous Mexican languages; Pennsylvania Dutch; Rhaeto-Romanic (spoken in Switzerland); Romany (from the Balkans); and Yiddish.
For many of these languages, there are more speakers in New York than in the area where the language originated .”‘It is the capital of language density in the world,’ said Daniel Kaufman, an adjunct professor of linguistics at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. ‘We’re sitting in an endangerment hot spot where we are surrounded by languages that are not going to be around even in 20 or 30 years.’” The City Room blog created a list of the least-commonly spoken languages in New York and how many people are known to speak them. Topping the list is Cayuga, with only 6 speakers! Though the number of Yiddish speakers is considerably higher, it too is vulnerable and on the list of the Endangered Language Alliance. Once the vernacular of the Lower East Side community, it has fallen into a state of near-extinction outside of Hasidic communities.
Kesselgarden refers to the way “Castle Garden” was pronounced by Yiddish-speaking Eastern European Jews who settled in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Castle Garden was a facility on the southern tip of Manhattan that received immigrants from 1855 through 1890. Thousands of Jews entered the U.S. through Castle Garden prior to the opening of Ellis Island in 1892. “Kesselgarden” later became generalized to mean any situation that was noisy, confusing and chaotic.
Castle Clinton, renamed Castle Garden, was the first immigrant processing center in New York. This wonderful timeline, created by castlegarden.org, will help you navigate through the building’s history. Though replaced and eclipsed by its far more famous neighbor, Ellis Island, its name lives on (perhaps in infamy) in the Yiddish language. This wonderful example of the integration of American English words and even names into Yiddish is but one example of the intermingling of Americanization and tradition, something embodied in the Eldridge Street Synagogue as well. Check out the clip below for today’s Kesselgarden, a klezmer band bringing the sounds of yesteryear to today’s listening public.