April 14, 2021 5:43 pm at 5:43 pm #1964906hujuParticipant
More Jews speak English as their primary language than any other language. It is not limited to Ashkenazim – it is also widely spoken by Sephardim, Persians and other Mizrahim, and Bukarians. Israeli Jews speak Hebrew, generally as their primary language, but many also speak English. Prior to the Holocaust, Yiddish was the language of German and Eastern European Jews; European Sefardim spoke Ladino, a Romance language like French, Spanish, Italian and Romanian. Persian Jews spoke Judeo-Farsi.
If English is the new Yiddish, it is incumbent on Jewish schools to teach it well. For many teachers in Jewish schools, their primary language is Yiddish, and the quality of their English, in my experience, is not satisfactory.April 14, 2021 6:39 pm at 6:39 pm #1964917ubiquitinParticipant
English is not the new yiddish
As you correctly note “Yiddish was THE language of German and Eastern European Jews” (emphasis added) it was not the local language that Jews just happened to speak. It was THEIR language.
I agree it is incumbent on Jewish schools to teach English. and your last sentence is true as well (I am no exception) .
But the answer to your title is an unequivocal noApril 14, 2021 7:11 pm at 7:11 pm #1964925
I agree with Ubiquitin that Yiddish is not the new English.
In the Litvishe yeshivos I am familiar with, the English spoken by secular studies teachers, and even rebbeim, is adequate. I suspect that’s not the case in some Chassidishe yeshivos, but I think that’s a conscious decision they’ve made.April 14, 2021 7:58 pm at 7:58 pm #1964927
“[speaking adequate English] is not the case in some Chassidishe yeshivos, but I think that’s a conscious decision they’ve made.
Not clear. Are you saying the chassideshe yeshivos deliberately make a decision to retain teachers who cannot communicate well in English?? Why would they “consciously” make such a decision, which would obviously be dysfunctional for their students who live in a world where English language skills are generally a prerequisite to a parnassah.April 15, 2021 12:33 am at 12:33 am #1964932
English is not the new Yiddish.
Yiddish was, s and remains the international language of Jewry.April 15, 2021 12:33 am at 12:33 am #1964933
There’s a famous story about the Satmar Rebbe zt’l, the Divrei Yoel. When he was looking to hire an English principal (to meet the government mandates for secular studies) for the Satmar Yeshiva and found the right candidate it was time to negotiate a salary. The Rebbe asked him how much material he intended to include in the curriculum. The Rebbe told him if you set a curriculum to cover 2.5 hours a day, your annual salary is $20k. (This was in the early ’60s.) But, continued the Rebbe, if you set a curriculum for 1.5 hours a day, your annual salary will be $24k.April 15, 2021 12:34 am at 12:34 am #1964934
In the Litvishe yeshivos I am familiar with, the English spoken by secular studies teachers, and even rebbeim, is adequate. most speak yeshivish raid not English. I once heard a yeshiva man tell a Asian- American bank manager Hay nach anamyApril 15, 2021 8:30 am at 8:30 am #1964956
Yinglish is the new Yiddish.April 15, 2021 8:48 am at 8:48 am #1965037
That’s should’ve read Yinglish is the new English.April 15, 2021 11:01 am at 11:01 am #1965046akupermaParticipant
1. More Jews speak Hebrew than any other language. Among Orthodox Jews, that has been the case for a generation (at least), but is not true even among frei Jews (unless you use the Israeli definition of Jewish, i.e. anyone of Jewish descent within the last three generations who hasn’t converted to another religion).
2. Americans are increasingly become “online” rather than “printed word” oriented, so when the goyim go post-literate (i.e.skill in reading is for specialists only), Yinglish will start turning into a new language, just as Yiddish did 1000 years ago, with the caveat that there is no guarantee that frum Jews will stay in America (especially if the “blue” side gains strength as their anti-religion bigotry will force us to migrate).April 15, 2021 11:04 am at 11:04 am #1965058
I was at a Aeroflot check in check a few years back and in those day Aeroflot allowed 2 checked luggages per passenger of 50 pound apiece.
