The Casualties of Yiddish in Litvishe Chadorim

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  • #1338077

    Haimy
    Participant

    Menahalim & Rebbeim are doing a heroic job educating our children & we owe them tremendous hakoras hatov. That being said, there are systemic weaknesses which are hurting some of our boys.

    The Problem: 98% of Yeshivish households do not use Yiddish at home, so for most children it ‘s a new language to be used only at school.
    Our Rebbeim are given modest instruction in classroom management & teaching method,THEY ARE NOT TAUGHT HOW TO TEACH A NEW LANGUAGE.
    Basically, our boys enter school as if they are the children of fresh immigrants who never spoke the language their being taught in!
    Most children are able to to compensate the language barrier & eventually pickup most of the words, however a significant minority of bright young boys struggle terribly with having to learn Chumash & Rashi in a lanuage they do not understand. Some of of them needlessly have to leave a mainstream classroom for self-contained instruction. Other’s have to change schools which is a difficult adjustment for a child.
    I propose that every school have at least one English learning class for boys struggling with the language.

    #1338104

    iacisrmma
    Participant

    I wonder how I endured learning Yiddish when I went to yeshiva in the 1960’s? We spoke English in my house not Yiddish and yet I was able to deal with it.

    #1338124

    Kita Ches Rebbi
    Participant

    How is this different than the Bais Yaakovs that “teitch” in Hebrew (vayomer = hu omar) ?

    #1338125

    lesschumras
    Participant

    If I’m not mistaken, sforim and the Gemorah are written in Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic, not Yiddish. So, why teach Yiddish and not the other two?

    #1338127

    chabadgal
    Participant

    lol my school (okay a girls school but still) has one yiddish class and the rest english
    and my brother never had an issue with not knowing Yiddish they learned it in school

    #1338114

    Joseph
    Participant

    iac: Which Yeshiva?

    #1338117

    CTLAWYER
    Participant

    Sorry,
    in America, most youngsters have to struggle to learn Chumash and Rashi in a language they do not understand>>>>>HEBREW. My first year of elementary yeshiva we had three books: Raishis Daas to learn the aleph beis, sfer B’reishis to learn Chumash, and a Shilo Siddur (because the print was large. More than 60 years later I still remember that the Shma was on page 59 and the Shemona Esrai began on page 64.
    I did not encounter any Yiddish being used for instruction until I was in High School and my rebbeim were all born in pre-war Europe. It was not a language I ever heard used by my parents or grandparents. BUT, I was fluent in Hebrew and German (Oma taught me) and I got by.

    #1338118

    akuperma
    Participant

    I suspect the parents of children for whom Yiddish is the language at home, and what they play in, will not want children who are Anglo-phones at home to be in the same school.

    #1338119

    YesOrNo
    Participant

    Practically speaking, the emphasis on Yiddish in Litvishe Chadorim is going down very significantly.

    #1338139

    mw13
    Participant

    I think it is beyond ridiculous for lessons to be given in a language that is not the native tongue of 99% of the students, or 98% of the teachers. Nobody wins here except for the status quo.

    And what exactly is the point of teaching in Yiddish, anyway? What is there to gain by giving lessons davka in Yiddish?

    #1338145

    Joseph
    Participant

    Yiddish is an international spoken language among Jews. (Ivrit is not.)

    #1338150

    lesschumras
    Participant

    Joseph, put on your reading glasses. I said Biblical Hebrew , the language of Tanach and the Mishnah, , not Ivrit. Teaching Yiddish does nothing to help students who don’t already speak it
    It just means 3 languages to learn instead of two

    #1338148

    770Chabad🌷🌹
    Participant

    Chabadgal and Kita Che’s rebbi

    Wasn’t a issue for me we always teitched everything into Yiddish and being it’s also my first language it wasn’t hard …

    Like the way u translated vayoimer in ur comment
    Like we learned vayoimer un er hut gezugt

    #1338156

    Haimy
    Participant

    Everyone is welcome to explain how wonderful it is to learn Chumash & Rashi in Yiddish, & I admit it does have maalos, however it is ruining the potential of about 20% of each class of boys. I personally took my son from a Yiddish speaking school where he was failing & becoming a behavioral problem & is now from the top boys in his English speaking class.
    I get calls regularly from parents who don’t know what to do about their child that’s failing due to yiddish.
    The main reason why Yiddish is still in Vogue is in order to keep out certain elements from the yeshivish schools. I think we’re paying too high a price.

