If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting our resident Yiddish and Hebrew teacher Marganit Ramon, you’re in for a treat. One of the most charming and charismatic members of the Monday Night learning team, Marganit is a true gem up here at the Aish Center. Always impeccably presented, Marganit’s chassidic background may surprise some. Back in Lodz, Marganit’s grandfather wasn’t just a devout Gerre chassid, he was also extremely close with the Gerre Rebbe. Her parents immigrated from Lodz to Israel after the Holocaust, and they settled in Tel Aviv, where they raised Marganit on a Yiddish-heavy diet. She and her husband have been working in New York for a few years now. This elegant lady is always delightful to engage in conversation with, so I did just that!
Hi Marganit! How did you end up in New York as a teacher?
I worked as a teacher for the Ministry of Education in Israel, and my husband was the head of the Industrial Engineering Department at Tel Aviv University. He was sent to Cleveland as a Professor in Residence, and I taught Hebrew at the Jewish Agency there. At a later time we were send to L.A, where I also taught Hebrew for the Jewish Agency. Years before I was in Paris for a year, and also taught Hebrew for the Jewish Agency. Years later, we came to NYC. I started teaching at a few places – the JCC, Jewish Day Schools, and now I am at The Aish Center. I love New York City very much, and I love teaching here very much too.
Wonderful! What led you to Aish?
I participated in many lectures and events at the Aish in Los Angeles, and I also knew New Yorkers who’d studied at the Aish Center in Manhattan. I attended some lectures at the Aish Center, and was impressed with the interesting topics, and with the Rabbis.
So, tell me about your Yiddish class at Aish?
Well, it’s a diverse crowd, age wise. Everyone is really enthusiastic about Yiddish! It’s the Mamaloshen, it’s nostalgia, it reminds people of their family history – people bring all kinds of amazing things to the class. We learn from a great textbook, we speak and have conversations. I love to teach songs and dances, and I tell jokes and stories. I love Yiddish jokes. We talk in Yiddish about the Jewish holidays, we learn about special Yiddish foods, and about the history of the language.
Yiddish is clearly experiencing a really exciting revival at the moment. What do you think about that?
Yiddish is a great language to know for many reasons, and is applicable in so many places. I will give you two examples from my own experience. I’ve got a student – a young woman, she’s not Jewish. She works in real estate in Williamsburg and has a lot of Chassidic clients. She learns Yiddish to communicate better with her clients, which is so interesting. But it’s a good thing to know. There are people I would have never been able to communicate with if I didn’t speak Yiddish. I remember buying clothing wholesale in Paris and speaking Yiddish with the Jews working in the Shmatte business. They were shocked that a young girl from Israel spoke Yiddish so well, especially since even their own children could not speak Yiddish at all. Another interesting example is a job opening which was posted just recently by a CIA-linked security contractor, stating that: “ Intelligence Firm Seek Yiddish Linguist”, with written and communication skills, and the ability to comprehend slang and colloquial expressions.
Yiddish is so cool right now!
Especially in New York City. People already know Spanish – now they want to learn Yiddish!
Marganit Ramon teaches Yiddish and Hebrew every Monday night at Aish. Join her class! For more information or any questions, contact Esther Hirsch at 973-773-5782.