This, to me, is Doikayt.

Doikayt: Yiddish for “hereness.”

A young british black woman sits on tribal lands surrounded by her ancestor’s people. They ask her for money. She says no. They say: Go away–we don’t need you anymore.

The necessity of her–the hole left by her ancestor’s disappearance–long since filled by others.

There comes a time when you can’t go home.

But you can –understand–.

how do i sit in this space:



I think this speaks to Zionism and Diaspora in ways too complex, and sometimes contradictory, for me to do justice to in a blog post.

On my mind lately:

Doikayt and Ottomanism were about wanting to be citizens, to have rights, to not worry about being shipped off at any moment where someone else thinks you do or don’t belong… Diasporism [a term the author coined] means embracing this minority status, leaving us with some tough questions: Does minority inevitably mean feeble? Can we embrace diaspora without accepting oppression? Do we choose to be marginal? Do we choose to transform the meaning of center and margins? Is this possible?

– Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz, from The Colors of Jews

5 Responses

  1. “Doikayt”. I love that word. Totally resonates with me as a Buddhist. Maybe also as a member of diaspora. Thank you.

  2. To partially answer Kaye/Kantrowitz’s questions from my own perspective: I will, in all likelihood never move to Israel. My reasons are the most trivial. I hate hot weather. But that one option makes being here a different experience because I’m not bounded by it in the same way. So I see no contradiction between contemporary Zionism (there are few Zionists these days who insist that every Jew should move to Israel) and doikayt.

    It resonates with me as a Buddhist as well, but I think it’s a little different. Doikayt is still dualistic: “here” is different from “there”.

  3. Okay, I know this probably isn’t the best place to ask this, but I was curious as to how you are learning Yiddish. Are you self-teaching? Did you find an incredible book? My husband and I are trying desperately to learn but all we have is my grandmother who uses some Yiddish and some Diane-ish and his memory of what his Bubbie used to speak to him (she died 5 years ago).

  4. Devin – no problem! You’re in Orange County, right? Last spring I studied at the American Jewish University extension program in L.A. Miriam Koral teaches Beginning I and II, and another instructor teaches Intermediate and Advanced. There are also classes at the Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring (also in L.A.). I’m trying to decide if I want to stay at AJU (the problem is that since their Yiddish classes are only 6-8 weeks long, I’d tap them out after a semester) or switch to Arbeter Ring or the online classes at

    I’ve also started putting flashcard sets up on My username is juliaglassman. I only have two sets up right now, but I think they’re visible to anyone who creates an account.

  5. Thanks Julie! I’ll look into all of it! 🙂

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