A century ago Jews who had immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe became concerned that the cultures of the communities they had left behind was dying along with the Yiddish language. They established a network of 39 camps and about 1,000 Yiddish cultural schools to preserve the language, songs and customs of so many European Jews. These were secular camps, dedicated to the culture more than the faith of Judaism, but they weren't shy about delving into political and social issues of their day.
By the end of the 20th century most of those camps and schools were gone. But Fradle Pomerantz Freidenreich has recovered that history in her book, "Passionate Pioneers," with an accompanying CD of songs (and a lyric sheet). Ms. Freidenreich, a former associate director of the Jewish Education Service of North America who now lives in Israel, will speak about those schools and camps Wednesday, April 11, at 7 p.m. in Levy Hall at Rodef Shalom Congregation, Oakland. The lecture is free, but an RSVP is requested at 412-621-6566.
Ms. Freidenreich attended such schools and camps as a child, and later taught at them. Her book draws on her own experience, in-depth archival research and hundreds of interviews as she examines not only the past but their impact that continues to echo in American Jewish culture.
A kosher reception will follow. Her talk is sponsored by Rodef Shalom Congregation, the Agency for Jewish Learning, Congregation Dor Hadash, the Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center, the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Jewish Studies Program through the Giant Eagle Foundation for Community Outreach.
See below a video of Ms. Freidenreich at a conference in Jerusalem in 2009: