The Arty Semite

Jewish Languages from Bukhori to Juhuri

By Renee Ghert-Zand

When asked to name Jewish languages, most people would say Hebrew and Yiddish. Some might also mention Ladino or Aramaic. It’s unlikely that they would know about Juhuri, Bukhori and Judeo-Median — and that is precisely why the Jewish Languages Project of the Endangered Language Alliance has come into being.

Juhuri, Bukhori and Judeo-Median are among the several dozen distinct languages Jews have spoken across the world throughout the millennia. Most of them are no longer spoken, and those that are still in use are in danger of disappearing.

“Scholarship on Jewish languages has been sporadic, and no one has focused on endangered ones,” said Ross Perlin, assistant director of the Endangered Languages Alliance and director of its Jewish Languages project. (Perlin is also a Forward contributor and was named to the 2012 Forward 50.) He, together with ELA executive director Daniel Kaufman and Persian language expert Habib Borjian, is trying to document, describe and preserve these languages, beginning with Juhuri, Bukhori and Judeo-Median. All three languages have Persian connections, with Juhuri spoken by Jews from southwest Iran and Caucasian Jews of Russia and Azerbaijan, Buhkori from southwest Iran and Central Asia, and Judeo-Median spoken by Jews from northwest-central Iran.

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Out and About: Eichmann, 50 Years Later; Israel on the (Art) World Stage

By Ezra Glinter

‘Kalkidan’ by Kehinde Wiley. Courtesy Roberts & Tilton.
  • Israeli authors such as David Grossman and Amos Oz are protesting their government’s decision to deport Palestinian bookstore owner Munther Fahmi.

  • A 2,000-year-old synagogue in the Libyan town of Yefren is said to have been destroyed by government forces.

  • On the 50th anniversary of the Eichmann Trial, Deborah E. Lipstadt looks at six of the trial’s most significant moments.

  • Los Angeles artist Kehinde Wiley has made Israel the subject of his new show.

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This Week in Forward Arts and Culture

By Ezra Glinter

  • Jordana Horn goes to see “Mahler on the Couch” at the New York Jewish Film Festival (read more NYJFF coverage on The Arty Semite here).

  • Benjamin Ivry investigates the literary chameleon, Romain Gary.

  • Rachel Barenblat writes a tree poem for “Birch Magazine.”

  • Raphael Mostel goes to see the story of Ruth at the New York Chinese Opera Society.

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This Week in Forward Arts and Culture

By Ezra Glinter

Detail from ‘Girl With Vegetables’ by Jerzy Ascher, 1925.
  • Talia Bloch sings the praises of poet and Bollingen Prize-winner Allen Grossman.

  • Philologos wonders when ‘Palestine’ became such a controversial word.

  • Jenna Weissman Joselit pores over Chief Rabbi of Cincinnati Eliezer Silver’s ledger book.

  • Benjamin Ivry appreciates the Jewish artists at the Villa la Fleur museum outside of Warsaw.

  • Joshua Furst questions the theatrical pieties of Lisa Kron’s new play, “In the Wake.”

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