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.
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.