Yiddishkayt believes that rediscovering nearly-forgotten languages, political ideas, religious practices, literature, and music has immense power. Exploring how Jewish culture developed within a multicultural civilization opens new possibilities in today’s complicated world.
Location: Los Angeles , CA
Year founded: 1995


Yiddishkayt is a cultural incubator — crafting and presenting programs that offer a fresh take on Jewish culture by going to the historical sources and embracing complexity. For twenty years, we have been reaching across time and space, connecting there to here, and the past to the present. We’re a small organization devoted to a great cause ― exploring yiddishkayt as a vital, unrestrained, and critical worldview, which embraces a concern for all humanity and draws on Jewish culture’s legacy to inspire us all to help build a more inclusive and just society. We take inspiration from the artists, writers, musicians, performers, filmmakers, philosophers, and social justice activists whose yiddishkayt — their particular form of compassionate engagement with humanity—emerged from the Jewish communities of Europe as they developed in constant contact with their non-Jewish neighbors over the last 1,000 years. Our flagship program is the Helix Project. Helix reaches emerging young Jewish culture-makers and thought-leaders — artists, writers, dancers, musicians, actors, weavers, designers, digital innovators, and scholars — from top universities across the U.S. and immerses them in the rich, diverse cultures of the historically Jewish "Pale of Settlement." The three-week educational intensive each July will be followed by an annual alumni symposium every winter, plus a multitude of alumni-hosted concerts, exhibitions, and salons around the country. Helix provides raw cultural materials, historical literacy, and a joyous sense of Jewishness that participants can and do fashion into new cultural forms that respond to the pressing realities of today’s world. It’s a life-changing experience. The impact on dozens of young people is multiplied many times over as they spread their ideas and art through campus communities and beyond. When rising soul singer and recent Harvard alum Leah Reis-Dennis adds Yiddish music to her public repertoire, or budding scholar and Smith College sophomore Sadie Gold-Shapiro realizes her study of European history can’t shy away from Jewishness, we know Helix is sowing profound change. It’s opening a Jewish cultural space relevant to the large and growing proportion of Jews who don’t identify religiously and to non-Jews as well.

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