Yiddish with an accent

German institute in Thailand offers Yiddish courses to local students. Some locals already speak enough Yiddish to keep business booming

BANGKOK - A new Yiddish program will soon be launched at the Goethe-Institut in Thailand.


Thai students who have successfully completed an advanced German course will be offered the opportunity to learn Ashkenazi language at the institute, which is situated beside the German Embassy in Bangkok.


Net Perra, a student at Ramkhamhaeng University in Bankok, has shown interest in the new course.


“Jews are a wise people,” Perra said, “You have to learn their language and their culture in order to understand them.”


In addition to learning Yiddish, Perra and the other students enrolled in the course will also learn basic concepts of Jewish history and culture. Trips to local kosher restaurants and a visit to the Chabad center in Bangkok are part of the program’s curriculum.


Peter Adowalt, an instructor at the institute, assembled the curriculum after completing his research on Jewish communities in Bangkok, Berlin, and Munich in collaboration with a Muslim instructor at the institute’s Cairo branch.


“Yiddish is very close to German,” Adowalt said, “I chose it to demonstrate to students how a people with no nation for generations developed a language of its own.”


‘Yiddish brings customers’  

Israel's ambassador to Thailand Yael Rubinstein and Rabbi Nechemya Wilhelm of the Chabad center in Bangkok supported the institute’s endeavor. Rabbi Wilhelm is even expected to give lectures, in Yiddish, to Thai students on Judaism.


Surprisingly, some locals already speak a sufficient amount of Yiddish to keep them, and their businesses, popular with the haredi crowd visiting the city.


Pi Tuk, 47, has been a Tuk-Tuk driver (Thai taxi driver) for 15 years, and has acquired much experience with the language thanks to his haredi clientele.


“If a bearded Jew wearing black and white arrives, I yell out ‘Vos vilstu? Ich ken layder nor a bisel Yiddish’ (What do you want? I can only speak a little Yiddish),” Tuk said with a think Thai accent.


“When they hear that, they take me to work the entire day,” he said.


פרסום ראשון: 02.05.07, 16:12
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