Introduction / History
Yiddish is based on a variety of German languages spoken in the Middle ages mixed with Hebrew. It was the main language of millions or Jews who lived in eastern Europe before the Holocaust of WWII. Unfortunately, most Yiddish speakers who were not able to flee lands dominated by the Nazis perished in the concentration camps of WWII. The world number of Yiddish speakers continues to decline as Jews in Israel prefer to speak Hebrew and most Jews in North American speak English. About 14,000 Jews living in Canada continue to speak Yiddish with their families. Many of these Jews are Hasidim, the ultra-orthodox group in Judaism. A larger Yiddish population of Hasidim also lives in New York City.
Where Are they Located?
Jewish parents strongly encourage their children to pursue graduate educations. Jews often find their employment in medicine, law, higher education, science and finance. Jewish scientists win the Nobel Prize many times above their percentage of the general population. At the age of 13, the Bar Mitzvah ceremony for a boy (or Bat Mitzvah for a girl) is an important rite of passage, which marks him or her as an adult member of the community. While these ceremonies were more spiritually focused in the past, they have become equally important as social events. Judaism is a non-evangelistic religion. The Jews do not seek converts. A non-Jew or Gentile can become a Jew only through a time of prolonged study and commitment. Hasidim desire to isolate themselves from even other Jews. They have their own schools or yeshivas for their children. Their young people are only allowed to marry within the group. A common profession among the Hasidim is in the jewelry and diamond industries.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Most Jews in Canada live in large cities especially Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.
Because of the uniqueness of their history and culture, Yiddish-speaking Jews have a strong sense of identity. Persecution of and discrimination against the Jews have been the historical reasons for their migrations and settlements in other parts of the w
What Are Their Beliefs?
Traditional Jews see Abraham as the father of their faith and Moses as the great lawgiver. The Law or Torah, the Prophets and the Writings make up the Jewish holy Scriptures. Judaism is a moral, fiercely monotheistic religion. One obtains favor with God by obeying the laws found in the Scriptures. The writings of the Rabbis, the Talmud, are seen as an essential guide to knowing and following the commands of God. The two main holy days of the Jews are the Passover which celebrates the Jews leaving Egypt under the leadership of Moses and the Day of Atonement in which Jews fast, pray and confess their sins. The Jewish Shabbat runs from Friday at sunset until sunset on Saturday. Religious Jews use the time to attend synagogue and to spend time with their families. Jews are known their philanthropic work and helping the less fortunate. Hasidim have a chief rabbi called a Rebbe. He is their spiritual leader and makes important decisions for them.
What Are Their Needs?
The Yiddish speaking Jews of Canada need to see that their good works can never get them right with God. The only way that God forgives sins is through death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ. The Jews who accept their Jesus as Messiah are frequently led into the kingdom of God by Christians who model the love of Christ to them. The Hasidim are one of the most challenging groups of people in the world to evangelize.
Ask the Lord to send Canadian believers to build friendships with Yiddish speaking Jews and demonstrate God's love to them. Pray that God raises up a Messianic disciple making movement among the Jews who speak Yiddish. Pray that more and more Canadian Jews would be willing to investigate the claims of Jesus Christ. Pray that God would open the spiritual eyes of the Hasidim as they read and study the Old Testament.
Scripture Prayers for the Jewish, Eastern Yiddish-speaking in Canada.