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.
We're gearing up for a fantastic summer event series exploring Jewish language on TV! 📺 Please mark your calendars for these four dates and head to our events page for details plus registration.
First up - we're featuring Chanshi and the languages of Hebrew and Orthodox Jewish English in a conversation between two linguists and two stars of the show. Check out more on the events page!
June 4, 2023
10-11:30am Pacific / 1-2:30pm Eastern / 8-9:30pm Israel
The Israeli show "Chanshi" features a young Orthodox woman from Brooklyn who makes aliyah. The show provides an insider’s look into the language of American immigrants to Israel, especially their seamless mixing of Hebrew and Orthodox Jewish English. This event analyzes that language use, bringing two of the show’s creators and stars in conversation with two scholars who analyze language.
We put together a groundbreaking exhibit about counting the Omer in multiple Jewish languages. View the archive page here and check out the complete poster, now available at our RedBubble shop!
Check out this book by Dr. Benjamin Hary and Dr. Sarah Bunin Benor (our director!) on Jewish languages across space and time.
Part One: Jewish Language Varieties in Historical Perspective
Part Two: Jewish Language Varieties in the 20th and 21st Centuries
Part Three: Theoretical and Comparative Perspectives
Click the image to download a free PDF.
Support the important work of the Jewish Language Project by purchasing some Jewish language merch! There are many items to choose from in our Redbubble shop, including t-shirts, tote bags, stickers, coasters, pillows, and clocks.
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.
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).
We post bite-sized pieces of linguistic, religious, cultural, or historical info from around the globe! View the whole collection here. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to join the conversation & share with others.