Sholem Aleichem, my name is Reb Noyekh. I'm a Yiddish educator devoted to preserving the Yiddish language and culture. Since the start of the pandemic, I've built a successful Yiddish-language program over Zoom that I call Yiddish With Noyekh. I teach year-round Yiddish language, literature and conversation courses, which I offer here on my website. I've been blessed to reach hundreds of students all over the globe, as far away as Australia and New Zealand.
I've also become a major Yiddish content creator. Shortly after launching my program, I saw the great need for free online content for students. With the help of colleagues, I've managed to post hundreds of hours of original content on my YouTube channel, Yiddish With Noyekh.
Later in 2021, I opened an account on TikTok, a social media app popular among younger people (gen z), and began posting my first Yiddish-related videos. Amazingly, I've since reached 44.1k followers in less than a year and have received 1.1M likes across all my videos! (This video on the origins of the Yiddish language received over 100k likes). Perhaps most surprising is that over half of my followers are German speakers, primarily living in Germany. Since I do the majority of my videos in Yiddish (with English captions), German speakers can understand most of what I am saying. My German-speaking audience engages with all of my videos, often leaving the comment sections filled with hundreds and sometimes thousands of comments in German. These viewers are mainly young people who've never had contact with Jews, let alone heard Yiddish spoken. They all respond with fascination and excitement that they can understand Yiddish. They genuinely want to learn more about this language and heritage, which had thrived in Europe before the tragic events of World War II. What's more, many of these viewers notice the traces of Yiddish in their own language and are thrilled to learn more.
This unexpected connection with German speakers has been an excellent opportunity to teach and spread awareness about Yiddish. This semester I offered a beginner Yiddish course, called Jiddisch für Anfänger (Yiddish for Beginners), which I specifically designed for German speakers. Many of my followers have joined this course and plan to take future ones with me. I've also made many good friendships with several followers who I've connected with over Zoom and Whatsapp. I speak to them in Yiddish while they talk to me in German, and it works!
I believe there is a lot of potential to grow my German audience on TikTok. I feel there are millions of followers that I can reach. I know that if I travel to Germany I will be in a greater position to reach this audience.
The idea to go to Europe actually came from my German followers who said I should do a Deutschland Tour. Later, when I revealed my plans on TikTok to tour Germany, hundreds of emails began pouring in from people who would like to meet me. It soon became clear that I should extend my tour to Austria and Switzerland.
In June and July, I plan to visit Germany, Austria, and Switzlerland. I will go to France and England as well. I will bring along an assistant (one of my Yiddish students) who will make at least 300 TikTok videos and sell my Yiddish shirts (TikTok merch). The shirt below says "Ich liebe Jiddisch" (I love Yiddish). I've had many followers in Germany buy this shirt already. It is truly amazing to me that there are Germans proudly walking around the streets of Berlin in this shirt!
I plan to do a thorough tour of Germany. I want to visit all of the major cities. I will begin my journey in Frankfurt and from there I will go from city to city. Along the way, I will organize meetups with my followers outside of Jewish museums and at monuments. Of particular importance to me will be the ShUM cities of Mainz, Speyer, and Wurms (11th-century Jewish communities). It is there where the Yiddish language began. I will make many videos on the Jewish history of these places, all in Yiddish of course.
This trip will undoubtedly be costly. Travel, lodging and food for two will not be cheap. Therefore, I aim to raise $10,000 to offset these costs. Of course any donation would be greatly appreciated. In the Jewish tradition, a donation of $18 is suggested. 18 equals "Chai," which means "Life."
This trip will be very significant in my life. It feels like a kind of homecoming for me as I will be returning to the ancestral origins of my people, our language and our culture. I am greatly honored to be bringing Yiddish back to Europe! A sheynem hartsikn dank for your help!
Al dos guts,