The conviction of "Bay Yiddish" is that Yiddish has a significant role to play in fostering Jewish pride and creativity in the 21st century. Our task, therefore, is to ensure that Yiddish courses continue to be taught at the university level as well as in synagogues and other Jewish educational programs.
To this end, we are currently in the process of establishing the "Bay Area Yiddish Educational Foundation" as a 501c3 charitable foundation, the purpose of which will be to provide funding for Yiddish educational initiatives, at the university level in particular. Why universities? Dedicated individuals give of their time and energy to teach at synagogues or JCC's for little or no compensation, but university classes require large, ongoing expenses. Indeed, for this reason it has become routine for non-mainstream university classes to depend on outside funding.
For example, at UC Santa Cruz, introductory Yiddish has attracted over 25 students annually for the last several years, but funding for smaller, follow-up classes is not available from the university. To complete a year of Yiddish instruction for UC students, an additional amount of approximately $15,000 per year is still needed.
The goal of the Bay Area Yiddish Educational Foundation is to establish an endowment that will be able to meet this need and ensure that university instruction in Yiddish language and literature is available at South Bay universities long into the future.
The Bay Area Yiddish Educational Foundation will be established in memory of Yankl's Bobe, Sortshe Shlaffmitz Levitoff (1898-1985). A native of the "shtetl" of Ostrolenka, Poland, she proudly recounted that the poet Yisroel Shtern visited her house as a child, and although she called herself a "folks froy" or simple woman, she remained a supporter of Yiddish language activities in her adopted city of Los Angeles, CA throughout her life.