A Hidden Yiddish Library in Tel Aviv’s Bus Station Faces Closure
by i24 News and Algemeiner Staff
i24 News – Tel Aviv’s Central Bus Station has a reputation with Israelis as being ugly and dysfunctional. Yet the vast building contains hidden gems.
One of those, tucked away on the fifth floor, is Yung Yiddish, a library and culture center owned by Mendy Cahan.
Cahan is an actor, former radio host, and expert on Yiddish literature and culture. He’s the son of Holocaust survivors and grew up speaking Yiddish as his first language.
Thirty years ago, he began collecting Yiddish literature to save it from being thrown out.
“I was working at the radio as a news reader, and after one time I was reading the news in Yiddish, I said, ‘Whoever has Yiddish books, I come and fetch them.’”
Books came pouring in, and in 2006, his vast collection moved to the Central Bus Station, where it has grown to 80,000 books, magazines, and other Yiddish publications.
Yung Yiddish is not just a library, but a space to keep Yiddish culture and language alive. While Yiddish is mainly spoken in religious communities, this space provides a rare exception.
“I think Yung Yiddish makes quite a big difference for Yiddish culture in Israel,” Cahan said to i24NEWS.
“This whole range that we have from Hassidim, the ultra-Orthodox, to the completely secular, and the LGBT … made the conversation much livelier, not as academic or something of the past.”
However, the Central Bus Station is set to be demolished, leaving Yung Yiddish with nowhere else to go.
“We feel that the closure is imminent, and we need a solution … We really need public support.”
Yung Yiddish has been ordered to close its doors on Dec. 5, a deadline which might be postponed as the closing for the bus station is delayed.