Author: Jordan Kutzik

Abstract

After arriving in the United States after WWII, Hasidic Jews quickly established educational publishing houses in Yiddish in New York. How these publications developed and changed from the 1950s to the present day reveals a great deal about how Hasidim adjusted to American life, how their Yiddish changed during this period, and how competing linguistic ideologies emerged to address these changes. This article provides an overview of three generations of American Hasidic Yiddish pedagogical materials, using a sample of books, oral-medium games, and a family magazine’s children’s section. It uses close reading and sociolinguistic analysis to examine how the perception of Yiddish among Hasidim evolved into perceiving the language as a semi-holy tongue uniquely capable of transmitting religious and cultural values. This article will explore how this changing perception has caused Hasidic communities to reevaluate how they seek to transmit the language to future generations.

In: Journal of Jewish Languages