In most Jewish communities throughout history, the dominant language of prayer has been Hebrew, the “holy tongue.” Yet, since antiquity, there has been a rich parallel tradition of prayer in the “mother tongue,” the primary language spoken in a region or country, or a recent ancestral mother tongue. This has been most common in Ladino/Judeo-Spanish, but there have been examples in several other languages.

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Reuben Eliyahu Israel's Ladino Selihot

Stroum Center, University of Washington

Asher Shasho Levy's concert/lecture on Judeo-Arabic Shabbat liturgy

Part 3 of a 4-part series, "Jewish Prayer in Many Languages"

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Judeo-Aramaic / Jewish Neo-Aramaic

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Greek / Judeo-Greek

 
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Judeo-Provencal

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Seder tefilot be-targum le-Shuʾadit. Prayerbook in Judeo-Provencal, 14-15th century, University of Leeds Library

 

Judeo-Arabic

Habib Allah Eliyahu and Eliyahu Bil Karmel, Aleppo tradition

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Habib Allah Eliyahu from Sha'ar Benyamin,

the Damascene community in Mexico 

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Habib Allah Eliyahu, Iraqi version, credited to

R'Yosef Hayyim (Ben Ish Hai)

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Habib Allah Eliyahu, Gabriel Shrem

 

Judeo-Persian

Judeo-Persian from the Mashhadi community in New York, about the Sacrifice of Isaac

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Psalm 23 with Persian translation in the second half

Visit the High Holiday Liturgy page for more examples of Judeo-Persian

 

Judeo-Portuguese

London Portuguese Mi Shebarakh for those arrested by the Inquisition

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London Portuguese Mi Shebarakh for those traveling by land or sea

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London Portuguese Mi Shebarakh for Shabbat Mitsvot

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Ladino/Judeo-Spanish

 

Bendicho su nombre or La bendición a Israel (Berih Sheme), a Trezoro de Kantes (Ladino Song Treasure)

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Berikh Sheme in Ladino, Behar edition

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Elav Mi Hiqsha in Hebrew

Elav Mi Hiqsha, Hebrew, Zehut Yosef, Sea

Berikh Sheme, Salonika version, 1979

Elav Mi Hiqsha in Ladino

Elav Mi Hiqsha, Ladino, Zehut Yosef, Sea

En k'Elohenu in Ladino, a Trezoro de Kantes, Los Angeles edition

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En Kelohenu, Hazzan Isaac Azose, Seattle

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En Kelohenu, Moroccan Haketia Version

En k'Elohenu in Ladino alongside Hebrew script, Seattle edition

En Kelohenu in Ladino (Zehut Yosef, Seat

Ketubbah de La Ley (reading / marriage contract of the law) de Shavuot in Ladino, Seattle

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Ketuba de la Ley, Mollie Cohen, 1930s-40s

Ketuba de la Ley, Sephardic Bikkur Holim, Seattle

(scroll down to Shavuot Recordings)

Lekha Dodi in Ladino

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Ya Ribon in Ladino

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Ya Ribon/Ya Sinyor, Ankara version

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Ketuba de la Ley, Berta Aguada,

Çannakale tradition. 1983

Ketuba le Matan Torah, Gabriel Shrem

Hazzan Isaac Behar, son of Rabbi Leon Yehuda Behar who wrote the Lekha Dodi translation in Ladino.

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Yigdal in Ladino

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Ya Ribon/Ya Sinyor, Istanbul version

Hamavdil with Judeo-Spanish stanza, Ottoman tradition

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Hamabdil, Yehoram Gaon, Ensemble Hiba (Judeo-Spanish verse begins at 1:50)

Book of Ruth Chanted in Ladino

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Bible in Ladino, Ferrara 1553, Seattle Ladino Community

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Book in Ladino, Ferrara 1552, Seattle Ladino Community

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Song of Songs in Ladino, Salonika 1876, Seattle Ladino Community

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Paraphrasis, Amsterdam 1664, Seattle Ladino Community

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Constantinople 1744

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Siddur for Women in Ladino, Seattle Ladino Community

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Women's Siddur, Salonika 1565, Seattle Ladino Community

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Siddur for the Four Fasts in Ladino, Seattle Ladino Community

En Kelohenu Hebrew/Ladino Liturgical Songs, The Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of Montreal

Liturgical Songs and Chants according to the Turkish Balkan Sephardic Tradition, from Song of the Sephardi

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Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Fathers

Seattle Ladino Community

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Pirkei Avot, Venice, Italy - Seattle Ladino Community

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Pirkei Avot, Saloniki, Greece, 1893 - Seattle Ladino Community

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Pirkei Avot, Florence - Seattle Ladino Community

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Pirkei Avot, Jerusalem 1901 - Seattle Ladino Community

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Pirkei Avot in Ladino, translated by Ora Rodrigue Schwarzwald, 2018

Pirkei Avot chanted in Ladino, featured in "The Sephardic Ladino Tradition"

Birkat Hamazon chanted in Ladino, featured in "The Sephardic Ladino Tradition"

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Shirat HaYam, Song of the Sea, in Moroccan Ladino, by Yigal Biton

Visit the High Holiday Liturgy and Passover pages for more examples