Frequently Asked Questions


Are your classes online or in person?

For Fall 2021, all of our Yiddish classes will take place online via Zoom. We look forward to connecting with our friends from the Toronto area and around the world.

We encourage you to familiarize yourself with how to use Zoom before you start your online course. More information about Zoom can be found at support.zoom.us


How do I register and pay?

To register for one of our Yiddish classes, the Yiddish Theatre Workshop, or the Leyenkrayz, please CLICK HERE to access our online registration form.

We are currently only accepting payment by credit card. If you require another method of payment or have questions, please contact us at yiddish@ujafed.org to let us know about your situation.


I can speak and understand Yiddish, but I can’t read or write. Which class should I take?

In order to take our Intermediate or Advanced-level classes, it is necessary that you can read Yiddish in alef-beys (Hebrew script). If you would like to learn the alef-beys – and we encourage you to do so – then you would need to take Beginner Yiddish.

Your other option would be to participate in our Yiddish Theatre Workshop, which is suitable for those who already speak Yiddish as well as those new to Yiddish. Ability to read alef-beys is not necessary, as scripts are provided in transliteration (English letters).


Do I need to be able to speak English?

It is important that you have a good understanding of English, especially at the Beginner and Intermediate levels and in the Theatre Workshop where explanations will or may take place in English. The Advanced class is conducted in Yiddish, so fluency with English is less of a concern.


Do I need to buy a textbook?

Our classes don’t require you to purchase a textbook. Instructors will provide you with all the necessary handouts and materials for the course. If you’re interested in buying a textbook to supplement your course materials, our instructors would be happy to recommend one that suits your needs.

You may wish to purchase a dictionary as you progress in your study of Yiddish. A good all-purpose dictionary is Uriel Weinreich’s Modern English-Yiddish/Yiddish-English Dictionary.


I’m only looking for conversation. Does Committee for Yiddish offer conversation courses?

Generally, the Committee for Yiddish doesn’t offer purely conversation courses. We believe that it is important in our classes to highlight all aspects of Yiddish language and culture, which includes the spoken language, as well as literature study and written expression, Yiddish music and drama. Our Yiddish Theatre Workshop has a heavy emphasis on spoken Yiddish, and occasionally we do offer courses which have a heavier focus on conversation and discussion such as Intermediate-Plus Yiddish.

For courses with a strictly conversation focus, you may wish to consider the Special Interest Yiddish classes offered by Miles Nadal JCC. There will be two online Yiddish conversation classes this Fall 2021: Beginner Yiddish Conversation, and Intermediate Yiddish Conversation 2. For more information and to register for those courses, please visit the Miles Nadal JCC website.


What if I’m not sure what level to take?

The first thing to consider is whether or not you can read Yiddish in alef-beys (Hebrew characters). If not, your only options are Beginner Yiddish or the Yiddish Theatre Workshop.

If you can read alef-beys, then you can take any of the other courses on offer (Beginner-Plus, Intermediate, Intermediate-Plus, Advanced).

Generally, the Advanced-level course is more appropriate for those who have been studying Yiddish for at least three years or are native speakers. The Advanced class is conducted fully in Yiddish, and it is expected that students are able to read with good fluency short stories or similar-length pieces of writing in Yiddish. Intermediate-Plus requires similar literary and spoken skills, but the readings are shorter and there may be some explanation in English.

If that sounds a little too advanced for where you are currently in your Yiddish learning, then your best option might be the Intermediate class, or the Beginner-Plus class when it is offered.

Beginner-Plus is for those who are familiar with the alef-beys at a rudimentary level and have some Yiddish background or have taken one or two prior beginner-level classes and don’t yet feel ready to move up to an intermediate-level class.

In Intermediate Yiddish, classes are conducted largely but not entirely in Yiddish, literary works studied are shorter and simpler (e.g. poetry), and there is a focus on acquiring fundamental aspects of Yiddish grammar and speech that will enable students to progress.

One other thing to keep in mind is that the Committee for Yiddish and our instructors want our students to be comfortable with the level of their class – ideally where you can feel engaged and challenged, but not overwhelmed. Therefore we encourage our students to change to a different level if they find after the first week that the class they signed up for is not where they belong. Please reach out to your instructor early on if you’re feeling this way. We’re here to help!


Are classes capped at a certain number of students?

Yes. We cap our classes at 16 students. We’ve found that this is the maximum comfortable size for students and teachers.


If a class is full, can I join a waiting list?

Yes. If you would like to sign up for a class and it is full, please email yiddish@ujafed.org and we will add you to the waiting list for the course and notify you if and when a spot opens up.


If I drop the class, can I get a refund?

Of course we want you to continue learning Yiddish and will work with you to find the best class for you, but we understand that circumstances may mean you need to drop a course. Our policy is that we will offer you a full refund before the second week of the course, and after that, we will refund the course fee minus a $20 administration fee and $16 for each class you have attended.


I would like to take a Yiddish class but can’t afford it. Do you offer subsidies?

We do our best to make our classes as affordable as possible, but if you’re dealing with financial hardship that prevents you from paying full price for our classes, we will work with you to find a solution, including subsidizing part of the course fee. Please email yiddish@ujafed.org to let us know about your situation.