August 13, 2017 8:18 pm at 8:18 pm #1338077
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.August 13, 2017 9:14 pm at 9:14 pm #1338104
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.August 13, 2017 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm #1338124
Kita Ches RebbiParticipant
How is this different than the Bais Yaakovs that “teitch” in Hebrew (vayomer = hu omar) ?August 13, 2017 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm #1338125
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?August 13, 2017 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm #1338127
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 schoolAugust 13, 2017 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm #1338114
iac: Which Yeshiva?August 13, 2017 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm #1338117
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.August 13, 2017 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm #1338118
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.August 13, 2017 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm #1338119
Practically speaking, the emphasis on Yiddish in Litvishe Chadorim is going down very significantly.August 13, 2017 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm #1338139
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?August 13, 2017 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm #1338145
Yiddish is an international spoken language among Jews. (Ivrit is not.)August 13, 2017 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm #1338150
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 twoAugust 13, 2017 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm #1338148
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 gezugtAugust 13, 2017 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm #1338156
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.August 13, 2017 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm #1338165
“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.August 14, 2017 3:46 am at 3:46 am #1338209
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.August 14, 2017 7:07 am at 7:07 am #1338216
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.August 14, 2017 8:13 am at 8:13 am #1338230
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).August 14, 2017 10:37 am at 10:37 am #1338238
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.August 14, 2017 11:28 am at 11:28 am #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.August 14, 2017 1:14 pm at 1:14 pm #1338250
Yekke, why do they refuse to speak English? What is so holy about pidgin German?August 14, 2017 1:15 pm at 1:15 pm #1338332
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.August 14, 2017 1:16 pm at 1:16 pm #1338339
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.August 14, 2017 1:26 pm at 1:26 pm #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?August 14, 2017 2:56 pm at 2:56 pm #1338367
It is true that Yiddish is spoken internationally, but I can only understand the Yiddish of people who live near me.August 14, 2017 5:32 pm at 5:32 pm #1338816
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.August 14, 2017 8:03 pm at 8:03 pm #1338987
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).August 14, 2017 9:16 pm at 9:16 pm #1339087
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.August 14, 2017 9:16 pm at 9:16 pm #1339088
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.August 14, 2017 9:20 pm at 9:20 pm #1339102
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.August 15, 2017 2:38 am at 2:38 am #1339186
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”.
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.August 15, 2017 3:37 am at 3:37 am #1339214
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 itAugust 15, 2017 9:03 am at 9:03 am #1339255
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.August 15, 2017 9:56 am at 9:56 am #1339265
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”.August 15, 2017 11:28 am at 11:28 am #1339387August 15, 2017 11:28 am at 11:28 am #1339405
More Israelis speak English than non Israelis speak HebrewAugust 15, 2017 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm #1339429
APY, you’re practically a Chosid.August 15, 2017 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm #1339541
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.August 15, 2017 2:02 pm at 2:02 pm #1339562
huju: Rashi was fluent in Yiddish.August 15, 2017 5:41 pm at 5:41 pm #1339688
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 YiddishAugust 15, 2017 6:14 pm at 6:14 pm #1339749
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).August 15, 2017 7:00 pm at 7:00 pm #1339757
Maybe u meant French and not Yiddish? Rash I used French thru chumishAugust 15, 2017 7:00 pm at 7:00 pm #1339759
“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.August 16, 2017 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm #1340178
“APY, you’re practically a Chosid.”
If fluency in yiddish is the determining factor, I should go get myself measured for a streimel.August 16, 2017 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm #1340176
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.August 16, 2017 1:06 pm at 1:06 pm #1340609
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.August 16, 2017 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm #1340911
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.August 17, 2017 6:35 am at 6:35 am #1340931
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 GermanAugust 17, 2017 6:38 am at 6:38 am #1340956
To those of you who keep quoting from Rabbi Kook – I think he has a famous quote about Yiddish. Anybody know it?August 17, 2017 10:29 am at 10:29 am #1340971
Yiddish is Mama Loshen. Remember YIDDEN were redeemed from Mitzrayim Shem Loshen andMalbish
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