Demystifying Yiddish

Presented By The Los Angeles Jewish Home

For the “meshugenah” Jewish Monkeys, Yiddish is a cultural byproduct of their Ashkenazi heritage, part of their jargon, easily blended into their versatile lyrics. For others Yiddish remains a mystery, resembling German, Hebrew and something entirely different all at once.

Yiddish is in fact an old language, a medieval form of Middle High German, embellished with Hebrew words. Although it was widely spoken among the Jews of Europe and Russia, it was generally looked down on by upper class Jews as the language of the underdog, up until the Shoah.

In America however, Yiddish enjoyed something of a renaissance, seeing as it was the only language most of the impoverished Jewish immigrants could speak at the time. Even today, in spite of their apparent assimilation to the new country, there is a strong emotional bond with Old Europe, as Yiddish recalls a tale of poverty, loss of one’s homeland and a new life in the diaspora.

Listen and learn as two groups of elders at The Los Angeles Jewish Home try to demystify the Yiddish language by explaining some words that might even sound familiar to you.

Find Part 2 here.