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On the Road with Bob Holman, Episode 3| 29mins
Director: Ram Devineni | Producer: Bob Holman
Focus Years: 2012 | Country: United States
Subject Tags: americas, communication, community, middle east, politics, religion, united states
Quality Tags: Optimistic, Slow, Activating, Harmonizing
“In the Beginning was the Word,” starts this episode—but what language was it? Yiddish, which once had five daily newspapers in New York City, is now an endangered language. From the director of the Sholem-Aleichem House and Yiddish storyteller, Sarat, we learn about the decline of Yiddish that resulted from the rise of Hebrew as the national language of Israel. Sarat cooks us a delicious cholent, a stew combining many of the ingredients from the old countries. While in Jerusalem, we experience the musical sounds of Ladino, the Spanish Hebrew of the Sephardic Jews, which is also endangered. The poet Ronny Someck, a “true Israeli poet from Iraq,” gives Bob a tour of Jaffa and tells us about the multilingual diversity that used to exist in Israel. He suggests visiting the West Bank to hear Arabic, so Bob takes the grueling journey through the endless checkpoints and the Separation Wall to reach Ramallah. Once across the Wall we meet with some young Palestinian hip-hop poets who explain the complexities of living near the Separation Wall that dominates the landscape. In the end, Bob is left to ponder how the resurrection of Hebrew into the national language has created barriers between the many different voices and languages of the region and how the monoglot of Hebrew in a polyglot land may have effected Israel’s political thinking.

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Ram Devineni

United States


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