Wherever Jews have lived, they have spoken and/or written differently from their neighbors. In some cases, their languages have differed by a few embedded Hebrew words; in others, they speak a completely different language.
In the centuries surrounding the turn of the Common Era, Jews transitioned from Hebrew to Judeo-Aramaic and a few centuries later to Judeo-Greek. As Jews migrated from the Land of Israel and created new communities throughout the Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman empires, and throughout Arab lands, they continued to learn the local language and speak/write it in distinctly Jewish ways. Due to the shifts in local languages, migrations, and intermingling with speakers of other languages, some languages that began in ancient or medieval times disappeared centuries ago, others diminished as their speakers intermingled with speakers of other languages.
The late nineteenth and the twentieth century saw a seismic shift in Jewish population. Millions of Jews migrated from Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa to the Americas, Western Europe, and Palestine. Millions of Jews perished in the Nazi Holocaust. Then, in the decades following the establishment of the State of Israel, millions of Jews migrated from all of these regions – especially Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Iraq – to Israel. However, the development of Israeli Hebrew did not lead to the disappearance of the Diaspora Jewish languages. Contemporary, and especially observant Jews, continue to speak languages that include hundreds of words from textual Hebrew and Aramaic, as well as influences from Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic. These resulting varieties of English, Spanish, French, etc., could be considered new Jewish languages.
With the exhibition Jewish Languages of The National Library of Israel we offer a small glimpse into the vast world of Jewish languages.
The exhibition was prepared by The National Library of Israel in cooperation with AEJP. The exhibition is hosted by the Center of Jewish Cultural Heritage Synagogue Maribor, the national coordinator of the EDJC project in Slovenia.
The honorary patron of the European Days of Jewish Culture 2016 in Slovenia is Mr Anton Peršak, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia.
The project was supported also by the Municipality of Maribor and Elektro Maribor.
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