Before World War 2, most of the world’s Jews spoke Yiddish, and there were vibrant print and popular cultures in Yiddish across Western and Eastern Europe. Interwar Berlin hosted 19 different Yiddish language journals. Although the Holocaust led to the drastic decline of the number of Yiddish speakers in the world, there remain communities of Jews for whom Yiddish is the language of daily life. Furthermore, the study of Yiddish has experienced significant growth since 2000, and a number of research universities both in the US, Western and Eastern Europe, and Israel offer Yiddish language and literature courses. New online Yiddish journals have emerged and there has been a proliferation of organized Yiddish-language activity including music and culture camps. Illinois has played a leading role in this new trend, both in terms of faculty research, engagement, and teaching. Illinois faculty have convened research workshops on Yiddish studies (both for junior scholars and senior researchers), published major new work on Yiddish literature and culture, and given keynote addresses at national and international conferences on Yiddish and related topics.

The certificate will allow students to take advantage of this vibrant area of expertise and become an integral part of this growing trend. It is an excellent opportunity to get some basic foundations for further study or work in a number of fields, especially for those who may want to go on to advanced studies in Jewish European history and culture or work in a Jewish educational field, Jewish community, medical and social work, and/or work in archives, museums, and libraries. For anyone who wants to develop a greater understanding of Jewish cultural history more broadly, the certificate program provides a structured approach, affording a cohesive set of tools and significant insight into a key area of Jewish Studies


  1. two semesters of Yiddish language courses (YDSH 101 and YDSH 102)*
  2. two semesters of German OR Hebrew language courses* 
  3. one related content course from the following list: 


  • CWL 421 Jewish Life-Writing
  • HIST 269 Jewish History Since 1700
  • HIST 355 Soviet Jewish History
  • RUSS 261 Introduction to Russian Jewish Culture
  • RUSS 465 Russian-Jewish Culture
  • YDSH 220 Jewish Storytelling
  • additional courses may be submitted for approval to the Jewish Studies academic advisor 

Courses taken in study abroad and Yiddish language summer courses hosted elsewhere in the US and abroad would also count towards the certificate.  

* 1st and 2nd semester language course count toward the certificate; more advanced level courses may be used with the consent of the Jewish Studies academic advisor 

Total Credit Hours: 19-21 credit hours (19 if German is taken; up to 21 if Hebrew is taken)