    #1338165

    Joseph
    Participant

    “Teaching Yiddish does nothing to help students who don’t already speak it”

    Of course it helps students who don’t already speak it:

    1) It helps them learn Yiddish.

    2) It enables them to learn Torah in Yiddish.

    3) It enables them to communicate with Jews around the world in a common language.

    “It just means 3 languages to learn instead of two”

    The more the merrier.

    #1338209

    Avi K
    Participant

    Joseph,

    1. Where did you find that one about Yiddish being an “international language spoken by Jews”? Most Jews are Sephardic and DO NOT speak Yiddish. Most Ashkenazim also do not speak Yiddish except for words that crept int other languages.

    2. What benefit does someone receive from knowing Yiddish? In fact, a case can even be made (@CTl) that it impedes learning German, which is an important language in international business (while most Germans, especially business people, can speak English there are imporatnt newspapers and magazines written in German. A person who starts with Yiddish must unlearn pronunciation differences. Moreover, much of Yiddish comes from Russian, Polish and Hebrew. One who does not believe that there are signicificant differences should watch a video on YouTube where two men translate English phrases into German and Yiddish respectively. In fact, when the Japanese Interior Minister interviewed a rosh yeshiva during WW2 he needed an interpreter despite being fluent in Yiddish.

    #1338216

    yekke2
    Participant

    If you are a ben Torah, knowledge of Yiddish is highly useful. Most of the advanced world-class (Yeshivish or Chassidish) Shiurim available today are in Yiddish. Most yungerleit are learning in a blend of Yiddish, Aramaic & English (#YeshivisheReid).

    To be in the Yeshivish system without knowing Yiddish puts you at a disadvantage. You won’t understand the Shiurim, you won’t understand the Shmuzen.

    When I started Yeshiva, my rudimentary Yiddish was enough to tide me through; I could listen and understand most Shiurim (the shmuzen were more of a challenge at the beginning), but I couldn’t speak it. I was zoiche to listen to chaburos from a fantastic Talmid Chochom, back when I started Yeshiva. I used to “ding in” in English, and the Maggid Shiur couldn’t understand a word. In the beginning, I used to ask the guy next to me and he would ask for me; that doesn’t work if you’re going to continue an interactive discussion. Eventually, I would write down my questions and break my teeth in Yiddish afterwards, in private, when it was less embarrassing.
    In the Yeshiva I am in now, most of the hierarchy either don’t or won’t speak English. If you want to discuss a sugya with the Maggidei Shiur or Rosh Yeshiva, you have to discuss in Yiddish. And if you can’t, you’re at a major disadvantage.

    #1338230

    akuperma
    Participant

    1. I believe many schools gave up teaching in Yiddish since they ended up teaching Yiddish rather than teaching Torah. Where you have Yiddish speaking communities (i.e. where the parents speak Yiddish to the children, and the children speak Yiddish when speaking with the friends), the parents will probably object to non-Yiddish speaking students in their schools. We probably need frum materials for teaching Yiddish as a second language, since most existing ones are teaching the “secular” Yiddish that existed 80 years ago, rather than the modern Yiddish spoken largely by Hasidim in the 21st century.

    2. The common language of Jews has always been Hebrew. Jewish secularists were desperate to find an alternative to Lashon Kadesh, but even in the pre-WWII period, Hebrew remained the common language and the language of Jewish scholarship and learning.

