If you’ve grown up in a Jewish family or lived in a Jewish neighborhood or had a Jewish grandmother, then most likely Yiddish is part of your DNA.
You probably grew up with, “I need it like a hole in the head,” or “All right already”, or “You should live so long”. These and many more expressions are English translations of Yiddish phrases.
I’ve often wondered where Yiddish came from, but I never got very satisfying answers from anyone in my family. It seemed everybody had their own take on the history of the language.
Finally in June, Tablet Magazine showcased the late historian Cherie Woodworth’s comprehensive article on the origins of the Yiddish language, highlighting the research and findings of late Yiddish scholar Max Weinreich.
According to Weinreich’s History of the Yiddish Language, Yiddish was born out of Jewish self-imposed isolation from surrounding cultures as a means to preserve a distinct cultural and religious life together. Using linguistic and historical evidence, he claimed that the Jews wanted to live a life of intentional separateness, and Yiddish was the language that tied them together.
When I read that I asked myself, “What ties us together today?” Is it our traditions, the religious holidays, the food? After all, Hanukkah is two weeks away and a lot of us will be celebrating with friends and family.
We’re a people of God tied to one another by history, language, religious observances and the Scriptures.
On the other hand, for every two Jews there are three opinions. There’s a whole lot we don’t agree on. We have Reform, Conservative, ultra-Orthodox, agnostic and atheistic Jews. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was one thing we could all agree on?
Many of us still believe the Messiah is coming. Even agnostics think there might be a God out there. And atheists spend a lot of energy not believing.
I think we can all agree that Messiah coming will be a good thing – if we are ready for him.
Some of us believe he already came 2,000 years ago, and is coming again.
We are known as Jews for Jesus.
Wait a minute, you say, how could we all possibly agree with THAT? Well, if it’s true, why wouldn’t you want to believe it? Because the outcome for all of us would be peace with God, with ourselves, and with each other. Wouldn’t you like that?
At one point in our history, the Yiddish language might indeed have unified us, but in truth it is a relationship with Yeshua (Jesus) that gives us an even greater union and transcendence beyond language and cultural traditions.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17
So excuse the expression, Vos iz der tachlis? (What’s the point?)
A relationship with Messiah is for today and every day. In knowing him we are made true Jews, knitted together with one another, no matter what country we live in.
Talk to me.