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Folksong, Demons, and the Evil Eye: Folklore of Ashkenaz

YIVO's Shine Online Educational Series

Folksong, Demons, and the Evil Eye: Folklore of Ashkenaz
Presented by Edward Blank and Family
Taught by Prof. Itzik Gottesman

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About This Course

Why do Jewish communities throw breadcrumbs into the river on Rosh Hashanah? What does Ring around the Rosie have in common with Rozhinkes mit Mandlen? Why do Jews break a glass during weddings? Step back in time and learn the answers to all these questions, and more, as you join the early Yiddish ethnographers on their expeditions through Eastern Europe.

In Folksong, Demons, and the Evil Eye: Folklore of Ashkenaz, YIVO’s second online course, Professor Itzik Gottesman will take you on a journey into the richness of Jewish folk life. You will explore music, folktales, rituals, and superstitions. You’ll meet dybbuks and golems, demons and spirits, and learn what languages and colors you should use while warding your home against Lilith!

This course is an intensive, college-level survey, equivalent to two 2-hour sessions per week over four weeks. Work at your own pace, following the course video and activities, explore YIVO’s unique archival and library collections, and join our discussion forum to meet up with students and faculty. Those who complete the course will receive a special YIVO certificate. In this course, you will:

  • Learn some songs, tales, and rituals common to Jews in Eastern Europe
  • Gain insight into the specifically Jewish elements of Ashkenazi folklore
  • Understand the development of the study of Jewish folklore, and learn about some key figures in this field
  • Gain a better understanding of Jewish life in Eastern Europe in all its richness and variety

About the Instructor

Itzik Gottesman is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Germanic Studies and is on the faculty of the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. For 13 years he was the associate editor of the Yiddish Forward newspaper. He is a folklorist and directs the blog "Yiddish Song of the Week" which features rare field recordings of Yiddish singers.

Tuition and Registration Information

All of YIVO’s Shine Online courses are now free. YIVO is offering our entertaining and enlightening Shine Online courses for free. These courses provide meaningful content to sustain our minds and soul. We invite you to use this time to broaden your knowledge and learn about Jewish music, theater, literature, folklore and the history of our people and to access our many other free online resources.

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