For more than a year now, our “Shmues un Vayn” (Conversation and Wine) group has been meeting around twice a month at Berlin bars, parks, apartments, bookstores, and courtyards with a very simple concept: to socialize while speaking only Yiddish over a glass of wine or beer. Attendance ranges from six (cozy) to twelve (average) to forty (last summer’s street party). Apart from the occasional board game or impromptu Yiddish singalong, our structure is deliberately loose and open-ended.
One rare moment of structure came last April, a few months after the group’s founding, when member Laura Radosh hosted a “Passover Salon” at her apartment. We read each other Yiddish poems new and old, sang some Ashkenazi Passover classics, and recited together from an old Bundist Haggadah. Without realizing it, we were revisiting a half-forgotten tradition that started in 1910: the “third seder.” In addition to the two ritualized seder evenings that open the festival of Passover, this third one is an open-ended, secular space for reflection, modern interpretation, and creative expression.
This year, during the exhibition celebrating the poet Avrom Nokhm Stencl, we have decided to hold another third seder (deliberately this time) at Galerie Zeitzone, as the twenty-fifth meeting of Shmues un Vayn. Yiddish speakers of all levels are invited to join us and share a song, poem, joke, text, artwork, or other contribution – new or discovered – on the themes of Passover: oppression and liberation. Or simply come, listen, and chat with us in Yiddish. In honor of the holiday, there will be plenty of wine. And while there, you can take a look at the exhibition.
If you have other plans that night, but speak some Yiddish and are interested in attending Shmues un Vayn in the future, email us at nayes [at] yiddish.berlin to receive future invitations. We have also organized satellite gatherings in Tel Aviv and New York and hope to spread the concept to more cities soon.
11 April 2023, 7 pm