Yuri Vedenyapin (RUS/USA; Yiddish Language)
Yuri Vedenyapin teaches Yiddish at Harvard University (USA). Born in Moscow, he began collecting Yiddish oral history in his late teens, first in Russia and then all over the world, and has since interviewed Yiddish writers and actors, rabbis and rebels, socialists and Hasidim, and many others – all of them native Yiddish speakers. He studied acting at Russia’s oldest acting school and has always been interested in recording stories and in exploring different Yiddish dialects and personal speaking styles.
He moved to the USA to study Yiddish literature, earning first a B.A. from Harvard, where he wrote on the Yiddish standup comedy of Dzigan and Schumacher, and then a Ph.D. from Columbia University in New York, where his doctoral dissertation dealt with Yiddish travelogues from the 1920s and 1930s.
An experienced Yiddish teacher, scholar, singer, songwriter, and storyteller, he has taught Yiddish language and culture at many universities, intensive summer programs, and cultural festivals, including Cambridge, Columbia, Moscow State University, Tel Aviv University, Yiddish Book Center, KlezKanada, Ot Azoy (London, UK), and Yiddish Summer Weimar. In all of his work, he has been motivated by his strong belief in the special power of the spoken word in general and of a yidish vort in particular.