    3. All living languages have dialects. Yiddish was considered a German of dialect before World War II. Arguably the zionist “Ivrit” is no more than dialect of Lashon Kodesh, and in Eretz Yisrael several dialects clearly exist (with differences in vocabulary, grammer, word order, and how certain letters are pronounced).

    #1338238

    Joseph
    Participant

    Teaching children additional useful languages is always a great educational initiative. No one complains when public schools teach additional languages. Being multilingual is an asset. Especially with Yiddish being so important a language for Torah Jewry, as Yekke ably pointed out.

    #1338251

    Haimy: There are a number of yeshivos that has already implemented your idea of having two tracks. However, I disagree with your later comment “The main reason why Yiddish is still in Vogue is in order to keep out certain elements from the yeshivish schools”. You as the parent have to make the choice (as you obviously did). You have to choose what is best for your child. I have dealt with various yeshivos for my children and I never thought that the only motive was to keep out a certain element. Of course, we don’t know where you live so it’s possible in your community that is true.

    #1338250

    Avi K
    Participant

    Yekke, why do they refuse to speak English? What is so holy about pidgin German?

    #1338332

    GAON
    Participant

    Joseph , I am sure I’m not the first one to tell it to you, you live in a different world than all of us. While I agree to some extent, to the concept of teaching in the very same mesorah we have been thought for the past hundreds of years, but to say Yiddish is “international” you are obviously living 40 yrs ago, nowadays even in Israel and Jerusalem, only a hand full of people speak Yiddish. Try getting around with Yiddish in Bnei Brak, or even most Haredi neighborhoods in Jerusalem. Yiddish is unfortunately a dying language, that only some Chasidim are speaking.

    #1338339

    DaMoshe
    Participant

    Joseph: first of all, Ivrit is spoken internationally. Jews speak it in Israel, in the US, in Europe, etc. It’s spoken all over the world.

    When I was in yeshiva as a kid, we learned Chumash and translated it into Yiddish. The problem was that there was no language I was familiar with to relate it to. I didn’t understand the Hebrew, and I didn’t understand the Yiddish. So I knew that Hebrew word A equaled Yiddish word B, but I had no idea what they meant!
    My kids learn Chumash by translating it into Modern Hebrew as well as English. So now they are learning both Biblical and Modern Hebrew, and they understand it because they are also translating to English.

    Joseph, you say learning Yiddish helps to communicate with Jews around the world. I think that most Jews actually don’t speak Yiddish. You’re probably more likely to share Ivrit as a common language than Yiddish.

    #1338360

    Many of us realize that yiddish is not as widespread as it used to be. Should it be totally eliminated from litvishe yeshivos for that reason alone? Personally, I am not sure what the correct approach should be. As I once heard from the brother of a Rosh Yeshiva: “why are we so upset about losing a language that is 1000 years old and we are not upset that we can’t a speak a language that is over 5000 years old?

    #1338367

    👑RebYidd23
    Participant

    It is true that Yiddish is spoken internationally, but I can only understand the Yiddish of people who live near me.

    #1338816

    yekke2
    Participant

    Avi K – I have never asked them; and it is almost irrelevant to this discussion. If you are discussing the advantages of knowing or understanding Yiddish, the fact that you need it to communicate in some of the worlds best yeshivas is good enough for a ben Torah.

    Why they don’t speak English? Most of them don’t understand it at all. If you are brought up in a totally isolated community in Yerushalayim by parents who come from Poland, the likelihood is that you don’t speak English. Some of the hierarchy have picked up a bit of English (one of them married a London girl), but the way they learn is in Yiddish. If you want to ask a question in Yiddish, you can. Nobody will complain or say a word. But many feel uncomfortable doing so. You can speak to them in Ivrit, surprisingly.

