A Chinese Take on Yiddish

Meet Meng Yang. After attending the 2015 Naomi Prawer Kadar International Yiddish Summer Program at Tel Aviv University, Meng produced the first Chinese-Yiddish song known to history.

Meng – a Chinese national fluent in English and German – decided to learn Hebrew and Yiddish while working on her Ph.D. dissertation exploring Jewish exile in Shanghai after the Holocaust.

At the Kadar Yiddish Summer program, Meng became enamored with Yiddish and created a song for the program’s closing ceremony. Entitled “Chinese Moon Over Tel Aviv,” it’s a Yiddish rewriting of a song based on a traditional Chinese poem from 1076.

Since 2015, Meng has been involved in Holocaust education and the promotion of Jewish and Yiddish culture in her native China. She’s now a Chinese scholar in residence at Oxford University, where she has created another first – an original Chinese-Yiddish duet, based on a popular Chinese love song from the 1990s.

“I hope this song…show[s] that Yiddish can also be made to beautiful modern music,” says Meng. “Yiddish should not only be regarded as a language with Shtetl, with klezmer, with the past, but also a language which is ready to embrace the change, the future, as well as the other culture!”

Read more about Meng’s unique journey in the J-Wire article, Yiddish 2 – with a Chinese Twist.