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At the same time that German Jews were rejecting the language, Yiddish was beginning to develop a rich body of literature, theater and music.From the earliest days of the language, there were a few siddurim (prayer books) for women written in Yiddish, but these were mostly just translations of existing Hebrew siddurim.Yiddish also developed a rich vocabulary of terms for the human condition, expressing our strengths and frailties, our hopes and fears and longings.Many of these terms have found their way into English, because there is no English word that can convey the depth and precision of meaning that the Yiddish word can.In the mid-1800s, Yiddish newspapers began to appear, such as Kol me Vaser (Voice of the People), Der Hoyzfraynd (The Home Companion), Der Yid (The Jew), Di Velt (The World) and Der Fraynd (The Friend), as well as socialist publications like Der Yidisher Arbeter (The Jewish Worker) and Arbeter-Shtime (Workers' Voice).Some Yiddish language newspapers exist to this day, including Forverts (the Yiddish Forward), founded in 1897 and still in print, both in English and Yiddish versions.E., but it is difficult to be certain because in its early days, Yiddish was primarily a spoken language rather than a written language.
Written in the early 1600s, Tsenerena is a collection of traditional biblical commentary and folklore tied to the weekly Torah readings.
At its height less than a century ago, Yiddish was understood by an estimated 11 million of the world's 18 million Jews, and many of them spoke Yiddish as their primary language.
Yiddish has fallen on hard times, a victim of both assimilation and murder.
An old joke explains the distinction: a shlemiel spills his soup, it falls on the shlimazl, and the nebech cleans it up!
As Jews became assimilated into the local culture, particularly in Germany in the late 1700s and 1800s, the Yiddish language was criticized as a barbarous, mutilated ghetto jargon that was a barrier to Jewish acceptance in German society and would have to be abandoned if we hoped for emancipation.Yiddish is a language full of humor and irony, expressing subtle distinctions of human character that other cultures barely recognize let alone put into words.