President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin spoke yestarday evening, Tuesday 20 November / 12 Kislev, at an event celebrating Yiddish language and culture at Beit HaNasi.
The National Authority for Yiddish Culture’s lifetime achievement awards for 2018 were presented the poet Moshe Sachar for his works in Yiddish and his translations to Hebrew which have contributed to the preservation of Yiddish language and culture. The singer Chava Alberstein was also presented with a lifetime achievement award.
According to the prize committee
“the prize is awarded to Chava Alberstein to recognize her impressive range of talents as a songwriter, lyricist and singer with a pleasing voice and a wide repertoire which has enriched the cultural life of Israel for over forty years, for her interpretation and love of Yiddish song and for her unique work in preserving and reviving Yiddish music as part of the cultural heritage of Israel and the Jewish people.” After receiving the prize, Alberstein sang two songs, “Bokserboim” and “Oyfn Pripetshik”.
The president congratulated the recipients and said “Let me say a few words to the lifetime achievement prize-winners. I have the great honor to be here for the award given to Moshe Sachar, the father and creator of some of the cornerstones of our culture and thanks to who SY Agnon, Haim Guri and others were published in Yiddish. But with your permission, I am even more moved by the prize awarded to who I consider to be the first lady of Israeli song, in Hebrew and in Yiddish, Chava Alberstein. She knows how to take us, hand in hand and at any age, and lead us to the past, to the present and to the future.
To our dreams and the depths of our souls. Dear Chava, your current tour with Shlomi Shaban that is drawing huge crowds is the most wonderful proof that talent knows no expiration date, recognizes no age and is restricted to no language. There is just love for your voice, your words and your music.”
The president added, “Yiddish was spoken at my parents’ house. And I understand it – not just the language, but it’s culture, its melody, its spirit. The sense of humor we grew up with drew from the wells of creativity, laughter, bite and precision of Shalom Aleichem. The richness of images we grew up with drew from Isaac Bashevis Singer and Mendele Mocher Sefarim. So I understood Yiddish. But I replied in Hebrew, because Hebrew is the language of my daily life. I never dreamed in Yiddish, but it was the language of the depths of my soul and it is the language that comes from deep within us. Our children and grandchildren cannot believe that Yiddish is our innermost language, wherever their parents came from. But they grew up on songs and stories that, even if they sound like they were written in Hebrew, we know that their inner melody is the wonderful Yiddish original.”
Attached photo credit: Mark Neiman (GPO)