"In the Beginning was the Word," starts this episode -- but what language was it? Yiddish, once the language of five daily newspapers in New York City, is now endangered.. From the director of the Sholem-Aleichem House and the Yiddish storyteller, Sarat, we learn about the decline of Yiddish resulting 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.
About On the Road
What happens when a downtown New York poet of the hip hop and slam persuasion discovers that the roots of spoken word go back thousands of years and span the globe? If he's Bob Holman, he goes On the Road to track them down! He trades stories, fun, recipes, insights, jokes, songs, and poems. Along the way, he gets passionately immersed in the Endangered Language crisis -- over half the world's 6500 languages will disappear before the end of this century. Holman guides us to the bottom-line question of survival of these systems of consciousness with respect, joy, and dedication to diversity. He throws himself into the life -- shares the meals, participates in the ceremonies, dances and parties. His enthusiasm infects the series' fast-paced style.
Produced by Ram Devineni and Beatriz Seigner. Hosted by Bob Holman.