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Yiddish AND Hebrew

Ynet has an interesting article on the revival of the Yiddish language. Ynet focuses on the alleged dichotomy between Hebrew and Yiddish. Yet, one should not need to choose between the two, as a professor quoted in the article says, “Jewish literacy requires both Yiddish and Hebrew.”

However, saying that “Yiddish is the ancestral tongue of most American Jews” is misleading, and it implies that is the only linguistic heritage of most American Jews. Yes, Yiddish was the lingua franca of most Asheknazi Jews for a long time, but Hebrew is the language of the Jewish people, and it always has been. Unfortunately, for much of our history, Hebrew was relegated to minimal use, primarily in prayer and study. However, Judaism is not a European invention, and long before Yiddish Jews ever set foot in Europe, our forefathers were speaking Hebrew.

Even so, Jews spent centuries in Europe, and developed a culture of their own. Yiddish was a big part of that, in literature, theater, and in daily life. Rememberance of the past has always been a significant theme in Judaism, from the commandment to remember Amalek, to the modern-day obligation never to forget the Holocaust.

Even in Israel, there is a Yiddish revivalism movement, which would seem contradictory to early modern Zionism’s rejection of this “diaspora language.” Hebrew is well established enough today in Israel, and Yiddish does not present a danger to the real Jewish language, nor does it represent a movement promoting a return to the diaspora. Remembering our entire heritage is important, and it does not, in any way, reject the return to the Jewish sovereignty in Israel after thousands of years. נישט אזוי?

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  1. Ben-Yehudah says:


    I often refer to it as the “ghetto loshon,” and like to destroy it….


    Note: The proper word for garlic is knobl. I purposefully don’t use that here.

  2. [...] know, insufferable? LB at Occidental Israeli accomplished this amazing feat in his blog post titled Yiddish AND Hebrew. Maybe LB and the clerk that took care of the card should get together and tackle the [...]

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