On May 19, 2019 the academic director of the International Yiddish Center at the World Jewish Congress, Dr. Mordechay Yushkovsky, provided a lecture in Kiev: „Marc Chagall – a painter who paints in Yiddish”.
It was intended mostly for employees of the Ukrainian National Museum of Arts, which organized the lecture.
About 60 listeners attended the event, whose key message sounded that it is absolutely impossible to understand Chagall’s pictures without knowledge of oral Yiddish folklore, cultural/religious traditions and without contemporary Yiddish literature.
Marc Chagall was one of the founders and active members of the Kultur League, founded in 1918 in Kiev. The artist illustrated books of David Hofstein, Aharon Kushnirov and other poets.
Few people in the audience seem to have been aware of the fact that Marc Chagall wrote poems in Yiddish and illustrated Yiddish books. A lot of his paintings are filled with motives from the Yiddish literature. Moreover, Chagall included illustrations of Yiddish proverbs and sayings into his own paintings. He made friends with outstanding poets and writers, who created in Yiddish.
Judging by numerous questions asked during and after the lecture, it was a very successful one. The lecturer was answering in detail for a rather long time.