Jewish Languages Today: Endangered, Surviving, and Thriving

Sunday, June 27

USA (10:30 am PT / 1:30 pm ET)

UK 6:30 pm / France 7:30 pm / Israel 8:30 pm

The talk will last approximately 90 minutes

About this talk

Throughout history, Jews around the world have spoken many languages. In this multimedia session, you will learn what these languages have had in common and how they are currently shifting. Over the past two centuries, migrations and other historical events have led to major changes in the linguistic profile of Jewish communities around the world. Yiddish is thriving in Hasidic communities, even as its use is diminishing elsewhere.

Several long-standing Jewish languages have become endangered, as they are spoken primarily by older people, including Ladino, Judeo-Arabic, Jewish Neo-Aramaic (Iraq-Iran), and Judeo-Malayalam (Southern India). At the same time, Jews are engaging with these languages in "post-vernacular" ways, such as through song and food, and new Jewish language varieties are developing, including Jewish English, Jewish Latin American Spanish, and Jewish Russian. Dr. Benor will explain these developments and highlight the urgent need for documentation and reclamation.

About Sarah

Sarah Bunin Benor is Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies at Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion (Los Angeles campus) and Adjunct Professor in the University of Southern California Linguistics Department. She received her Ph.D. from Stanford University in Linguistics in 2004. She has published and lectured widely about Jewish languages, linguistics, Yiddish, American Jews, and Orthodox Jews.

Her books include Becoming Frum: How Newcomers Learn the Language and Culture of Orthodox Judaism (Rutgers, 2012), Hebrew Infusion: Language and Community at American Jewish Summer Camps (Rutgers, 2020), and Languages in Jewish Communities, Past and Present (edited volume, De Gruyter, 2018). Dr. Benor co-edits the Journal of Jewish Languages (Brill) and directs the HUC-JIR Jewish Language Project, which features the Jewish Language Website and the Jewish English Lexicon.

This event is live and interactive and spots are limited

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With your contribution you will also be donating to the Jewish Language Project of the Hebrew Union College.

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