Menachem Mendel

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The Languages of the Jews

The different languages that Jews have spoken throughout our history have been varied and numerous. One of the more unfortunate developments of the last few decades is that many of these languages are disappearing. In order to at least provide some record of these languages a website has been created that attempts to document these different languages. The website is open to people sending recordings of people speaking different Jewish dialects, so it you can help, record away.

Since as part of my year in Israel after high school I lived with a family on a Moshav that came from Djerba, I am partial to the Judeo-Arabic dialect of the Jews from Djerba. Below is a recording of a man describing the observance of Yom Kippur in Djerba. Although I still hear the dialect whenever I visit this family, I have forgotten most of the words and phrases that I learned. The one that I do remember has to do with my Hebrew name, Menachem Mendel. When I first told them this name they broke out laughing. It took a minute until one of them told me that in the Judeo-Arabic dialect that they spoke Mindil means rag.

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