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 and Liturgy 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.
How do Jews in various parts of the world wish each other Happy New Year? What languages have they used for Selichot? What does a Ladino Rosh Hashanah seder include? Find out in our High Holiday exhibit. There you can also purchase merchandise with the image above, including greeting cards, posters and stickers for classroom use, coffee cups, aprons, t-shirts, and more.
Throughout history Jews have spoken dozens of languages, many of which are now critically endangered. To preserve these languages for the future, now is the time to act. As this short film demonstrates, some grandparents and grandchildren are taking this charge seriously, teaching and learning endangered languages, such as Ladino, Judeo-Arabic (Syria), Judeo-Yazdi (Yazd, Iran), and Hulaulá (Sanandaj, Iran). Much work remains to document these and other languages and make resources available to the public before it's too late. Together with our partner organizations at the Jewish Language Consortium, we have begun this important work.
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).
You get an invitation to your friend's wedding, and it includes the word "chuppah." What is that? Do you pronounce it HOO-pah? TSHUP-ah? khoo-PAH? The Jewish Language Project is answering this and many more such questions by adding pronunciation recordings to the Jewish English Lexicon. Learn more and sign up to volunteer here.