    #1338987

    apushatayid
    Participant

    I learned chumash in a litvishe cheder in brooklyn almost 40 years ago. we translated the chumash into yidish and english. the yiddish was because, it was yiddish and the mechanchim felt we should be somewhat familiar with the language, and the english was so we would understand the chumash. I dont think this “the problem” the OP makes it out to be, then again, he seems to have problems with just about everything in the world of chinuch today. 40 years later this same yeshiva translates chumash into english and yiddish for the same reasons (they stop with the yiddish at an earlier grade now).

    #1339087

    mw13
    Participant

    I happen to agree with yekke2 that learning Yiddish is an important step in intergrating into ththe Yeshiva world, particularly in Eretz Yisrael, where many shiurim/shmuezem are given in Yiddish.

    But still, I don’t think that justifies giving lessons exclusively in Yiddish to high-school, let alone elementary-school, students who have little to no exposure or knowledge of the language. Why should these students lose out on years worth of material? If a Yeshiva believes that learning Yiddish is important, separate Yiddish classes should be given, so students will not lose out on Chumash/Mishnayos/Gemora while they are still new to the language.

    #1339088

    Mammele
    Participant

    Although it’s unfortunately a disappearing problem as the older generation passes on, I thought it sad some years ago when I was made aware that someone couldn’t “farher” his own grandchildren because they learned in English, while he was familiar with Yiddish.

    #1339102

    yekke2
    Participant

    I agree with you, actually. In my high school, we had a rebbi who tried to teach in Yiddish, and I walked out of class in protest, because I didn’t understand a word he was saying, and we were officially an English speaking school.

    #1339186

    Avi K
    Participant

    Yekke,

    If they are Israelis it is not surprising that they speak Hebrew. Even those who speak Yiddish at home speak Hebrew as very few people outside Chassidic communities have any knowledge of Yiddish (Litvish rabbanim use Hebrew although sometimes they use the Litvish pronunciation). I personally was in a shiur given by an Israeli who learned in Kol Torah (Rav Shlomo Zalman’s yeshiva) and he odes not know Yiddish at all. Kol Torah was, in fact, the first Chareidi yeshiva (Rav Kook started his yeshiva beforehand) to go over to Hebrew (eighty years ago) and the Chazon Ish said that the language of instruction should be Hebrew because so few understood Yiddish (not to mention Sepharadim and bnei Eidot HaMizrach).

    BTW, the Raavad is quoted by the Sheeta Mekubetzet as saying that it is doubtful if someone who does not learn in Hebrew fulfills the mitzva. One of the reasons why the Bnei Yisrael merited leaving Egypt was that they spoke Hebrew and not “Judeo-Egyptian”.

    Mammele,

    Even if they did know Yiddish they probably would have preferred English as they would have trouble expressing themselves in Yiddish. This is a common phenomena among children of olim.

    #1339214

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    English is the common language of Jews today not Yiddish. If someone is not Chassidic they likely do not speak or understand Yiddish, however Id guess about 75% of jews today can speak English (Jews from Anglo countries), A good percentage of jews from Israel and non-anglo countries like France can also speak or understand it

    #1339255

    akuperma
    Participant

    Re: “English is the common language of Jews today not Yiddish.” Actually, among frum Jews the common language is Ivrit. And that doesn’t change with definitions of “frum”, i.e. whether one define frum as arguably Shomer Kashrut and Shomer Shabbat , or strictly “hareidi”. While Israelis with university degrees are fluent in Israel, among orthodox Jewish Israelis such degrees are less common, meaning fluency in English is less common.

    Yiddish is the native language of a significant part of the hareidi community, but has lost most of its significance otherwise. It should be noted that from an orthodox perspective, Yiddish was never a language of scholarship or serious writing.

    #1339265

    apushatayid
    Participant

    I’m proud to say I understand yiddish. In fact, the other day in Williamsburg, I needed directions and my fluency in yiddish enabled to understand the given directions, “gei drei blocks un mach a right far tvei mur blocks”.

