This title is part of UC Press's Voices Revived program, which commemorates University of California Press's mission to seek out and cultivate the brightest minds and give them voice, reach, and impact. Drawing on a backlist dating to 1893, Voices Revived makes high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarship accessible once again using print-on-demand technology. This title was originally published in 1986.
Yiddish in Israel: A History challenges the commonly held view that Yiddish was suppressed or even banned by Israeli authorities for ideological reasons, offering instead a radical new interpretation of the interaction between Yiddish and Israeli Hebrew cultures. Author Rachel Rojanski tells the compelling and yet unknown story of how Yiddish, the most widely used Jewish language in the pre-Holocaust world, fared in Zionist Israel, the land of Hebrew. Following Yiddish in Israel from the proclamation of the State until today, Rojanski reveals that although Israeli leadership made promoting Hebrew a high priority, it did not have a definite policy on Yiddish. The language's varying fortune through the years was shaped by social and political developments, and the cultural atmosphere in Israel. Public perception of the language and its culture, the rise of identity politics, and political and financial interests all played a part. Using a wide range of archival sources, newspapers, and Yiddish literature, Rojanski follows the Israeli Yiddish scene through the history of the Yiddish press, Yiddish theater, early Israeli Yiddish literature, and high Yiddish culture. With compassion, she explores the tensions during Israel's early years between Yiddish writers and activists and Israel's leaders, most of whom were themselves Eastern European Jews balancing their love of Yiddish with their desire to promote Hebrew. Finally Rojanski follows Yiddish into the 21st century, telling the story of the revived interest in Yiddish among Israeli-born children of Holocaust survivors as they return to the language of their parents.
This book presents an integrated analysis of characteristic sociolinguistic behaviour in Jewish communities. Particular attention is given to a discussion of the ways in which Jews have viewed the relationship between language and identity, how this has developed over the course of time (particularly the reaction to modernisation), why it has developed as it has, and how Jews compare to other groups in this respect. Topics discussed include diaspora Hebrew in different times and places, the revival of Hebrew, the survival of Yiddish in Ultra-Orthodox communities and its recent 'sanctification' among secular Ashkenazic Jews, other Jewish languages (particularly Aramaic, Judeo-Arabic and Judeo-Spanish) and the phenomenon of Jewish languages in general. Minority language policy in Israel, Hebrew prescriptivism, the role of sociolinguistic phenomena in the Holocaust and the Arab-Israeli conflict are also discussed in detail.