As the sun dipped below the elegant classical buildings of Weimar, three German women stood on a makeshift stage at the front of a packed hall, belting out a Yiddish song. They occasionally stumbled over their words, and were glancing down at sheet music. It was the final workshop recital of the 2007 Yiddish Summer Weimar festival. The song ended to whistles and applause. Audience members chattered with each other in German while the next group came on stage. Another Yiddish song began. But something didn’t fit. Weimar is the city of Goethe and Schiller, after all, and not of the Yiddish-speaking Eastern European Jews. In fact, if there was ever a time and a place for Yiddish in the area, it would have been during...

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