Yiddish in Lithuania
According to an article on the BBC, Jews in Lithuania are trying to revive Yiddish, which was spoken by around 250,000 people before the Second World War. Today there are about 5,000 Jews in Lithuania and only a few hundred still speak Yiddish. Children at the only Jewish nursery school in Lithuania are being taught Yiddish songs and nursery rhymes, which they enjoy a great deal, and a Yiddish class at Vilnius’ Jewish secondary school started last month.
One of people interviewed comments that:
“…the only way to make sure Yiddish survives is to interest all Lithuanians in the country’s Jewish history and art, and above all, its music.”
The position of Yiddish in Lithuania sounds quite similar to that of other endangered languages – most of the remaining speakers are elderly, few families are passing the language on to their children, and a lot of people see speaking the language as a hobby rather than an everyday means of communication.
The BBC article has quite an optimistic tone, however another article I just found paints a more gloomy picture. One of the people quoted in the second article says “There is no real revival of Yiddish, … It’s a club, it’s a fetish, it’s a hobby.”
By the way, I’d be interested to know if there are any Yiddish speakers who read this blog.