A litivisher yungerman was trying to check two suitcases one weigh in at 60 pounds the other at 35, the desk agent told him to take out some thing from one bag and put it in the other, the yungerman said lemayser geret why cant this one [pointing to suitcase] be koneh the zechus of that one, the russian airline employee looked at him with puzzled look and said vot u saidApril 15, 2021 11:18 am at 11:18 am #1965059
Ujm, nonsense. Sephardic Jews never spoke Yiddish. Even among Yiddish speakers, there were different dialects. Sometimes one was unintelligible to another. Rav Arye Levin re-tested a boy from a Hungarian background he rejected for the yeshiva because he thought that maybe the kid did not understand his Lithuanian accent. The international language ofJews, at least so far as writing was concerned, was always Hebrew. Jews typically were also conversant in several European languages because of their business connections. Rabbi Menashe ben Yisrael, for example, was fluent in ten languages. My grandmother spoke English, Spanish/Ladino (she could converse with Puerto Ricans and called her language Spanish), French, Greek, and Turkish and also knew at least some Italian.April 15, 2021 11:19 am at 11:19 am #1965063hujuParticipant
To ujm: You ought to get out more (wearing a mask, of course). Yiddish is unknown – unknown – to the many Mizrachi Jews I know. It is not an international language of anybody. It predominated in Central and Eastern Europe, which is hardly the whole world.
Prior to 1900, Central and Eastern European Jews lived mostly in small communities, and Yiddish was their language. But times have changed, and languages have changed. I can understand the romantic and nostalgic attachment to Yiddish among many Ashkenazim, but that by itself will not maintain Yiddish as a living language. There are great literary and scholarly works in Yiddish, but if they are not carefully translated into English or other language widely spoken by Jews and scholars, those Yiddish works will wither on the Yiddishe vine.April 15, 2021 11:20 am at 11:20 am #1965073
UJM: I disagree with your implied position that yeshiva bochurim cannot become proficient in BOTH languages, albeit using yiddish for limudei kodesh. To argue otherwise, is to advocate functional illiteracy that will complicate their ability to earn a parnassah and engage in the world as it is. They will not be living in the Alte Heim, as much as some may yearn for what were NOT “the good ole days of yiddeshkeit”.April 15, 2021 2:57 pm at 2:57 pm #1965123
@avi k, at its peak the total of Ladino speaker numbered about 1 millon speakers, today there are less then 60 K speakers compeared to 12 million Yiddish speakers that crossed from the Pale in Russia to the East End of London to America to Israel until 1948, it was and is the lingua franca for the vast majority of frum Jewery, it is the fourth most spoken lanaguge in Brooklyn and have over 3 million speakers. It maybe dead as a secular culture but it is still spoken by secular Jews daily in Antwerp.
I am a native yiddish speaker and rose to upper managment in corporate America, my children and grandchildren are fluent in both Yiddish and EnglishApril 15, 2021 4:50 pm at 4:50 pm #1965166NechomahParticipant
Where was your grandmother from? It sounds a lot like my father, who grew up in Rhodes, where he knew Turkish, Greek, and Italian because the island was at various times governed by those various governments, depending on who won the most recent war, plus Ladino.April 15, 2021 8:37 pm at 8:37 pm #1965229anonymous JewParticipant
Commonsaychel, the large majority of the descendants of those 12 million yiddish speakers who left the Pale no longer speak Yiddish .
GH, I’m surprised you didn’t get the obvious. Some of the Chassidishe yeshivas intentionally keep their students functionally illiterate in order to deter them from going off the derech.April 15, 2021 9:32 pm at 9:32 pm #1965275Reb EliezerParticipant
I took my regents going to high school in a chassidishe yeshiva, Chasan Sofer where we only learned in yiddish and took hebrew as an extra language getting an a academic degree.April 15, 2021 9:52 pm at 9:52 pm #1965283
huju: “Yiddish is unknown – unknown – to the many Mizrachi Jews I know… It predominated in Central and Eastern Europe, which is hardly the whole world.”
Ashkenazim represented 90% of prewar world Jewry. And Yiddish is the international language of that 90%.
