Throughout the world, wherever Jews have lived, they have spoken and written differently from their non-Jewish neighbors. Some of their languages have differed by only a few embedded Hebrew words, but others have been so different in grammar and pronunciation that Jews and non-Jews could barely communicate. Most longstanding Jewish languages are now endangered, but new ones are emerging. Many people have heard of Aramaic, Yiddish, and Ladino, but knowledge of other Jewish languages is less common, such as Judeo-Greek, Jewish Malayalam, and contemporary Jewish French. On this site you will find resources on these and other languages, including dictionaries, maps, videos, and statistics. You can connect with researchers and translators and find answers to common questions, and you can view videos of lectures and of people speaking and singing the languages. Check out the exhibits on the High Holidays, Passover, Liturgy, and Women's Voices in many Jewish languages. Learning about Jewish languages leads to a better understanding of the diversity of the Jewish Diaspora and what happens when languages come into contact.
Among the many things to celebrate during the Jewish holidays, we can always celebrate the linguistic diversity that has been a central part of the global Jewish story. Visit our High Holidays exhibit to access a free lesson plan about blessings and to learn New Year greetings in nine languages.
We also have an exhibit on liturgy with sample audio and video clips from different communities, as well as mahzor (prayer book) pages.
Since launching in 2020, the HUC-JIR Jewish Language Project has come a long way. Read our Impact Report for insight into our progress in areas like language documentation, online engagement, resource development, collaboration with partners, our amazing staff, and more.
Visit our Redbubble shop for language-themed t-shirts, tote bags, stickers, coasters, socks,
dog bowls, and more! All merch proceeds support our preservation work and programming.
Most longstanding Jewish languages are now endangered because of migrations, nationalistic language policies, and genocide. The only remaining speakers are elderly, and in the coming decades, the languages will likely become extinct. If we do not engage the last native speakers in the important work of preservation and documentation in the coming years, the languages - wellsprings of Jewish cultural creativity and history - will be lost to the dustbin of history.
Here's where the Jewish Language Project comes in. Our mission is to promote research on, awareness about, and engagement surrounding the many languages spoken and written by Jews throughout history and around the world. We accomplish this by recording interviews and songs by native speakers, sharing unique content on social media, and producing high-quality online events that both teach about and celebrate Jewish languages. We also play a leadership role in our field by convening the Jewish Language Consortium, a group of ten partner organizations with the shared mission of Jewish language preservation and education.
We invite you to be part of the movement to preserve Jews’ precious linguistic heritage and raise awareness about Jewish cultural diversity. Jewish Language Project is 100% reliant on donations and grants to support our operating budget and hard-working staff. Join us by making a tax-deductible contribution to our nonprofit organization. Your gift will help ensure that anyone, now and in the future, can access a whole world of Jewish languages.
Join us by donating here.
Check out this article from The Forward about our work to preserve the Jewish languages of Iran!
Hand-picked gems from our collection, including some entries that don't appear in any
Jewish English dictionary.
What languages have Jews around the world spoken? Which are thriving, and which are endangered? Professor Sarah Bunin Benor answers these questions using three examples: Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Tat/Juhuri (spoken in Azerbaijan and Dagestan), and Judeo-Median (a group of non-Persian languages spoken in Iran).