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The resurgence of Yiddish

David Goldman / AP

From left: Ethan Eyman, 20, Marissa Koven, 17, and Adam Wyckoff, 20, sing along during a Yiddish class at Emory University in Atlanta in a photo taken on Nov. 10, 2011 and released on Dec. 21.

The Associated Press reports from ATLANTA:

David Goldman / AP

Elizabeth Friedman, 18, holds her textbook while singing along during a Yiddish class at Emory University.

A group of American college students stands in a semicircle, clapping and hopping on one foot as they sing in Yiddish: "Az der rebe zingt, Zingen ale khsidim!"

"When the rebbe dances, so do all the Hasidim," the lyrics go.

This isn't music appreciation or even a class at a synagogue. It's the first semester of Yiddish at Emory University in Atlanta — one of just a handful of college programs across the country studying the Germanic-based language of Eastern European Jews.

The language came close to dying out after the Holocaust as millions of Yiddish speakers either perished in Nazi concentration camps or fled to other countries where their native tongue was not welcome. Emory and other universities like Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and McGill University in Canada are working to bring the language back, and with it, an appreciation for the rich history of European Jewish culture and art.

"If we want to preserve this, we need to do so actively and consciously," said Miriam Udel, a Yiddish professor at Emory who uses song to teach the language. "The generation that passively knows Yiddish is dying out. There are treasures that need to be preserved because we'll lose access to them if we let Yiddish die." Read the full story.