“I can understand the romantic and nostalgic attachment to Yiddish among many Ashkenazim, but that by itself will not maintain Yiddish as a living language.”
Yiddish is hardly in danger. It is a living, vibrant and growing language spoken by millions of Jews the world over. For many hundreds of thousands of them, and the largest proportion of Yiddish speakers, it is their first language learnt from infanthood and childhood on, and used as their primary day to day language at home, at school, on the street and at work.
There are some places in the United States, Canada, Israel, the United Kingdom and in Europe that if you landed as an alien on the continent there for the first time you’d almost swear you must’ve landed in some Yiddish-speaking country where it was the official national language.
“There are great literary and scholarly works in Yiddish, but if they are not carefully translated into English or other language widely spoken by Jews and scholars, those Yiddish works will wither on the Yiddishe vine.”
The junk secular literature you speak of is already a forgotten relic. But no need to fret. Far more additional religious based Yiddish literature is being churned out every year.April 15, 2021 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm #1965297
@Anonymous Jew, “the large majority of the descendants of those 12 million yiddish speakers who left the Pale no longer speak Yiddish ”
for that matter sadly most are not Jewish the vast majority intermarried and are not longer Jews.
Yiddish is alive and well and fourth most spoken language in Brooklyn and has about 3 million speakers worldwide.
Almost all Yiddish speakers are bilingual quite a number a triligual, most yiddish speakers in Montreal, Buenos Aires and Antwerp speak four languages some even fiveApril 15, 2021 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm #1965295user176Participant
Yiddish is not the language of the Jews. It’s a language spoken by many Jews. Get over it.April 16, 2021 11:54 am at 11:54 am #1965363
Nechoma, my grandmother (and grandfather) were from Smyrna, Turkey (now Izmir).
Ujm, millions? Ha! In Israel, many Chareidim, especially Lithuanians, can’t even put together a complete sentence in Yiddish. I once saw an older Russian immigrant try to speak to a Lithuanian Chareidi in Yiddish. The latter was completely tongue-tied.April 16, 2021 1:31 pm at 1:31 pm #1965382
@avi k, yes Millons and growing, even in israel, I had no issue using yiddish in Jerusalem, Bnai Brak, Elad, Beitar or Ashdod, in fact most meshulochim from Israel only communicate yiddish when they are in chutz. I have heard yiddish being used in London, Antwep, Melbourne and Sao Paulo.April 18, 2021 12:40 am at 12:40 am #1965590
“Some of the Chassidishe yeshivas intentionally keep their students functionally illiterate in order to deter them from going off the derech”
I hope what you are saying is incorrect, but if true, keeping students functionally illiterate is no guarantee they won’t go OTD… More likely , it will guarantee they will be unable to earn a parnassah or find a kallah who has any aspirations for a normal life. In fact, it is more likely than not to make them unable to function in society and ultimately lead them to go OTDApril 18, 2021 12:41 am at 12:41 am #1965589
anecdote that has nothing to do with the discussion:
Rav Kamenetsky in Israel visting R Ouerbach yeshiva commented that Moschiach will come from that yeshiva – as they had top shiurim in Hebrew (and thus enabled Sephardim to attend). So it is not the language per se, it is the context.April 18, 2021 12:50 am at 12:50 am #1965595
HaGoen HaRav Elazar Man Shach zt’l told American educators that Yeshiva boys should be taught Chumash in Yiddish, even if the boys speak English amongst themselves. He furthermore said that both boys and girls should learn to be comfortable in Yiddish. He also said that Yiddish is spoken by “all jews” (that is his phrase). He referred parents to send their children to Yiddish teaching yeshivos.April 18, 2021 9:25 am at 9:25 am #1965687
“Some of the Chassidishe yeshivas intentionally keep their students functionally illiterate in order to deter them from going off the derech”
I hope what you are saying is incorrect, but if true, keeping students functionally illiterate is no guarantee they won’t go OTD… More likely , it will guarantee they will be unable to earn a parnassah or find a kallah who has any aspirations for a normal life”
That is total bunk of both parts, some of the most successful people in the frum olam today have attended Chasidisher Yeshivas and the highest level of assimilation is coming from the MO community.