    #1339387

    yekke2
    Participant
    #1339405

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    More Israelis speak English than non Israelis speak Hebrew

    #1339429

    Joseph
    Participant

    APY, you’re practically a Chosid.

    #1339541

    huju
    Participant

    Yiddish is a language of Eastern Europe. It is utterly unknown to the Israeli Jews who came from North Africa, Iran, Syria and other Middle Eastern countries. There is nothing particularly holy about it. It was unknown to Rashi, Rambam, Ramban and many others. It was not spoken by the rabbis of the Talmud.

    English is the language of America and international commerce. It is taught in many nations, e.g., all the Iranian Jews I know studied English when they attended Jewish schools/yeshivas in Iran. It is more important for Jews, who need to be well-educated to have parnassah and political power, to be fluent in English than Yiddish.

    #1339562

    Joseph
    Participant

    huju: Rashi was fluent in Yiddish.

    #1339688

    lesschumras
    Participant

    Joseph, Rash lived in northern France in the 11th cedntury and yiddish was a Germanic language that originated in Central Europe. I’d love to hear your source that he was fluent in Yiddish

    #1339749

    iacisrmma
    Participant

    joseph: It would seem that while it was possible Rashi may have known Yiddish he certainly didn’t use it in his writings. When he defined words it seems to be in French (or what we now call “old French” or in Rashi’s terms B’LAZ).

    #1339757

    770Chabad🌷🌹
    Participant

    Maybe u meant French and not Yiddish? Rash I used French thru chumish

    #1339759

    akuperma
    Participant

    “More Israelis speak English than non Israelis speak Hebrew” – that ceases to be true if you limit the population to Bnei Torah (and I’m including Religious Zionist yeshivos as Bnei Torah). And one has to remember that the quality of Torah scholarship in Hebrew is vastly higher and more comprehensive. And in the long run, Jewish survival has always been a function of what happens to the Bnei Torah, so out future is in Hebrew, not English.

    #1340178

    apushatayid
    Participant

    “APY, you’re practically a Chosid.”

    If fluency in yiddish is the determining factor, I should go get myself measured for a streimel.

    #1340176

    apushatayid
    Participant

    According to “Master of the Mesorah, the Rishonim”, Rashi although born in France, learned in Germany under his illustrious Rabbeim before returning to France. He likely was fluent in whatever language the Jews there spoke. If Yiddish was the “street language” for all Jews though (and none made it to eastern europe yet, the ashkenazi yidden lived in ashkenaz, and west into france not poland, hungary or galicia), why did Rashi use old French words when trying to explain something and not Yiddish, the hamon am that his pirush was for, would have understood what he meant.

    #1340609

    👑RebYidd23
    Participant

    If your goal is to teach children something other than a language, it is most efficient and reasonable to teach them in their primary language.

    #1340911

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    Yiddish is a dying language and its not clear that anyone here has provided any reasons to extending its life one more day than necessary. Between English and Hebrew, or the lantive lanuage of whatever country they live in, Yidden do not need any other lashon. The time spent learning yiddish could be much more usefully spent in limudei torah.

    To Apushetayid: Much better to have that hybrid English than to have some native Isreaeli mumble “yashar, yashar” in response to your request for directions.

    #1340931

    Effie
    Participant

    millions of sefaradi have nothing to do with yiddish…ivrit IS THE international langugae of most Jews…you need to know know hebrew to read and understand torah…I have spoken ivirit all my life and while it might have some differences than biblical Hebrew they are both fully mutually intelligible while Yiddish and Biblical hebrew are not because biblical hebrew is NOT based on medieval German

    #1340956

    yekke2
    Participant

    To those of you who keep quoting from Rabbi Kook – I think he has a famous quote about Yiddish. Anybody know it?

    #1340971

    gilda
    Participant

    Yiddish is Mama Loshen. Remember YIDDEN were redeemed from Mitzrayim Shem Loshen andMalbish

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