Some time before the summer of 1504, the itinerant Jewish preacher and writer מנחם אלדנדורף Menakhem Oldendorf wrote a brief meditation on death, known to scholars as געדאנקען וועגן טויט, “Thoughts on Death”. It is an enjoyable text, in an earthy and idiomatic early Yiddish, written in rhyming couplets, peppered with Italian and Venetian words, filled with proverbs and vivid imagery.

The “About” page has more information, and the “Texts” page presents “Thoughts on Death” in a modern font, in an unscientific romanized transcription, and in a rough translation.

It is my hope that scholars of early Yiddish will make use of this material and that it may be interesting for other readers as well. All material here is copyright by the author, Justin Jaron Lewis, but I am giving permission to use and rework it as long as I am informed and credited appropriately.




5 Responses to Welcome

  1. Susanne Klingenstein says:

    This is absolutely awesome. I just started this week to get into Old Yiddish mainly because of my interest in Eliyahu Levita (readings Gérard E. Weil’s marvelous book) and wondering about early Yiddish texts written in Italy – and here comes your fantastic edition of Gedankn vegn tout, so well prepared and free of charge. Thank you very much for making it available!


  2. There are no links I can find to the “About” and “Texts” pages


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