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YIVO Institute for Jewish Research » Max Weinreich Center » EPYC - Educational Program on Yiddish Culture » Overview



About EPYC

The Educational Program on Yiddish Culture (EPYC), a project of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, is a new and groundbreaking educational curriculum on the thousand year history and Yiddish culture of Jews in Eastern Europe.

This monumental seven-volume educational resource addresses an urgent need to transmit the lost and nearly forgotten history and culture of East European Jewry to future generations. EPYC was developed as a comprehensive secondary curriculum that is ideally suited for Jewish schools, as a resource for Holocaust studies, and as a curriculum that advances multiculturalism and tolerance in public schools.

EPYC is a 'portable library' that contains a diverse array of educational resources culled from the world-renowned YIVO archives and library. The program includes background material on the history of the region for teachers, a case study of one Jewish community and two curriculum manuals with lesson plans for direct classroom implementation. The program was designed to adapt to a variety of educator styles and classroom settings. It uses an interdisciplinary approach that combines history, sociology, anthropology, religion and folklore to teach this illustrious history.

Together with the new educational website that was launched in December 2004, EPYC now offers more to educators and students than other Jewish history educational materials by bringing this history back to life in an exciting multimedia format (see The EPYC website "When these streets heard Yiddish", is a multimedia companion tool that familiarizes teachers and students with the great Yiddish culture of Eastern Europe by exploring archival photographs, sound recordings, and educational essays at their own pace.

EPYC Homepage

EPYC has received critical reviews from educators and the press in North America and Israel. An EPYC press kit is available online at


To view the new curriculum, available free of charge for download online in both English and Hebrew, click here

Timeline & Milestones

1999 Dr. Adina Cimet, a distinguished sociologist and member of the YIVO Leadership Forum, develops a proposal for a new educational program on Yiddish Culture for the YIVO Board of Directors. YIVO Board of Directors approves the creation of the EPYC program.

Dr. Adina Cimet assumes position as EPYC Program Director. The Smart Foundation, Inc. begins funding EPYC in November.

Research and design of the EPYC curriculum commences.
2002 Initial drafts of curriculum components are completed. Conceptualization and design of EPYC website begins.
2003 Teacher training seminar held for Jewish and public high School educator sponsored in part by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Inc.

EPYC Pilot Program commences in 18 pre-selected Jewish and public secondary schools in North America, Israel and Mexico.
2004 EPYC website and media campaign launched. Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Inc. awards a second grant of $50,000 to EPYC in July.
2005 The Hebrew language translation of EPYC is completed in June 2005 for distribution to Israeli schools and libraries.

Both the English and Hebrew curriculum are available free of charge through the EPYC website at

Educator Pilot Program

EPYC was successfully piloted in 2003/4 in the following eighteen Jewish and public high schools in North America, Israel and Mexico. The initial pilot program was sponsored in part by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Inc.

Abraham Joshua Heschel School, New York
Aguda Israel of Baltimore, Maryland
Amit Gush Dan Technological High School, Israel
Beverly Hills High School, California
Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, Maryland
Congregation Agudas Israel of West Essex, New Jersey
East Brunswick Jewish Center, New Jersey
Harrison High School, New York
Israel Henry Beren High School, Maryland
Maimonides School, Massachusetts
Milken Community School, California
Pelech Religious Experimental High School for Girls, Israel
Ramaz, New York
Samuel H.Wang Yeshivah University High School for Girls, New York
Shalheves High School for Girls, Maryland
Temple Beth Am, Washington State
Yavneh School, Mexico
Yeshivah of Flatbush, New York

Teacher Training

To ensure EPYC’s success in the classroom, the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research organizes teacher trainings for interested educators. In addition to familiarizing educators with the EPYC materials and website, lectures will be given on topics such as the East European Jewish Experience, Yiddish theatre, literature and music, and East European Jewish life under Nazi Occupation. Hands-on educator workshops and question and answer sessions are also integral parts to these trainings stimulating dialogue amongst the participants and creating a sense of community.

In 2004, YIVO received a second matching grant in the amount of $50,000 from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Inc. to continue its hands-on training with educators in 2005/6.

If you are interested in finding out more about our teacher training program, please contact the EPYC Marketing Director at telephone 917-606-8227.