Hameyvin Yavin: Language and Super Jews

By Sarah Bunin Benor

Association for Jewish Studies (AJS), Fall 2011

When people think about religion, they tend to think about individuals' beliefs and their adherence to laws and customs. As a trained linguist, I tend to think about their language. Among Jews, the relationship between language and religion becomes even more interesting because of the additional layers of Hebrew and other Jewish languages. We can look not only at phrases individuals use or avoid but also at how they pronounce Hebrew and infuse their speech with structures from ancestral languages. Among contemporary American Jews, Yiddish/Ashkenazic Hebrew, Modern Israeli Hebrew, and English offer competing norms. When Jews use one or another of these variants they present themselves not only as Jews but also as certain types of Jews: older or younger, more or less connected to Israel, and more or less oriented toward textual mastery or strict halahkic observance. As I have found in my ethnographic and survey research, language is an especially salient marker of Orthodox identification.

Topic: Language, Orthodox Judaism, Jewish Identification, Hebrew, Judaic Studies, Yiddish, Jewish Studies

Name of Publication: AJS Perspectives: The Magazine of the Association for Jewish Studies

Editor: Bunzl, Matti , Havrelock, Rachel

Volume/Issue: Fall 2011

Page Number(s): 36-37

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Genre: Article

Coverage: United States

Identifier: ISSN 1529-6423

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Publisher

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Bunin Benor, Sarah. Hameyvin Yavin: Language and Super Jews. AJS Perspectives: The Magazine of the Association for Jewish Studies. Association for Jewish Studies (AJS). Fall 2011: 36-37. http://www.bjpa.org/Publications/details.cfm?PublicationID=13602


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