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Languages at UW-Madison


A century ago, the University of Wisconsin-Madison became the first university in America to offer Yiddish language instruction when Professor Louis Bernard Wolfenson inaugurated Yiddish instruction on campus to seven students. Today, you can find Yiddish students, professors, and members of the campus community who share an interest in Yiddish—a Germanic language that Jews around the world have spoken continuously since the Middle Ages. Yiddish speakers also played a central role in the development of American popular culture, especially music, theater, and film. Today, there are nearly 1,000,000 Yiddish speakers spread out across the globe—from America, to Europe, to the Middle East—a population that is growing exponentially due to the use of Yiddish as the vernacular language of most Hasidic Jews. Yiddish is a critical language for learning about the Holocaust, Jewish history, American popular culture, German linguistics, and eastern European culture.
Majors & Certificates 

Jewish Studies Major and Certificate.

Language Conversation Table 

Mondays 12-1 in Van Hise 814

Student Organizations 

Consider an internship where you can use Yiddish, either in the US or abroad. An internship in any field can complement your language study and can provide valuable professional experience.

Summer Study Options 

Contact Sunny Yudkoff ( to learn more about studying Yiddish this summer in Vilnius, New York, Warsaw, Berlin, and Tel Aviv.