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Jewish Language Project

Promoting research and education on the many ways Jews have spoken and written

Wherever Jews have lived around the world, they have spoken and written in language distinct from their non-Jewish neighbors – from Yiddish and Ladino to Judeo-Italian and Jewish Malayalam. 

 

Because of migrations and other historical events, many of these languages are on the verge of extinction, and most Jews today are unaware of their existence. It is imperative that we document and raise awareness about these languages in the next decade – for the sake of the elderly Jews who are their last speakers and for the sake of Jewish children who would benefit from knowing about their multifaceted heritage.

The HUC-JIR Jewish Language Project addresses these problems through our many initiatives. Since we launched in 2020, over 1.8 million people have visited our websites, and we have reached thousands of others through online events, videos, and educational social media posts. We have also convened organizations and scholars to document endangered Jewish languages and created collaborative dictionaries for emerging Jewish languages. The Jewish Language Project was launched in 2020, building on and encompassing several projects led by Professor Sarah Bunin Benor.

 

Mission

To promote research on, awareness about, and engagement surrounding the many languages spoken and written by Jews throughout history and around the world.

 

Vision

  • Every known Jewish language variety will be well documented

  • Jewish language resources will be available and accessible, thereby increasing comparative research, postvernacular activities, and knowledge about Jewish diversity

  • Jews will feel a stronger connection to far-away Jewish communities, past and present

Mission

We've made great progress over the last 3 years. Read all about it in our 2023 Impact Report!

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Initiatives

Current Initiatives

Past Initiatives

Future Initiatives

Logo

Daria Lesnik Hoffman designed the logo in 2022 with input from the Jewish Language Project staff and volunteers. The round watercolor painting, suggestive of a globe, emphasizes the diversity of Jewish communities around the world, and the alef highlights what Jewish languages have in common, including influences from Hebrew.

Funding

Sponsor

The Jewish Language Project is an initiative of the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR). Founded in 1875, HUC-JIR educates leaders to serve North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR’s scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers, and academic publications.

Funding

In addition to HUC-JIR, funding has come from the Dorot Foundation, Maurice Amado Foundation, Association for Jewish Studies Arts and Culture Grant, partnerships with many organizations, and hundreds of individual contributors. If you appreciate the work we do, we encourage you to make a tax-deductible donation.

Collaboration

We've been lucky enough to work with dozens of organizations on various initiatives, such as educational curriculum-building, co-sponsoring events, and more. Our collaboration partners have been:

30 Years After - 7000 Languages - Alliance for Jewish Theater - American Jewish Committee - American Sephardi Federation - ASF Institute for Jewish Experience - Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry (ASSJ) - Be'chol Lashon - Brandeis University Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education - California Institute for Yiddish Culture and Language - Cambridge University Library Genizah Research Unit - Cantors Assembly - Central Synagogue, New York City  - Der Nister - Endangered Language Alliance - eSefarad - The Forward - In Geveb: A Journal of Yiddish Studies - Iranian American Jewish Federation - Iranian Jewish Women's Organization - JQT Vancouver - J Weekly - Jewish Arts Collective - JewishLive - Jewish Music Institute - Jewish Music Research Centre - Jewish Women's Archive - JIMENA - Judaism Unbound - Kulture Mercado - Kveller - Lehrhaus - Lilith Magazine - Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages - Mother Tongue - National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene - Nessah Synagogue - Open Siddur Project - Oxford School of Rare Jewish Languages - Pico Union Project - Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization - Princeton Geniza Lab - Sephardi American Mizrahi Initiative - Sephardic Educational Center  - Sephardic Studies Program, UW Stroum Center for Jewish Studies - SHAI: Sephardic Heritage Alliance, Inc. - Shalom Sydney - Sholem Aleichem Institute - Shmuztik Shmates - Theatre Dybbuk - UCBerkeley Magnes Museum - ucLADINO - UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies - UCLA Herb Albert School of Music - UCLA Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience - USC Casden Institute - UnYeshiva - UW Stroum Center for Jewish Studies - Wikitongues - Y&S Nazarian Iranian Young Leadership Initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles - Yiddish Book Center - Yiddishkayt

Collaboration
Press

Press

Over the years, initiatives of the Jewish Language Project have been featured in several publications. Click on each icon to open the article.

2024:

Ashkenormativity

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2023:

Teaching Endangered Jewish Languages