Monday, May 21, 2012

Ask Chaviva Anything!: Mamaloshen

Another one from the ole' question box for Ask Chaviva Anything!
Do you think a person can be part of the Orthodox community without being fluent in Yiddish and/or Hebrew?
I think it's completely possible to be part of the Orthodox community without a fluency in Yiddish. Now, it's different if you're in the Chassidish world, in which Yiddish is standard and kids grow up learning it. I can't imagine not knowing the language my children speak!

As for Hebrew, I think it's more difficult. Sure, there are people who survive in the Orthodox world without a fluency in Hebrew, but my question is this: Why would you want to? Hebrew can be an intimidating language, especially when you consider the differences between the Hebrew of prayer and spoken, Modern Hebrew. But as someone who went through the process of learning both, I can tell you that having that knowledge is incredibly empowering and makes me feel so much closer to HaShem when I daven.

It doesn't have to be an overnight success, but I think that a commitment to learning and understanding Hebrew should be a part of any Jew's plan, period.

Then again, I'm a big evangelist for the Hebrew language. What do you think, dear readers?

(Note: Mamaloshen is Yiddish for "mother tongue.")