Back in history the area with the highest level of assimilation was the highly educated Germans and the lowest level was from the uneducated people of the Middle East and North Africa.April 19, 2021 6:56 am at 6:56 am #1965868
Chazal say (Kiddushin 82a) that someone who does not teach his son a trade teaches him to steal.April 19, 2021 9:13 am at 9:13 am #1965933
@Avi K, the chazal also say its the cheyuv of the father to teach his son torah so when you are sending him to yeshiva you and not in compliance with chazal, anyway we are getting into a whole other subjet.
BTW do you speak a fluent Ladino? do you speak it to your children?April 20, 2021 10:45 am at 10:45 am #1966313jdf007Participant
Here is another example of how great the Jewish people are. We’re arguing over English class and what is good enough, when I see headlines like: “Only half of California students meet English standards…” or in Philadelphia, only 37% of kids can even read English properly.
Furthermore in nyc where only 46% of 3rd through 8th graders can pass an English test, they’re concerned about Jewish kids learning it. How special!
I notice that from coast to coast, so-called bilingual people are at a premium, typically getting paid more than non-bilingual people. Maybe English is overrated, otherwise, if we resolved this conversation and did place an emphasis on English, we would corner that market too.April 20, 2021 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm #1966348
CS, can you please rewrite your post in English?April 23, 2021 4:09 pm at 4:09 pm #1967465frumnotyeshivishParticipant
There are two issues in deciding the which language is the “new Yiddish.”
Yiddish eventually became a uniquely Jewish. Also, it was the most widespread primary way jews of all stripes understood each other in the latter half of the second millennia of the common era.
The question: if a language has only one of those two qualifications, can it be the “new Yiddish”?
If you take a random grouping of 1,000 known Jews (defined by orthodox tradition) and say a sentence in Hebrew, Yiddish, and English, which language will be understood by the most people?
I’d guess English >> Hebrew >> Yiddish but I’d need to do more research on the demographics of known Jews.June 8, 2021 1:16 pm at 1:16 pm #1981102meirsParticipant
Mah kesher to learning for a parnossa. This is the same logic that leads to teaching kids English from when they’re 4 secular studies, filling their heads with chochmos ha’umos and sending them to college, all in the noble name of “parnossa”. Surely if God can support 8 billion people (a good amount who doesn’t have a college degree) than He can surely provide for you.June 8, 2021 8:37 pm at 8:37 pm #1981178
meirs, who are you to argue on the Gemorah? or you don’t think kids becoming listim is a problem?June 8, 2021 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm #1981188
meirs, who are you to argue on the Gemorah?
I’m calling straw man. He didn’t say that.June 9, 2021 8:09 am at 8:09 am #1981254
DY? He says – no need to teach parnosa, Gemora says there is a need. Pick a side.June 9, 2021 8:18 am at 8:18 am #1981335
No he didn’t. He said, correctly, that plenty of people make parnossa without the full regimen of secular studies. They do learn parnossa skills, just not in the way you advocate.
BTW (and this wasn’t his point, it’s my question), how do you deal with ר’ נהוראי’s statement?June 13, 2021 6:03 pm at 6:03 pm #1982605RedlegParticipant
The thing that bothers me about the current usage of Yiddish, particularly in Chassidish usage, is that it is often spelled phonetically instead of according to the standard spelling. As a simple example, the Yiddish word for “good” can be pronounced Gut or Git, depending on which side of the Gefilte Fish Line one comes from, but, either way, it is properly spelled with a vav, not a yud as I have seen on many signs in New Square. Yiddish is a real language with standard spelling and grammar.
P.S. The Gefilte Fish Line is a real thing. Google it.June 13, 2021 6:06 pm at 6:06 pm #1982606RedlegParticipant
Oops, I forgot my other thought: One of the reasons that it may have been relatively easy for native Yiddish speakers to learn English is the similarity between the two languages. Don’t believe me? Okay, translate the following English sentence into Yiddish: ” My brother says, open the door and thank him for the fish.”June 13, 2021 6:20 pm at 6:20 pm #1982609
Redleg: I don’t think there’s ever been a standardized spelling in Yiddish, any more than there’s no standardized spelling between American English and British English. Yiddish has at least as many differences and variations as English, is not (many) more. And legitimately so.
