Teaching Guide to Vaybertaytsh Episode 15: Queer in Yiddish

Michal Novak


Vay­ber­taytsh, a fem­i­nist pod­cast in Yid­dish, high­lights the sto­ries and works of women and queer folk, and dis­cuss­es fem­i­nist issues, all in Yiddish. 

This teach­ing guide grew out of the knowl­edge that a sig­nif­i­cant per­cent­age of the lis­ten­er­ship for the pod­cast are Yid­dish lan­guage learn­ers who use the pod­cast as a rein­force­ment for their learn­ing. This guide offers dis­cus­sion ques­tions and exten­sion activ­i­ties for indi­vid­u­als and Yid­dish class­es who are using the pod­cast to sup­ple­ment their lan­guage study.

This teach­ing guide is also part of a larg­er series designed to make In geve­b’s work acces­si­ble for use by edu­ca­tors in a vari­ety of set­tings. We’d like your feed­back to make these guides as use­ful as pos­si­ble. Please write to pedagogy@​ingeveb.​org to tell us what you found help­ful, what need­ed clar­i­fi­ca­tion, what you would like to see more or less of, and what texts or top­ics you would like us to pro­duce guides for next. 

Recent­ly, In geveb and Vay­ber­taytsh began work­ing togeth­er for­mal­ly. In geveb serves as a finan­cial con­duit for Vay­ber­taytsh (when you donate to Vay­ber­taytsh your mon­ey is held by In geveb in a sep­a­rate, ded­i­cat­ed fund for Vay­ber­taytsh), and we are eager to sup­port and con­tribute to one anoth­er’s work in oth­er ways as well. This teach­ing guide is evi­dence of the strong rela­tion­ship between these two orga­ni­za­tions and our shared goals.

If you are inter­est­ed in cre­at­ing a teach­ing guide for anoth­er episode of Vay­ber­taytsh or for mate­ri­als on In geveb, or if you are already teach­ing with mate­ri­als on our site and have ideas to share, please also write to pedagogy@​ingeveb.​org.

Episode 15 of Vaybertaytsh, which came out on July 18, 2017, is a conversation with Yiddish language students at the Naomi Prawar Kadar International Yiddish Program in Tel Aviv about the relationship between Yiddish and queerness and what is it like for these students to be trans or queer in Yiddish. In geveb published a “behind the scenes” peek at the making of this episode in 2017, which can be found here.

This teaching guide aims to help teachers extend their students’ language learning and their exploration of the topic through discussion questions and activities.

Click here to listen to the episode.

Click here for an English translation of the episode.

Click here for a Yiddish transcription of the episode.

פֿראַגעס צום שמועסן:

1. װאָס מײנט רפֿאל װען ער זאָגט אַז 'קװיר‘ איז אַן אַקט?

2. װאָס זײַנען ענלעכקײַטן צװישן זײערע דעפֿיניציעס פֿון ’קװיר‘? װאָס זענען די אַנדערשקייטן?

3. טעדי זאָגט, ’קװיר‘ איז זייער אַ שװער װאָרט איבערצוזעצן. פארוואָס זענען ’קװיר‘ און ’קװירקײַט‘ שװער איבערצוזעצן?

4. רפֿאַל זאָגט, ”ס׳טײַטש פּשוט זאָגן "טראַנס" און "קוויר", אָבער ס'וואָלט געווען שענער צו געפֿינען אמתדיקע ייִדישע ווערטער.“ ּּבאַשרײַבט אין דײַנע אײגענע װערטער פֿאַרװאָס עס װאָלט געװען טיפֿזיניק װען מע װאָלט געקענט גרינג געפֿינען עכט ייִדישע װערטער װעגן קװירקײַט און טראַנסקײַט אױף ייִדיש.

5. װאָס װעגן ייִדיש איז היימיש פֿאַר דיר? װאָס איז נישט היימיש מיט ייִדיש און ייִדישיזם? װאָס קענען מיר טאָן אין קלאַס אָדער אין דער ייִדיש־רעדנדיקער קהילה צו מאַכן אַ היימישער אָרט פֿאַר דיר?

Discussion Questions:

1. What does Rafoel mean when he says ‘queer’ is an act?

2. What are the similarities among their definitions of ‘queer’? What are the differences?

3. Teddy says that ‘queer’ is a hard word to translate. Why are ‘queer’ and ‘queerness’ so hard to translate?

4. Rafoel says “It would be easy to say ‘trans’ and ‘queer’ but it would be better to find real Yiddish words.” Describe in your own words why it would be meaningful if Yiddish had its own queer and trans vocabulary.

5. What about Yiddish is familar or comfortable to you? What is not comfortable for you within Yiddish or Yiddishism? What can we do in class or in the Yiddish-speaking community to make it a more comfortable space for you?


1. שרײַבט אַ פֿירער־ביכל אָדער מאַכט אַן אויסשולונג װידעאָ פֿאַר אַן אַרומנעמיקן ייִדיש קלאַס. װי זעט עס אויס? װאָס טוט מען און װאָס זאָגט מען? װאָס זײַנען די פּריאָריטעטן און צילן?

2. טראַכט װעגן זאַכן װאָס ברענגען אײַך צו פֿילן אומבאַקװעם. שרײַבט װעגן די פֿילונגען. װאָס זײַנען אַנדערע סוביעקטן אין ייִדיש װאָס דאַרף מער װאָקאַבולאַר און ארומרעד?


1. Write a guidebook or make an instructional video for for an inclusive Yiddish class. How does it look? What do people do and say there? What are the priorities and goals?

2. Think about the things that make you uncomfortable. Write about the feeling. What are other subjects in Yiddish that need more vocabulary and discussion?

If you think of other activities to do with your classes around this episode, let us know! Write to [email protected].

Novak, Michal. “Teaching Guide to Vaybertaytsh Episode 15: Queer in Yiddish.” In geveb, March 2020:
Novak, Michal. “Teaching Guide to Vaybertaytsh Episode 15: Queer in Yiddish.” In geveb (March 2020): Accessed Feb 27, 2024.


Michal Novak

Michal Novak is an undergraduate student at Barnard College studying English.