Yiddishkayt, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that uses Eastern European Jewish arts and history as a model for cultural creativity, has announced a four-year, seven-figure grant from Wallis Annenberg and the Annenberg Foundation in support of its signature program, the Helix project.
The largest gift in Yiddishkayt's twenty-five-year history will underwrite the project, which offers a two-year opportunity for collaborative exploration and study of Jewish history, culture, and heritage in Central and Eastern Europe. To be renamed the Wallis Annenberg Helix Fellowship, Helix was launched in 2012 and provides a cohort of fifteen artists — including painters, dancers, illustrators, musicians, photographers, Broadway actors, and poets — as well as activists, educators, and scholars from around the world with a series of innovative, immersive experiences. After attending a ten-day intensive summer seminar that includes courses in the languages, history, and culture of Eastern European life as well as methods of mindful listening and discussion, fellows participate in digital workshops and seminars dedicated to language, history, and culture over an eleven-month period, collaborating online and in person to launch new artistic projects. The program culminates in a monthlong residency in Eastern Europe, during which fellows immerse themselves in a region that, prior to the genocidal devastation of the twentieth century, sustained a vibrant, dynamic multi-ethnic civilization.
"Both sides of my family hail from the multilingual borderlands of Eastern Europe," said Wallis Annenberg, board chair, president, and CEO of the Annenberg Foundation. "However, Yiddish is not only the language of my grandmother; Yiddish culture means so much to the heritage of our world, and we are delighted to help Yiddishkayt continue this fellowship."
"Ms. Annenberg and the Annenberg Foundation have provided an extraordinary gift with this grant — the largest in our history," said Yiddishkayt founder and board chair Aaron Paley. "With these funds, we can expand and deepen our exploration of what Yiddish history and culture can teach us today about living together in a diverse and challenging world."
(Photo credit: Yiddishkayt)