And to the extent that there are spelling errors by some Yiddish speakers so are there spelling errors among English speakers. Neither are the norm. Not among American English users, British English users, Chasidish Yiddish users or Litvish Yiddish users.
And YIVO is meaningless and full of hot air.June 13, 2021 7:59 pm at 7:59 pm #1982612
Pronunciation of Yiddish/Hebrew is not according to the so-called “Gefilte Fish line” because while part Polish, Lithuanians, Ukrainians and Russians Jews may have enjoyed their gefilte fish peppery and while the part Polish, Hungarian, Checkoslavakian, Austrian, German, etc. Jews enjoyed theirs sweet, it has nothing to do with the pronunciation. Only Hungarian Jews and many Galician Jews pronounced the vav as “git” while everyone else pronounced it as with the original “gut”. After the war when most of the Chassidim left alive were Hungarians, they had a big hashpuah on many other Chassidishe who were the ones that did not drop the Yiddish language, and today majority of Chasidim pronounce the vav as “ee” besides for in Israel where they the “ee” pronunciation is not as widespread even among Chassidishe. It seems as if the Hungarian pronunciations of vav and yud as “ee” and tzeirie “aih” as in laihn (lein) are more recent adaptations influenced by the Hungarian language as opposed to centuries old because they have not infiltrated pre-Holocaust Israel.
There’s nothing wrong with spelling phonetically but using the “vav” correctly instead of a “yud”, doesn’t have to do with so much with phonetics as both letters are pronounced “ee” by a vast majority of Yiddish speaking Chassidim. It is more that they are simply not knowledgeable of the original Yiddish spelling. In fact, spelling words correctly with a vav instead a yud is also spelling phonetically because originally the vav in yud are distinctive but and spelled accordingly but not in Hungarian Yiddish/Hebrew where the pronunciation is the same and so the spelling is interchangeable to whatever one feels like using. And it doesn’t matter. As I see it, every single living language has evolved whether it is in pronunciation, evolution of words, spelling of words, grammar etc. The Yiddish spoken today is one of the least evolved languages so exchanging the yud and the vav doesn’t bother me.June 13, 2021 9:39 pm at 9:39 pm #1982640
philosopher, thanks for the reference. SSeems like this gefilte fish line is really a recent innovation started in Poland due to growth of beet sugar industry .. How could people insisting on “ein hadash” and wearing 18th century hats agree to change _the_ gefilte fish is not clear to me!
As to Yiddish, there was a newspaper “Der Emes”. How would you spell it?June 13, 2021 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm #1982657
Always ask questions, Chassidim don’t say ein chadash otherwise they would still ride with horse and buggies and travel with ships. And they wouldn’t eat pizza and sushi…and they wouldn’t have multiple cookbooks with recipes of all kinds of delectible dishes using 21st century processed ingredients. Nope, Chassidim could use sugar without any issues when it became available, because they had/have no problem with new innovations as long as it’s ok according to halacha. They keep their distinctive Jewish dress and language as the Yisraelim did in mitzrayim. I was once at a (English speaking) Yishivishe school production that was set in the times of yetzius mitzrayim and spoke about the fact that Jews were rescued because of their Jewish names and malbish. I was surprised that they did not mention the third reason, loshen, that they spoke their own language was the third reason Hashem took the Jews out of Egypt. But thinking into it, since the students didn’t speak their own Yiddish language, they didn’t mention it. Chassidim can certainly say they speak their own Yiddish language. I’m not criticizing Yeshivishe or any other Jews speaking English or another secular language as their main language, I’m just staring a fact.
