Fundraiser for Endangered Jewish Languages

We're running out of time to save 2,000 years of history

Throughout history Jews have spoken dozens of languages, many of which are now critically endangered. To preserve these languages for the future, now is the time to act.

The Jewish Language Project, Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages and Wikitongues are teaming up to bring you this unique campaign to support ongoing efforts that document and safeguard Jewish languages around the world. In 2,000 years, there have been dozens of Jewish languages, each reflecting unique histories of migration and resilience. However, Jewish linguistic diversity was nearly destroyed by migrations and violence in the 20th century, as ancient communities across Europe, Africa, and Asia were displaced. Today, with the exception of Yiddish, Ladino, and revitalized Hebrew, long-standing Jewish languages are under-documented, under-resourced, and spoken by aging populations, with few public resources to keep these languages alive. In other words, Jewish linguistic diversity—and all the history it represents—is critically endangered, with little time to safeguard it for the next generation. If not now, when? The endangered / under-documented languages we are focused on include:

- Judeo-Iranian languages such as Judeo-Hamedani-Borujerdi (Judeo-Hamedani and Judeo-Borujerdi), Judeo-Shirazi, Judeo-Isfahani, Judeo-Yazdi, Judeo-Golpaygani, Judeo-Kashani, Judeo-Nehevandi, Judeo-Khunsari;

- Jewish Neo-Aramaic languages in the Kurdish region of Iraq-Iran-Turkey such as Lishana Deni (originally spoken in Kurdistan Region of Northern Iraq and Southeastern Turkey), Lishan Didan (originally spoken in Iranian Azerbaijan and Lake Van area in Turkey), Lishanid Noshan (originally spoken in northeastern Iraq in the region of Arbil), Hulaulá / Lishana Noshan (originally spoken in Iranian Kurdistan), Barzani Jewish Neo-Aramaic or Lishanid d'Janan (originally spoken in three villages near Aqrah in Iraq), and Betanure Jewish Neo-Aramaic or Lishan Huddaye (originally from the village Bar Tanura in Iraq); 

- Western Yiddish;

- Baghdadi Judeo-Arabic.

The funds raised during this campaign will be used towards:

- Recording and safeguarding oral histories by fluent speakers

- Making audiovisual recordings publicly accessible online through YouTube

- Editing, captioning and subtitling videos so they are multilingual and useful for educational and research purposes

- Collecting data and recording audio to create Living Dictionaries in multiple endangered Jewish languages

- Training the next generation of language activists to continue this documentation and revitalization work for years to come.

Learn more about this project:


View a short film below, entitled "Jewish Languages: From One Generation to the Next" by Alan Niku 


Speakers: Rochelle Ginsburg, Robert Carlson, Huguette Galante, Sarah Sabin, Narges Esmailzadeh, Davita Danesh, Massoud Tavakoli, Alan Niku.

Directed and edited by Alan Niku

Executive producers: Sarah Bunin Benor, Alan Niku

Introduction narration by Sarah Bunin Benor

Assistant producers: Daniel Bögre Udell, Anna Luisa Daigneault, Hannah Pressman

Co-sponsor: USC Casden Institute

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