Why Yiddish videos are the future of high school gym classes


Yiddish is the future.

Schvitz, the classic Yiddish exercise video of the 1980s should replace the current physical education curriculum at MCPS. Schvitz’s cute, lighthearted humor would unquestionably be an improvement over potentially abusive physical education teachers and their devilish pacer tests. While it may not provide as much of an increase in aerobic capacity to students, it would deepen their cultural breadth and appreciation of the Yiddish language, spirit, and bodily ideal. It could also count as a foreign language class for those less inclined towards French, Spanish, or Chinese, as long as students were willing to adopt the characteristic accents of these eastern Europeans. Given the large number of Jewish students at Walter Johnson, Schvitz would provide an ideal area for us to explore our heritage in a school sponsored environment. Adopting Schvitz would also alleviate pressures on the county’s personnel budget, continuing the trend of outsourcing education to elderly Jewish women and charging students with more personal responsibility.

The use of Schvitz would also be more accommodating to students of differing levels of athletic ability, or inability, as the case may be. Schvitz provides different levels of exercise, from exercising in a chair to working from the floor or while standing. Exposing children to these kinds of themes would inspire them with compassion and cultural insight.

Beyond this, the environmental facet to this cannot be argued against. Adopting Schvitz would save gas, as PE teachers would no longer have to drive to and from work, and water, because students would no longer have to take showers after gym class. Schvitzing would also bring broad benefits to the community as a whole, as students versed in Schvitz could bring the video home with them to the video’s target audience, improving the health of their parents, siblings, and grandparents. This may be painful, however, as many older people do not possess the cardiological health sometimes necessitated by the ideological world they grew up in to confront something as charged as Schvitz.

All of these reasons to adopt Schvitz pale compared to the future cultural importance of this change. In adopting Schvitz, especially at all public high schools, MCPS and Montgomery County could become a hub of a revival and blossoming of Yiddish culture, language, and literature in the modern world. Soon, we could see AP Yiddish Lit classes, and WJ theatre performing classic Yiddish plays like The Dybbuk. This would be a lesson in cultural and collective remembrance, something students most likely have not yet thought about. What in our culture deserves to be remembered? Students would learn, probably the hard way, that there are some aspects of our shared Yiddish heritage better left in the Pale.