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31-12-2013, 19:21   #1
riffmongous
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Yiddish in Ireland

I took an interest in Yiddish recently, it was always something I was aware of but never knew anything about beyond it being a language of european jews and a few songs I heard years ago (and as I found out later, from The Simpsons!), but since I started looking up a bit about it I have been fascinated by it. Then I saw an article on RTE today about the Jewish Museum in Dublin and thought it would be interesting to find out if anyone spoke Yiddish in Ireland? I assumed at first they would speak Hebrew and English, some possibly Irish but then I read that there was a large influx of Russian jewish immigrants at one point and would it be correct to assume their language was Yiddish? If anyone knows anything about this topic I would love to hear it!

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01-01-2014, 00:39   #2
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I took an interest in Yiddish recently, it was always something I was aware of but never knew anything about beyond it being a language of european jews and a few songs I heard years ago (and as I found out later, from The Simpsons!), but since I started looking up a bit about it I have been fascinated by it. Then I saw an article on RTE today about the Jewish Museum in Dublin and thought it would be interesting to find out if anyone spoke Yiddish in Ireland? I assumed at first they would speak Hebrew and English, some possibly Irish but then I read that there was a large influx of Russian jewish immigrants at one point and would it be correct to assume their language was Yiddish? If anyone knows anything about this topic I would love to hear it!
It's many years since I was in the Jewish Museum. I got there a pamphlet on the Yiddish language in Ireland. One very interesting fact in it: James Connolly stood in Dublin Corporation elections in 1904, and printed some election literature in Yiddish. It also referred to a Jewish couple from Ireland holidaying on the continent in the thirties, meeting a Jewish couple from another country, and being unable to communicate until they all realised that they could do so in Yiddish. If you want to hear Yiddish today you'd better go to New York.
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01-01-2014, 01:59   #3
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It's many years since I was in the Jewish Museum. I got there a pamphlet on the Yiddish language in Ireland. One very interesting fact in it: James Connolly stood in Dublin Corporation elections in 1904, and printed some election literature in Yiddish. It also referred to a Jewish couple from Ireland holidaying on the continent in the thirties, meeting a Jewish couple from another country, and being unable to communicate until they all realised that they could do so in Yiddish. If you want to hear Yiddish today you'd better go to New York.
No I realise that at this stage its pretty unlikely there are many speakers left in Ireland, but I think the history of it in Ireland could be interesting, the Connolly story certainly sounds so. I also think I have heard that anecdote about the holiday couples before too.. I hope I have time to visit the museum next time I am in Ireland if it is open.
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01-01-2014, 02:42   #4
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No I realise that at this stage its pretty unlikely there are many speakers left in Ireland, but I think the history of it in Ireland could be interesting, the Connolly story certainly sounds so. I also think I have heard that anecdote about the holiday couples before too.. I hope I have time to visit the museum next time I am in Ireland if it is open.
I would think the history of Yiddish in Ireland is pretty straightforward, in that virtually every Jewish immigrant to Ireland from say 1880 to 1950 was a native Yiddish speaker. They were all Ashkenazi from Eastern Europe. A few Sephardi came to Ireland before then, including a mayor of Youghal.
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01-01-2014, 21:52   #5
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I personally don't know any Yiddish speakers, but then I've been in the country less than half a year. There are likely a number of Dubliners who know some Yiddish expressions, but so far most of the fellow Jews that I met spoke Hebrew, English, and in one case, Irish (he now lives in Jerusalem). I will, however, inquire further about this.
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01-01-2014, 22:05   #6
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You might also be able to find Yiddish classes in London or Manchester, both of which have large religious Jewish communities.
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01-01-2014, 23:43   #7
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Thank you DrGuy, it would be interesting to hear what your inquiries find out!

At the moment I am still learning German and I try to learn a few phrases from Yiddish that are similar to the German ones from a book on Yiddish slang I found over here in Vienna
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01-01-2014, 23:51   #8
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Almost all the Jews whoncame to Ireland in the late 19th century were from one village in Lithuania whose name escapes me, but it's well documented.
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02-01-2014, 00:09   #9
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Almost all the Jews whoncame to Ireland in the late 19th century were from one village in Lithuania whose name escapes me, but it's well documented.
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02-01-2014, 00:39   #10
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I was just reading parts of this book on google, 'Jewish Ireland in the Age of Joyce: A Socioeconomic History', has anyone ever read it? It seems pretty detailed and might have some information on the language. From the bits I can read from google books all I learned was a few derogatory Yiddish phrases for Irish non-Jews..
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02-01-2014, 09:35   #11
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From what I was told, some older members of the Irish Jewish community should be fluent in Yiddish. There might also be Yiddish classes in Vienna.
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02-01-2014, 12:22   #12
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You need to read the great little book by Leo Rossen 'The JOYs of Yiddish'. Very funny and very thought-making.

tac, Jewish but not Yiddish.
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02-01-2014, 18:03   #13
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One very interesting fact in it: James Connolly stood in Dublin Corporation elections in 1904, and printed some election literature in Yiddish.
A copy of the leaflet is online with a translation available

http://comeheretome.com/2010/03/01/j...-leaflet-1902/

The Irish Citizen Army was later founded in the rooms of the Reverend/Professor Gwynn, Professor of Hebrew (and Greek) at Trinity College.
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02-01-2014, 19:05   #14
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The Irish Citizen Army was later founded in the rooms of the Reverend/Professor Gwynn, Professor of Hebrew (and Greek) at Trinity College.
Fascinating family, many brilliant members, there were so many of them with positions in TCD that for a while it was colloquially known as Gwynnity College.
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02-01-2014, 21:30   #15
 
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Isn't Yiddish making something of a comeback due to the increasing size of the Hasidic Jewish communities in Israel, the United States, and in some other countries?

I wouldn't imagine it has been spoken in Ireland for a good many years, which is a shame as it's a remarkable language. I understand that Israel didn't adopt it as an official language as it was felt it would discriminate against Sephardic Jews.
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