Where to find Yiddish in Israel

I returned from Israel a few days ago, and arrived into the midst of one of the longest heat waves that London has ever seen. Temperatures are soaring to over 30 degrees every day, and the city is even starting to take on that laid-back Mediterranean feel that I loved so much about Tel Aviv. After a month of intensive studies, …

Jerusalem: City of Gold, and of Yiddish

Tucked away under the flyover approaching Jerusalem from Tel Aviv are a handful of dilapidated, abandoned stone houses, clinging to the side of the hill, covered in weeds  and scattered with rotting supermarket trolleys. With the exception of a few snakes and squatters, this area has long been deserted. It’s a village called Lifta, and it tells a story not …

Searching for Yiddish in Tel Aviv

I’ve been in Israel for nearly a week now, and I’ve really been taking full advantage of what the country has to offer. I’ve eaten falafel and hummus every day, my afternoons have been taken up with the beach, and I’ve spent tranquil evenings on the mirpesset (balcony) watching the sun set over the Mediterranean sea. In many ways this cosmopolitan …

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Israel and the Balkans: getting ready for the summer

The summer is nearly upon us, and that means that we’re in for an exciting few months on RawLangs. You may have noticed that technically this is a “Language and Travel” blog, and you may wondering why we’ve had a lot of posts about the first, but not so much about the second. We’ve had a heavy year so far …

The ‘Mother Tongue’: A brief introduction to Yiddish

Speaking at the Polyglot Conference in Budapest last weekend, I took the opportunity to give some air time to a particular language that might have dropped a little from the agenda. Yiddish (also known as מאַמע-לשון / ‘mame loshn‘ – the ‘mother tongue’) has never been studied to any great extent outside Jewish communities, and now it is under even more threat, as people …

Language and politics: when is multilingualism a political act?

Recently it was announced that for the first time in 20 years, Hebrew classes have been reintroduced by Hamas to the university syllabus  in the Gaza strip. Hamas apparently intends to entirely reintroduce Hebrew teaching to secondary schools as well, despite great resistence from the local population. However, Hamas insists that it is important for the Palestinians to “know the …