This website is an extension of the of the Oxford School of Rare Jewish Languages' teaching programme. Herein, you may find interactive exercises for study of each of the rare Jewish languages taught through the School (known as the OSRJL) to accompany your in-class learning and help you hone your linguistic skills.
The OSRJL, begun in October 2021, offers a range of free online language classes on twelve vernacular languages, spoken and/or written by Jews from the Middle Ages until today, taught by leading academics at universities in Europe and elsewhere. Languages taught through the OSRJL (and their teachers) include:
- Baghdadi Judeo-Arabic (Dr Assaf Bar Moshe)
- Classical Judeo-Arabic (Friederike Schmidt)
- Judeo-French (Dr Sandra Hajek)
- Judeo-Greek (Dr Julia Krivoruchko)
- Judeo-Italian (Dr Marilena Colasuonno)
- Judeo-Moroccan (Haviva Fenton)
- Judeo-Neo-Aramaic (Dr Dorota Molin)
- Judeo-Persian (Dr Ofir Haim & Maximilian Kinzler)
- Judeo-Provençal (Dr Peter Nahon)
- Judeo-Tat (Professor Gilles Authier & Dr Murad Suleymanov)
- Judeo-Turkish (Professor Laurent Mignon)
- Karaim (Professor Henryk Jankowski)
- Ladino (Dr Ilil Baum & Dr Carlos Yebra López)
- Old Yiddish (Dr Diana Matut)
- Yiddish (Dr Beruriah Wiegand)
Jewish languages are an essential part of the Jewish history, creativity, culture, and identity. Usually written using the Hebrew alphabet and including Hebrew and Aramaic words to express specifically Jewish concepts, these languages share common features even when their linguistic definitions vary. Although these Jewish languages were originally used as means to communicate with the world outside Jewish communities, such vernaculars became the languages of Jewish families, the means of expressing emotions and daily concerns, and, in many cases, vehicles for literature and science as well as tokens of Jewish identity.
Examples of extremely important, immaterial Jewish heritage, some of these Jewish languages are in danger of extinction while others are already dead, known only from early writing. Therefore, OSRJL responds to a real need: European academia offers very few learning opportunities for most of these rare Jewish languages, whereas new research programmes stress their fragility and immense role in Jewish life and culture.
The OSRJL is the first online school of its kind. By offering free, online teaching of rare Jewish languages and their cultural and historical contexts, along with public lectures and this blog on the same topics, OSRJL aims to preserve, spark interest in, enable access to, and reflect on the nature and role of Jewish languages as rich linguistics facets of Jewish life and history.