A newspaper named Der Emes would be spelled in Yiddish דער אמתJune 14, 2021 8:28 am at 8:28 am #1982685
philosopher, >> A newspaper named Der Emes would be spelled in Yiddish דער אמת
FOUR mistakes in the word “emes” from the actual paper … Should shock you into how much we know of language and, in this case, history …
>> was surprised that they did not mention the third reason, loshen, that they spoke their own language was the third reason Hashem took the Jews out of Egypt
this is a good point, sad when Torah is presented in a convenient way to conform with the hashkafah .. also, note that Yiddish obviously originated as a mixture of Hebrew and the local German language. If Jews in Mitzrayim spoke something like a mixture of Hebrew and Mitzri, not sure the Midrash would say that they spoke their own language. Possibly true, that at some point Jewish groups adopted old-style levush and loshon to resist modernity, but not to say that either of them originated as distinct.
In regards to the midrash, possibly a case can be made that these are last-resort measures that were necessarily in the presence of slavery and the absence of any other ways to unite between Jews and separate from Mitzrim. One would think that Torah might be a sufficient way to separate.
By this logic, those who learn may not need levush, those who do not – do.June 14, 2021 9:22 am at 9:22 am #1982747
Always ask, I do have to say that Yeshivishe school has very fine, erliche girls. I didn’t bring up the story to criticize them, I just mentioned it because I was puzzled that they left it out but it proved to me that Yiddish is a language to be reckoned with as Chassidishe can say they have their distinct Jewish loshen.
Chareidy levush today did not originate from the time of the giving of the Torah…the styles first showed up by the non-Jews and was tweaked and adopted by Jews. That makes it Jewish, it doesn’t have to the fashion that the Yisraelim wore 3000 years ago. Same with the Yiddish language and foods Jews adopted from Europe or the Middle East, they become Jewish when they are adopted by a large eidah of Jews and repeatedly used for centuries, it became part of our identity. Regardless of how and from which language the Jews spoke in mitzrayim originated, if only they spoke it then it is became a Jewish language which set them apart from the Egyptians.
There are over a million Chareidy Jews with distinctive levush, Chassidishe, Yeshivishe, Sefardim, Yemenites, all who learn Torah. Regardless of the Torah learning, actually because of Torah learning, Chareidy levush sets us apart from non-Jews and reminds us that we are Ivrim and we are different. Jews should be able to be identified as Jews, that is part of being a Jew.
Jews were are Ivrim, we are apart and that is what keeps our identity strong so that we don’t assimilate. We can’t only learn the Torah, we have to live by the Torah with a Jewish lifestyle and one aspect of living a Jewish lifestyle is with Shem, loshen and malbush.June 14, 2021 11:25 am at 11:25 am #1982764NechomahParticipant
Re Der Emes –
The newspaper cannot be used as any proof of spelling in Yiddish. The newspaper was a Soviet paper, not a Jewish paper, and the word Emes is a word in Loshon HaKodesh, so no need to change the spelling for Yiddish. The fact that the Soviets did not connect Yiddish to the Torah, they needed to spell the word phonetically. But the real way to spell that would be exactly as philosopher said דער אמת.June 14, 2021 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm #1983020Reb EliezerParticipant
A yekke would write די ווארהייטJune 14, 2021 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm #1983175
Nechomah – gets the prize! Yes, this is Soviet Yiddish where they on purpose spelled words phonetically to disconnect from Yiddish. I just wanted to highlight the point that there are many Yiddishes, this one being somewhat extreme.
Parenthetically, one elderly Jews who just left USSR told me, sadly, that Soviets closed his heder and he only learned how to read Yiddish, and he is sad his whole life that he did not learn Hebrew. I gave him a Humash and, playing a Navi, order him – read. He cried when he read “Bereshis buru” … Like a person who has a treasure under his house, but does not know it. Is he rich?June 15, 2021 1:28 am at 1:28 am #1983183
Always, it is “BARA”. “Buru” means “they created”. This, of course, is heresy.June 15, 2021 1:38 am at 1:38 am #1983187
Always ask questions, what a sad story. The loshen Hakodesh language is our heritage far greater than Yiddish.
On another topic, I see that you don’t pronounce the ח as most Sephardish and Ashkenazim do, as we pronounce it letter chet or ches.
I am assuming you are an Eidas Hamizrach or Sephardi or perhaps Yemenite. Can I ask where you and your family originate from? I have never had a proper explanation where the Hebrew “hes” dialogue comes from.
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