The past and present of a language that refuses to disappear. An iluminating post from Matt Adler’s excellent blog planting Roots Bearing Fruits.
One might be surprised to hear this, but Yiddish lives in Israel- and not just among Hasidim. Yiddish is the traditional language of Ashkenazi Jews like me. Before someone says something stupid, let me clarify something- Yiddish is NOT a “mixture of German and Hebrew”. It is also not only a Hasidic language- it has existed for at least a thousand years as a distinct language, whereas Hasidism has been around for about 400. On the eve of the Holocaust, 13 million Jews- socialists, communists, Zionists, anti-Zionists, Hasidim, secularists- spoke the language.
Yiddish is an archaeology of the Jewish people and linguistic proof of our ties to the Land of Israel. About 2000 years ago, Romans expelled Jews from Israel and destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. The Jews who weren’t executed were expelled or enslaved. Many eventually made their way to other parts of the Roman Empire, where their Aramaic…
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[…] An abiding interest in the Middle East was reflected in several posts about Israel and Palestine, including republishing Rocky Road to Heavens Gate, a tale of Jerusalem’s famous Damascus Gate, and Castles Made of Sand, looking at the property boom taking place in the West Bank. Seeing Through the Eyes of the Other publishes a column by indomitable ninety-four year old Israeli writer and activist Uri Avnery, a reminder that the world looks different from the other side of the wire. The Hand That Signed the Paper examines the divisive legacy of the Balfour Declaration of 1917. The View From a Balcony in Jerusalem reviews journalist John Lyons’ memoir of his posting in divided Jerusalem. There is a Oh, Jerusalem, song about the Jerusalem syndrome, a pathology that inflects many of the faithful who flock to the Holy City, and also a lighter note, New Israeli Matt Adler’s affectionate tribute to Yiddish – the language that won’t go away. […]