International Yiddish Conference & Retreat

IAYC – International Association of Yiddish Clubs

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President Paul Melrood, 4th Yiddish Lifetime Service Award Winner and Fishl Kutner

Paul Melrood, Past President & Fishl Kutner, IAYC Conference Programming Chair

The first international conference of Yiddish clubs took place in Washington, D.C., May 29 – June 3, 1993, hosted by Yiddish of Greater Washington.  It was a great success and gave rise to the thought that it could be an ongoing event every year and a half or two. A nucleus was formed of several delegates; namely Dr. Harold Black, Dr. Allan Blair and Fishl Kutner. They were asked to investigate holding another conference, but where?

Moving north, Toronto, Canada was suggested as a possibility because of its very active Yiddish club and an engaged Yiddish community. Bess and Barry Shockett and The Toronto Friends of Yiddish accepted the challenge, and the second conference made it an international organization. It took place in Toronto, October 7-10, 1994.

An ad hoc committee was formed of Yiddish of Greater Washington; Der Bay, San Francisco Bay Area; Dos Bletl, Toronto; and the Circle of Yiddish Clubs, Florida to consult about future conference venues. At the historic third conference in Miami, March 1-4, 1996 a more formal meeting of delegates was held. Dr. Harold Black was appointed to head a committee to incorporate. David and Ruth Barlas chaired this conference which still holds the distinction of having the largest attendance–150 had to be turned away.

A Board was established with Dr. Harold Black as its chair. The name International Association of Yiddish Clubs was adopted and subsequently the organization was incorporated in the State of Maryland.

The fourth conference took place May 24-27, 1997 at Trinity College in Fairfield, CT in conjunction with W.C. Branch 105. This Catholic college saw that we had a strictly kosher kitchen. Stephen Dowling, Ruvn Millman and Joanne Douglas had an excellent group and a successful conference.

The fifth IAYC conference chaired by Mel Rogow, was held at the International Conference Center of UCLA in Los Angeles, CA, August 27-30, 1998. It firmly established the organization with an elected board of nine, representing different geographical regions of North America, and it was given a strong endorsement by the 250 delegates to continue to work together as an international force for Yiddish.

President Dr. Harold Black, again chaired a conference, this time with Elaine Mann of the Rockville JCC. Our sixth conference was held at the International 4H Headquarters in Chevy Chase, MD, September 14-17, 200

President Emeritus, Paul Melrood, chaired the seventh conference, as he brought IAYC to the Midwest for the first time, April 12-15, 2002. The conference was held at the Park East Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin near beautiful Lake Superior.

Returning to the East Coast, IAYC Advisory Board member, Yiddish teacher, author and leader of Yiddish of Greater Baltimore, Sylvia Schildt, chaired the eighth conference in Baltimore, Maryland September 4-7, 2003 at the Pikesville Hilton Hotel.

The IAYC went back to the Midwest for the second time, to the Twin Cities–Minneapolis, Minnesota in Hiawatha country and near the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River. Roz Baker and Michael o”h reached the IAYC peak at the Double Tree Hotel. The ninth conference will be hard to match because of its wonderful heymish atmosphere.

Our tenth conference July 6-9, 2006 was a celebration of IAYC Coming of Age. Held at the Marriott Glenpointe Hotel in Teaneck, NJ, it was a great vacation spot, for it was only a half hour bus ride from our hotel to Manhattan. Chairman Samuel Kutner, with Gregg and Stephanie Hudis as hosts had the able assistance from their Yiddish club which was the host club.

Our eleveth Conference August 3-6, 2007 was at the Cleveland Marriott East Hotel in Warrensville Heights, OH. Chairman Harold Ticktin and the committee worked hard to make this the very best conference ever. The theme was A Flourish of Yiddish Culture.

Our twelfth Conference October 24-27, 2008 was at the San Diego Marriott La Jolla in La Jolla, CA. Chairman Norman Sarkin has a strong and capable committee already at work to make this a great conference. The theme celebrates The Hundreth Anniversary of the Czernowitz Conference.

Our thirteenth Conference October 23-26, 2010 was held at the Westin San Francisco Airport Hotel in Millbrae, CA. IAYC Presidnt, Paul Melrood, was chosen to receive the Fourth IAYC Lifetime Yiddish Service Award. Conference Chairman Fishl Kutner selected the theme–Yiddish Around the World.

The 14th Conference was held in Novi, MI, a suburb of Detroit, spearheaded by IAYC Treasurer, Gerald Gerger, held August 26-29, 2011.  The greater Detroit area rallied around the Conference, as an invasion of  The Yiddish Are Coming! proved tr